Badminton – TGfU

At the end of last year, I began to experiment using the ‘Teaching Games for Understanding’ (TGfU) model in my PE classes. I’d used similar questioning in my lessons previously, but it hadn’t been a driver in developing lessons and units. This year, I’m determined to do it more and have in fact set my department the challenge to adopt it in to more of their units too.

Our year 9’s start with a unit of badminton. In the past, we’ve spent a lot of time playing games and practicing specific skills but little time on strategy. We don’t have specific courts marked out for badminton, so make do we what we can create in the space available. I have managed to string together 6 courts which means the class is active the whole time.

Before starting this year, I did a quick search for some resources online and found a fantastic wiki with TFfU resources for a wide range of sports. I found the Badminton resources particularly helpful in getting my class started.

In the first lesson, the students experiemented with different types of shots. After a quick warm up with one ‘bird’ between two students, they then had to rally just with underarm shots and then with just over arm shots. Because asking questions plays a big role in developing understanding, I asked questions like, ‘what was easy about playing an underarm shot at the front of the court?’, ‘What was difficult using one at the back of the court?’, ‘What was the flight path of the bird when hit underarm?’ and ‘What impact will that have on a rally?’. I asked similar questions for overhead shots in order to get them observing the flight of the shot and to work out how and when they could use each shot in a game.

Today we had the second lesson and it was based on progressions found on the TGfU wiki for Badminton.  Our first activity, used one tennis ball between 2 players across the net. The idea was to move the opposing player around the court trying to get the ball to bounce in open space to win a point. The video below gives a good idea of what the students had to do.

Activity 1 – Tennis Ball

This game provided a great basis for asking the following questions (taken and adapted from the TGfU wiki mentioned earlier).

1. Why is it easier to catch some throws than others?

2. What strategies did you use to try and make it difficult for your opponent to catch the ball.

Activity 2 – Singles with a racquet and bird

We progressed from this game to using a racquet and bird and asked the following questions:

1. When was it easiest to hit the bird? Why?

2. What was the most difficult shot to return? Why?

3. How and when can this shot be used effectively in a game?

Activity 3 – Doubles

The third activity was to play a doubles game, using any type of shot to try and get the bird to hit the ground. It was really good to see the students starting to think about he type of shot they would play and already working out strategies to create space on the court.

At the end of this activity, these are the questions I used:

1. What was the main difference between playing singles and doubles? Answers included a lack of space in doubles, harder to hit it away from opposition players etc.

2. What were the challenges of playing doubles? Answers included, getting in each others way, working out a common strategy or knowing what the other player was trying to do.

3. What different strategies did you use on the court to manage the space? Most teams said one player at the front and one at the back but a couple set up side by side.

4. For each of the two strategies we then explored how you could create space to attack – Question: How can you create space when players are side by side/one forward, one back?

We also discussed the types of shots players could use if they were forced out of position by the opposition and they were able to identify using defensive lobs or hitting the ball long and high to give you time to get back in position.


All of this was achieved in a 45 minute lesson. It was great to see the players starting to think and then putting the strategies they were developing into action. Make sure you check out the TGfU wiki . They have many great ideas that you can use in heaps of different sports.

TGFU – Cricket Lesson

Every now and again something on Twitter catches my eye and gets me thinking. A year or two ago, someone shared a link to an article about Teaching Games for Understanding (TFGU) that got me exploring it more and more in my own Physical Education classes. Just recently I found this video about using Teaching Games for Understanding for teaching striking games.  As we are doing striking games with year 8 at the moment (with a focus on Softball and Cricket), I thought I could apply this really well to teaching Cricket and some of the strategies and decision making that takes place. This morning I tried it, and I’m very pleased to say it worked really well and we’ll do it again next week with a added modifications.

Because this video is focused on students who are a little younger, I used a similar set up but changed the rules to be more specific to cricket. I used ropes to set out the four playing fields and had sets of stumps in each one. I used the markers at the end of the ropes for the batters to run around to score runs and, instead of a hula hoop, used a marker to show the bowler where to bowl from.

With 6-8 students in each game it provides greater involvement in the game meaning students practice their skills more which is also a benefit, however the biggest benefit is the way the smaller games, with limitations added allowed for students to think about strategy/tactics and how to use their skills to be successful in the game. It also allowed me to group students together who were of similar skill levels which can be difficult in larger groups.

I used the following rules:

  • Bowlers had to attempt to bowl with a straight arm, but after a few goes could revert to underarm if they wanted to (many didn’t take this choice which surprised me in a co-ed class)
  • Players had to hit the ball so that it stayed in their quadrant. Balls hit outside their quadrant on the full were out.
  • Players could score fours using the normal geographical boundaries of the field.
  • Players had to rotate fielding positions as batters and bowlers changed so they learned the different skills/decision making issues at each spot.

The first time everyone batted, we played hit and run to keep everyone moving through quickly. However, the second time through, the players could choose to run when they felt like it. They had to make decisions on whether they’d hit it far enough to make it around the marker and back, how far it was from a fielder etc. This decision making was much more easily introduced in this form than ‘normal’ cricket because they had a smaller playing field to work in.

Other observations of the lesson today (and in comparison to other cricket lessons):

  • More students were actively engaged than usual.
  • When fielding, players had to think about where to stand to cut off runs or to give themselves the best chance of getting a player out if they wanted to get a bat themselves
  • Batters were actually choosing which balls to hit to avoid hitting it out of their quadrant
  • Bowlers who were able were trying to bowl in areas that would entice batters to hit it out of the quadrant or to where their fielders were.
  • Students were asking and answering their own questions about how to get players out, or how to succeed.

I encourage you to have a crack at using something similar.