Game Based Approaches To Coaching

Game Based Approaches to Coaching

In this blog post I am going to be reviewing the key components for game based approaches to coaching, whilst analysing what is being developed in the training drills.

The first video is of Novak Djokovic, the winner of numerous grand slams. A player with the talent, athleticism, and mental fortitude. The king of adaptability through his defensive counter-punch against offensive opponents and offensive punch against defensive opponents (Pereira, 2016).

As we can see from the training drill, it is not a typical game of tennis, nevertheless it is effective as it is increasing the traits required for a tennis player. If we look closely at the game, we can see that:

  • Both players hit the ball into the ground on their own side of the court
  • Precision is key to also get the ball to bounce on the opponent’s side of the court

Both players are constantly moving and switching directions to keep themselves returning the ball to keep in the game, therefore improving:

  • Footwork, as the ball could bounce anywhere, which requires the players to compose their manoeuvring in a systematic pattern for optimal effectives, this results in maintaining balance to strike a confident shot (Wang, 2009).
  • Racquet control as the players when in competition, have to supply their own power to their swing, as this could be the difference between the opponent returning the ball or winning a point (USTA, 2017).
  • Sport specific fitness, with taking part in this fast moving drill, it ties in with a game situation, as Novak will be having to run in all kinds of directions and hit forehand and backhand shots and with taking part in this exercise it will enhance his endurance to cope with the demands of a rally and optimise his athletic performance (Plowman and Smith, 2007).
  • Fun, both players are enjoying the competitive nature of exercise and the delight of both participants when the drill finishes. This shows that even though they are testing themselves and improving, enjoyment is still there and they show no signs of giving up the sport (Kidman et al., 2001).
  • Strategy, to think quickly and effectively about to where to place their next shot to catch the opponent off-guard. For instance, when playing in a match, Djokovic, will perform against players whose overall mechanics are stronger (Smith, 2004). From this he will have to look over video footage of his (own) and (opponents) game to exploit weaknesses with his coach, this could include approaching the net off balance at the wrong time, which Dusan Vemic does which hands Djokovic the win. Video analysis can inform decision-making and enhance performance (Hodges and Franks, 2002).

See analysis of the winning phase of the game below

Critiquing the above image on how Djokovic went onto win the rally

The positioning of Vemic has all kind of weaknesses:


  • The placement of his left ankle (highlighted with the blue circle) is causing him to be off balance due to it being slanted inwards. This is a cause for concern because, to get back on balance his body has to do a shift onto his back leg which then results in tracking back from the net.
  • Another disadvantage is his knee placement, due to being off balance and his ankle pointing inwards it results in his left knee titling inwards, known as (Valgus) this provides increased compression on the lateral knee and gapping along the medial knee (Schiff, 2009). (you can see this point from the arrows on the above picture.)
  • If we examine Djokovic on the above picture, he is ready and raring to go, we can pinpoint this from seeing he is on his toes. His knees are slightly bent which gives him the balance to exert power and move quickly to return the ball hit by Vemic.

I found this very intriguing, so I went to discover more and got analysed at doing a squat jump, that was recorded using a Kistler force platform, that measures the force exerted on it by the subject and gives the force exerted by the platform on the subject (Linthorne, 2001). This was to asses if my knees remained Neutral (in line) or if I had knee Valgus (knees pointing inwards) or if my knees had Varus (pointing outwards). As you can see clearly see when firstly reviewing the image, my right foot is shifting to the end of the force platform and with this results in my knee tilting outwards (Varus) Varus knees are often subject to excess stress on the lateral collateral ligament. (Millis and Levine, 2014). The reason I believe I suffer from this is due to having a previous rupture on my right knee.


The next video I am going to indulge into is, a goalkeeper drill. Goalkeepers the underrated player in every team, despite saving numerous clear goal scoring opportunities, especially the one in the 94th minute, the plaudits still go to the striker who put them 1-0 up in the 54th minute.

If we examine the video it is very simple yet cleverly effective, that your local Sunday league club could incorporate it, into the training session 30 minutes before kick off (if the goalkeeper is there yet, as we all know he stops of at the local café for a bacon sandwich in the morning as his pre match ritual. If we look closely at the video, the goalkeeping coach is using a wet sheet that has a football print on it, this will be used to add more of challenge to the drill because the goalkeeper will have to be focused and attention has to be primarily on the ball itself, despite having objects in the way. For example, track back a couple of years and you’ll remember the beach ball goal that Darren Bent scored against Reina (White, 2015). By making the sheet wet, it adds more power onto the shot as well as sending the ball in any direction and, this is specific to goalkeeper because a shot could come from anywhere on the pitch and take numerous bounces off the surface, this means that the goalkeeper has to be ready. The more similar the training activity, is to the sport itself, the greater the likelihood of positive carryover to performance (Lambert, 2011). The training exercise, is high speed, and the angle of the ball moves, quickly and sharply as it connects with the sheet. This provides the goalkeeper to be constantly attentive (Perini et al., 2003).


Hodges, N.J., and Franks, I.M. (2002). Modelling coaching practice: the role of instruction and demonstration. Journal of Sports Sciences, 20(10), 793-811.

Kidman, L., Thorpe, R., Jones, R. and Lewis, C. (2001) Developing decision makers: An empowerment approach to coaching. Christchurch, New Zealand: Innovative Print Communications.

Lambert, W. (2011) Maximise your fitness potential (for all levels). United States: Amanda Jervis.

Linthorne, N.P. (2001) ‘Analysis of standing vertical jumps using a force platform’, American Journal of Physics, 69(11), pp. 1198–1204. doi: 10.1119/1.1397460.

Millis, D. and Levine, D. (2014) Canine rehabilitation and physical therapy. Saunders.

Pereira, C. (2016) What made Novak Djokovic best player on ATP? Available at: (Accessed: 7 January 2017).

Perini, A., Pereni, A., Di Cesare, M., Italian, M.M. and Dicesare, M. (2003) Soccer zone play: A Techinical and tactical handbook. United States: Reedswain.

Plowman, S.A. and Smith, D.L. (2007) Exercise physiology for health, fitness, and performance. 2nd edn. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Schiff, B. (2009) ‘Valgus, Varus or neutral knees?’, 20 May. Available at: (Accessed: 6 January 2017).

Smith, D.W. (2004) David Smith’s tennis mastery: The most complete guide to learning, developing and mastering the sport of tennis. St. George, UT: David Smith.

USTA (2017) Choosing a racket: Power vs. Control. Available at: (Accessed: 8 January 2017).

Wang, P.D., Master Bruce (2009) Tennis Kung Fu. New York, NY, United States:

White, J. (2015) Liverpool, beware the beach-balls against Sunderland. Available at: (Accessed: 8 January 2017).



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