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Playing For Life

Sporting Schools is based on the Playing for Life philosophy.

We want children:

  • having fun
  • getting active
  • learning skills, not drills.

The Playing for Life philosophy helps children to develop the fundamental motor skills they need to play sport and participate in other physical activity as they grow.

By focusing on having fun, having a go, and getting active, Sporting Schools aims to provide children with positive sporting experiences to help develop lifelong interest in sport.

Parents, teachers and coaches can access Playing for Life resources to help them run sports-based sessions for all children regardless of their ability or background to achieve:

  • a fun atmosphere
  • maximum participation
  • skill development.

Playing for Life is an approach to coaching that uses games, rather than drills, to introduce the skills and tactics of a particular sport or structured physical activity. This approach is all about getting children excited, having fun and engaged in sport. 

Based on the Game Sense approach, its objective is to develop in school-aged children a love of physical activity that will encourage them to play for life. 

All activities are game-based and generate a safe, inclusive and challenging environment, which helps children develop skills while having fun.


Key Principles of the Playing for Life approach 

  • The game is the focus - children develop sporting skills and tactics through fun games and activities. This approach challenges children to think about what they are actually doing and why, rather than performing traditional skill-based drills in isolation from the game. 
  • Coach is a facilitator - coaches play a facilitator role rather than a director’s role by setting challenges for the children to find solutions through play. Only the key coaching points are provided then children are given the time learn through self-discovery and working with and observing other children.
  • Discrete coaching - coach instructions and demonstrations are kept to a minimum and play is allowed to continue where possible.  Discrete coaching is provided on the side in an unobtrusive way, creating an encouraging and supportive environment where children can develop at their own pace and build confidence and self esteem.
  • Role models - use player role models during the activities to demonstrate and emphasise good technique or strategies.
  • Ask the players - the use of ‘questioning’ is a valuable strategy to engage the children in changing the activity to increase participation and to make the activity more or less challenging. Feedback from the children will give a good indication of whether the game or activity is achieving the desired outcomes.
  • CHANGE IT - coaches constantly observe the game to ensure maximum engagement of children of all abilities by considering the following questions:
    • Are all children having fun and involved in the game?
    • Is the purpose of the game being achieved?
    • Are all children being challenged? (is it too difficult, too easy, one-sided?)

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the game should be changed. Simple variations should be introduced to make the games easier or harder to ensure all children can participate, have fun and develop new skills.

Access the Playing for Life resources here