Everyone learns in a different way, which is important for becoming an effective coach and instructor. According to Rose and Nicholl (1997), there are three basic learning preferences: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best through seeing the information being taught. Seeing would include actions such as reading text and looking at pictures, flow charts or diagrams. Visual learners also process information while observing demonstrations, for example, when watching a trainer execute a movement a number of times. Auditory learners prefer to learn by hearing instructions, listening to lectures and taking note. Kinesthetic learners prefer movement and hands-on activities. They like to use the senses of touch, smell, and taste in the learning experience.
Although the majority of individuals will have an overriding learning preference, it will not be limited. We use all of these learning styles to a certain degree. My wife, for instance, has a learning preference that is highly visual, moderately kinesthetic and to a small degree auditory. It is complicated for her to practice a tennis stroke in her mind based on auditory descriptions. She wants to see it in order to learn it. Countless of our conversations end with her saying, “Let me see how you perform it.” It also helps for her to try it out herself and study experientially.
I have seen similar situations when training clients. One client of mine was greatly kinesthetic and explanations only confused her—so much so that I stopped even trying to describe movements to her and realized it was better to demonstrate an exercise once or twice and then have her perform it while I provided manual and verbal feedback.
Rose, C., & Nicholl, M.J. (1998). Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century: The Six-Step Plan to Unlock Your Master-Mind. New York: Dell.