TGFU. It’s not a bad word – it helps kids learn

The acronym TGFU is not something you say to somebody, it’s rather something that kids do at WinSport that helps them develop essential sport skills.

Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) is a way of teaching kids sport-related skills through playing simple games that later get more complex and become more strategic.
Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) is a way of teaching kids sport-related skills through playing simple games that later get more complex and become more strategic.

TGFU stands for Teaching Games for Understanding. Simply put, it’s a way of teaching kids sport-related skills through playing simple games that later get more complex and become more strategic. It’s essentially an indirect method for teaching skills and rules that kids will later apply to specific sports such as hockey, rugby and soccer.

“The biggest piece is that it makes the games fun and it teaches kids about rules and why they are in place, so they gain an appreciation and an understanding for them,” says Chris Lane, a Team Lead for WinSport’s summer camps. “It focuses on what to look for in certain situations, so they can make strategic decisions.”

TGFU always starts simple and progressively gets more complex, so kids learn strategy and tactics. For example, a game of tag may start with everybody being “it.” When a participant is tagged, they sit down. In a second game, the kids would be partnered and only that partner can tag the participant in order for them to be able to stand up and get back in the game. In the third game, teams of four are built, and only one participant can tag somebody back into the game, prompting a team to think about who should be tagged back in first.

“This is where we start building upon skills and tactics,” says Lane. “It develops a broad set of skills, it’s engaging, and kids learn the ‘why’ about a game.”

Lane says that once these tactics are developed, kids are inherently learning specific skills for sports.

“Think, for example, in a game of hockey how important positioning is,” Lane says. “The importance of positioning is taught when we play tag, along with other skills such as the importance of keeping your head up and how to get to an area as quickly as possible – which are key skills in hockey.”

Some other examples are playing net-wall basketball and gaga ball – both are trying to get a ball in a specific place and can be applied later to hockey, where it’s important to strategically aim the puck at a specific point in the net.

Lane says for TGFU to be successful, it’s important to talk with the kids to ensure they understand why certain rules were implemented into the games. He says it’s equally important to debrief the kids on the tactics they exercised.

“Between games and at the succession of the games, we pose questions to the group,” Lane explains. “How did the game change when we introduce a rule set? We really get them to understand the thought process.”

Lane says since TGFU integrates strategy and tactic into sport, success isn’t completely reliant on athleticism, so it puts everybody on an even playing field where they learn while having fun together.

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