Game Based Approach To Coaching

How effective actually are game based sessions in comparison to traditional coaching sessions. This blog will reflect upon the video below, that compares the two styles of coaching and how they differ.


So, upon reflection of the first coach in the video it is clear to see that this coach is very instructive and talks the players through the movements they are doing first. The coach demonstrates a technique for all of the participants to follow, effectively making the participants robots. Schum and National Soccer Coaches of America Staff, (2004) stated “I like to give players the freedom to make decisions” and this is a statement that I totally agree with. The first coach does not have this thought at any point during his session as his focus is to demo the skill and instruct the players on how to do this. This doesn’t give the players any freedom in relation to making their own decisions when taking a shot. In turn this has a negative impact upon the creativity of the participants too. If they are not being allowed to think for themselves then they are not going to develop the creative side to their game either, are they? The only way to do this would be through a game based approach as it resembles a game situation consequently forcing the athletes to think on their feet and use the skill that has been taught using a game based situation in training.

On the contrary the second coach uses a totally different approach which follows the TGFU (Teaching Games For Understanding) theory which Rod Thorpe developed by conducting TGFU workshops around Australia (Webb and Pearson, 2008). This approach uses questioning to stimulate thinking as opposed to telling players what to do (Jones and Kingston, 2013). The coach allows the players to play the game planned however he did not instruct the players on the technique to use when playing a shot, like coach one did. He stood at the side of the court and observed. This enabled the coach to question the players which made them think how they could change what they did, for the better in the future. In SportsCoachUK, (2012)’s handbook of Identifying Excellent Coaching Practice along the Sporting Pathway it was stated that “Athletes agreed that their sessions were fun and never boring and as a result they always looked forward to going to training”. By not executing drill after drill the players will not be bored. As a result this will motivate them to perform in the game based session, where they can use their brain and answer the coaches’ questions. This will develop the players learning and develop them as a whole.


In conclusion I believe that the best way to develop every aspect of a player is through the game based approach. Players often try new things when in a game situation because they have the freedom to do so. If these type of situations from games are brought into training then players will have the confidence to try this week in week out. At the same time players will be having fun because they are playing a game in training, consequently when I coach in the future I will ensure that this approach is used. Not only does it keep players engaged but it significantly benefits their learning too, as seen in the video from coach two’s approach.             



 Jones, R. L. and Kingston, K. (2013) An introduction to sports coaching: Connecting theory to practice. United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis.

Schum, T. and National Soccer Coaches of America Staff (2004) The Soccer Coaching Bible. 1st edn. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.

SportsCoachUK (2012) Identifying Excellent Coaching Practice along the Sporting Pathway. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2015).

Webb, P. I. and Pearson, P. J. (2008) An Integrated Approach to Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU). [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2015).


Creativity Blimage.

For this week’s blog post I have been given the challenge of creating a blimage. This involves creating a blog post which is based upon an image within a certain context. With this week’s topic being creativity I feel that linking this image into that context would highly beneficial.


The picture above as many of you will know is Lionel Messi who is arguably one of the best footballers on the planet. Messi has great feet and footwork which along with his pace makes him extremely hard to stop when he’s running at you. However at points in his life Messi will have pushed the boundaries and tried new things which made him the player he is today. Without doing this there is no way that he would be as creative as he is now. Majority of players in world football would turn and play the ball backwards in order to retain possession which involves no creative thinking whatsoever. Yes, this does stop the team from losing the ball however if a player does not take risks and push boundaries then what chance have they got of scoring?  Brian Deane stated “I don’t think we will ever produce a player like Messi “ (Buckland, 2013). Therefore this signifies that big changes need to happen if we are to create players who think as quickly as him. If we don’t make changes to the way that players are coached then we will continue to lack creative players within the England set up.

For me creativity is one of the most important aspects of football however it is also one of the hardest skills to develop. As mentioned in a previous blog post England are struggling to create creative players that can produce on the big stage. However it seems to be that every other country has these ‘creative players’ whether it be Spain, Holland, Germany or even Chile. England have young players like Loftus Cheek and Ward Prowse coming through however are they someone who could change a game and beat four or five players. I don’t think so.

So, what is it that we have to do in order to create players that will discover new ways to beat people, week in week out? Personally I believe that using a game related approach to coaching would help players develop their creative side. It will allow players to experiment and express themselves without feeling guilty if they make a mistake. Association, (2004) state that “Game based coaching reverses the usual sequence, but if you try it, you’ll discover some terrific benefits. Instead of learning skills, strategy, and tactics and then playing the game, game based learning allows your players to play the game, learn the strategy, tactics, and skills as they’re playing, and become more complete players as they continue playing”. By coaching this way players can make decisions for themselves because coaches are not constantly giving players instructions. If coaches tell players where to stand and what to do then they won’t learn anything, they are essentially a robot doing what the coach says. Game based coaching allows the players to express themselves and naturally when a situation occurs the coach can step in and work on a technique through the use of a drill. Consequently the coach can work on various aspects of the game by showing them the correct way of performing that skill after it has occurred in the game situation.

To conclude I believe that the picture sums up what we lack in terms of English football.  Obviously something needs to be done if we are to begin creating these Messi like players, who aren’t scared to try and beat four players. It isn’t for me to say whether England are coaching right or wrong however I do believe that managers are often the reason for this. For example David Moyes told Wilfried Zaha to “stop doing tricks” and “keep the ball in certain areas” (SkySports, 2015) which results in players having to change the way they play. In turn this affects creativity and has a negative impact on football in my opinion. As a result coaches/managers may need to rethink how they structure their sessions for the future, with one of those coaches being me.

Reference List

Association, U. S. T. (2004) Coaching tennis successfully. 2nd edn. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.

Buckland, D. (2013) England under-21s drop first qualifying points in two years after draw with Bosnia. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 12 November 2015).

SkySports (2014) Wilfried Zaha tells soccer AM that David Moyes wanted him to ‘stop tricks’. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 15 November 2015).