Teaching Styles In Sport

Teaching styles

This section looks at the different teaching styles and forms of guidance (Equivalent to UK A Level Physical Education). The styles of teaching that an instructor, coach or teacher adopts depends upon their own personality and ability, the activity and skill being taught, the learner’s ability, motivation, age, and the learning environment.


Mosston and Ashworth Spectrum of Styles

This continuum is based upon the ratio of decision making on the side of the teacher, compared to the student(s). The diagram below demonstrates the continuum between a whole teacher’s decided style and one where the pupils make the majority of the decisions.

Styles A and B: The teacher makes the majority of the decisions and uses a command style ensuring all learners do the same thing

Styles C and D: The pupils make some of the decisions. The teacher will provide instructions with alternatives for the students to choose between activities or ways of varying the activity. This is a reciprocal style

Styles E, F, and G: These are democratic styles of teaching, where the pupils are involved in the decision-making process, often involving negotiation or voting

Styles H, I and J: The pupils make most or all of the decisions in what are usually problem-solving type activities.


Guidance is required in the process of transmitting information about a skill to the learner. The form this guidance takes can be either visual, verbal or manual. A combination of all of these forms of guidance is usually most successful.

Visual Guidance

This is the use of a demonstration to help guide the performer to form a mental picture and reproduce the movement. The demonstration, or model, must be as perfect as possible and must be realistic. Forms of demonstration other than live models can be used, for example, photos, diagrams (although very static) and video. The display can also be enhanced by increasing the visual stimulus, for example placing targets on the court.

Verbal Guidance

This is thought to be the least useful style of guidance when used in isolation. It is most often used in conjunction with visual guidance. The teacher provides cues for the athlete to remind them of parts of the skill, for example, saying “keep your eyes on the ball” to a batter, just before a ball is bowled in rounders. It is important to consider when using verbal guidance, if the performer understands what is being said, if they can remember the information being given and if they can translate this into action.

Manual Guidance

Manual guidance can come from another person or an object to help the performer learn a movement whilst building confidence and getting a sense of how it should feel. Examples of guidance are a teacher moving a student’s arms through the required motion for a tennis shot and using armbands or a float when learning to swim. The kind of guidance where the teacher guides the student through a movement is known as a forced response. This is useful to give the player a feel for the movement although if it is used continuously they may become dependant on it or lose motivation.

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