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Game Sense

A guide for parents and students

What is Game
Sense?
Game Sense is a
relatively new, studentcentered approach to
teaching where skills
are developed within
the context of games or
game-like situations
(Light, 2006).

1

Game Sense Model
• Game Sense is a sport specific
derivative of the Bunker-Thorpe
Teaching Games for Understanding
(TGfU) model. It was developed in the
mid 1990’s Rod Thorpe in collaboration
with the Australian Sports Commission
(Evans & Light, 2008).
• The Game Sense approach, unlike
traditional coaching, focuses on the
game rather than the technique to
enhance student skills and tactical
development (Light, 2006).
• It is purposeful play where teachers
skillfully design, select and shape
games to focus on concepts and
student movement responses (Hopper,
2003).

Bunker &
Thorpe (1982)

Game

Learner

2
Game
Appreciation

6
Performance

5

3
Tactical
Awareness

Skill Execution

4

Making
Appropriate
Decisions

Game Sense Categories
• The Game sense approach uses four different game categories to
develop student’s fundamental movement skills and responses.
These include:
1. Target – Archery, bowling, golf and darts
2. Striking – Baseball, cricket, softball and kickball
3. Net/Wall – Tennis, Volleyball, Handball, Squash
4. Invasion – Basketball, Football, Soccer and Hockey
(Light, 2006)

Why use
Game Sense?
“Play is our
brain’s favourite
way of learning”
- Diane
Ackerman

Benefits of Game Sense in Physical Education
Promotes explorative learning and critical reflection
• Game Sense is an effective approach to teaching Physical education as
it is a student-centered strategy that encourages inquiry-based
learning which focuses on the importance of purposeful reflection.
Such reflection helps students make modifications to their movement
in order to improve their overall performance and movement skills
(Hopper, Butler, & Storey, 2009).
• For example, recent research by Evans and Light (2008), suggests this
approach is most effective as it utilises the context of games and
game-life situations to stimulate questions that help student’s develop
skills in communication, interaction and reflection, key aims of the
PDHPE K-6 syllabus (Board of Studies, 2007)

Benefits of Game Sense in Physical Education
Provides an authentic and positive learning experience
• The Game Sense approach is also provides students with an engaging and inclusive
learning environment (Townsend, 2007).
• Unlike the traditional skills and drills approach to teaching, this model encourages
an explorative approach that increases students motivation and enjoyment of
physical activity (Townsend, 2007).
• As suggested by (Light, 2006) students feel more comfortable exploring their
capabilities in an interactive supportive environment that utilises positive feedback
instead of negative corrections used in the traditional approach.

Thus it can be suggested that Game Sense is a highly effective teaching strategy as
it provides opportunities for students to acquire and apply movement skills in a
creative and engaging manner. It also aligns well with the rationale of the PDHPE K-6
syllabus (Board of Studies, 2007) which aims to develop students fundamental
movement skills through creative play and regular participation in physical activity .

Benefits of Game Sense in Physical Education
Improves tactical and social skills
• Furthermore, according to recent research, this approach not only improves
student’s movement skills but also enhances their tactical skills. For
example, research conducted by Zuccolo, Spittle, and Pill (2014) showed that
game sense helped increased players awareness of space and enhanced their
cognitive skills in perceptual and decision-making concepts.
• It also helped improved students social abilities and interaction with their
peers (Zuccolo, Spittle, & Pill, 2014). Thus reinforcing the effectiveness of
game sense to integrate physical, intellectual and social learning (Curry &
Light, 2006).

This links well to the PDHPE K-6 syllabus (Board of Studies, 2007) which aims to
provide a holistic approach to supporting student’s social, mental, and physical
needs.

References
Board of Studies, NSW. (2007). Personal development, health and physical education K-6: Syllabus. Sydney, Australia: Author.
Bunker, D., and Thorpe, R., (1982) A model for the teaching of games in secondary 
schools. Bulletin of Physical Education, 18(1), 58.
Curry, C. & Light, R. (2006). Addressing the NSW Quality Teaching Framework in Physical Education: Is Game Sense the
Answer? In R. Light (Ed.) Proceedings for the Asia Pacific Conference on Teaching Sport and Physical Education for
Understanding (pp 7-19). Sydney: The University of Sydney.
Evans, J.R., & Light, R.L. (2008). Coach development through collaborative action research: A rugby coach’s implementation
of game sense pedagogy. Asian Journal of Exercise and Sport Science, 5(1), 31-37.
Hopper, T. (2003). Four Rs for tactical awareness: applying game performance assessment in net/wall games, Journal of
Teaching Elementary Physical Education, 14 (2), 16-21.
Hopper, T., Butler, J., & Storey, B. (2009). TGfU--simply good pedagogy. Ottawa: PHE Canada.
Light, R. (2006). Introduction: The games approach to coaching. Journal Of Physical Education New Zealand, 39(1), 5-9.
Townsend, G. (2007). Game Sense. Rugby Union Football.
Zuccolo, A., Spittle, M., & Pill, S. (2014). Game Sense Research in Coaching: Findings and Reflections. In Game Sense for
Teaching and Coaching Conference (pp. 15-30). University of Sydney.