Learning Types & athlete-centred coaching

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been introduced to Diana Laurillard’s Learning Types (LTs). (1)

Laurillard’s LTs define a range of ways in which learning can be facilitated within a “conversational framework“ i.e. a dialogue between teacher and student, between coach and player, subject and learner.

This concept of learning dovetails neatly with the idea of athlete-centred coaching, where coaching is not (only) about what the coach can teach.

Rather, learning (athlete development) occurs as a collaborative process between coach and athlete, intended to empower the athlete.

Laurillard’s Learning Types

Laurillard defines six LTs from an educational viewpoint but which can be translated readily enough into “coach speak”.

ProductionCreating and presenting an output and developing conceptsMatch play; games; games sense & TGfU
PracticeGenerating actions and responding to feedbackDrills; gamified drills
DiscussionAsking questions and sharing ideasChecking for Understanding; Open team talk; Review
CollaborationWorking together and negotiating to create a shared outputTeamwork e.g. bowlers creating a plan & field setting; opening batters preparing to face a scenario
InvestigationExploring and evaluating informationUnstructured play; game-sense/TGfU; Constraints-Led approaches
AcquisitionReading, watching, and listening to textsDemo, Instruction
Laurillard’s Learning Types

The one I have so far struggled to “translate” is Discussion. The obvious applications (obvious to me) are all a little too coach-led — coach asks questions and waits for responses, which isn’t really a discussion (which should be a two-way exchange of ideas, quite possibly between peers). And, as a fellow coach commented, there can already be too much chat in a coaching session — do we really want to encourage more?

More thought needed on this one.

There is probably more overlap between Practice and Investigation in a coaching context than in teaching (especially if we exclude Blocked practice) — a gamified drill should offer opportunities for the player to investigate alternative techniques and movement solutions, not simply to reproduce the “perfect” model.

I have tried to re-create a couple of my coaching sessions from a Team Up programme earlier this year into a format that explicitly identifies the relevant LTs, using a Learning Designer tool developed by a team led by Diana Laurillard at the UCL Knowledge Lab.

I haven’t utilised all of the LTs in these sessions, nor is the balance of activities that consistent. I’ll take this as a learning opportunity, at this stage.

And it could certainly be argued that too many of the activities here are actually coach-prescribed.

But I do think it would be beneficial to learning and retention if we were to utilise as many of these LTs as possible.

Not in a single session, to be sure, but over the course of a few sessions, perhaps with time for self reflection and structured “private learning” (AKA “homework”), certainly with opportunities to play the game, whatever it might be?

This could well be the way to go for more athlete-centred learning.

  1. Before anyone starts telling me how this theory has been discredited…Laurillard’s LTs are not the same as VARK Learning Styles — Visual, Audio, Reading, Kinaesthetic — which have recently received fairly consistent theoretical de-bunking.

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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