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:





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