Teaching games for understanding in American high-school soccer: a quantitative data analysis using the game performance assessment instrument
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AbstractBackground: Previous research examining the effectiveness of the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) approach has been equivocal. This has been hampered by a dependence on a comparative (i.e., ‘which method is best?’) theoretical framework. An alternative ‘practice-referenced’ framework has the potential to examine the effectiveness of TGfU against anticipated learning outcomes. Furthermore, there has been limited research examining the effects of using the TGfU approach on game play performance in coaching settings. Aims: This study had three purposes/aims: (a) to assess the practice-referenced approach, and consider if this is a viable framework for evaluating the effects of teaching and learning (i.e. performance) with TGfU; (b) to test the robustness of the defensive off-the-ball elements of game performance using the Game Performance Assessment Instrument (GPAI) in a coaching context, with small units of players; (c) to assess how ‘alignment of practice’ contributed to the development of overall game performance and involvement of high-school soccer players. Methods: One varsity (n = 18) and one first-year (n = 16) team of soccer players from a single American high-school boys' soccer programme received eight TGfU coaching sessions (45–60 mins in length). Sessions focused on defensive aspects of off-the-ball game performance (i.e. adjust and cover skills) were delivered by their respective coach, who had been trained to employ the TGfU approach. Changes in game performance were assessed in a modified three vs. three soccer game during baseline (n = 4) and intervention (n = 3) phases of the study. Data were collected on four individual measures (decision making, skill execution, adjust and cover) and two overall measures of game performance (game performance and game involvement) from the GPAI. Changes in game performance measures between baseline and intervention phases of the study were examined using a series of 11 paired-sample t-tests; effect size changes were also calculated. Results: Results revealed significant changes between baseline and intervention phases in appropriate adjusts for both teams and inappropriate covers and overall appropriate game performance for the first-year team. No significant changes between baseline to intervention phases of the study in inappropriate game performance constructs were noted. Conclusions: This study has shown evidence that the practice-referenced approach is an appropriate theoretical framework for evaluating the effects of a TGfU intervention with high-school soccer players, centred on defensive aspects of off-the-ball game performance. Game-situated teaching and learning (i.e. aligned practice) led to faster responses and quicker reactions within the game environment off-the-ball (i.e. to movements of the ball and/or team-mates). Thus, there was an improvement in the numbers of appropriate game responses by both varsity and first-year teams. Finally, the GPAI was found to be sensitive and robust in measuring the changes in defensive off-the-ball game performance made by the two teams of high-school soccer players over the two phases the study.
CitationHarvey, S., Cushion,C.J., Wegis, H.M. and Massa-Gonzalez, A. N. (2010) 'Teaching games for understanding in American high-school soccer: a quantitative data analysis using the game performance assessment instrument' Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 15(1) pp.29-54