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[Damian] As part of the game-sense and constraints-based approach to coaching, it's important to modify activities.
[Julia] This way, you can adjust an activity to further emphasise the learning outcomes for players, change its difficulty and maximise practice of a particular skill.
We use the CHANGE IT approach as a simple way to help us modify the activity.
[Damian] Let's take a look at some of the ways we modify activities in our trainings.
C, coaching.
Modify your coaching style to suit the needs of each player, including instructions, demonstration and feedback. You might use questions to set challenges for specific aspects of the game.
[Julia] "When's a situation in the game when we might use that?"
[Damian] "And also, I want you to think about doing some longer kicks. Do you think you can do that?”. [Players] “Yeah”. [Damian] “Alright. Let's go out and have some fun."
[Julia] H, how to score or win.
Vary how to score to change the focus for the activity or increase the opportunities available for players to be successful.
[Damian] A, area.
Increase or decrease game difficulty by changing the shape or size of the playing area. This affects the amount of time and space available and can be used to achieve different game outcomes depending on your focus.
[Julia] "Ready. So big space. Alright, off you go."
[Damian] A larger area can make it easier for attacking players, while a smaller area can make it harder.
[Julia] N, numbers.
Vary the team sizes or the number of turns. Decreasing team sizes can increase participation through more touches, scoring opportunities and involvement in the play. Modifying the numbers of attackers or defenders can help to reinforce the learning outcome too!
[Damian] G, game rules.
Adjust the rules to vary the challenge, make the game more inclusive or increase the players' opportunities to achieve the purpose of the activity.
"We pick up any ball that comes inside the circle. We pick it up and we can kick it out anywhere."
[Julia] E, equipment.
"Hey guys, let's swap those footys for tennis balls.".
Vary the size and type of equipment you use to broaden the range of playing experience, suit the abilities of all players or to make the activity easier or harder.
[Damian] "A big soccer ball and one of these foam balls."
I, inclusion.
Engage individuals and maximise their involvement by modifying any of the game elements. Feel free to ask individual players what would improve the game for them and how their involvement could be increased.
[Julia] T, time.
Reducing or extending the time to perform actions can impact the volume or intensity of the activity. For example, adding a time limit is a great way to introduce some pressure to an activity.
[Damian] So there you have it. Simple ways you can modify a session with a game-sense approach.
[Julia] But they're only some of the ways. You're really only limited by your imagination as a coach.
[Damian] Remember though, it's important to have a purpose to modifications you make.
[Julia] And for the best engagement and development of your players, always stay true to the learning goal for the activity!

In the video above, Damian Carroll and Julia Hay (Junior Football Coaches) explain how the CHANGE IT principles can be used in a footy session.


The CHANGE IT approach

This approach helps coaches modify activities to meet the individual needs of a young person. With CHANGE IT, coaches learn to observe young people, note any challenges, make changes, then observe again to see what’s worked and if anything else should change. It’s flexible, thoughtful coaching that promotes inclusion.


When do I need to use this approach?

You should CHANGE IT when:

  • One or more players need support to understand, join in, or safely achieve the purpose of the activities
  • One or more players aren’t having fun
  • The challenge is too difficult, too easy, or not appropriate for varying abilities


Ways you can modify activities

These modifications can help create inclusive environments for young people with disability:

  • Share information in several different ways, such as spoken instructions, pictures, videos, modelling, buddies
  • Providing examples and demonstrations can be a useful tool for teaching new skills, particularly for young people who may not hear all of the instructions
  • Make sure young people with disability get a similar amount of feedback and attention as young people without disability
  • Think about playing indoors or outdoors, how the playing surface might affect someone with mobility aids, and whether you can make the area safer with a fence
  • Allow players to bring their own equipment, like gloves or a modified ball
  • Use small groups. Choose the groups yourself so no one is left out. You could also try matching groups based on skill levels
  • Allow enough time to teach and practise new skills, and remember that some young people participate best when activities are shortened
  • Provide activities where players can succeed. This will help them gain confidence and boost their self-esteem.

AllPlay Footy is a joint initiative by Monash University and the AFL. AllPlay Footy was founded at Deakin University in 2015 and has been part of Monash Education since 2021. The AllPlay Footy content and resources presented here have been developed with people with lived experience of disability, consultants from National Sporting Organisations for People with Disability, psychologists and researchers, and are brought to you with funding from a Department of Social Services Information, Linkages and Capacity Building: Social and Community Participation Stream (2020-2024) grant. We aim to use language that is respectful to everyone.


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