Game Design: Why We Use Multi-Games

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  • Is there enough room for diversity within your sessions?
  • Is there any thought about providing a diverse development journey for your learners?
It’s not about the coach and their coaching, its about the learner and their learning.The GAME PLAY LEARN Approach

With regards to session planning, we acknowledge the honourable intent to place the utmost importance on each individual session in having a purpose and a focus on specific objectives and expected outcomes for one particular sport.

But what if we put the learner’s experience first above our coaching ideals and move the emphasis from a single session towards a long term journey?

What if we could create an exploratory experience that doesn’t narrow the learners options but rather widens the scope towards a more emerging experience through a variety of games?

“We need a flexible framework where our training and planning is designed around emerging information, whilst being underpinned by sound developmental principles” Mark O'Sullivan and Al Smith

What if we could relax our expectations on outcomes of sessions and embrace a journeying approach to allow for an authentic experience to emerge for the learner - feeling that they have ‘played’ not ‘trained’? We could then facilitate a guided discovery using games as a tool for learning.

Games give an exploratory experience because of the complexity of strategies and varying solutions. There is a wide scope for exploring, rather than with an isolated, instructed, coach-driven approach that only allows for limited options and pre-defined solutions. (See Drills vs Games Blog)


It’s not only a games-based approach that is used for exploratory reasons but also the diversity of using Multi-Games.

The hope for our promotion of Multi-Game Design is not only to offer well-thought out games to draw out the maximum athletic potential in learners, but bring more awareness and acceptance of bringing diversity to the learning experience through Multi-Games rather than expectations of specialising in one sport only.

Imagine you could take your child to the local soccer club and know that within their development journey, the child receives Multi-Games to not only acknowledge the importance of diversity but for the many very important reasons in developing a well-rounded athlete and providing a wonderful foundation for life.

We do acknowledge this is a big shift in cultural values and by no means will be easy to expect change.

In our experience even, in regards to offering Multi-Games to the youngest of learners of football for example, there can be some initial resistance since they signed up for ‘football’ they expect football along with parents and organisations and our cultural acceptance of early specialisation.

There’s also a vulnerability for participants that comes with trying something new and perhaps the only previous association with success being through the one sport.

Games are complex and learners need to be given encouragement and a chance to adapt and explore.

The introduction of Multi-Games then needs sensitivity in making the Game Design easily accessible and relatable to their default chosen sport.

If introduced gradually and designed well to ensure high repetition/actions and well balanced between challenge and success, the experience for the learner then becomes the winner rather than the success of the coach or the sport.

For more on the benefits of Multi-Sport and perils of Early Specialisation check out our MULTI-SPORT, MULTI_IMPORTANT Blog.


We’ve already expressed the need for exploratory learning and diversity,  but we’ve included these in our eight reasons to highlight their importance again.

The following reasons are in no particular order and can somewhat overlap, such is the nature of complexity.

  • 1) Creativity

    The more diverse the game, the broader scope for exploring difference and creating alternative functional task solutions in more familiar games. Multi-Games provide that difference.

  • 2) Physical Literacy

    Multi-Games develop a well-rounded athlete with multi-lateral benefits for high performance, limiting injury and encouraging a well-rounded person as well.

  • 3) Encourages a Facilitator Approach

    Rather than instructing as an expert of one particular sport, using Multi-Games encourages a move from traditional Coach/Teacher roles to expertise in Facilitating and Learning Design. Once the game is introduced, the Facilitator can take a back seat to observe and watch the emergence of interactions and dynamics of the learning space.

  • 4) Diversity

    As mentioned previously, the perils of Early Specialisation have become too easily accepted in the sporting culture and Multi-Games become the hero in providing a much needed shift towards balance for well-being and any hopes for longevity in high performance and life beyond the sporting world.

  • 5) Athletic Longevity

    Another important reason for Multi-Games lost in the short term focus of Early Specialisation, is athletic longevity. Unfortunately we’re seeing cases of chronic, overuse and major injuries in younger athletes from valuing high performance as early as possible. We have a responsibility to look after our young. We are the older and wiser ones. Repetition of something, doing it everyday over and over again, in a very intense way, we were not designed for that, not for specialisation. But ‘tennis elbow’ and ankle/knee reconstructions in football are accepted and managed in the short term rather than seeing the long term affects of repetitive play of only one sport. It’s not that there won’t be any injuries obtained from Multi-Games, especially if only done sporadically, but injuries need to seen as an exception, not accepted as part of sport. Multi-Games then enables a lengthening of athletic development, not a shortening of. By looking after our young learners, they will appreciate being guided in the right direction later in life.

  • 6) Transference of Learning

    The combination of providing a balance of exploring one sport deeper while diversifying through Multi-Games can mean a greater transference of learning since they are similar in strategic, tactical principles that can be transferred across different games and explore deeper learning opportunities.

  • 7) It's Fun!

    Old games are fun, new games are fun. Red-Rover cross over is always fun, but how about inventing a new game, better yet, your learners inventing it, where the game design becomes the magnet of exploring possibilities, testing, trying out, failing and succeeding. These are the feelings learners can experience from a Multi-Game as well.

  • 8) Nurture passion

    Have you ever had to stop doing something you love? It makes you realise how much you love it right? Well, it’s true in the opposite sense. You can get jaded doing the same thing, every time for a long time, even if it’s your passion. That passion can get lost. Multi-games not only keep a freshness for the love of the game but gives scope for new passions and opportunities to arise.

    1. Check out our Multi-Game Designs to use or for inspiration to design games that suits your sport as an introduction for your learners.

    game design




    2. Watch a Multi-Game in action.   Below is Football_B-Ball, an obvious example of introducing Multi-Games by combining two similar sports into one!


3 Comments on “Game Design: Why We Use Multi-Games”

  1. Tell us your ideas Loren? Ours would be including a game using feet 😉 Start with a Foot Volley Game or Foot Tennis. Will upload a game design for you 🙂

  2. Pingback: The PE Playbook - September 2016 Edition - drowningintheshallow

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