Knowledge of Results vs Knowledge of Performance

Feedback is critical when learning any skill. Here we’ll look at two types of feedback – knowledge of results and knowledge of performance. We’ll define both and explain how they can be applied to a sporting context.

Knowledge of results feedback

This next section digs into the most commonly asked questions around knowledge of results and how it relates to feedback and learning.

Knowledge of results

Knowledge of results focuses on how successfully a skill has been performed and is usually associated with the outcome, such as the distance a javelin has been thrown, the accuracy of a golf shot, or the time taken to complete a 100m race.

Knowledge of results example

An example of knowledge of results is a javelin throwing knowing their attempt landed at 83m. Another example would be a sprinter knowing their 100m time was 11.2 seconds. As you can see, both of these relate to the result or performance outcome.

Why is knowledge of results feedback important?

Knowledge of results allows an athlete to measure how successful they were. Without any knowledge of results learning is extremely slow and often stops. For example, imagine if you put a golf ball to a hole, but have no idea if it went in, missed, was too long/short, or missed left/right. Without this information, your body has no information on how to update its movement strategy and produce a better attempt next time.

Knowledge of results feedback

This next section digs into the most commonly asked questions around knowledge of performance and how it relates to feedback and learning.

Knowledge of performance

Knowledge of performance focuses on the information about how the action was performed. This includes analysis of the movement patterns, feelings that are created from performing the movement and even biofeedback.

Knowledge of performance example

Examples of knowledge of performance include heart rate data when running a marathon, the elbow and shoulder angle when releasing a javelin and the feeling created between the clubhead and ball when hitting a golf shot.

Why is knowledge of performance feedback important?

Knowledge of performance allows an athlete to match their movement to an outcome. Without enough, or the correct knowledge of performance learning will be very slow and will often stop. In our putting example, imagine if the golf ball went 5 meters too far, but you had no idea how hard you hit the ball, how long your swing was, or how the ball felt when you hit it. Without this information, you are unable to update your solution for your next attempt.

It is often a coaches’ job to focus a learner on the most important aspects of knowledge of performance and supply additional feedback on how the movement was performed.

Is knowledge of performance extrinsic?

Knowledge of performance can be both intrinsic and extrinsic depending on the source. If it comes from your own senses it is intrinsic, if it comes from an outside source it is extrinsic.

A golf coach could tell you to watch how far the putter head travels back and through when you putt, to help you control distance. This knowledge of performance is coming from your own visual system, so would be considered intrinsic.

If the golf coach told you your putter is swinging too far back and through it would be an extrinsic source, as the feedback is collected and analysed from outside your own senses.

How do these relate to motor learning?

Both knowledge of performance and knowledge of results are required for learning any skill. For example, if you could not see where a throw landed in relation to its target how would you know what to do on your next attempt? In a similar vein, if you could not feel the throwing action you used there would be little you could learn to replicate it for your next attempt.

Feedback is critical in motor learning, thanks to our senses we have an abundance of feedback. However, this can make understanding feedback a challenge for coaches and players. Explaining what is feedback, is analogous to explaining what water is to a fish – we are swimming in it.

Extra sources of knowledge of performance and knowledge of results

Feedback doesn’t just come from our senses, judges, coaches and technology can all add feedback (known as augmented feedback). A coach may provide feedback on a player’s free-kick technique, providing extra knowledge of performance. In motor learning terminology this would be known as ‘augmented knowledge of performance’. Meaning additional information about the player’s movement.

What is the optimum amount of each?

More feedback is not always better. Coaches need to consider who the learner is and what their aims are before deciding on the ideal amount and type of feedback. This applies for knowledge of results and knowledge of performance.

Summarising knowledge of Results Vs Knowledge of Performance

Knowing how a skill was performed and how successful it was is critical for an athlete learning any skill. For coaches, how much and when we provide this feedback is a skill in itself.

Check out the Elissa Phillips’ paper in the further reading below to learn more about how you can vary the i) content ii) timing and iii) frequency of your feedback when coaching to optimise learning.

Further reading

Phillips, E. et al: Harnessing and Understanding Feedback Technology in Applied Settings

Sharma, D. et al: Effectiveness of knowledge of result and knowledge of performance in the learning of a skilled motor activity by healthy young adults

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • Shaw, W (2020). Knowledge of Results vs Knowledge of Performance. https://sportscienceinsider.com/knowledge-of-results-vs-knowledge-of-performance/. Available from: link. [Accessed dd/mm/yyyy].

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Golf Insider UK | Website | + posts

Will is a sport scientist and golf professional who specialises in motor control and motor learning. Will lecturers part-time in motor control and biomechanics, runs Golf Insider UK and consults elite athletes who are interested in optimising their training and performance.