What Does GAME PLAY LEARN mean to you?
If one of GAME PLAY LEARN mantra’s is:
“It’s not about the coach and their coaching, it’s about the learner and their learning”
then… IT’S YOUR TURN TO PLAY!
We value collaborating, we value empowering. And so we invite you to share what Design the GAME, Let them PLAY, Watch them LEARN means to you on your own unique learning journey.
We welcome GAME PLAY LEARN team member Matthew O’Neil for his personal perspective:
‘What Does Design the GAME, Let them PLAY, Watch them LEARN mean to me?’
It means I need to remember where I put that certificate?
To be more specific, I need to go back to the 22nd of June 2006 when I was ‘deemed’ competent and had successfully completed my community coach training program, hosted by the Australian Sports Commission.
I had decided to become a ‘full-time’ coach and this certification would allow me to be a community coach for the Active After-School Communities Program: “Helping kids and communities get active”, which was a government funded program where I would travel to various schools and conduct coaching sessions.
Fast forward a year-or-so and it was me versus roughly 1000 kids on any given week and I could have been forgiven for holding communities to ransom, leading their kids away like the pied-piper.
Needless to say, I have had the good fortune of calling myself a ‘Professional’ sports coach ever since. I use the label ‘Professional’ as thoughtfully defined by Jean Cote:
“The consistent application of integrated professional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal knowledge to improve athletes’ competence, confidence, connection, and character in specific coaching contexts.“Jean Cote
So what was it about that certificate that made all the difference? What was it that allowed me to make my living from coaching?
Well, it was just ‘Game Sense’
A ‘Sense’ that has afforded me opportunities to work with thousands of kids, National and International sporting teams and with a couple of awards along the way. Many will know, ‘Game Sense’, by it’s more widely used acronym of TGfU, expanded as Teaching Games for Understanding.
Mandigo and Holt’s (2004) article on Games Literacy and TGfU highlights three main criteria that define
what is UNDERSTANDING:
I was going to number them, but I thought that might mislead someone into considering them in some type of hierarchy. I believe that the successful facilitation of TGfU requires the inter-dependence of the three points and it is here that I can really affirm what the statement
Design the GAME, Let them PLAY, Watch them LEARN means to me?
Design the GAME
To increase knowledge and understanding that enables them to anticipate patterns of play,
Let them PLAY
Exploring technical and tactical skills to deploy appropriate and imaginative responses,
Watch them LEARN
By experiencing positive motivational states while helping to facilitate motivation among others involved in the game.
I know you will appreciate how these three main points ‘fit’ the Game, Play and Learn approach and I could also entertain how other trilogies also do, such as:
Self Determination Theory: Autonomy, Mastery and Relatedness;
Constraints-led Approach: Task, Individual and Environment;
Knowledge and understanding that enables us to anticipate patterns of play;
…Is there a pattern here?
An article that does a great job in differentiating and advocating various theories is: The Spawns of Creative Behavior in Team Sports: A Creativity Developmental Framework
Interesting, in the above article, was the differentiation of TGfU and Constraints-Led approaches to coaching
“This framework also intends to provide clarification for sport stakeholders on the nature of the synergies that emerge within the dissimilarities between the two approaches. According to the framework the TGfU vision and proposals are of particular value until the illuminate stage. Significant increase of tactical creativity were confirmed in children among 7–10 years of age (Memmert, 2011), possibly indicating the optimal window of trainability. In fact, the TGfU is a more educational related approach designed for children to understand the generic tactical concepts of team sports and to capture a passion for playing games, clearly linked with previous standpoints of diversification and physical literacy. Likewise, the use of questioning as a main pedagogical tool toward a more critical thinking player. It seems that this approach captures these features better than the constraints-led approach, which consist in an advantage in supporting a wide- range creativity environment in early stages. Instead, the aim of the constraints-led approach is to reach the task goal taking into consideration the several possible ways of attaining the final outcome. This approach is more geared to performance and supports players to become autonomous of coaches’ feedback and instructions, thus more indicated from the middle stages of the framework.”
As ‘Professional’ coaches it is important that we must be specific about the coaching context, particularly as we know it is always changing.
From my own experience when I started coaching Football, the transition from coaching younger children to older players was something that challenged me, they didn’t seem to like my tune anymore? As the complexity of the Tactical Behaviour Principles became more specific, the need to reconsider the nonlinear pedagogy being used was evident.
How was it evident?
Let me finish this short article with how I might begin the next:
Q. Are the players you coach, able to experience positive motivational states while helping to facilitate motivation among others involved in the game?
Consider, as James Carse says, ‘If someone feels they must play, they can’t play’.