Rethinking the classification of games and sports in physical education: a response to changes in sport and participation

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Through changing the way games are represented, classification systems have increased possibilities for teaching game forms beyond structured adult and singular official versions of popular sports. At the time of inception, the four-game form approach to classification (target, net/wall, striking/fielding, and invasion games) enabled modified, small sided conditioned games to be adapted to suit individual attributes, whilst reinforcing a core set of tactical and technical elements for transfer. With global shifts in patterns of sport participation, it is timely to review this dominant classification frame and the role it plays within physical education (PE). Purpose: This paper proposes changes to classification boundaries around games and sports in PE to establish a classification system that is inclusive of a wider range of games and sports and growing forms of participation that we contend are important for PE. The paper also argues for a broader conceptualisation of tactics, with social, environmental and affective dimensions a focal point for a revised, contemporary classification framework. Methods: The paper draws on Bernstein’s notions of classification and frame to explore the pedagogical utility of the dominant games and sport classification used in PE and ways in which it could be revised. Each author independently undertook a structured mapping exercise designed to facilitate exploration and potential classification of a wide range of contemporary activities potentially relevant for physical education. Results: The paper proposes the addition of lap or circuit sports, route or journey sports, rush or action sports, stunts or tricking sports and rhythmic or aesthetic sports to broaden the learning and participation possibilities for young people and tune teachers into contemporary movement forms. The paper proposes sample questions that extend the tactical foci inherent in classification to encompass meaning, social, and ecological considerations for learning in PE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • action sports
  • games-based
  • informal sport
  • Invasion games
  • tactical
  • TGFU

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