All Blacks world cup winning coach, Steve Hansen

The constraints led approach is when: “It has become apparent in the dynamic interactive settings of physical education that movement skill acquisition occurs as a consequence of the interplay of numerous interacting constraints, which need to be considered in pedagogical practice” (Davids, Chow, and Shuttleworth 2005). “These constraints on learners include the morphology, emotions, cognition’s, intentions and developmental status as well as social and cultural factors, which share strong interconnected relations with the environment and learning tasks” (Araujo et al. 2004).

The following is an interview with All Black coach Steve Hansen back from his world cup triumph speaking about the Connecting Coaches convention. Dylan Cleaver interviewed him on the Art of Coaching. Steve looks at his players to see how he can get the best out of every individual player. He said, “What is it that makes the guy tick.” This is what he looks for in the players to get the best performance, out of them, in matches and training. Steve then goes on to discuss the role of the media in any sport. He says that: “As you come more exposed, with teams like Canterbury and the Crusaders, there’s media looking at what you are doing. Early on my mind-set with the media is that I didn’t trust them. Obviously that’s based on things I’d seen or felt myself.” The media is taking over in sport by making comments about the future such as it’s time for the manager to go and talk about the negative rather than the positive aspects of the sport. Steve talks about the fear of losing and about the winning aspect. He says about losing that “You’re not enjoying it. No one enjoys losing, but with five minutes to go it’s not over. There’s no point me worrying about what has happened yet; I’ve got to worry about how I can make it not happen.” Any manager has a fear of losing. For example, when Liverpool played Dortmund they were losing 2:0 at half time but in the second half Liverpool won the game 4:3.  Parents who send their kids to training sessions and games want to see their kid play the sport in the game  but they naturally want to see their youngster  win, but it puts pressure on the coach because it is ‘……a natural instinct’ in the sports environment.

Reference List

Araujo, D., K. Davids, S. Bennett, C. Button, and G. Chapman. 2004. Emergence of sport skills under constraint. In Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory and practice, ed. A.M. Williams and N.J. Hodges, 409–33. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis

Davids, K., J.Y. Chow, and R. Shuttleworth. 2005. A constraints-led framework for nonlinear pedagogy in physical education. Journal of Physical Education, New Zealand 38: 17–29

Dylan Cleaver. (2015). Steve Hansen on the art of coaching. Retrieved from:



Nonlinear Pedagogy


Before I get into more detail of Nonlinear pedagogy and what it does for the learning of the athletes, motivation and the skills of the coach, it will be best to know about the Linear Pedagogy

Linear pedagogy is described as a traditional approach to coaching, a typical practice session will have a warm-up, teaching and then repeating practice in training of a technical skill through drills, for example in football you have passing and receiving drills, so it gives the players the right vision and technique to perform the skill. Sometimes in the drills the coach might make some instruction on tactical skills which are also practiced through every drills, at the end of the drills will become a practical game involving what they learnt in the training session, which could lea to boredom because the practice can become boring and therefore leads to the players becoming unmotivated to learn. (Carlos et al. ND) “Players provide little or no input to the coach, who makes most or all of the decisions. Players are not encouraged to help each other master the skills of the sport.” this means that the coaches make all the decisions in training’s and not letting the players make their own mind up.

Video of Dynamical Systems Theory and Football!!!!

Dynamical Systems Theory – there cannot be a one size fits all in criteria led coaching. the variables to manage and co-ordinate, The functional constraints of the task produces the most efficient solutions that reflect  context. e.g. individual, environment and task. “In applications to football, the characteristic of self-similarity implies that the same underlying principles can be used to explain coordination processes in localized sub-systems (e.g., the emergence of patterns of movement coordination in individual players) and the global system (i.e. the emergence of tactical patterns during sub-phases of football including 1 v 1, 3 v 3 and 11 v 11 situations)”. (Keith David’s, ND)  And finally the “dynamical systems can display non-linearity of behavioral output and have a capacity for stable and unstable patterned relationships to emerge between system parts through inherent processes of self-organisation under constraints (i.e., these systems can spontaneously shift between many relatively stable states of coordination.” (Davids et al., 2004)). What does this mean for coaches? the coaches need to reflect real games demands and make it challenging for the players. they also need to explore and make decision about the most appropriate responses and be able to adapt session. The functional movement variability underpinned by contested inference degeneracy, which is to learn to adapt to find a range of solutions (non linear pedagogy).

Non Linear pedagogy is a powerful way for understanding the players movement and for designing effective teaching, coaching and training programs in sport or physical education. Non Linear pedagogy is not a traditional approach but more a game approach and more than a Constraints led approach. David’s et al. (2008), “a Constraints-led approach has been vigorously presented to promote the understanding of how goal-directed behavior can emerge as a consequence of the interacting constraints (task, environment and performer) in a learning or performance situation.” Non-Linear is Game based approach which means that it structured game like situations. “uses drills that are closely aligned with the game to teach technical and tactical skills, practices are fun, relevant, and challenging and therefore increases intrinsic motivation, players develop increasing independence from the coach by being actively in the learning process. players are encouraged to help each other master the skills of the sport and its preferred approach of cooperative-style coaches.” (Carlos F, ND). For example of a Games based approach in football, you could play a 7 a side game but have four aspects that you can change to make it more creative and enjoyable and help them learn the skills. you could change the rules. alter the number of players in the teams by having 5 vs 9. altering the size of the playing area and finally different ways to score (header, shot outside the box or inside the box).


Reference list 

Carlos, F. (nd) Teaching Physical Education & Coaching the Games Approach Way. recieved from:

David’s, K., Button, C., & Bennett, S.J. (2004). Coordination and Control of Movement in Sport: An Ecological Approach. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

Davids, K., Button, C., & Bennett, S. J. (2008). Coordination and control of movement in sport: An ecological approach. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Keith David’s. (ND). Applications of Dynamical Systems Theory to Football. Retrieved from:




When did you last change your mind?

It is not wrong to change our minds over values and beliefs that we have maybe held for a while. Over a period of time I have changed my values and beliefs that guide my coaching philosophy. When I was at football team practice coaching under 7’s to under 10’s, when I first started coaching them we were using a block practice; basically it was focusing on main skills of the sport but you are practicing it more. This kept happening and most of the training, which kept changing led to the training sessions focusing on one skill at a time. This seemed boring to the players but it helps them to learn quicker and enables them to perform and practice the skill properly.  “Blocked practice – All the trails of a given task must be completed before moving on to the next task. This can make for acquisition performances, but hinder long term development.” (Sports Coaching Experiences, 2013).  This is the reason why we kept on doing blocked practice, because they are new to the sport and we chose to give them the task for each skill and when they completed the task we moved on. When we get older we change our practice because of this: “The older we get the more we and our peers value tradition, and tradition of any kind resists change. We learn to take pride in being loyal and consistent which is at odds with progress, growth and learning.” (Scott Berkun, 2014). The reason why we changed our minds for the coaching session is that our players were learning quickly and their continuous growth, made a difference in the block practice method. We changed it to a random practice in the training. “Random Practice refers to practice sessions where multiple skills are incorporated into the same practice session. A predetermined level of competence is not required before moving on to the next skill. In soccer, for example, a random practice might involve time dedicated to individual ball handling skills, followed by passing skills, then heading the ball, and finally specific plays. These multi-tasking types of practices seem to be the most common in the curling environment as in any given practice it is not unusual to see a variety of drills, emphasizing different turns and weights amongst other training variables, incorporated into a single training session.” (Coaching Practice and Techniques, 2012). We used this technique because the abilities of the players was of a high standard and this enabled us to mix in the skills in a session, to perform better and be ready for a game of football.  It made a difference in training by seeing the players focusing as well as enjoying the session but they are gaining more from it and working as team in a sport where it is essential. In this way it increases the standard and quality of the player in training and for coaching aspects it is good to see that changing session methods can have an effect on players learning in any sport. The team that we changed the sessions with managed to win a winter cup trophy and were unbeatable for a while. As a coach you are continually changing your mind as your participants develop and we have to keep up with the flow of the player’s growth.

East Lancashire under 7’s winter cup and team:



Reference list:

Connor McGowan. (2013) Sports Coaching Experiences. Retrieved from:

Gary Crossley. (2012) Coaching Practice and Techniques: Retrieved from:

Scott Berkun. (2014). When did you last change your mind. Retrieved from: