6. Teaching Games for Understanding & 10. dvs-Sportspiel-Symposium

For three days the German Sport University was focused on the interdisciplinary, international exchange regarding sport games. About 400 participants met at the joint conference of the 10. dvs-Sportspiel-Symposiums and the 6. International TGfU Conference.

Thus the conference duet addressed not only national and international scientists, but also coaches, teachers and sport practitioners. The versatile conference program offered presentation and information formats, keynote lectures, invited talks, oral presentations, practical workshops, poster sessions, and meet the expert. Further highlights were morning and evening sport activities, a big opening party and a conference dinner in the neighboring Rhein-Energie-Stadium.
After the opening words by the congress organizer Univ.-Prof. Dr. Daniel Memmert, head of the Institute of Cognitive and Team/Racket Sport Research, the president of the German Sport University Cologne, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heiko Strüder, welcomed the participants in the ‚green belt of Cologne‘. The Sport University stood for sport scientific research and the transfer to praxis, according to Strüder.  This is exactly what is promoted by this congress.. Prof. Dr. Kuno Hottenrott, president of the German Association for Sport Sciences (dvs) was looking forward to an intensive exchange between (iner)national practitioners and scientists, filling the interesting program with life. ‘After a match such as the EM there is surely a lot to discuss’, said Hottenrott. Dr. Alan Oven, head of the Special Interest Group (SIG) of  Teaching Games for Understanding (TgfU), aimed to excite more young people for the area of team and racket sports. This congress is an ideal platform, to introduce young scientists and practitioners to this subject.

Opening Speech by Dr. Joy Butler

The opening speech was held by Dr. Joy Butler from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The organizer of the first TGfU conference talked about the self-concept in her speech „We Are What We Teach: TGfU as a Complex Ecological Situation“ and thus mentioned guidelines of TGfU. One very important and often neglected aspect was, according to Butler, social justice and equality of girls or minorities such as physically challenged people. „Fairness or equality cannot be granted without social justice. Games cannot be fair if democratic processes don’t work.“, said Butler in her presentation. It is of vital importance to understand that the body cannot be looked at and trained in an isolated manner from the soul. Holistic education and sustainable learning through sports are philosophies that can be found in the organizational structures of TGfU.

The TGfU approach in praxis

In his keynote presentation, Prof. David Kirk of the University of Strathclyde deals with the question, if the TGfU model with its approaches is too complex for ‚normal‘ teachers and coaches. He mentioned problems and challenges that appeared during daily use of the concept and that needed to be solved in order that the TGfU concept becomes practicable for the majority. Thus the concept, which requires specific pedagocical knowledge, often contrasts the historical beliefs of coaches and teachers.
„In order to make TGfU the pedagocical approach, which the people use, we must change the context in which team/racket sports are taught.“, claimed Kirk. In school sports the components time and space need to be used more innovatively, to enable the use of the TGfU concept

TGfU in school sports

Teaching racket/team games was generally a leading subject of the congress, which many more speakers picked up. Professor Amy S. Ha from the University of Hong Kong for example showed how school sports are taught in the mega city. Ha talked about an alternative study using alternative sport equipment as well as iPads. With the fact in mind that school sports in China receives little attention, the study aimed at increasing the movement pensum of the students, by using technologies, such as the tablet, in school sports, which the students are already using in other contexts.
Meanwhile Dr. Karen Richardson of the Bridgewater State University portrayed the situation in school classes in the USA. She showed how games can be fun despite differing abilities and requirements. The principle is: „Modification by Adaptation“. Meaning: After each game the loosing team or the loosing player has got the chance of changing the game by simplifying the rules for him/herself or by making the rules more difficult for the opponent. Thus, abilities are adapted and the game processes and outcomes are a closer call and thus are more interesting. According to Richardson.
In his speech „Game-Centered Approaches: Different Perspectives, Same Goals – Working Together for Learning“, invited speaker Dr. David Gutierrez of the University Castilla-la Mancha, Spain, presented different teaching approaches that have evolved since the introduction of the TGfU model in 1980. He mentioned the features and strengths of the various approaches and presented concrete examples of how structural elements of a game can be simplified without changing the tactical structure. In basektball for example the rules or the point system could be changed – an important tool for coaches and teachers to use different methods for their teaching, said Gutierrez.

Information technological and psychological views

Prof. Peter O´Donoghue (Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales) presented an information technological view of the TGfU. In his keynote presentation he introduced supporting possibilities and chances of different technologies that could be used for teaching team/racket sports. Such technologies were amongst others the online feedback platform CoachLogic, the software Dartfish Simulcam and Stromotion of the App Coaches Eye. The different technologies not only served as analysis of sportsmen, but also for feeback for coaches and teachers.
How coaches and teacher can give instructions to their students was the presentation subject of Dr. Philip Furley, Institute of Cognitive and team/Racket Sport Research and invited speaker for cognitive-psychological perspective. In his studies he found out that sportsmen can become ‚blind‘ in specific game scenes regarding specific aspects, such as not perceiving a free teammate, because their focus is set on another stimulus (inattentional blindness). Too many instructions from coaches or teachers would make the attention breadth narrower, according to Furley.
Next to presenting new ideas and research results, responsible persons for the respective scientific committee are nominated at conferences. This was also the case in Cologne. As speaker for the dvs commission Sportspiele Dirk Büsch (Leipzig) and Daniel Memmert (Cologne) were elected for the next four years. Furthermore, Daniel Memmert was introduced to the managing board of the TGfU Special Interest Group.

Closing Ceremony und Outlook for 2018 and 2020

At the end of the conference, keynote speaker Prof. Henning Plessner also talked about a psychological subject. „Teaching Games for Understanding and the Psychology of Intuition“  In this talk, Plessner presented several decision making models by taking concrete examples from sports. Coming to the Closing Ceremony, Plessner, Professor at the Institute of Sport and Sport Sciences in Heidelberg, picked up the subject of the next dvs-Sportspiel-Symposium, which will take place in 2018 in Heidelberg. The next TGfU conference will take place in the UK in 2020.

A huge thank you and applause goes to the many volunteers of the congress as well as the organization team of the Institute of Cognitive and team/Racket Sport Research lead by Prof. Daniel Memmert.