Cardiff Metropolitan University
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A critical application of the ‘teaching games for understanding’ approach in the coaching context: An action research study

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posted on 2022-10-10, 09:17 authored by Jose Castro

The innovative nature of the ‘Teaching Games for Understanding’ (TGfU) approach (Thorpe, Bunker & Almond, 1986) has led to considerable interest from researchers and practitioners (e.g., MacPhail et al., 2008). Consequently, many variations of TGfU have come to the fore (e.g., Griffin, Mitchell & Oslin, 1997). Despite the considerable interest from physical education related researchers, those in sports coaching have been slower to embrace the TGfU approach. Therefore, the aim of the study was to improve my practice  as  a coach and players’  subsequent  game  understanding through the TGfU framework.  

An  Action  Research  (AR) methodology  involving  progressive circles of practice was employed with a volleyball female team over the course of a full eight-month season, with data being drawn from reflective field notes and focus group discussions.  Results indicated the  development of my  ability  (as  a  coach) to reflect in and on the process, emphasising the importance of reflecting on personal reflections. Such practice reinforced the  benefit of being exposed to reflective frameworks, and  highlighted the role that emotions can play withincoaching  practice. From this, it became evident that the implementation of an emancipatory AR had a positive  impact on my learning as a coach. Nevertheless, findings  also highlighted the loneliness of such a process, suggesting the need for critical friends in the field. As a coach, they also reinforced the need for control, thus contradicting the player-centred standpoint that sustains the TGfU approach, whilst suggesting a reconceptualization of emphasis from being ‘player-centred’ to that of ‘interaction-centred’ as  being  crucial  to  effective  practice.  Also,  the  current  study demonstrated an improvement in the players’ ability to reflect, progressing from on-action to in-action as well, in particular from moments of less temporal pressure to more temporal  pressure. Lastly, despite not linearly, the    players' game understanding and overall performance improved throughout the season.



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD

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