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ACHPER International Conference 2009 - Contemporary Games Teaching

Primary aged children have recently been exposed to TGfU concepts through the Australian Sports Commission‘s ‗Playing for life‘ approach adopted in their Active After School Communities (AASC) coach training program. AASC is a national program that is part of the Australian Commonwealth Government‘s $116 million Building a Healthy, Active Australia package. It provides primary aged school children with access to free, structured physical activity programs in the after school time slot of 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm. The program is designed to engage traditionally non-active children in physical activity and to build pathways with local community organizations, including sporting clubs (ASC, 2005).

  • Playing for life‘ is an approach to coaching that uses games as the focus of development. By

concentrating on game-based activities, children are able to: develop skills within a realistic and enjoyable context, rather than practising them in isolation and from a technical perspective. Become maximally engaged in dynamic game-based activities that use a fun approach to developing a range of motor skills‘ (ASC, 2005, p.53).

Research (Light, 2002, 2003; Thomas, 1997a; Turner & Martinek, 1999; Werner, Thorpe & Bunker, 1996) indicates the strengths of the TGfU approach and the desirability of it as one of the major approaches to the quality teaching of games. Light (2002) highlighted the effectiveness of TGfU for engagement and cognitive learning. Higher order thinking occurs from questioning and discussion about tactics and strategies and also ‗through the intelligent movements of the body during games‘ (Light, 2002, p.23). Cognitive development through decision-making and tactical exploration are combined with skill development within modified games to provide meaningful contexts. Light (2002) suggests that it is difficult for some physical educators to address cognition in games. TGfU is one pedagogical approach that may assist teachers and coaches to address this issue.

Given the decreased involvement of children in physical activity, TGfU is aimed at encouraging children to become more tactically aware and to make better decisions during the game. As well, it encourages children to begin thinking strategically about game concepts whilst developing skills within a realistic context and most importantly, having fun. Essentially by focusing on the game (not necessarily the ‗full‘ game), players are encouraged to develop a greater understanding of the game being played. Thomas (1997b) states that the desired effect of this is ‗players/students who are more tactically aware and are able to make better decisions during the game, thereby adding to their enjoyment of playing the game‘ (p.3). Research by McKeen, Webb and Pearson (2005) support the increased enjoyment of students exposed to the TGfU approach compared to traditional teaching of games. TGfU has been shown to result in improved learning outcomes for students. Games are a significant component of the physical education curriculum, with research suggesting that ‗65 per cent or more of the time spent in physical education is allotted to games‘ (Werner et al, 1996, p.28).

The Implications of TGfU for teachers

There is no doubt a number of key aspects come to light. These include a deep understanding of games both within and across categories (target, invasion, striking/fielding and net/court) as is illustrated in a model for pre-service teachers (Forrest, Webb and Pearson 2006). The integrated approach refers to the ability to analyse and develop constructive lessons that go across sports and activities In addition, the response from teachers indicate

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