Coaches, how many of you have told an athlete the same thing again and again — and it never seemed to stick? Then, did they suddenly have the skill figured out after talking with another coach? This happens all the time in just about any sport, and it has nothing to do with your coaching ability. Rather, it has everything to do with the athlete’s learning style. Understanding learning styles is one of the best ways you can become the best possible coach. Here’s how each style can be addressed in the all-star cheerleading world.
The Seven Learning Styles
There are seven widely-recognized learning styles:
- Visual — Using pictures, images, and spatial understanding
- Aural — Using sound and music
- Verbal — Using words, both talking and writing
- Physical — Using your body, hands, and touch
- Logical — Using logic and reasoning
- Social — Using groups to learn
- Solitary — Using alone time to learn
Everyone has a mix of these learning styles, and it’s up to you, the coach, to figure out which ones your athletes use to process information. While giving instructions can work for aural learners, it’s going to take actually trying something for physical learners to understand.
How to Accommodate Everyone’s Style
At first, finding the right learning style is going to demand some trial and error. You’ve probably noticed that there are some athletes who just don’t respond to your instructions. If that’s the case, it’s time to try something new.
If your athletes are visual learners, take someone who already has the skill mastered and show them exactly what they should do. As this happens, verbally walk through each step. This is a great way to address both visual and aural learners.
Walk Them Through
Sometimes, the only way to learn a skill is to try it. Fully support your athlete as they go through the motions or repeat the movements to you. This method allows physical learners to find their footing.
Break It Down
Some athletes struggle to see the big picture. They need to know why pulling your heel stretch in the front works better than pulling it out to the side. Even if you don’t know much about physics, it will be easy to show them what happens when they throw off their center of balance while in the air! This method is ideal for logical learners.
Group vs. One-on-One
As we mentioned earlier, some athletes learn better in groups while others thrive on their own. Suggest private lessons to those who can’t seem to grasp topics in class, or give them “homework” to do when they get home, including drills and strength-building exercises.
Meeting Your All-Star Cheerleaders’ Needs
In order to have a great season, your entire team needs to feel competent and confident in their skills. Make sure they all have the support they need by taking the time to understand everyone’s learning style and finding a way to make it count. We know your team will be better for it. When you’re ready to hit the competition floor this season, we’ll be right there behind you. Sign up for WSA’s national cheerleading competitions or find a local one near your gym. We can’t wait to see your team hit the mat!