Ok. I get it. But how can I use sport as a learning tool?

Methodology is a key point of the Education Through Sport concept. Having that in mind we have developed three basic principles that will guide and help you out during the process! Read the complete  methodology chapter on page 20 of the MOVE&Lean manual! 


ETS is a non-formal educational approach that works with sport and physical activities and which refers to the development of key competences of individuals and groups in order to contribute to personal development and sustainable social transformation. And link to more about the definition on page: 9

Principle 1: Connection to pedagogical approach

Do you know exactly what your educational objectives are? What is the social change you want to aim at?

The first basic principle already mentioned is the importance of fully understanding the pedagogical approach of ETS and relating it to your own experience as a coach/trainer in sport for all or a youth worker in non-formal education in order to deliver true ETS activities. It means that you will be able to reflect on the benefits from your own perspective – in either a sport for all or youth work setting. We believe that the background of the pedagogical approach will make you understand what opportunities you might have overlooked in your own work until now, making hidden values visible and working with them more consciously than before. That will also enable you to adapt the exercises as much as needed for your own target groups and the specific context you work in. This manual is therefore not just a collection of tried and tested exercises that anybody can deliver in the way they were meant to be delivered. The true impact and effect the exercises can offer will only evolve to their full potential if you connect them to an overall aim of requested social change and a set of realistic learning objectives.

Principle 2: Debriefing as the core element of ETS practice

The second basic principle is strongly connected to the most important element of ETS: the debriefing part of the learning process. Why do we think this is the most important part? It gives all participants not only the chance to reflect their own behavior, but also to reflect on the whole situation and connect it to their everyday lives and to society itself; depending on what topic you aim to tackle with the exercise and how far you go into the reflection process itself. 

How exactly do you facilitate the debriefing part of an exercise successfully and with ambitious content?

The first important part is to prepare your questions thoughtfully and to discuss them either with your co-trainers or reflect on it in advance to make sure you open and lead the discussion by asking the right questions. Your main objectives may give you a lead on that, but it is as important as matching it with the level and expereince of your target group and the setting in general. Furthermore, you still should be flexible enough to be able to react to the given situation in the reflective practice itself.

The debriefing part is not only about asking questions, but also about moderating/leading the discussion itself and giving a clear structure to it. It always helps to tell participants what they can expect of this part of the exercise. If they are totally new to debriefing or evaluation, they should be introduced to it properly. You have to tell them what to expect and what role they play in it. You have several tools you might use here. 

First of all and the most important one is giving and receiving feedback. Participants contribute to the discussion by observing what they saw, what they felt and what they conclude from these experiences. You might add observations as a facilitator during or at the end as well, but the biggest part should come from the participants themselves. 

Find more in the section Excercises


Principle 3: The “missing link” between sports and non-formal education

How can I best use the resources of both sport and youth work?  How can I best build on their values?

The third basic principle is closely connected to the first two. We believe that ETS gives a plus to both facilitators within the sport for all context and those in non-formal education. There is a match of two sets of values that add up to a new dimension of learning possibilities. On the one hand the implicit values of sport (e.g. fair play, team work and responsibility); on the other hand the implicit values of youth work related non-formal education (e.g. active participation, taking initiative and inclusion). We will elaborate the implicit values of sports in detail, because it will show how the match of two sets generate new opportunities to both trainers/coaches and youth workers. 

1 st SET

Fair play is the first implicit value you can connect to sport. In all types of sport you have to accept the rules and play by them. If you do not accept them you may either be disqualified or not be able to enter the game in the first place. In the frame of sport and fair play there is an ethical value which allows every player to be sure he/she knows what is allowed to happen. This makes the player not only the player feels safe, but it also gives the spectators a frame of reference to enjoy the game and know what is allowed or not. This sense of security makes the actual sport enjoyable to both the players and spectators. But fair play furthermore creates a code of conduct which exceeds the general rules. It is not only official and legal, but more important it is a social behaviour and attitude you develop and perform. Within sports fair play is normally not explicitly communicated as a social skill you need to learn, but it is implicitly expected in the development of every sportsperson.)

Teamwork as the second important implicit value of sport is naturally connected to team sport. The team’s performance always has a priority to the individual’s. Not only can you hear e.g. footballers say that the team did well and not the one who scored the goal, but trainers and coaches explicitly demand all players to perform as a team. Results are always team results. Individual needs are not important. This claim fosters a social behaviour which is based on solidarity and empathy as well. Even though teamwork is clearly demanded, the actual behaviour and social skills you need for it are not always explicitly mentioned or taught. By reflecting on it through an ETS exercise you not only make what teamwork means to the individual transparent, but also what the social skills required are.)

Responsibility, the third implicit value of sport is closely connected to the first two. When participating in sports, it is absolutely necessary to take over responsibility for yourself and for others as well. Taking care of yourself is firstly to be aware of what you can contribute and where your physical and psychological borders lie in order to perform at your best. It also includes the knowledge of how your body responds to physical strain or stress and to handle it effectively. Furthermore, you need to be responsible for your team members as well. Depending on what role you have in the team you need to be aware of others’ needs and their limits as well. Taking over responsibility is a social skill that is closely connected to the development of any sportsman or woman. ETS can make this skill visible by showing how fundamentally important it is within sports and make the “ownership” conscious to participants.

2nd SET

Active participation has three dimensions. First, it is a basic condition to deliver a true and successful non-formal education activity; second it is a value you want participants to internalise and apply in their everyday lives as well; third it is a social skill that supports people to be active citizens and shape their lives to their needs. It is therefore helpful to reflect on it explicitly within an ETS exercise, because you can show all three dimensions of it. Furthermore you have the possibility to make your educational intentions transparent by reflecting on the consumer behaviour of the participants.

Taking initiative is closely connected to active participation, because within non-formal education settings you can clearly see the impact of this type of behaviour. It is often the turning point of an activity, because participants use the flow of, for example, a discussion to push it into a new direction and generate new ideas by it. This is actually the momentum of true learning, which is the fundamental intention of all non-formal education. ETS might deliver this experience easier than usual non-formal education activities, because we believe the matching of several values triggers initiative behaviour. )

Inclusion is as much a value as it is a topic itself. Therefore it is the most visible value of non-formal education and is reflected the most. Combined with ETS it will simply be much more visible.) 

We believe that the match of the two sets of values not only merges the two, but creates a new way of individual learning opportunities that exceeds the two separate ones. ETS creates a new dimension of developing social skills because it combines the learning experience with a conscious personal reflection process.

Remember! You can read more on page 20 of the MOVE&Learn manual!