2. BUT FIRST
WHAT IS ‘GAME SENSE’?
A pedagogical approach and adaptation to the TGFU model (Teaching Games for
Understanding) developed by Rod Thorpe with the ASC (Australian Sports
…. goes BEYOND the technicalities and authoritative approach towards play and
sports games, and centers the player to create a HOLISTIC learning
environment. It encourages players to be CRITICAL of their learning
environment and focus on their DEVELOPMENT throughout the game rather
‘Game Sense’ allows students to understand the tactics and skills they need in
order to progress critically and physically in a game, and incorporating these
towards understanding the limits of the self, and the importance of Physical
Education in everyday life.
(Light, 2006, p. 9)
‘Game Sense’ centers the player within the following categories:
Game This is ‘what’ the students will focus the remaining 5 categories on.
Understanding the concept of the ‘game’ and developing an aim.
Game Appreciation ‘Why do I need to do this?’ Players understand the holistic nature of the game,
and how the rules and skills are inextricable to the overall understanding of the
Tactical Awareness Using tactics and techniques as foreground to understanding the “offensive” and
“defensive” roles in a game. E.g. lowering hands as you catch a ball increases
the chances of it being caught.
Decision Making ‘How will I do this?’ By understanding the benefit of using tactics in a game,
players learn how to apply critical decision making to better their outcomes in the
context of a game.
Skill Execution ‘If I do this better, I can...’ Players develop an understanding for the need to
improve and execute skills in a game and how its implementation can enhance
overall skill performance and progression in the game. E.g. perfecting how to
dribble in soccer and simultaneously applying tactical field skills will provide
foundation for scoring goals and team progression.
Game Performance Combining the above categories to a game with set criteria to test their
understanding through performance. This reinforces the teachers’/instructors’
role of teaching and providing the feedback necessary to perfect the previous
categories and apply them to future games.
(Hopper, Butler &
4. HOW DO WE PLAY?
The ‘Game Sense’ approach can be exemplified through 4 game categories:
1. Invasion e.g.
2. Striking e.g.
3. Net/wall e.g.
4. Target e.g. Archery
The skillset and tactics necessary in
order to play most sports are found
within these 4 categories, most often
used by educators and coaches.
(Hopper, Butler & Storey, 2009, p.
5. IMPLEMENTING GAME SENSE IN LESSONS
Teachers as guides
Teachers become role models and mold the learning environment to meet the individual needs and skill-sets of
Working our way up
Starting small by working with the initial skill-set of both individual students and the class as a whole. Using
simple, modified games to first assess skill sets and progressing to complex games which incorporate all
categories of the Game Sense model and components of Games Education. As skills increase, the tactics and
student engagement increases thus producing an inclusive, diverse-skilled environment.
Using students as the agents of the game and working with them, rather than against. Previous, authoritative
methods of teaching children how to perform skills are replaced with an emphasis on why they are being
performed, and how students can improve. Engaging students and producing an interactive lesson by
reducing technical demand is vital for the overall positivity of our lessons.
Critical, holistic learning
Knowledge can only be accumulative from here on in. Integrating technical and tactical skills catalyzes an
environment of simultaneous learning for students. Teachers must analyze the skills and involvement of their
students from beginning to end, in order to modify the game accordingly and meet the complex requirements
of children growing physically, mentally and socially.
Encouragement is key!
Teachers are facilitators and the medium through which knowledge is gained, rather than being just its source.
Modifying games means that teachers are given the opportunity to reflect on themselves, as well as allowing
their students to reflect on what they liked, disliked, and what they want to change in the lesson or even their
teacher! Positive praise and constructive criticism should always be reinforced, to give students an all-inclusive
environment to enrich their skills in.
6. WHERE IS GAME SENSE IN THE SYLLABUS?
‘Game Sense’ is innovative and dynamic, and malleable to all indicators and outcomes of
PDHPE. From the lesson plan to the lesson itself, teachers must always cover the subject
matter relevant to the stage being taught in order to meet syllabus requirements. ‘Game
Sense’ is adaptive and due to its high modification from various skills and outcomes, teachers
are able to critically select what subject matter to meet in order for students to achieve the
outcomes of their stage.
Why is this important for stage 2?
Active Lifestyle – Ways to be active: Teaching students to balance physical, social and
emotional components of physical health and education. Emphasizes Game and Game
Games and Sports - Games: Teaching children to value their spatial and physical awareness.
Establishing minor games and modifying them whilst introducing ‘Game Sense’ categories
i.e. invading games, net/wall games. Reinforces Tactical Awareness and Decision Making.
Interpersonal Relationships – Communication: Students think critically and self-assess as
games are being modified and as their skills, strengths and weaknesses adapt to them.
Students learn to communicate their feelings and criticisms towards the lesson and
performance, as well as having the confidence to implement the knowledge they have gained
through subsequent PDHPE lessons. This strengthens Skill Execution and Game
7. NOBODY SAID IT WAS EASY!
Modification of games means mistakes, frustration, and giving up for both
students and teachers! Understanding your students and the environment
you are translating your lesson in means better evaluation on the lesson and
Patience is key! Constant game modification means an increased need for
toleration of the changes that are a result of this. By providing an inclusive
and understanding environment for students where encouragement is
always present, students will gain the confidence in adapting to changes and
‘Game Sense’ education.
Investing time in a constant journey of learning. ‘Game Sense’ education is a
platform for self-transformation of all aspects, physical, emotional, mental
and social. Students will carry the confidence gained through self-realization
in all aspects of PDHPE, and even further into other KLA’s.
So get moving! The benefits of ‘Game Sense’ are far too fun to pass by!
Board of Studies, NSW. (2007). Personal Development, health and physical education
K-6: Syllabus. Sydney, Australia.
Butler, J. (2005). Teaching games for understanding: Theory, research, and practice.
Hopper, T., Butler, J., & Storey, B. (2009). TGFU-Simply Good Pedagogy: Understanding
a Complex Challenge. PHE Canada.
Light, R. (2006). Game Sense: Innovation or just good coaching?. Journal of Physical
Education New Zealand, 39(1), 8.
Bibliography of pictures: