The Importance of Different Learning Styles in Sport


11-Oct-2022 | 13 minute read

It’s long been known in the world of academia that we all learn differently. Some of us learn by watching and repeating, while there are some who prefer to just get stuck in and learn through a process of trial and error. And these are just two examples of different learning styles…there are many more.


Modern teachers are well used to adapting their lessons in order to make them more engaging to a wide range of students. In the past, teaching would consist of standing in front of a class, giving a lecture, and hoping that the imparted information would stick. These days, however, knowing about different learning styles, teachers will construct lessons that combine lectures, written and audiovisual material and practical tasks so that everyone can learn at the same pace.


And what is a coach if not a teacher? These days, sports coaches should be aware of differing learning styles in order to get the most out of their athletes. 


In this article, we’ll discuss the most common learning styles and show you how you can adapt your coaching to successfully encompass everyone on your team.

different learning styles in sport


The VARK Model of Learning Styles

There are many different models which describe learning styles, but we’ll concentrate on the VARK system.


Designed in 1987 by Neil Fleming, a teacher from New Zealand, this model has gained the most acceptance in the world of education.


The acronym VARK stands for:


  • Visual Learning
  • Auditory Learning
  • Reading / Writing Learning
  • Kinesthetic Learning


It’s important to note that you cannot choose your preferred learning style. Rather, this is an innate ability, something that you are born with, not something that can be taught.


Let’s talk about the differences between each type of learning.



Visual Learning

One of the more common learning styles, visual learners prefer getting their information through resources such as charts, graphs, diagrams, maps or any method which displays the needed information in an ordered way. A flow chart, for example, is a great way for visual learners to follow a process from start to finish, because it is ordered and in sequence.


Because the information needs to be ordered in a logical way, visual learners don’t necessarily respond well to simple video or photographs which, afterall, is just a raw info dump.


When it comes to introducing visual material in sport, think about utilising playbooks, annotated pictures and, yes, telestration with KlipDraw.


KlipDraw brings order to raw video images, whether through animated drawings or motion tracking. You can demonstrate good or bad positioning in football, for example, quickly and easily with KlipDraw. Players see their mistakes and take the appropriate action to correct them. Get a free 30-day trial by clicking the image below.


Another great resource for visual learners is statistical dashboards. These show at-a-glance data about a game that visual learners can process in seconds. Whilst KlipDraw doesn’t have a dashboard tool, it can be integrated into Nacsport which does contain such a resource. You can get a free trial of Nacsport for 30 days to try it for yourself.


klipdraw free trial



Auditory Learning

Auditory learners are those who prefer to get their information through listening and speaking. If you’ve ever met anyone who listens intently through a presentation and then asks a lot of questions, then you’ve probably encountered an auditory learner.


This type of learner prefers to gain understanding through conversation and prefers coaching strategies such as team meetings and group discussions. They organise their thoughts on the fly and only come to understand the topic once all their questions have been answered.


This is opposed to other types of learners who prefer to process all the information internally in order to understand the topic.


Auditory learners benefit from a lot of repetition. Recording or filming team presentations and allowing them to watch or listen back repeatedly can be extremely beneficial players with this learning style. The use of online video analysis platforms such as Sharimg allow you to upload your video presentations to the cloud where players can then rewatch them as many times as needed.


Adding audio notes to your exported videos will aid the understanding of auditory learners. Luckily, this is very easy to do with KlipDraw.


Due to the sheer number of questions they ask, auditory learners can be a bit annoying, but be patient and remember that it’s just their process of learning.


coaching styles



Reading / Writing Learning

Reading / writing learners are similar to auditory learners, although slightly less irritating. Instead of listening and speaking, they prefer to read and write.


This type of learner prefers to have the information written down so they can consume it at their leisure. Writing is also an important part of the learning process for them. Copying information verbatim or taking notes will help this type of learner to retain information.


In terms of coaching, written reports are essential. You could also get this type of learner to complete some written assignments, such as describing plays that you want them to learn. This will allow you to check their understanding before taking it to the training ground.


This type of learner tends to be more independent, so you can set them tasks such as researching coaching theory, and they’ll happily go off and find the information on their own.


When it comes to using KlipDraw, you can add text notes alongside your drawings and animations, and this will help the player to take in the information more easily.




Kinesthetic Learning

Alongside visual learning, this is one of the more common learning styles. Simply put, kinesthetic learners learn by doing.


There’s not much else to add here, but in terms of coaching, you explain a play or strategy to this type of learner, take it to the training ground and allow them to practice. Undoubtedly, they will make mistakes, but that’s simply their process of learning. Eventually they will get it, so it’s important to not get too frustrated with this type of learner.



How to Identify Learning Styles

So, how do you know what type of learner your athlete is?


Well, try this…


At the end of a training session, set your players a task for the next session. This could be a play or strategy you want the team to work on. Demonstrate the play using KlipDraw to highlight a time where they didn’t perform the play as expected and show them how to do it correctly. Tell them that the next time they come to train, you expect them to have their strategy and positioning perfect. Let them go off and work on it on their own.


Some of the players will go and practice immediately until they get it right. These are your kinesthetic learners. Some will ask for access to the video clip so they can study it. These are your visual learners. Some will ask you questions. These are your auditory learners. Some will go away, study the footage on their own and come to the next training session prepared with additional info. These are your reading / writing learners.


From here, you can target coaching strategies to each individual athlete and get the very best out of them.


boxing coach learning styles



Other Learning Styles

Outside of the VARK system, other researchers have identified other learning styles, although these have not gained the same acceptance as Neil Fleming’s work…yet.


Although, perhaps, not as useful to coaching, some of these learning styles include.


Social Learning. Similar to auditory learning, social learners learn best when part of a collective or group. Coaching which involves playing games (other than the sport you are coaching) can engage this type of learner.


Solitary Learning. This is learning on your own. Similar to reading / writing learners that we mentioned above, this type of learner prefers to work on their own and be in charge of their own education.


Logical Learning. Similar to visual learners, but with a more mathematical mind, logical learners need rigid structures in order to learn effectively.


There are many other proposed learning styles and we’re not going to go over each one here. If you’re interested in the subject, do your own research and see if you can find anything useful that you can bring into your coaching.



Combined Learning Styles

While it is common that, as humans, we have a preferred learning style, in reality, it’s a little more complicated than that.


According to this study by suggests that combinations of learning styles are much more effective for teaching / coaching.


This is why, when coaching and trying to impart information, you should try to include as many elements to your coaching input as possible.


As we said above, when using KlipDraw, you can add animations and tracking events which engage visual learners, audio notes, for auditory learners, and text notes, for reading / writing learners. You then take the theory to the training ground where kinesthetic learning comes to fore.


In short, standing up in front of your players and giving a 30 minute spoken lecture is not an effective coaching strategy. Use all the resources and technology available to you in order to help you players improve their performance and your team start winning.



KlipDraw: A Great Resource for Combining Learning Styles

Without a doubt, KlipDraw is a fantastic resource for engaging athletes with differing learning styles…so why not give it a go?


We offer a free 30-day trial of any of our software. Click here to get started.


If you’re not sure which software is the best for you, check out this blog which breaks down the biggest differences between KlipDraw Basic, Animate and Motion so you get exactly the program you need.


We also have courses for both KlipDraw Animate and KlipDraw Motion. You get a thorough understanding of how KlipDraw can aid your coaching and, in addition, a free 3-month KlipDraw license.


klipdraw motion course


If you have any questions about anything you’ve read in this article, or would like more information about KlipDraw, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.


Until then…


Thanks for reading.


Written By

Duncan Ritchie

KlipDraw Communications

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