APTUS Events

Liberty Student-Athletes Learn How They Learn

Photo by Lathan Goumas
Article Written By: Damien Sordelett
Original article from The News and Advance

Liberty's football roster features 24 true freshmen. Before any of them stepped foot onto the Williams Stadium turf for a practice or even took a class, they all took a test.

This test, which took 25 to 30 minutes to complete, didn't feature a right or wrong answer. In fact, there were very few questions asked at all as the student-athletes focused on following instructions and retaining as much information as possible.

These freshmen, along with all the other football players and student-athletes at Liberty, took a test administered by APTUS, a group that specializes in the learning ability of individuals and aims to provide better information to coaches and academic staff on how to work with student-athletes.

LU became the first school in the country to provide APTUS testing for all of its athletics programs.

"The games are speeding up, complexity of systems are increasing, complexity of curriculums are increasing and becoming ever and ever more difficult, especially at leading schools like Liberty," said Eric Vaughn, who is the chief sales officer for APTUS. "Understanding how they learn and how to best teach them can mean the difference between somebody over performing and being highly successful while they're on campus and somebody never really quite connecting."

The tests, which were taken on iPads, help the coaches and professors understand how a student learns while learning. Each student-athlete receives his or her tests results, and each coach and professor also receives results that are geared toward helping instruct a student better on the field or in the classroom - whether that is through hands-on activities, the use of visual tools or through simple communication such as a lecture.

"It will probably help coaches and professors know what type of student they have and how they learn - some people are visual learners, some of them learn by voice," freshman cornerback Jimmy Faulks said. "I'm a visual learner, so I've got to see it actually done for me to get it right the first time."

The APTUS tests come in handy for football coaches especially. With offenses transitioning to more complex schemes and television often dictating short weeks with midweek games, the coaching staffs are hoping the results will ease the burden of teaching the game plan and help the players understand the system in a timely manner.

For instance, instead of drawing a design of a play on the whiteboard, the staff may elect to line the players on the field and go through the play so they understand where they need to be. Or, there may be more film sessions to help ease the learning process.

Each teaching moment is aimed toward helping the players retain as much information as possible.

"Before taking an APTUS test, it might take a year through trial by error to find out how a guy learns. Some guys learn better on the whiteboard, some guys learn better through film, some guys learn better kinesthetically through a walkthrough-type scenario, and some guys learn when you throw them in the fire and they've got to be in the mix," LU linebackers coach Josh Bookbinder said. "I think APTUS really gives you some tangible things that you can do to help a guy along the learning curve. It kind of prepares me for how a guy learns best.

"There's even things in there that I would not be aware of it unless it was tested. Some guys struggle with being on the left side of the formation as opposed to the right side of the formation; they're stronger being on one side, which I didn't know. Obviously you've got to rep them on both sides and makes sure there's no disconnect there between left and right."

The freshmen agreed the test was different than previous ones they had taken and they hope the coaches and professors can utilize the test results so each one of them can better retain information throughout their college years.

"It was difficult, but at the same time it's using your brain and that's pretty much what football is," quarterback Stephen Calvert said. "You've just got to learn what you're doing and go out with the flow of things - pretty much you just read it, you don't know what's going on and you've just got to figure it out."

To read the original article, visit The News and Advance.

Photo by Lathan Goumas

Photo by Lathan Goumas

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