|What is the difference between good and great in an athlete? How can a coach teach players to be great? How do athletes learn? These are questions asked every day in the sports world as coaches seek to train their athletes to become great. This teaching and learning of skills are the key premises in athletics and in life. The theories of how people learn have been explored in several areas of sports such as the pedagogy used to teach sports (Williams & Anshel, 2000), the differences in male and female athletes (Miller, Ogilvie, & Branch, 2008), and the differences in level of sport performance (González-Haro, Calleja-González, & Escanero, 2010; Wesch, Law, & Hall 2007).
The current research study sought to answer three questions: (1) What learning styles exist among college athletes across level of performance, gender, and sport? (2) What do college coaches know about learning styles? (3) Do college coaches who have knowledge of learning styles provide instruction that is individualized to their players’ learning styles?
Part one of this study included 155 college athletes to determine what similarities exist in learning style preference across gender, sport, level of sport performance, and year of eligibility. The findings showed no significant link between learning styles and gender, sport, level of sport performance, or year of eligibility. The findings supported those of González, González, and Escanero, (2010) who found no relationship to learning styles and level of sport performance. Part two of the study found that college coaches have a general knowledge of learning styles and do recognize the need to get to know each of their athletes in order to help them perform. The key finding of part two provide a very clear picture from the coaches of what makes athletes at high levels of sport performance different. The responses overwhelmingly pointed to motivation, work ethic, and desire/drive/passion. Part three of the study set a baseline for understanding how often coaches teach to the learning styles of their athletes. In the current study it was found the coach matched the learning styles of their athletes 40% of the time.