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Playing for Life

Fun and active games to develop children's skills, confidence and lifelong interest in sport

The Playing for Life activity cards adopt a game sense approach to teaching about games and sports. Game Sense is an approach to modified sport that:

  • engages children in minor and modified game strategies and concepts where there are opportunities to develop both skills and an understanding of the tactics of the game.
  • encourages simple modifications (easier or harder) to accommodate varying ability levels and therefore maximises inclusion and challenge.
  • modifies game rules, the playing area or the equipment for the purpose of highlighting aspects of the game such as attackers sending a ball beyond the reach of opponents or ‘forcing’ a striker to hit a ball with a bat into a defined region.
  • promotes the development of ‘thinking players’.

Game Sense

  • Fun
  • Playing
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • Communicating and collaborating
  • Inclusion and challenge

Teaching using the Game Sense approach

Game Sense uses a student-centred approach to teaching. Here you will find some tips on how to use a student-centred approach during your lessons.

Lesson plans

If the lesson is well constructed you won’t hear ‘When can we play the game?’ That’s because students will have a chance to get into the game related activities early and often. Playing for Life emphasises:

  • games before drills and skills
  • high-activity levels that are disguised within fun and challenging activities
  • the CHANGE IT approach to modifying the activity for inclusion, challenge and skill development.


  • Use student role models, individuals and smaller groups to highlight either tactical aspects or technique.
  • ‘Let the kids play’ before intervening with ‘coaching tips’.
  • Once an activity is in play, take individuals or small groups who may need some specific guidance
  • (discrete coaching) to one side.
  • Observe, observe, observe… avoid over-coaching.


  • Use questions often – the Playing for Life cards include many ‘Ask the player’ prompts.
  • Remember questions/challenges can substitute for ‘telling’.
  • Questions can also prompt students to come up with modifications to ‘include all’.


  • Keep to small doses and be specific. ‘Keep your arm straight’ is better than a negative statement.
  • ‘That was good because’… is better than a ‘feel good’ statement like ‘great shot’.
  • ‘Sandwich’ a correction in between some positive feedback.

Lesson management

Effective class management has a big impact on starting activities, forming groups, activity levels, safety, setting new tasks, including all and your ability to maintain an engaging lesson.

  • Lesson plans guide the flow of your lesson.
  • Continually review, modify and experiment.
  • Rehearse in your mind things like:
    • starting an activity
    • transitions
    • forming students into groups
    • finish up.
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