1. PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF
TEACHING GAMES FOR
UNDERSTANDING IN FIELD
USA Field Hockey
Presented on Sunday 24th January 2016 at the Level 1 Coaches Clinic,
Dublin, Ohio, USA
Dr. Stephen Harvey – West Virginia University, USA
• To explain the games for understanding model and align
it to Rink’s four stage model of effective game play
• To physically experience examine how we, as coaches,
can use the four pedagogical principles of the games for
understanding model to design good games
– Lead up games
– Small-sided games
– Modified/exaggerated games
– Game-related ‘functional’ practices
• To discuss challenges of integrating games into your
regular coaching session/practices
4. Rink’s Game Play Stages
• Stage 1: Developing control of the object
• Stage 2: Complex control and combination of
• Stage 3: Beginning offensive and defensive
• Stage 4: Complex game play
5. What is Teaching Games for Understanding
and Why did it come about?
• There was recognition about the benefits of a
movement ‘education’ not simply drilling
• Need to develop ‘understanding of games’
• Inflexible techniques when applied to games
• There was little success in games sessions
which were just not fun
Bunker and Thorpe (1982)
6. Benefits of games for understanding
• Interaction between tactical/strategical
knowledge and skill so pupils know ‘why’ as
well as ‘how’
• Alignment of practice to the ‘real’ game
Mitchell, Oslin and Griffin (2006)
10. Principle Explanation Relevance
Sampling With exposure to similar tactical problems
within (and sometimes between) games
forms, students can learn to transfer
strategies and techniques
Pupils need to
experience a wide
variety of games and
Considered within and between game forms.
Teachers need to manipulate task constraints
to the level of the learners
Need a ‘spiral
curriculum’ where the
level of game
Modified games should contain the same
tactical structure (i.e. goals and primary rules)
as the adult game; they should represent the
Teachers must retain
the ‘primary rules’ so
game is not something
Rules and tasks can be changed to overstate
or emphasize required information-movement
relationships (making the objective implicitly
constraints to develop
and/or game sense
12. Tactical Problems
Off-the-ball movements On-the-ball skills
possession of the
Support the ball carrier Protecting the ball
Safe passing and catching
Picking up loose
Attacking the goal Cutting and replacing
Shoot, feed, turn, roll, dodge
Creating space to
L-cut and v-cut
Passing – long, short, back, side
Using space to
Give and go
Using width and depth
Pick and roll
Dribbling short and long handle
Driving and drawing
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Safe pass, safe
Use of trail
Change hands to
Feed the cutter Offensive plays
V-cut Fast break
Give and go
Timing the cut
Width and depth Swinging play in
15. Principles of Play in Attack Definition
Penetration The act of breaking through the defense by dribbling,
shooting, running or passing.
Support A player in possession of the ball receives help to
Mobility Attackers make runs into different areas of the field in
order to draw defenders out of their positions.
Width/depth The attacking team attempts to stretch the
opponent’s defensive shape. The attacking players use
the width/depth of the field to tempt defenders from
a compact shape covering the dangerous areas in
front of goal and in so doing create space.
Improvisation & Creativity Attackers will try to break down defenses by
employing the element of surprise. Skills such as lifts,
pull backs, v-drags, feints and fakes are all used to this
end. Comfort on the ball is critical at the highest level
of the game.
16. Principles of Play in
Delay The ability to prevent the ball from being played forward
Depth Reduce the space behind the pressuring player. Provide
support in defense.
Movement of players to concentrate into an area of the field
vulnerable to scoring opportunities.
Balance Cancel the threat of mobility provided by the offense by
retaining defensive shape.
Discipline/Patience Defending players need to be patient and assess the risk
involved in challenging for the ball.
Predictability Defensive movements should encourage/force the attacking
team to play into certain areas of the field. Channeling play
into particular well defended areas or less important areas of
Does it represent the real (parent) game?
Are modifications simple enough for everyone to understand? (oftentimes games with many rule changes are difficult to follow)
Does the game offer participants enough opportunities to try out solutions to the tactical problem? Can they start to do what you wanted more often?
Can we begin teaching with a game? i.e. Rink’s stages 3 and 4?
If so, how can we make sure coaches have the skills to devise good games for pupils to play?
How can we maximize motivation and the simultaneous development of tactical knowledge and skill?