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Physical Education and Sports Science
Technical Studies Two

The Teaching and Coaching of
Striking and Fielding Games.

Teaching is a professional 'thinking' activity, and what is actually done in the classroom is largely dependant upon the teachers thought processes that have gone before the lesson. Teacher planning and lesson preparation is very much a cognitive process in which teachers devise goals, instructional methods, planning of practice, presentation of skills, demonstrations, and feedback.

Motor learning.
When a person practices, the obvious result is an improved performance level, which can be measured in any number of ways, such as, a higher basketball free throw percentage, or a gymnast's higher score on a horizontal bar routine.
Motor learning is a set of processes associated with practice or experience leading to relatively permanent changes in the capability for skilled performance. Schmidt, R.(1991).
There are several important aspects to this definition. One important qualification must be added. In order for a change in skilled performance level to be regarded as due to learning, the changes must clearly be relatively permanent. To emphasise the features of the definition of learning, the following statements are important to keep in mind:
Learning results from practice or experience.
Learning is not directly observable.
Learning changes are inferred from performance changes.
Learning involves a set of processes in the central nervous system.
Learning produces an acquired capability for skilled performance.

The Stages of Motor Learning.
There is some evidence to suggest that as the performer practices, he passes through a number of stages in the way he performs. One way to envision these different stages was proposed by Fitts and Posner (1967), such phases are not marked by clear boundaries, but are rather gradual changes that seem to differentiate from one level of performance to another.

Cognitive phase:
In the early part of learning any motor skill, the primary problem for the performer seems to be to understand what is to be done. He needs to know in general terms how the apparatus operates, how the task is scored, and what he is to accomplish. In the cognitive phase the performer tries to make use of his immense verbal, or reasoning capacity to attempt to solve the motor problem. Inappropriate strategies are discarded in a few trials, and the more appropriate ones are retained. Because of great use of the intellectual capabilities in this stage, Adams (1971) has termed this stage 'verbal-motor stage'.
Associative phase:
This stage has been termed the 'motor stage' by Adams, to describe the dropping out of initial cognitive activities and refining the necessary motor movements. Less large errors are made on this stage, as the performer gradually attempts to improve his responses without actually changing them a great deal. Also, within this stage the performer begins to recognise when they have made a mistake or an error without being told by a teacher or coach. In the associative stage the problem for the individual shifts from, 'what to do', to 'how to do it'.
Autonomous phase:
This phase describes the extremely advances levels of performance after a great deal of practice. In addition to the efficient responding, greatly reduced errors, and high rates of working, performers seem to become more 'automatic' in making their responses. In one sense, the responses require less attention, and 'spare' attention can be devoted to other tasks that can be performed simultaneously. In another sense, the performer becomes able to carry out longer and longer segments of behaviour, when previously each of the elements had to be performed separately.

Types of guidance in the teaching of motor skills:
Visual, during the cognitive phase of learning, visual guidance helps the learner to develop a mental image of the task in question, various items can be used, such as a physical demonstration, video's, and charts.
Verbal, this type of guidance is used to describe the action involved, to explain the method of performing the activity, or to provide feedback.
Mechanical. This includes physical help, from both apparatus needed to perform the task, such as the use of air filled arm bands in the learning of swimming, and from the coach physically forcing a response, for example, to aid a performer to do a somersault in gymnastics.
Types and combinations of guidance methods used vary on each person depending on personality, motivation and ability.

Thorndikes laws.
Thorndike developed a theory based on strengthening the
stimulus-response (S-R) bond. He developed some laws which he thought should be taken into consideration when trying to match a response to a certain stimulus, in the teaching or coaching of skills.
Law of exercise.
Repeating or rehearsing the S-R connections is more likely to strengthen them. If the desired response occurs, reinforcement through repeated successful attempts is necessary if one is to develop their connections further.
Law of effect.
If a 'satisfier' follows the response then the S-R bond is strengthened. Similarly, if an 'annoyer' follows the response, then the S-R bond is weakened. This also can mean that if the preferred outcome occurs, the individual may become more motivated to repeat the action.
Law of readiness.
The performer must be physically and mentally able to complete the task effectively, otherwise negative effects, such as frustration and demotivation, may occur due to task difficulty.

Hulls drive theory.
Hull stated that, if an S-R bond is to be strong, a performer must be motivated to do well. He warned against too much repetition of practice, he thought that it would lead to 'inhibition', which would demotivate the performer and weaken S-R bonds.
The inhibition or drive reduction can be overcome after a rest interval, or when a new or more motivating goal is determined.

Cognitive theories of learning
The cognitive theories go beyond the associative or S-R theories. Many psychologists feel that they are intervening variables.
Cognitive theorists are concerned with thinking and understanding, rather than connecting certain stimuli to certain responses. Trial and error has no place in cognitive theory, it is sometimes known as insight learning.

Kohier, (1967), used chimps to illustrate this concept. The chimp was placed in a cage with a box, a banana was hung from the roof of the cage, and the chimp could only reach the banana by standing on the box. Only a few chimps were able to solve the problem without help. Problem solving of this kind involves memory, chimps with previous experiences with using box's were able to solve the problem quickly.
According to cognitive theorists, we are continually receiving information from our surroundings, and using memory, and general knowledge, we respond to certain stimuli appropriately.
A cricket player who learns to swing the ball when bowling, by understanding the basic mechanics of this movement, is using cognitive theory, although they might not know it.
The cognitive view lands support to 'whole method practice' teaching rather than to 'part method practice', playing the game so that the participants understand what is required. It also suggests that giving children lots of sporting experiences may also help with their future learning and motor development, because the children can draw from these experiences to understand a problem and then solve it, gaining them insight into the learning process.

Knowledge of results and feedback.
It is clear that individuals are able to obtain a great deal of information about their performances in a number of ways, and it is convenient to divide them according to the source of information. One class of information is termed 'knowledge of results' (KR) and is usually defined as the information provided by the experimenter concerning the subject's success. KR can have nearly any degree any degree of exactness, it usually refers to how the subject did in terms of the score he or she is trying to achieve, and comes artificially from the coach or teacher.
In addition to visual and auditory information, the performer often receives feedback about the amount of force produced via the receptors in the tendons, the location of the limbs via receptors in the joints, the pressure exerted via touch receptors in the skin, and the location of the body in space via the vestibular apparatus in the inner ear. These sources of information provide a rich source of stimuli to inform the learner of his or her performance in the task.
Feedback involves using the information that is available to the performer during the performance of the skill, or after the response to alter the performance.

Knowledge of performance
This is feedback about the pattern of movement that has taken, or is taking place. It is normally associated with external feedback but can be gained through kinaesthetic awareness, especially if the performer is highly skilled.

Goal setting
Goal setting is simply identifying what you are trying to do, or to accomplish; basically it is the aim of an action or series of actions.
Harris and Harris, 1984.
Sports psychologists who advocate the use of goal setting (Bunker, 1985; Carron, 1984; Harris and Harris, 1984) agree that it is a powerful technique because it:
Directs and focuses attention.
Helps the individual mobilise energy and effort.
Encourages persistence and practice over time.
Bunker et al. added that it:
Forces the individual to take responsibility for their actions and attributions.
Influences expectancies.
Harris and Harris suggests that it:
Generates the motivation to develop relevant and alternative strategies for reaching goals.
Having accepted that goal setting is an important element of coaching, there are some general situations which appear to apply to the sport situation.
Coaches Who set difficult or challenging goals, do better than those who set 'do your best' goals.
Goals seem to motivate best when stated in specific quantitative terms or actions, rather than 'trying harder', 'giving 100%', 'concentrating better', which are more judgmental qualitative terms. (Harris and Harris, 1984.)
Whilst there is evidence that school age children are affected in much the same way as adults by goal setting, it is important to remember that there are some key differences which must be considered when dealing with children in the coaching situation.
The coach should be aware of some of the broad principles of child development and individual differences, thus developing a framework from which to work in.

Types of practice
One of the fundamental variables defining the make up of the practice session is the scheduling of practice and rest pauses.
When practice trials are separated by large amounts of rest, with the rest between the trials being as long or longer than the time in the trial itself, the practice is said to be 'distributed'.
When the amount of rest is shorter than the practice , the session is said to be 'massed'.
Whenever sports are taught or practised as a whole, for instance, if the skill is performed as one general series of movements, then this type of practice is said to be performed as 'whole method'.
'Part method' practice is performed whenever a particular skill is broken into it component parts, with each part being performed separately.
'Progressive part method' of practice is similar to that of part method, only instead of performing each component part of a skill separately, they are eventually chained all together, starting with the first component, then the first and second component together, and so on until the whole sequence is chained together.
To optimise skill learning, teachers and coaches must create the best possible practice conditions. For practices to be meaningful and relevant, the following factors need to be taken into consideration:
The nature of the skills involved.
The amount of technical knowledge needed.
The amount of information the performer needs to process.
Environmental factors.
Any previous experiences from the performer.
The performers personality, and how much they are motivated.

Effects of practice.
Many practice variations have important temporary effects, as well as relatively permanent ones. Some of these effects are a result of simply practising, that is, making the movements necessary to perform the task.
Positive effects:
Various kinds of instructions or encouragement elevate performance due to a motivating or energising effect. Simple feedback on how well the performer is operating can have an uplifting effect on performance. Giving guidance in the form of physical help or verbal directions during practice can also alter performance. Various mood states can likewise elevate performance temporarily, as can various drugs, such as amphetamines.

Negative effects:
Just as for the positive effects, temporary practice factors can also be negative, degrading performance temporarily. For example, sometimes practice generates physical fatigue, which somewhat depresses performance relative to rested conditions.. Lethargic performances can result if practice is boring, or if performers become discouraged at their lack of progress, more or less opposite to the energising effects just mentioned. Numerous other factors associated with practice could exert similar effects.

Increased automation with practice.
Automation has two rather different meanings for motor skills. One meaning is that the accomplished subject is able to pay less attention to his performance as it is going on, as it would in the novice, thus freeing the former either to perform other tasks or to concentrate on different aspects of the main task. A second meaning is that one set of mechanisms might be involved in the movement control in early practice, and that some other mechanism might take over this job as practice progresses.

Conditions of practice.
The instructions given to the learners of motor tasks are usually considered to be a very important determiner of the outcome of the learning experience. It is generally believed (e.g., Singer, 1972, p. 273) that instructions should be rather simple at first, become more complex as the learners develop mastery over the simple aspects of the skill, and adjusted to the capability of the learner to understand them. There is little doubt that some instruction is necessary for performance of any motor task. Beyond this initial instruction, however, there is the question of how to actually perform the task in terms of the manner of grasping the apparatus, moving it and so on.

Giving instructions:
1. Material chosen should be appropriate to age, ability and experience of the children. They need to have their attention drawn to different aspects of the skill at different times.
2. Don't give too much information. As they get better they need to know more, and younger athletes cannot deal with as much information at once as older more experienced athletes.
3. Build on what has gone before, and check that it has been learned.
4. Keep the number of choices that the child has to deal with small to start with. Don't expect children to make all the decisions that you can without thinking.
5. Use a language that that the children understand easily. Find words that are meaningful to them, and use visual images that capture their imagination.
6. Be clear and concise; Don't ramble on too much, you may lose their interest because they want to do things.
7. Always check to see that instructions are clearly understood before starting a practice.

Gaelic football
Gaelic Football can be described as a mixture of soccer and rugby, although it predates both of those games. It is a field game which has developed as a distinct game similar to the progression of Australian Rules. Indeed it is thought that Australian Rules evolved from Gaelic Football through the many thousands who were either deported or immigrated to Australia from the middle of the twentieth century. Gaelic Football is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one.

The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, slightly smaller than a soccer ball. It can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or "hand-passed", a striking motion with the hand or fist. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or "solo-ed", an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand. You may not bounce the ball twice in a row. To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by foot or hand / fist for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand / fist in certain circumstances for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.

Each team consists of fifteen players, lining out as follows: One goalkeeper, three fullbacks, three halfbacks, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full-forwards.
The actual line out on the playing field is as follows:
Left corner-back
Right corner back
Left half-back
Centre halfback
Right halfback
Left half-forward
Centre half-forward
Right half-forward
Left corner-forward
Right corner-forward

Players wear a jersey with their team colours and number on the back. Both teams must have different colour jerseys. The goalkeepers' jerseys must not be similar to the jersey of any other player. Referees normally tog out in black jerseys, socks and togs.

Goalkeepers may not be physically challenged whilst inside their own small parallelogram, but players may harass them into playing a bad pass, or block an attempted pass.

Teams are allowed a maximum of three substitutes in a game. Players may switch positions on the field of play as much as they wish but this is usually on the instructions of team officials.

Officials for a game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark '45'' free kicks and 4 umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning '45' frees).

Raising a green flag, placed to the left of the goal, signals a goal. Raising a white flag, placed to the right of goal, signals a point. A '45'/'65' is signalled by the umpire raising his/her outside arm. A 'square ball', when a player scores having arrived in the 'square' prior to receiving the ball, is signalled by pointing at the small parallelogram.

Technical Fouls

This section deals with fouls 'against the ball', i.e. fouls committed by a player, which do not infringe on another player.

Players may not lift the ball directly from the ground. The toe or the hurl may be used to lift the ball from the ground, into the hands. If a player illegally lifts the ball from the ground, the opposing team regains possession, and a free is taken from the point where the foul occurred.

When in possession of the ball, a player may take no more than four steps while holding the ball. He may however, start on a 'solo-run', dropping the ball from hand to foot, and playing it back to the hand 'toe-tap' in football, or soloing on the hurley in hurling. If a player takes more than four steps with the ball in his hand, a free to the opposing team is awarded.

A player may pass the ball using either the hand ('hand pass') or by kicking the ball to a team-mate ('foot pass'), or in hurling by striking the ball with the hurl. A legal 'hand pass' is committed by a player who makes it apparent to the referee that a clean striking action has occurred (to clearly show that the ball was not thrown).

If an attacking player is within his opponents small parallelogram before the ball enters, it is deemed a 'square ball', and a free out to the defending team. However, if the ball enters before him, or enters, is cleared and played back into the small parallelogram before he has time to exit, a foul is not called.

Personal Fouls

This section deals with fouls committed by a player on another player.

Tackling: A defending player may try to dispossess an attacking player by one of two methods:-

Tackling 'shoulder-to-shoulder' i.e. making fair contact with his shoulder to the other player's shoulder to try and unbalance him. The defender may not use his hip or elbow in the tackle, and one foot has to be on the ground during the whole tackling procedure. A player may use the shoulder to push a player away from the ball whilst both of them are chasing a 'fifty-fifty' ball i.e. no team is in proper possession of the ball.

In Gaelic football he may attempt to knock the ball from the attacker's hands with the open palm. Only one hand can be used, and the defender cannot try to pull it from the attacker, he must knock it cleanly from his possession.

If either of these rules is breached, the referee awards a free to the attacking player. Consistent personal fouling by a player may warrant a booking from the referee, and if he is booked a second time, he must leave the field of play, and suffer an immediate two week suspension, which may be lengthened by the appropriate disciplinary board.

Pulling: No player may pull the jersey of an opposing player during the game, weather it is whilst running for the ball, tackling an attacking player, or during quiet periods of play. Consistent pulling of an opposing player's jersey may warrant a booking, and if the foul is committed at a later time and noted by the referee, this mandates a sending off.

Pushing: A free is awarded if one player pushes an opposing player, whilst chasing him, tackling him, or if one player is in front of another for a catch and the payer behind pushes his opponent to get a better chance of catching the ball.

Striking: If a player strikes any other player on the pitch, with either the fist of the boot, weather an opponent or on the same team, he is to be immediately put off. A minimum two-week suspension is imposed, and the appropriate disciplinary board may extend this.

Dangerous play: If the referee deems a player to be a danger to other players, he has the right to caution the player about his conduct. If this conduct is not changed, the referee may book the player. If again this makes no difference, the referee has the right to put the player off. A two-week suspension is imposed upon the player.

Frees & Penalties

If a foul is committed outside the fourteen-yard line, the free is to be taken by a player on the attacking side, from the ground (in Gaelic football the free may now be taken from the hands. If he is taking the free kick from the hand, he is not allowed bounce the ball, throw it from hand-to-hand, etc., before the free is taken).

For any foul committed inside the 14-yard line, but outside the large parallelogram, are brought out to the 14-yard line, perpendicular to the end line. The free may be taken from the ground or hand, and the same rules apply to the free taker if the free is being taken from the hand.

If a personal foul to an attacking player is committed within his opponents' large parallelogram, a penalty to the attacking team is awarded.
Penalties are one-on-one frees taken from the 14 yard line, directly in front of the centre of goal. In Gaelic football only the defending goalkeeper may stand in the goal, but in hurling the goalkeeper and two other players may line the goal. All players (except the player taking the penalty and those on the line) must be 14 yards away from the ball and outside the 14-yard line, and may not encroach on these boundaries until the ball has been played. Recently, new markings to the pitch showing these boundaries have been introduced.

If a technical foul is committed by a defending player within his own large rectangle, but outside the small parallelogram, a 14-yard free is awarded to the attacking team.

If a defending player inside his own small parallelogram commits a technical foul, a penalty is awarded to the attacking team.

A special free called a '45', in football, and '65' in hurling, is awarded to an attacking team if a defender plays the ball last before it crosses the defenders' end line. This free is so called because it is taken from the defenders' 45/65 metre line. This free must be taken from the ground. It is taken perpendicular to where the ball crossed the line.

Sidelines and Kickouts / Puckouts

A player who touches the ball last before it crosses out of play is penalised by possession returning to the other team and a free awarded depending on where the ball leaves the field of play. If the ball crosses the sideline, a sideline is taken. This free may be taken in a similar fashion to any other free awarded, and is taken from where the ball left the field of play. If an attacking player is the last to touch the ball before it crosses the end line, a kick out/puckout is awarded to the defending team. Kick outs, in Gaelic football, are taken from the ground. Puckouts, in hurling, are where the goalkeeper has a free strike of the ball from his goal area. Where they are taken depends on where they crossed the end line:

If the ball crosses the end line but does not go between the defenders' goalposts, a wide ball is declared and the free kick is taken from the 6 yard line (i.e. the front of the small parallelogram).

In football, if the ball crosses the end line, and goes between the defenders' goalposts, either above or below the crossbar, a score is given to the attacking team and the kickout is taken from the 21-yard line.

As explained earlier, if a defender plays the ball over his own end line, a '45' / '65' is awarded to the attacking team.


In Gaelic football and hurling there are two types of score, a goal or a point.

A point is scored by playing the ball over your opponents' end line, between their goalposts, and over the crossbar.

A goal is scored by playing the ball over your opponents' end line, between the goalposts, and under the crossbar. A goal is worth three points.

Players may score from either the hand or the foot in football, or the hurl and foot in hurling. A goal cannot be scored using the hand pass method, although points can be scored this way. A goal scored by hand will count if the referee deems it not to have been by the hand pass method e.g. if a player is in possession of the ball, drops it, and punches the ball into the goal this will count.

A set of goals in Gaelic football/hurling are similar to those of rugby. The two vertical posts (goalposts) are placed 14 yards apart, with a horizontal bar (crossbar) between them, 8 feet from the ground.

If a defender plays the ball through his or her own goalposts, either by foot or by hand, the appropriate score is awarded to the attacking team. A defending player may score an own goal with a hand pass.

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