Philosophy – Ownership? Questioning?

Having attended a university lecture regarding what our own philosophies are and what we as coaches feel are the most important factors to consider when planning/delivering a session, a discussion between myself, a fellow student and the module tutor John allowed us to discuss in depth how to create a session where the participants ask their OWN questions and instigate their OWN learning environment rather than the coach providing it for them.

Coming away from the lesson allowed me to critically reflect on myself as a coach and think about whether I really do provide the best possible learning environment for my players. Questions such as do I use effective questioning for example high/low order questions to provide a substantial learning environment for my players? Do I implement a random style philosophy of coaching where the players have to work out tasks for themselves? Am I more of a athlete-centered coach where tasks, questions and goals are created to focus on the players development? Or do I follow a coach-centered approach which is always about telling, a win at all costs mentality and is about the coaches goals rather than the players and their improvement?

The outcome of these questions and my reflection regarding myself as a coach is that I still use the questions ‘so does everybody understand?’ or ‘do we all know what we are doing?’. Critically analyzing this and one which has been mentioned in a previous blog post of mine, children at this age (11 year olds) will not challenge these questions and speak up in front of the whole group and their peers and say they don’t understand, they will just get on with the task even if they don’t understand. Is this really creating the most effective learning environment? The discussion between my peer and my module tutor focused on how we as coaches can create the most efficient learning environment where players ask their own questions to guide their own learning rather than coaches such as myself providing low order questions which will not create the best possible learning outcome.

I came up with an idea during the discussion that giving ownership to my players such as getting them to create their own training session would provide deeper thinking to occur on why they have chosen that type of session and how this then can relate to their own development. On the night of this discussion, (14th April 2016) I provided the opportunity for my players to create their own session. This had never been done before and the outcome was highly positive. Reflecting after the session, the players stated that they enjoyed the responsibility of coming up their own session, working with their peers and felt they learnt more out of adding extra components to the session as it progressed rather than me as the coach keeping them on one activity for the duration of the session. The activities which the players came up with were fun, lots of involvement with the football and competitive. One predominant answer which ran through the players was they enjoy and learn more from training when they play a game style of activity.  Theory states that ‘Ownership relies on socially recognized rules regulating our interactions with each other’ (Lindsay, 2014), so relating this evidence back to the feedback received after the session, it is clearly apparent that ownership is more successful when players are placed in environments where they can ‘socially interact with one another’.

What clearly stood out for me as a coach during reflection upon this experience was that I am clearly not doing enough to meet the needs of the players. I feel there are 2 main areas which I need to start implementing into my sessions in order to provide the best possible learning environment for the players. These are Non-Linear Pedagogy and a game based style of learning. Theory claims that ‘ Nonlinear Pedagogy is presented as a methodology for games teaching, capturing how phenomena such as movement variability, self-organization, emergent decision making, and symmetry-breaking occur’ (Renshaw et al., 2010). This approach is the most important aspect that I need to start producing in order to get the best out of my players. In order to fulfill what (Renshaw et al., 2010) states in his quote, characterizing game play in sport is the best way for this to be successful. Not only will this provide decision making and self-organization, it is also meeting the needs of the players by producing a game based activity which they feel they learn the most from.

Games based learning is another approach which would allow a better environment for learning to take place and one which will excel me as a coach to the next level. This can also be valued as Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU). (Jarrett, Eloi, and Harvey, 2014) state that the TGFU principle can ‘enhance engagement in peer discussion and in turn promote development of cognitive aspects of performance’. By imlementing both these approach I am not only meeting the demands of the players but I am also providing an environment that they can learn in and transfer experiences too and from which have a direct link to a game situation. By doing this I hope more challenging and insightful questioning will take place form the players as a result of ownership and game based scenarios.


Reference List:

Jarrett, K., Eloi, S. and Harvey, S. (2014) ‘TEACHING GAMES FOR UNDERSTANDING (TGFU) AS A POSITIVE AND VERSATILE APPROACH TO TEACHING ADAPTED GAMES’, European Journal of Adapted Physical Activity, 6(1), pp. 6–20.

Lindsay, P. (2014) ‘Ownership by agreement’, Political Studies, 63(4), pp. 935–950.

Renshaw, I., Chow, J.Y., Davids, K. and Hammond, J. (2010) ‘A constraints-led perspective to understanding skill acquisition and game play: A basis for integration of motor learning theory and physical education praxis?’, Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 15(2), pp. 117–137.


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