How to Coach Using Different Learning Styles
Individuals have a dominant learning method. By incorporating the four major learning methods into each practice, your youth sport athletes will learn more effectively and you will have more productive practices. This article provides easy steps that incorporate each of the major learning styles to amplify the productivity of your practices.
Have you ever been exhausted by the young athlete's inability to grasp what you are trying to teach and you are at the point where you feel they are purposely defying you. Most of the time, the reality is: they do not comprehend the difference between what you are teaching and what they are doing.
Individuals have dominant learning styles. That is, most people favor a particular method of learning. A learning style is the method of learning that is unique to an individual that allows that individual to learn the quickest.
The four major learning styles are:
1) Auditory: Auditory processors learn by hearing. They interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to the tone of voice, pitch, speed, and other spoken nuances. The most effective method to teach verbal learners is to use short explanatory sentences and have them repeat back the particulars of the drill.
2) Visual: The majority of individuals are visual processors who learn through seeing the instructor's body language and movements, and facial expressions to fully understand the content of the lesson. Visual learner's learn best when seeing the coach's body language and facial expression and, typically, prefer standing near the front of the group to avoid visual obstructions.
3) Kinesthetic(tactile): Kinesthetic processors learn by doing and retain information best by acting out the activity themselves through either mimicking the action or showing it to others. Although tactile learners are a minority in society, many youth coaches exclusively use this style. Coaches tell the players to do a specific drill by name, watch them, and then quickly provide a verbal adjustment without first telling them what and why they are doing it and acting it out for them.
4) Sequential: The sequential learning style is not as often recognized as the other learning styles, but many very talented athletes are sequential learners. The sequential learning style is based on the "why" question. These athletes learn through linearly stepping through the process from start to finish and understanding the reason behind the different steps.
A key objective in youth sports is to amplify the athlete's learning during the two hour practice. Incorporating every learning style can increase the effectiveness of your practices. When introducing a new skill or team play:
1) Tell the players the motivation for the drill.
2) Have a coach demonstrate the activity and ask the players to break it down step by step.
3) Let the players perform the activity with constructive coaching fine-tuning.
4) After you finish, have the players recap the activity with why it is important and what are the steps in the process.
By incorporating multiple learning styles during practice, each player learns using their preferred style. Auditory learners are taught in their style during step 1, 3, and 4. Optimal learning for the visual and kinesthetic styles occurs during step 2 thru 4. Finally, sequential learners get the most from steps 1, 2, and 4.
What are the learning styles of the youth athletes on your team? Based on your teams previous performance in practice and games, what is the one area that needs to be worked on in the next practice. Break down the drills and play execution into the four steps above to maximize the players learning potential.
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Youth-Athlete provides resources for parents, coaches, and young athletes including coaching tips that enable a successful season and a community for open questions.