Coaching (effectively) to the 3 types of learners

How often have you demonstrated a movement in your class and have at least half of the members poorly mirror your technique? Or, how many times have you described how to modify a technique only to have people look confused and unsure of how to move their bodies?

Not everyone learns in the same way and in most cases, people use multiple methods.

There are 3 different types of learners:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

It’s essential to understand how people learn so you can effectively coach them. Using only one method, for example, visual cues will leave some people feeling left behind.

Visual Learners

Visual learners need to learn by seeing. These are the people who are shuffling to the front, shifting to get a better view, and those who never take their eyes off of you. They need to be able to SEE what you’re doing in order to process the information.

When you’re coaching, make sure your class can see you demonstrate the movements clearly. Break the movements down so beginners can copy you and then demonstrate them at normal speed to inspire them for what is possible.

Pro Tip: If you can’t perform a movement (maybe you’re injured or just not as proficient at a specific movement) use your other members to demonstrate. You don’t need to tell the group you can’t perform it—just highlight someone you know can demonstrate. This is a win-win situation. You can have someone else show the movements AND you are increasing their confidence when you give them the opportunity to showcase their skills!

There are many different ways to help a visual learner:

  • Demonstrate the movements
  • Write it down
  • Give a handout with images
  • Show a video
  • Use props to emphasize technique
  • Pair them up with someone they can watch
  • Place them near the front or back of the class (front they can watch you or back, they can watch someone who is more advanced in front of them)

Auditory Learners

An auditory learner can comprehend things they hear or speak. They can pay attention to your words and understand the information.

Coaching by verbal cues may take a bit more practice than visual ones. You will need to use your words, and you will need to use the RIGHT words.

If you’re overexplaining you could be confusing people. Keep it simple but clear. Understanding body mechanics and how to describe very simple movements is incredibly helpful.

Pro Tip: Try this exercise. Find a friend who will help you out. Describe how to complete a squat (words only, no movements). Have your friend ONLY do what is described to them. What kind of squat do you end up with?

Auditory learners may ask more questions or need to understand a bit more about the movements than those who are just visual.

It takes practice to know how much is too much but choosing your words carefully will help keep your members on track.

Here are a few ways to help auditory learners:

  • Cue movements clearly
  • Add cues to improve technique as they are moving
  • Have people repeat the simple cues to good movement

Kinesthetic Learners

Your kinesthetic learners are your doers. They need to learn by actually doing the movements themselves. They will have a really hard time learning If you just sit them in a chair and lecture and demonstrate.

Being able to mimic someone’s movements isn’t always easy—even for a kinesthetic learner. You may need to have them complete the movements but in a simplified way or in a modified way. It’s important to break down complicated or advanced movements.

It may take someone several reps to start to implement the instructions you are hoping for. They are learning through DOING.

It’s helpful to reference specific body cues. For example, if your member is having a hard time with a squat, they may need to look down and see that their weight is in their toes. Have them lift their toes as them move down which can help them correct the rest of the alignment in their body for a proper squat.

Here are a few things you can do to help kinesthetic learners:

  • Have them do the movements with you
  • Stand next to them and walk them through how to put their body in each position
  • Repetition of movement

Putting it all together

When you’re coaching you will likely need to use methods to teach to all 3 types of learners. In most cases, people need a combination and it creates a much more dynamic experience.

You should be nailing all 3 for everything you coach. Here’s how you do it:

  • Use clear and simple verbal directions
  • Demonstrate the movements
  • Have the moves written down (if possible)
  • Encourage members to move as you describe the correct form and technique

Bonus! When you start to coach using all 3 methods, you start to have a new understanding of the movements yourself. It’s always been said that you can learn through teaching others—this is the ultimate form.

Coaching to all 3 learners will give you a more dynamic class and members who will learn quickly from you!

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Coach Stacy

Empowering women’s-only gym owners/trainers to build trust, positivity, and profit through mission-driven, ethical strategies.

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