Sport Informatics and Analytics/Audiences and Messages/Feedforward

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This topic has been included in this course to explore how feedforward might offer an alternative way to share messages with audiences. Peter Dowrick[1][2] has led the discussion of feedforward (learning forward)[3] in sport settings.


In Peter Dowrick's work, feedforward uses video to model behaviour. His Ph.D research led him to define self-modeling as:

the behavioral change that results from the repeated observation of oneself on videotapes that show only desired target behaviors.[4]

He researched the potential of video self-modeling for four decades. Keith Lyons[5][6] has provided a review of Peter Dowrick's research. Feedforward need not be restricted to video self-modeling. Peter Dowrick's review of self modeling noted:

The most rapid learning by humans can be achieved by mental simulations of future events, based on reconfigured preexisting component skills. These reconsiderations of learning from the future, emphasizing learning from oneself, have coincided with developments in neurocognitive theories of mirror neurons and mental time travel.[7]

This 'learning from oneself' does raise important pedagogical issues that can be overlooked if a focus is placed solely on feedback. It continues a discussion started by Richard Schmidt[8] about augmented information.

The use of feedforward on physical education and sport settings has the potential to transform learning environments. Diane Ste-Marie and her colleagues[9], Cojanu Florin[10], Harrison Kingston[11], Simon Middlemas[12] and Priscila Marques and her colleagues (2017)[13] provide examples of how feedforward might impact on explorations of learning.

Mental time travel

In a paper published in 2012[14], Peter Dowrick poses the question 'What is the connection between the neurocognitive process of anticipating personal future events and behavioral performance at the time that the future event arrives?'[15].

In Peter Dowrick's argument, self-modeling as feedforward constructs an image of achievement "beyond the individual's current capability"[16] and invites us to contemplate mental time travel.

Thomas Suddendorf and Michael Corballis define mental time travel as:

the mental reconstruction of personal events from the past (episodic memory) and the mental construction of possible events in the future. It is not an isolated module, but depends on the sophistication of other cognitive capacities, including self-awareness, meta-representation, mental attribution, understanding the perception-knowledge relationship, and dissociation of imagined mental states from one's present mental state.[17]

This approach raises fundamental issues for the sharing of analytical insights with coaches and athletes[18]. If the aim of the sport analytics process is to provide actionable insights then analysts should consider the neurocognitive aspects of their sharing of the insights. Two aspects considered by Peter Dowrick are 'cognitive anticipatory mechanisms'[19] and 'mirror neuron'[20] activity.

Engagement with these issues as analysts makes it possible to consider cognition and an "epistemology of potentiality"[21]. Markus Peschi and Thomas Fundneider suggest that “learning from the future” and “listening to the future as it emerges”:

involves a whole new set of cognitive abilities, attitudes and epistemological virtues, such as radical openness, deep observation, skills of deep understanding, reframing, identifying and cultivating potentials[22]

We suggest that reflection on the potential of feedforward in the analytics process raises some profound issues about why, what, how and when we share our actionable insights with a range of audiences.


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Reflecting on feedforward

Have a look at this discussion of feedback and feedforward. In what ways do you think feedforward differs from feedback? If you would like to extend your critical thinking about augmented information, you might consider reading these two papers discussing the use of video in two forms of hockey. The first is an ice hockey player's response to video feedback[23]. The second is a discussion of a field hockey player's experiences of video-based coaching[24].


  1. Dowrick, Peter (1976). "Self modelling: a videotape training technique for disturbed and disabled children." (Ph.D). University of Auckland.
  2. Dowrick, Peter (1999). "A review of self modeling and related interventions". Applied and Preventive Psychology 8 (1): 23-39.
  3. Couros, George (23 February 2016). Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  4. Dowrick, Peter; Dove, Cynthia (1980). "The use of self-modeling to improve the swimming performance of spina bifida children". Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 13 (1): 51-56.
  5. Lyons, Keith. "Feedforward". Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  6. Lyons, Keith. "#UCSIA15 Exploring Feedforward and Mental Time Travel". Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  7. Dowrick, Peter (2012). "Self modeling: Expanding the theories of learning". Psychology in the Schools 49 (1): 30.
  8. Schmidt, Richard (1991). "Frequent Augmented Feedback Can Degrade Learning: Evidence and Interpretations". Tutorials in Motor Neuroscience 62: 59-75.
  9. Ste-Marie, Diane et al (2011). "Feedforward Self-Modeling Enhances Skill Acquisition in Children Learning Trampoline Skills". Frontiers in Psychology 2.
  10. Florin, Cojanu (2010). "Designing physical education lessons in primary school by content type feed-forward". Journal of Physical Education & Sport 27 (2): 136-140.
  11. Kingston, Harrison (2008). "Examine the effects of feed forward on the proficiency of penalty kicks in football, using a performance analysis framework and a manual notation system, re-testing performance after a tactical intervention strategy". Cardiff Metropolitan University. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  12. Middlemas, Simon (2014). "The Impact of Video-based practice on the Development of Elite Youth Footballers" (PhD). Loughborough University, Loughborough, England. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  13. Marques, Priscila et al (2017). "The intermediate learner's choice of self-as-model". Kinesiology 49(1): 57-64.
  14. Dowrick, Peter (2012). "Self model theory: learning from the future". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 2: 215-230.
  15. Dowrick, Peter (2012). "Self model theory: learning from the future". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 2: 216.
  16. Dowrick, Peter (2012). "Self model theory: learning from the future". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 2: 217.
  17. Suddendorf, Thomas; Corballis, Michael (1997). "Mental time travel and the evolution of the human mind". Genetic, social and general psychology monographs 123(2): 133-167.
  18. Rizzolatti, Giacomo; Sinigaglia, Corrado (2016). "The mirror mechanism: a basic principle of brain function". Nature Reviews Neuroscience 17(12): 757-765.
  19. Suddendorf, Thomas; Corballis, Michael (2007). "The evolution of foresight: What is mental time travel, and is it unique to humans?". Behavioural and Brain Sciences 30(3): 299-313.
  20. Rizzolatti, Giacomo; Craighero, Laila (2004). "The mirror-neuron system". Annual Review of Neuroscience 27: 169-192.
  21. Peschi, Markus; Fundneider, Thomas. "Emergent Innovation: sustainable innovation as learning from the future as it emerges". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  22. Peschi, Markus; Fundneider, Thomas. "Emergent Innovation: sustainable innovation as learning from the future as it emerges". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  23. Nelson, Lee; Potrac, Paul; Groom, Ryan (2014). "Receiving video-based feedback in elite ice-hockey: a player's perspective". Sport, education and society 19(1): 19-40.
  24. Taylor, William et al (2017). "An elite hockey player’s experiences of video-based coaching: A poststructuralist reading". International Review for the Sociology of Sport 52(1): 112-125.