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Central to Playing for Life is the idea that physical activity can be both challenging and inclusive of all who wish to participate.

Also central to Playing for Life is the recognition that we are all different and that our abilities vary along a continuum. One player may have well-developed tactical skills but less-developed physical abilities. Another player’s endurance may be well developed but they may have poor flexibility, and so the list of contrasting abilities goes on.

Effective coaching

Accommodating a range of abilities is what effective coaches do all the time. The Playing for Life Activity Cards provide lots of examples of modifying an activity to include all. Side 2 of the cards use the acronym CHANGE IT. This is a memory jogger to remind you that changes to the rules, player roles, the playing area, equipment and the way you coach can all contribute to inclusion.

Why change an activity?

The graphic below shows ‘how and why’ an activity might be changed. 


How do I know when to change it?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are all players enjoying and/or engaged in the game?
  • Is the purpose of the game being achieved?
  • Are all players being challenged? (Is it too difficult, too easy, one-sided?)

If the answer to any of the above questions is NO, then CHANGE IT. If the primary outcome is not being met, e.g. goals not being scored or only a few players touching the ball, then CHANGE IT! 

If children are successful in the challenge, allow the activity to continue to reinforce the positive results, and then consider CHANGE IT options to make it more challenging.

Change it cropped

Using questions – ‘Ask the players’

Ask the players is a key feature of the Playing for Life activity cards. It relates to the ‘C’ in CHANGE IT, and is something the teacher does to enhance players’ understanding and execution of the game.

The use of questioning is an important tool to challenge players to show they can put into action a variety of important lessons, including:

  • understanding the tactics of the game
  • contributing to an inclusive session
  • coming up with alternative rules and ways of playing
  • coming up with their own solutions to challenges the coach has set (independent thought)
  • understanding the consequences of their actions.

Player involvement in CHANGE IT

To further challenge players to think about the game, ask questions related to your observations. Ask the players for their ideas about how to CHANGE IT to make the game better. Challenge the group to work together, think of solutions and trial their ideas. Encourage players to demonstrate their responses to the challenges so all players benefit.

Here are some sample ’what to ask’ questions within the CHANGE IT element ’coaching’. The challenge (what you ask) will vary according to the game and player abilities:

Questions about timing

  • When will you… (run, pass, shoot etc)?

Questions about where to move

  • Where will you move to?
  • Where will you aim?

Questions about choosing options

  • Which option will you take to pass?
  • Which option will you take to go long/short?
  • Will you run or stay?
  • Will you attack or defend?