... Or, how sitting on your backside could help you to perform better... off it
Upon reading Adriano's blog about sport in an age of social media I was reminded of a blog I wrote for my undergraduate studies back in 2013 about the potential positive uses of video games for learning.
At the time I was debating the use of homework setting within my coaching and thought I would give it a go on myself. I decided to try and learn how to play a sport that was completely alien to me, and the sport I chose was American Football. My first bit of self-administered homework was to familiarise myself with the sport to a very basic and fundamental level before I turned up to the first training session. So obviously my first port of call was the high street shop GAME, where I went and bought myself Madden NFL (the biggest game brand for American Football) for my PlayStation. When I first started playing it my Mum asked "What's going on dear?" to which I replied "I honestly have NO idea!" But after sticking with it and playing for a bit longer I eventually began to get the hang of it. The rules and plays and tactics were all starting to become more clear to me, some things still elude me however, but I was astonished at how quickly I was beginning to learn about the sport without physically playing it, and without being in the presence of a human coach. Which got me thinking, have games been seen to aid learning in the past?
During my research into the matter I came across Gabe Zichermann's TED talk on Gamification, it is an enlightening video in it's entirety, however for a quick example of a successful implementation of games-based learning watch from 07:38 - 09:08.
Also within the clip he says that games don't make children violent, however they will make those with a violent predisposition become better at being violent, therefore it can be suggested that those with a predisposition to other things, such as sporting activities, can also become better at those things via games. With this in mind, it is possible to use this notion within sports coaching thanks to the ever growing array of sport video games, which would be great for beginners to learn the rules and the basics. However, as far as tennis games are concerned I would suggest steering people away from such things as Wii Sports, as in my experience of tennis coaching it makes kids think the technique is to sit on a chair and flick your wrist left and right, up and down, which simply isn't the case. Therefore, I wouldn't use games for technique development, but tactical development and to understand the rules. I understand that not all might be able to afford a games console and games, so perhaps the renting of a hall of some sort could be arranged and a games night organised, which hopefully will help the kids to socialise with each other too.
Saying this however I have found this article from 2009 Next Generation Gaming Consoles that tells us that 8 out of 10 households have a next-gen games console, and I imagine that number would only have increased since; so perhaps it is not too unrealistic or unreasonable to set this type of homework task after all.
I have read into the use of games and learning quite a bit and the most useful and extensive pieces of work on it that I could find are that of Mitchell and Savill-Smith (2004) The use of games for learning and the information provided by the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program and Education Arcade Better learning in games
I would highly recommend giving these a look if this post has raised concepts that are of interest to you. As I have gained a well-rounded understanding of the use of games and learning, such as that too much time spent gaming can negatively impact development therefore I would suggest setting a specific amount of time for the performers to spend on the game and ask parents to monitor this as much as possible.
By Luke Anthony Ellis
Volunteers Involvement Programme