A systematic review of teaching games for understanding intervention studies from a practice-referenced perspective

María T. Morales-Belando, David Kirk, José L. Arias-Estero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to the theory of practice architecture, every practice enacted in classrooms is a result of interaction between social, physical and spatial elements. In relation, from a practice-referenced perspective, it is necessary to know which teaching-learning implementation features could help teachers/coaches/researchers to assemble Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) interventions in relation to the institutional environment. Purpose: This review aimed to explore from a practice-referenced perspective how TGfU researchers reported their interventions based on the teaching-learning implementation features (intervention design as a function of the context, intervention length, lesson content, basic lesson elements, lesson alignment, teacher/coach experience with the approach, and lesson validation and treatment verification) and their association with learners’ outcomes. Results: We found 20 studies that included some of the teaching-learning implementation features, but none of the studies included all of these features. We also found that studies of TGfU measured and reported learners’ outcomes in a variety of ways. This creates difficulties for drawing conclusions about the relationships between the presence of teaching-learning implementation features and student learning outcomes. Conclusion: Further TGfU interventions should be planned to consider the following: (a) that lessons need to be designed as a function of the context; (b) the number of intervention lessons, their duration and the duration of each lesson task; (c) the concrete tactical and technique contents and goals per lesson; (d) the modified games, questions and achievable challenges as basic lesson elements; (e) the alignment between the basic lesson elements and the structure of lessons, based on the goals of each lesson; (f) that teachers/coaches need to have previous experience in TGfU and be trained on the specific study purpose; (g) that lessons should be validated before implementation and verified during intervention; (h) researchers should regulate the ways in which learners’ outcomes are measured and reported within TGfU studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Early online date27 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2021


  • sport pedagogy
  • teaching games
  • intervention studies
  • teaching-learning contexts
  • youth sport
  • TGfU
  • PETE

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