Learning Styles and Sport Pedagogy:  An Holistic Approach to Coaching Young Players in a Team and Player Development Program

Harry Hubball, University of British Columbia,  Canada

Objectives:  The purpose of this workshop is (i) to critcally assess how learning styles research can be applied to meet the physical, mental social and emotional needs of young sports players (ii) to identify a wide range of learning strategies in the context of a team and player development program for advanced young soccer players.

Context:  In many areas of the world, a wide range of opportunities exists for children to participate in a sports team program.   Typically, children (and parents) have a wide range of motives for attending these programs.  Traditionally, sports team programs fo young children, however, tend to focus exclusively on skill development without careful consideration to the holistic needs (physical, mental, social and emotional development) of young players.  Consequently, participation experiences can vary enourmously in degrees of quality, satisfaction, learning and motivation for further involevement or dropout.

Learning styles research and sport pedagogy:   Research shows that children learn in a variety of ways, they are at different stages of learning and progress at different rates.  Successful coaches are able to respond to the needs of a diverse group of young players by implementing a wide range of learning strategies provide a balance of comfortable and challenging experiences for each player in the team, while enabling individuals to develop a broad set of knowledge, abilities and skills.  After all, effective sports teams rely on a wide range of talents from individual players.  Howard Gardner's research with multiple intelligence, provides great insight to ways of learning and implications for player-centered coaching.

Application:  A soccer development program was designed to meet the needs and circumstances of advanced young players at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada.  The UBC Faculty of Education offers this program as a community outreach initiative and research project.  The soccer program focuses on a holistic approach to team and player devlopment.  Gardner's framwork for multiple intelligence provides guidance for implementing a wide variety of learning strategies.  For example, emphasis is paced on creating an optimal learning environment (eg, positive coach-payer-parent interactions, developmentally-appropriate fun and challenging soccer experiences) and the program is designed at key stages to meet the specific physical (eg, fitness and skill development), mental (eg developing problem solving strategies and critical thinking skills), and social and emotional (eg, developing confidence, coping skills, leadership, interpersonal skills, friendships) needs and circumstances of advanced young soccer players.  Reseach data over an 18 month period suggests that, as part of a broad integrated approach, applying learning styles framework can be effective to enhance team and player development.  Furthermore, Gardner's modelprovides insight to further improve the learning experience for advanced young soccer players.

Following an interactive presentation, participants will be engaged in a large group discussion to examine the application of learning styles research to enhance sports pedagogy.  A soccer portfolio, video analysis and useful literature sources will be available.

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