With contributions from members of the TGfU SIG Executive, IAB and community; David Gutierrez , Stefan König , Steffen Greve , Sanmuga Nathan , Jose L. Arias-Estero  and Teng Tse Sheng 
 Academic Tutor in Exercise, Sport and Rehabilitative Therapies
University of Sunderland, UK
TGfU SIG Treasurer and Communications Coordinator
 Professor at the Faculty of Education in Ciudad Real
Universidad of Castilla-la Mancha
 Professor in the Department of Sport Science
University of Education Weingarten, Germany
 Research assistant
Leuphana University of Lüneburg
 Senior Lecturer
Sultan Idris Education University of Malaysia
 Lecturer in Physical Education
Faculty of Education, Universidad de Murcia
 Master Teacher in Physical Education
Physical Education and Sports Teacher Academy (PESTA), Ministry of Education, Singapore
We had our regular monthly guest blogs featuring;
- January- Eva Guijarro about “How can Teaching Games for Understanding and Sport Education be combined? Practical tips for Primary School”.
- February- Jennie Petersen about “Action research with youth in recreational programs: Making the case for TGfU”.
- March- Ross Ensor about “Implementing a Game Sense Approach with young academy football players in England”.
- April- Alexander Gil Arias about “TGfU and student motivation in Physical Education”.
- May- Can Ünal and Stefan König about “Implementing TGfU Strategies and Principles in Adolescent Top Level Soccer–An Exploratory Approach”.
- June- Francesco Sgrò and Michele Barca about “Understanding tactical knowledge within game-based approaches”.
- July- Matt Dingwall and Rebecca Lloyd about “What Does ‘Ready to Play’ Look Like?: Integrating the Interactive4Life Project with TGfU”.
- August- David Cooper and Barrie Gordon about “Tactical Decision-Making in Sport: How Can Coaches Help Athletes Make Better In-Game Decisions?”.
- August Special Edition- Dr. Kanae Haneishi and Professor. Tsuyoshi Matsumoto about “Applying Game-Based Approach in Early Childhood Education in Japan”
- September- Aspasia Dania about “The messiness of Game-Based teaching”.
We also provided our Special Blogs featuring a range of game-based approaches/models. We hope to add to this collection with other approaches/models in the coming year.
The TGfU SIG hosted 25 webinars on a variety of game-based approaches topics including;
- February/March- "Assessing in GBAs" webinar series
- April- "Using Technologies to Promote Game-Based Approaches: Specific Case Studies" Webinar
- May- "TGfU and The Spectrum of Teaching Styles" Webinar
- June- "Equity in GBAs" webinar series
- July- Global Lesson Study with Naoki Suzuki and Mr Yasutaka Abe
- August- Commonalities and Differences among the Various GBAs Symposium
- September- "Games Based Pedagogies: Theory and Practice" Webinar
- September/October- IAB Professional Development webinar series
- October- "The Joy in Inventing Games"
- November- "Teacher Reflection" with Aspasia Dania
- November/December- "Learner-oriented teaching and assessment in GBAs" series
- December- Global Lesson Study with Naoki Suzuki and Mr Kentaro Kubo
On the 25th of February, members of the Executive Board, Dr Shane Pill, Professor Linda Griffin, Dr David Gutierrez and Ellen Gambles, joined the AIESEP Connect to discuss TGfU, its history, development and the 40th Anniversary. The event was recorded and is available on the Playing With Research in Health and Physical Education podcast as well as on the AIESEP Website.
In March, the TGfU Executive Board (Ellen Gambles, Linda Griffin, Shane Pill, David Gutierrez, Alan Ovens and Jeroen Koekoek) wrote an article for the Association for PE (AfPE), PE Matters journal. They discussed the TGfU model, history, developments and the 40th anniversary celebrations. This was published in the 2022 Spring Edition.
On the 8th of April, in partnership with our colleagues in the Netherlands, the Network Teaching Games (NTG) organised a symposium ‘Game-Based Approaches Globally’. The event hosted live speakers and pre-recorded presentations from members around the world providing attendees with inspiring insights into the different GBA models/philosophies across the Globe.
There has been a culmination of amazing events throughout the year and we are thankful to all the speakers, attendees and contributors to helping to make them a success. We would also like to share with you some reflections of game-based approaches and the past 40 years with you from members of Executive Board, IAB and community….
The 40th anniversary of the TGfU has meant for me the confirmation and the culmination of expectations regarding the TGfU SIG. Since I am part of the TGfU SIG (2012) the idea transmitted by those who started it, especially Joy Butler and Tim Hopper, was to create a global, democratic and participatory movement. In recent years, including the pandemic period, these attributes have grown. We have increased the number of the TGfU SIG and the GBA community. The consensual creation of the Game-Based Approach statement by academics from the five continents is proof that the SIG has, above all, the mission of disseminating quality pedagogy in an inclusive manner in the teaching and training of sport, well above maintaining brands. Also, the high number of academics willing to create free open content for the 40th anniversary makes me think of the generosity of the GBA community. As stated in the GBA statement when referring to the GBA's intention to develop thoughtful players, the GBA community is also consistently thoughtful. Personally it has been a pleasure to collaborate with professors from different countries, speaking the same language, that of the GBA. Of special relevance to me has been the creation of the series of seminars on professional development. These seminars have been the result of numerous meetings in which we have reached an agreement on the best way to train new teachers and trainers. I was surprised that we had such close starting positions, which makes me think that when it comes to GBA the cultural differences are very few and that therefore, like the sport itself, it is a universal language with great social potential.
“40 years of hesitant approximation”
Although Bunker and Thorpe published their outstanding paper 40 years ago, there has been a rather reluctant reception in Germany during this period. This may be explained by the fact that the German scientific community has developed and discussed similar concepts of game teaching in parallel to the TGfU debate (Greve et al., under review). In particular there was and still is a rather big discrepancy between analysing the concept from a scientific point of you, and from a perspective of physical education. Nevertheless, we meanwhile witness more and more publications addressing the implementation of TGfU as a reasonable and teaching conception in different fields of sport. Examples of this assertion are teacher education (Heemsoth et al., 2020; König et al., 2021), youth competitive sport in soccer (Ünal & König, 2022), and physical education (Allgäuer et al., 2016; Greve et al., 2022). Yet, there is still neither a nationwide awareness of TGfU as an adequate teaching conception, nor is there a deep and commonplace appreciation of the pedagogical principles in sport practice. What might be interpreted as hopeful signals for future developments are some research efforts in different fields of sport: there are studies on the implementation of digital devices into game appreciation (Diekhoff et al., i. Vb.), or into the process of teaching tactics to youth players (König & Ünal, i. Vb.) .
Drawing back from the global scenario and supported by local research findings prompted the Education Ministry of Malaysia to introduce TGfU as the main Game-Based Approach (GBA) enacted in the primary and secondary schools Standard based Physical Education (PE) curriculum, (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, 2016a, 2016b). Based on research findings, the Malaysian Education Ministry inducted the original TGfU model conceptualized by the British educators David Bunker and Rod Thorpe (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982), as one of the enquiry-based approach to promote high order thinking skill among Malaysian students. In the Malaysian coaching context too, training process moving towards GBA lately. However, the direct skilled-based approach or the teacher/coach centred approach being used in Malaysia interchangeably based on teaching and coaching situations, furthermore the eastern tradition valued highly on teacher or coach as the centre of authority.
Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) is a teaching approach originated to address the dissatisfactions and problems with the traditional technical teaching of games in Physical Education (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982). The aim of this approach was that students learn to think and reflect in the context of the game, based on modified games that allow them to solve different tactical problems (Kirk, 2017). Thus, the students would move from being cognitively passive to cognitively active.
Practically from the beginning, the TGfU has been theoretically based on cognitive and constructive perspectives of learning (Piaget, 1964; Vygotsky, 1978). That is, students learn through the TGfU, because they are aware of new information in learning situations in relation to their previous experiences and knowledge, which enables a process of adaptation to the context. Particularly, active learning takes place through thinking, reflecting, imagining and linking concepts.
The positive results of TGfU on the teaching-learning process are evident in terms of learning, psychological well-being, social relationships and level of physical activity, among others (according to existing reviews: Abad et al., 2020; Barba-Martín et al., 2020; Harvey & Jarrett, 2014; Kinnerk et al., 2018; Miller, 2015; Morales-Belando et al., 2022; Stolz & Pill, 2014). It is, therefore, necessary to transfer this approach to the context of the PE classroom. To this end and considering teachers issues when using TGfU, it is advocated to offer a pedagogical model of the TGfU approach. The model would allow for a scaffolding structure, in order for teachers to have operational elements on which to practically apply the TGfU.
In this regard, Kirk (2017) suggests that learner-centred pedagogy, the use of modified games and problem solving are critical, non-negotiable elements of the model. From this proposal, there are many curricular elements that could be defined to help teachers in using TGfU within the classroom ecology.
1999 was the year Singapore was introduced to Game Based Approach (GBA) with the aim to develop students’ critical thinking skills and to nurture problem solvers. Dr. Steve Mitchell and Dr. Judith Oslin were invited to conduct a series of workshops for all the PE heads of department. I was a beginning teacher then, and never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would one day be part of the TGfU family, promoting the understanding of the game-based approach and connecting practitioners from all over the world through GBA.
It is well-researched and documented that GBA helps to develop the whole child through their involvement in games. But the journey has not always been smooth in the past 40 years. The many interpretations of the approach, for example, led the founders of TGfU to remark that what they saw being taught and discussed at PE conferences, particularly during practical sessions, was not necessarily the TGfU approach they had originally intended. Studies have also underscored the misconceptions that student teachers and practicing teachers have about TGfU and its adapted versions. Scholars highlighted the gap between research and practice, arguing that more needs to be done to minimize confusion and make the approach more relevant to teachers. The hard work of the TGfU Special Interest Group and the many GBA scholars and practitioners have paid off, as we are now in a much better position.
TGfU, to me, is more than an approach or a model in teaching games. It is a web that binds like-minded practitioners together through the many conferences, sharing platforms and collaborations. Friendships are forged and we helped sharpen each other’s saws. Without TGfU, I would never have had the opportunity to learn from, and befriend so many scholars and practitioners from around the world. As I am also currently conducting GBA workshops and collaborating with teachers on the use of GBA to teach games, TGfU has opened the doors for me to connect with so many teachers in Singapore who have helped further my understanding of the approach.
I am excited about the new learning that we, as a TGfU community, will continue to uncover. As we celebrate the learning of the past 40 years, I am already looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary together 10 years later, as a family, with a bang!
As we are approaching the end of 2022, it is an opportunity to look back on the past 40 years but also a time to consider where the field of game-based approaches is going. To facilitate this, we have our upcoming conference which will act as a celebration of the past 40 years, conclude the anniversary year, and look forward to the future. We hope that you will be able to join us and continue to support the advancement of game-based approaches.
Abad, M. T., Collado-Mateo, D., Fernández-Espínola, C., Castillo, E., & Giménez, F. J. (2020). Effects of teaching games on decision making and skill execution: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(2), 505. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020505
Allgäuer, D., Brielmayer, D., Lutz, M., & König, S. (2016). Spielvermittlung in der Sekundarstufe I – eine Frage der Methode? [Teaching Games in Secondary Schools- a Question of the method?] sportunterricht, 65(10), 295 – 300.
Barba-Martín, R. A., Bores-García, D., Hortigüela-Alcalá, D., & González- Calvo, G. (2020). The application of the teaching games for understanding in physical education. Systematic review of the last six years. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(9), 3330. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093330
Bunker, D., & Thorpe, R. (1982). A model for the teaching of games in secondary schools. Bulletin of Physical Education, 18(1), 5-8.
Greve, S., Diekhoff, H., & Süßenbach, J. (2022). Learning Soccer in Elementary School: Using Teaching Games for Understanding and Digital Media. Frontiers in Education, 7, 862798. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2022.862798
Greve, S., König, S., & Diekhoff, H. (under review). Teaching Games for Understanding–Ein vernachlässigter Ansatz in der deutschen Sportpädagogik? [Teaching Games for Understanding–A Disregarded Approach in German Sports Pedagogy?] Zeitschrift für Sportpädagogische Forschung.
Harvey, S., & Jarrett, K. (2014). A review of the game-centred approaches to teaching and coaching literature since 2006. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 19(3), 278–300. https://doi.org/10.1080/17408989. 2012.754005
Heemsoth, T., Boe, L., Bükers, F., & Krieger, C. (2020). Fostering pre-service teachers‘ knowledge of ‘teaching games for understanding’ via video-based vs. text-based teaching examples. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy.
Kinnerk, P., Harvey, S., MacDonncha, C., & Lyons, M. (2018). A review of the game-based approaches to coaching literature in competitive team sport settings. Quest, 70(4), 401-418. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2018.1439390
Kirk, D. (2017). Teaching games in physical education: Towards a pedagogical model. Revista Portuguesa de Ciencias del Deporte, 17, 17-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.5628/rpcd.17.S1A.17
König, S., Baumberger, J., & Bislin, S. (2021). Getting Familiar with Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU)—A Qualitative Experiment with German and Swiss Teachers. International Journal for Physical Education LVIII(2), 15–28.
Miller, A. (2015). Games centered approaches in teaching children & adolescents: systematic review of associated student outcomes. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 34(1), 36-58. https://doi.org/10.1123/jtpe.2013-0155
Morales-Belando, M. T., Kirk, D., & Arias-Estero, J. L. (2022). A systematic review of Teaching Games for Understanding intervention studies from a practice-referenced perspective. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 93(4), 670-681. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2021.1897066
Piaget, J. (1964). Cognitive development in children: Development and learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2, 176-186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.3660020306
Stolz, S., & Pill, S. (2014). Teaching games and sport for understanding: Exploring and reconsidering its relevance in physical education. European Physical Education Review, 20(1), 36–71. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356336X13496001
Ünal, C. & König, S. (2022). Taktikvermittlung durch TGfU Strategien und Prinzipien im Nachwuchs-Leistungsfußball – eine explorative Studie (Teaching tactics via TGfU strategies and principles in youth soccer – an explorative study].
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Readings on the Development of Children, 23, 34–41. http://dx.doi. org/10.2307/j.ctvjf9vz4.11