Teaching Game Sense in soccer: The Game-Sense Approach develops tactical and strategic thinking in addition to sport-specific motor skills
Posted by Dean Holden at June 3rd, 2013
by Shane Pill, Academic journal article from JOPERD–The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Vol. 83, No. 3 March 2012
Foster (2010) has suggested that for many young soccer players the experience of training and playing is too often negative. Expectations that junior players should display the physicality of adult games and a focus on results (the score) sometimes undermine the development of technique, good decision making, and game skill at the junior level (Football Federation of Australia [FFA], 2009). According to Carr (2011), junior players are likely to be picked for size, strength, and speed rather than skill and technique, and Williams and Hodges (2005) reported that many coaches continue to hold the erroneous opinion that game skill can be acquired over time through game-day match play. Martin (2010) indicated that coaches frequently
… tend to focus on players’ physical (skill and fitness) development without careful consideration of their holistic needs. The coaching session focus tends to involve a series of ‘drills’ and exercises. … Consequently, players’ participation experiences can vary enormously in degrees of enjoyment and learning, and motivation for further involvement, (p. 1)
Similar observations have been made by Fenoglio (2007), Gerdsen (2008), and Williams and Hodges (2005). Traditional coaching methodologies often overemphasize direct instruction (Wein, 2004, 2007) and the breaking down of sport-specific skills into small steps that are “put together” using a progressive sequence from simple to more complex (Webb & Thompson, 2000) without regard for the complexities of the game environment until the end of the sequence. Metzler (2005) has identified this technical type of instruction as the traditional method of teaching physical education. Some sport pedagogues have challenged this paradigm of sport teaching and coaching (e.g., Jones, 2006; Kidman, 2005), while research on sport-skill learning, informed by constraints-based theory and operating from the assumption of sport as a dynamic system, has highlighted the value of contextualized game-based training (Davids, Button, & Bennett, 2007) that focuses on teaching sport for understanding (Chow et al., 2007; Renshaw, Chow, Davids, & Hammond, 2010). This can be applied to several invasion games (den Duyn, 1997), but it has been particularly evident in the field of soccer coaching (e.g., Davids, 1988; Davids, Araujo, & Shuttleworth, 2005; Williams & Hodges, 2005). This article discusses the benefit of using a “game-sense” framework to teach the sport of soccer.
Game sense is a sport-specific iteration of the teaching games for understanding model (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982, 1983). Game sense was developed in Australia in the mid-1990s through collaboration between the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Rod Thorpe (Light, 2004; Webb & Thompson, 2000). It emphasizes the use of small-sided games (den Duyn, 1996) to “play with purpose” (Pill, 2007). The purpose is the achievement of tactical and strategic thinking, as well as the development of sport-specific motor skills (den Duyn, 1996). Examples of strategic thinking include the following (den Duyn, 1997):
* Where (and when) are the best spaces to run to receive the ball?
* How will this affect where my teammates go?
* How can I move to pressure the other team and regain possession after a turn-over?
Game sense was devised to challenge traditional decontextualized coaching of sport-movement skills and game knowledge and to provide an alternative design framework for sport teaching (den Duyn, 1996; Light, 2006; Light & Robert, 2010). It does not…
<Shane has written a number of articles and books on the subject of Game Sense. I suggest you check them out! DH>