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Sports Pedagogy and Modern Approaches Essay

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Updated: Jun 20th, 2022

Teaching games to students aim to get them to enjoy, learn, and continue with physical activities even after school. However, this is not always the case partly because of the teaching approaches employed by educators. Traditional approaches focus on competition and encourage physicality. This can exclude students who do not innately like sports or show signs of physical fitness. Instead of the conventional skill-drill approaches, educators should move towards modern approaches such as Teaching Sports for Understanding, Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility, and the Sports Education Model since they generate a multitude of benefits for students.

I have mostly encountered traditional approaches in sports and physical activity. These methods are typically teacher-centered and fail to consider the needs of students. For instance, teachers typically pay more attention to and reward students who show physicality and vigor. They neglect students who are not interested in sports and those who appear physically unfit. Consequently, due to the emphasis on skill performance, the second group of learners often feel left out and dislike sports. This is further aggravated by the emphasis on competition in games. Overemphasis on performance and rivalry in physical education deters some young learners from enjoying sports and discourages lifelong participation (Braga & Liversedge, 2017). Some learners become physically inactive after they complete school because the teaching methods used for physical education did not motivate them to continue with it in the absence of an authority figure. For this reason, I have always had reservations about skill-drill approaches.

Traditional approaches to physical activity have impacted my beliefs, knowledge, and skills about sport. I believe that for learners to enjoy physical activity, then it must be student-centered. This allows them to be more involved in the activity rather than relying on the teacher to control it. Additionally, it caters to their different interests and preferred learning styles. For instance, some students would be more enthused to participate in a sport if less pressure is placed on them to perform well (Brace, 2017). Rather than prioritizing performance and competition, I believe the focus should be on leisure, health, and fitness.

Although Teaching Game for Understanding (TGfU) has existed for some time now, most instructors still prefer traditional approaches for various reasons. First, TGfU is considered a more complex approach than the other methods. For instance, the former involves six stages, which an instructor may find demanding. Additionally, Teaching Game for Understanding requires the instructor to have extensive knowledge of various sports. They need to know, not just the discrete skills of a sport, but also its tactics. This approach has not been received well because it is viewed as lengthier and more taxing than the traditional approaches (Braga & Liversedge, 2017). Coaches may feel that this mode of teaching is outside their scope and comfort level. The approach has also faced barriers to uptake because many teachers feel they do not receive the support and resources needed to implement it.

Adopting TGfU is not always simple and may require me to modify my instructional practice. To successfully use this teaching approach, I have to increase my knowledge of various sports. I will need to have a deep understanding of the tactical components of these games (Gil-Arias et al., 2020). Fortunately, some of these skills and components are transferrable between the games. I will improve my grasp of TGfU by learning from other teachers, colleagues, and experts. Workshops and other learning forums serve as useful platforms to encourage the use of TGfU. Increasing the acceptance and use of TGfU requires collaboration among educators.

Aside from Teaching Game for Understanding, other pedagogical models can be used to support physical literacy. One such example is the Sports Education Model (SEM) which is a non-traditional approach that emphasizes communication, accountability, and teamwork. By decentering competition, it allows students to enjoy the game, which translates to increased effort (Moy et al., 2016). Additionally, since SEM is student-centered, it fosters autonomy and encourages continued participation in a sport after leaving school. Another model that instructors may use instead of traditional approaches is known as Cooperative Learning. Under this teaching method, students are divided into groups and work together to achieve a certain goal. It encourages team spirit and motivates students to be active participants since the success of a group is determined by the contribution of its members (Fernandez-Rio et al., 2017). The third pedagogical model is the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) Model. This approach empowers students to be principled people who safeguard the welfare of others.

Model-based practices such as TPSR, SEM, and Cooperative Learning equip students with a variety of skills that support game understanding. Physical literacy entails knowledge, motivation, and competence to engage in physical activities during the entirety of a person’s lifetime. Model-based approaches support physical literacy because they encourage students to continue partaking in physical activity without adult supervision (Brace, 2017). Unlike traditional approaches that focus on physical development only, model-based approaches engage different domains of development such as social, cognitive, and emotional development (Gil-Arias et al., 2017). I would consider using a combination of the models discussed because this will enable my students to enjoy the benefits realizable by each approach.

Tactical approaches are beneficial to students because they inculcate skills such as cooperation, decision-making, and autonomy. They are also more effective than traditional approaches since they are student-centered. Presently, many instructors have not adopted these pedagogical models because of the inadequacy of resources and support needed to implement them. However, teachers should work together to increase their knowledge and skills about these approaches. It will make students more passionate about sports and encourage lifelong participation, which is the ultimate goal of physical literacy.


Brace, B. (2017). Alternative Teaching Approaches to Promote Student Motivation in Physical Education at the Secondary Level. Kinesiology, Sport Studies, and Physical Education Synthesis Projects. Web.

Braga, L., & Liversedge, P. (2017). Challenges and facilitators to the implementation of a sport education season: The voices of teacher candidates. Physical Educator, 74(1), 19. Web.

Fernandez-Rio, J., Sanz, N., Fernandez-Cando, J., & Santos, L. (2017). Impact of sustained cooperative learning intervention on student motivation. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 22(1), 89-105. Web.

Gil-Arias, A., Claver, F., Práxedes, A., Villar, F. D., & Harvey, S. (2020). Autonomy support, motivational climate, enjoyment and perceived competence in physical education: Impact of a hybrid teaching games for understanding/sport education unit. European Physical Education Review, 26(1), 36-53. Web.

Gil-Arias, A., Harvey, S., Cárceles, A., Práxedes, A., & Del Villar, F. (2017). Impact of a hybrid TGfU-Sport Education unit on student motivation in physical education. PLoS One, 12(6), 1-17. Web.

Moy, B., Renshaw, I. & Davids, K. (2016). The impact of nonlinear pedagogy on physical education teacher education students’ intrinsic motivation. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 21(5), 517-538. Web.

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