Getting to Grips with Game Sense: A Personal Journey

P A Reid, S Harvey, D Kirk

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Getting to Grips with Game Sense: A Personal Journey P. Reid, S. Harvey & D. Kirk Department of Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire, UK; Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies/Institute for Research in Education, University of Bedfordshire, Bedford, UK. The purpose of this paper is to offer an in-depth, personal perspective of the principle author’s ‘lived’ experiences of learning, designing and delivering teaching and coaching sessions using a Game Sense (GS) approach. It offers a personal account of the complex cultural and institutional influences that have impacted on the author’s development as a coach, lecturer in sports pedagogy, Rugby Football Union (RFU) coach-educator and trainer and academic. GS and derivatives of it have been pioneered by the RFU in recent years and underpins much of the pedagogical philosophy of their Level 1 and 2 Award courses. The author has played a pivotal role in designing and delivering training programmes to support coach educator staff, coaches and in his own practice as a coach and educator in line with his own philosophy and beliefs regarding GS and learner-centred pedagogy. According to Kirk and Macdonald (2001: Journal of Curriculum Studies, 33(5): 551-567), curriculum reform is complex and subject to the potentially conflicting interests that various agencies have on this process. Consequently this paper examines the various roles and responsibilities that have helped to shape the author’s praxis over time, and make sense of the pedagogical discourse described by Bernstein (1990: The Structuring of Pedagogic Discourse, Vol IV, Class, Codes and Control, London, Routledge) that influences this. Data were collected using self-reflective notes in the form of a field-journal and observations and informal one-to-one conversations with coaches and coach educators attending RFU Level 2 Award courses. The data generated were analysed with the procedures and techniques of grounded theory. From this data analysis the authors compiled three stories that will be used to review the following themes: a) Conflict of interests between practitioners (coaches and players) and NGB coaching staff with regards to buy-in of GS approach; Differences existed in the perceived expectations between coaches’ practice and players’ involvement and accountability of their own learning. b) The challenge of remaining impartial in my various roles; Often there were conflicts within the author’s own practice and that which was expected or demanded within certain contexts, mainly linked to lack of understanding or buy-in to the GS model from others (players, peers, coaches). c) Conflicting terminology and practice demonstrated by RFU staff; Common at all levels within the RFU coach education workforce (managers, coach educators and trainers) due to lack of initial clarity of GS/TGfU models and vision of what they wanted their version to be. Through the adoption of a person-centred lens it has been possible to gain a deeper insight into the author’s own coaching philosophy and resistance and acceptance of change but more importantly recognise the reasons why this exists in others. As Chesterfield et al (2010: Sport, Education and Society, 15(3): 299-314) point out, the values and beliefs of coaches’ needs to be fully understood if coach education is to be successful. As such, this paper highlights some of the challenges faced by practitioners seeking to embrace and pass on contemporary approaches to learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Event5th International TGfU Conference - Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Jul 201216 Jul 2012


Conference5th International TGfU Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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