Why Technique does not need to be taught: Part Two

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Why Technique Does not need to be taught: PART TWO


In Part One (To Read Click Here), we explored why Technique doesn’t matter and more the importance of:

  1. Keeping the perception and action together - “Every action involves a decision”
  2. “We give the ‘What’ (the structure) the ‘How’ (the technique) the players themselves fill with life!” - Focusing on technique can take away from a greater focus and the ‘soul’ of the game.

In Part Two then, we wanted to look at the traditional instructional approach to teaching and apply it to the sporting context and to technique where we encourage a shift towards a modern coaching approach that encourages self-determined, discovery learning.

Rather than going into the depths of theories reasons why we need to make this shift, we’ve decided to use the story of a coach and their journey to support how the evolution of the teacher/coach needs to move from instructor to facilitator.


The Evolution of Teaching


A few years back I was introduced to my first experience of coaching an Under 11s team. Coming from a professional playing background and educated in the advanced coaching pathways, my initial motivation in coaching was to help aspiring professionals and impart my knowledge to the up and coming talent.


So when I was handed a group of young kids in a school environment, a long way away from the discipline, focus and motivation to be a ‘pro’, it was hard to keep these kids standing still for more than one minute let alone think about instructing and correcting them. I didn’t particularly want to turn into a drill-sergeant monster!

Fortunately, I was given great guidance by some Foundation Phase enthusiasts at the school who directed me to continue the group in the ‘Funino Progressions’.


I began reading the Horst Wein material and all I did for the first few weeks was set up the fields on our Technical Practice days, introduce the games and progressions, and observe.

I couldn’t actually believe what I saw. These kids could play. They had moves! They could hardly juggle a ball, if they randomly kicked a ball, you’d have to duck for cover, such was the lack of control in isolation. But when they started to play, wow, they could play. They could really move with that ball. How could this 4 goal game with 3v3 variations make kids play like this?

And they didn’t need me to say a thing, just give them my undivided attention. Ask a few questions, make a few suggestions.


This was my introduction to ‘Let the Game be the Teacher‘.  And along with the Effective Questioning tool, when asking about where to support, how to defend outnumbered, these kids stopped me in my coaching tracks. They didn’t need knowledge of how to kick a ball, they didn’t need an instructor to tell them where to stand; they needed a guide, a navigator (as this blog suggests) a designer of games to let them play and watch them learn. I was opened to a whole new world with the most important realisation that it was less about me and my coaching and more about them and their learning.

During the following weeks, months and now years, working with 10 and 11 year olds (and raising a few at home) I don’t underestimate them anymore. I’m seeing these kids produce some amazing freakish skill play. Overhead kicks are a common feature, so are ‘Robona’s.  Scoring ‘top bins’ is a thing, as is a nut-meg. But there’s also plenty of mistakes. Airswings, ‘fails’ as they call it. It’s all there - but no drills, no instructing, just literally fun and games. It’s also an extremely more enjoyable way to coach. Sure there’s still very challenging times with different personalities. But because there’s much less stress and pressure to instruct, I’m able to be more of a calm, stable presence to observe.

Design the GAME
Let Them PLAY
Watch Them LEARN

We’ve now moved on in our sessions to free play, multi-games and taking turns in designing a game for the group. It’s become more than a training session. It’s a learning experience.

I’m glad to say now I’m the same driven person but a completely different coach! Actually perhaps not even driven, but very much enjoying the experience with these interesting young people.  They are more than players or students, they are learners just like me.


IMAGE: JOEY PETERS and some of her Under 11 learners after a multi-games experience


So if we can take anything from that story and add it to modern science and learning principles, hopefully we can remember to bring the game to the forefront as the greatest teacher.

It’s the exploration of a game’s principles and dealing with the dynamics of team work and strategy by playing the game that then shapes behaviours and actions of players to perform some amazing creative technical expressions of the game.

So does that mean all we do is play a simple game? By no means! This is where The Performance Playground comes to the for, and we do our hard work in designing games using constraints, and manipulate them as behaviours emerge. It’s creating a messy, chaotic complex dynamic of individuals in a learning space and finding different ways to explore it. Making games up on the spot. Changing them, adding to them. This is an environment that’s real and relevant. In accordance with the learners needs, not our own.

We not only need to move ourselves forwards as leaders, but also educate players, parents, organisations and bring along all involved who are indoctrinated in the ways of the past and come back to common sense:

How better to learn the game and develop the techniques of the game than by playing the game?

What are your LEARNINGS?

We'd like to hear a story of Evolution from you!


One Comment on “Why Technique does not need to be taught: Part Two”

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

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