Making sense of games with Principles of Play

I have posted previously on my conversion to games-based learning, and on the challenges of designing games that are both “representative” (of the real game, and that therefore require the players to develop transferable cricket skills) but at the same time not so constrained and artificial as to no longer be fun to play (the “game” element is important, because we want the players are to come back to it again and again).

Over the summer I finished reading the best book I have ever read on non-linear pedagogy (“Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition – an Introduction“, Jia Yi Chow, Keith Davids, Chris Button and Ian Renshaw, 2015;  ).

OK, this is probably the only book on non-linear pedagogy I ever expect to read, and it gets a bit dry in places, but it describes the theoretical basis of representative games, and Renshaw is very good on games for cricket training.

I was still struggling with creating truly representative games, however, until I came across the concept of Principles of Play.

Principles of Play, for any sport, can be defined as those fundamental strategies used to effectively adapt to any tactical situation during a game.

More simply – the actions taken by the winning team.

For cricket, the Principles of Play might be defined as follows:

  • Batting:
    • score runs
    • don’t get out
  • Bowling & Fielding:
    • take wickets
    • deny the batsman run scoring opportunities

It really is that simple…except, of course, that the balance between the two, not always mutually compatible, objectives, whether batting or fielding, is infinitely nuanced by the match format, the current state of the game, playing conditions (both match regulations and climatic), opposition strengths & weaknesses etc., etc.

But having identified the non-negotiable principles, game selection becomes easier.  Does your game challenge the players to display appropriate behaviours to deliver on the Principles?

No? Then look for another!

Yes? Then you have found your game.

Continue reading Making sense of games with Principles of Play

“Running two” – a modified fielding practice that also develops batting stroke placement and decision making.

Back in the summer, one of the teams I coached was having problems picking up singles and twos – their innings progressed by a succession of big hits and run outs – so we developed a game to practice shot placement and decision making.

I called it “run 1, run 2”, because that is what I kept calling out to the batsmen, but you might come up with a better name!

Try it, though – we found that the results were encouraging, and, as with many games, the tactical challenges were as interesting as the technical.

Continue reading “Running two” – a modified fielding practice that also develops batting stroke placement and decision making.

One hand, one bounce – what’s that got to do with coaching?

When I started out at my local Club as a volunteer, level 1 Coaching Assistant, sessions were taken by an exuberant 1st XI player – lots of enthusiasm, diving catches and (attempted) big hitting, and always a fiercely contested session of one hand – one bounce, usually with said 1st XI player dominating the game.

The players seemed to love this activity, but to me, as a newly qualified “proper” coach, it looked as if one hand-one bounce existed only so the star player could show off.  Not coaching, at all.

It’s fair to say that I never liked one hand – one bounce, but I have recently started to include it my own sessions with our Club U9s.  And I think it has a place in the games-based learning panoply.

Continue reading One hand, one bounce – what’s that got to do with coaching?