The Teaching Games For Understanding (TGFU) approach was developed in the early 1980s. This learner centred approach was developed to take over from the common skills and drills approach in a bid to address the problems of:
- Students lacking technical skill transfer ability between drills and game situation
- Students being unsuccessful at certain drills which made them feel as if they couldn’t participate in the game
- Students wanting to play the game rather than focus on skill acquisition drills
The idea behind the traditional model is that once a student has learned the skills necessary to a particular sport, that student will inherently be able to play that game in a proficient manner. The traditional model follows the following format: warm-up – skills development – modified game – actual game.
The TGFU places an emphasis on play, where tactical and strategic problems are posed in a modified game environement. The desired outcome of the activity is taught before the specifically required skills. This allows the students to see the reasoning behind the skills that they will be learning. TGFU creates an environment where students can formulate their own opinions and answers through critical thinking and problem solving. The TGFU model therefore follows more of a game-practice-game format.
Ultimately, the teacher needs to create successful games for their students to learn from. To do this they need to carefully plan the game and its RULES. For example teachers can create rules for the students that will ultimately affect attributes of the game (such as the number of players for the game, type of equipment or playing area), or they can allow students to choose from a set of rules the teacher presents (such as type of ball used or scoring results). So when teaching team games, you can develop your ‘games’ to suit student skill level (ie. complexity). Games can hence be designed and developed in ‘stages’.
- Stage 1 = Developing control of the object (low organised game)
- Stage 2 = Complex control and combination of skills (lead up game)
- Stage 3 = Beginning offensive and defensive models (play game with modified rules)
- Stage 4 = Complex game play (play actual game)
Important thing to remember with the TGFU approach is that for students to be able to connect the reasoning behind the skills they are learning (ie. to promote cricial thinking and problem solving), effective questioning is required. Hence the TGFU approach is more than just game practice game, its Game – Tactical Awareness (Why do it?) – Practice (How to do it?) – Game. Decision making involves the teacher asking questions and faciltiating discussion around things like:
- Skill and movement execution – ‘How did you…’
- Tactical awareness – ‘What did you….’
- Time – ‘When do….’
- Space – ‘Where is/can…’
- Risk – ‘Which choice….’
There is purpose behind these ‘reflective’ opportunities. They aim to enable students to share their experiences; become more responsible for their own learning; and assist in planning and participating in games in the future.
So you could go Game – Tactical Awareness (reflect on performance and facilitate discussion about ‘actioning plan’) – Game – Decision Making (Reflect on the action plan. Refine action plan) – Game.
There are four categories within the TGFU model. Having four categories allows for the notion of ‘all games in each category have simliar concepts and share simlar tactical problems to be solved allowing transfer of tactical understanding across games’.
- Invasion games (football, hockey, soccer, handball and basketball)
- Striking/fielding games (cricket, softball and tee ball)
- Target games (curling, golf, archery and disc golf)
- Net/Wall games (tennis, badminton and beach volleball)