Video games are changing the way football is coached to the younger generation. The majority of the next generation of professional footballers hone their talents at grassroots clubs against a backdrop of various video games. Thus, encouraging young people to engage in sports using the same methods may be a good way to improve both participation levels and sporting excellence.
Surrey FA tutor Amy Price has honed a “video game approach to coaching” which adapts fundamental aspects of game design and incorporates them into football training. She shared that this allows children to develop and grow in an environment attuned to their existing knowledge. Price’s approach includes mission-based learning, superpowers, level-ups and even saving progress.
Price also shared how video games actually offer players a unique learning opportunity – during game time, players understand a problem and find a solution. This gives players a sense of ownership and empowerment. Incorporating this aspect into real-life coaching makes the session more player-directed which gets children to think in more details and depth around a problem instead of simply being presented with answers from coaches.
Price’s approach is prompting other coaches to think about how they teach footballing principles to children. A game like Fortnite may seem a million miles away from the World Cup pitch, but in certain respects, both require calmness under pressure, fast reactions and on-the-spot problem solving. In fact, many moments of football are defined by split-second decisions. So, if in Fortnite a decision in the heat of battle may mean virtual life or death, on the football pitch, a well-tuned mind could be the difference between a goal and jubilation or despair.
Reading this article makes me realise that we should take a step back and observe our children when he or she is playing video games. There may be skills that be developed through play, such as dexterity and decision making. In fact, games have also been used as teaching materials and educational tools. Hence, moderate game playing can in fact be beneficial.
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