Game Design: Uphold the Game’s Integrity

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Upholding the game's integrity

Coach the Game, Not the player

Have you heard of ‘Let the game be the teacher’?
Now we add ‘Coach the game, not the player’GAME PLAY LEARN

In the serious business of coaching, we can sometimes forget that our ultimate responsibility as facilitators, is to ensure that our players, above all, enjoy the game. When you see kids playing on the street or in the playground, are they setting up cones and drill practices? No, they are playing some kind of game. This gives us a clue on player motivation and enjoyment.

How better to enjoy the game than by playing it?!

As coaches we can get caught up with detail and trying to improve our players by breaking down the game into single skills and isolated segments. Let’s be sure to remember to ‘let the game be the teacher’.

How better to learn the game than by playing it?!

If we want to manipulate or modify the game, we must do so only according to the context and players needs, but we must also ensure that we uphold the game’s integrity.

How better to coach the player, than by coaching the game?!

For example, if we take away the opposition/defenders, is it still upholding the game’s principles of attack? Isn’t having opponents trying to win the ball and prevent you from scoring, a vital piece of information to shape our team’s actions when we have the ball?

What if we play a game without direction? Is it still upholding the game’s principle of penetration and delay? Isn’t that a vital piece of information that will determine what our team needs to do with the ball?


Yes, there are games without defenders, direction and the other, and they certainly serve certain purposes…

The point is, as learning designers, we need to be very aware and careful of why we are adding to or taking away anything from the game, it’s principles and its integrity.



3 Comments on “Game Design: Uphold the Game’s Integrity”

  1. My checkpoint with upholding the games integrity was always to ask myself if the habits the kids are learning are transferable directly to the end game as we know it. For example within the Rally Method of tennis coaching players would get sucked forward on the court and then when confronted with a deep ball would simply save it on the full. I wanted to implement a rule or constraint that would push the players back towards the baseline and get them used to moving backwards to deep balls. The initial rule I first tried in the game was that players at the back court had to let the ball bounce before contact. While this encouraged players to move backwards it did take the drive volley out of the game. Effectively this outlawed a tactical play that I would want in every players end game. To restore the integrity of the game I changed the constraint to “If you want to be allowed to save the ball at the back court you have to let it bounce before you hit”. This allowed the more advanced risk takers to hit their drive volleys while most of the players on the court were still being encouraged to work on moving back to let the ball bounce before contact.
    Our games encourage decisions and our decisions develop habits. The real question is: What habits are your games developing in your players?

    1. Thanks Pat, great to hear from you as always, we need more on your excellent Rally Method. The word habit is interesting amongst keeping the integrity of the game. We would also say ‘How does this game shape the behaviour of the player/s?’ And adjust constraints accordingly as the behaviour emerges. Great discussion, cheers Pat

  2. Pingback: WHY TECHNIQUE DOES NOT NEED TO BE TAUGHT | Rise Volleyball Academy

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