A very versatile and effective approach to develop performance is to use conditioned games. In conditioned games the normal rules of a game can be changed in order to encourage the performer to act in a certain way.

Conditions You Could Add

Any condition you want can be placed on a game. What is important when using conditioned games is that the condition allows you to continue to improve the area of the game you are focusing on. Some example of ways you might add a condition are given below:

  • Alter how points are scored. This could be through performing certain skills or acting in a certain way
  • Increase points/goals for scoring using a certain skill/technique or tactics
  • Only allowed to score using certain skill/technique or tactics
  • Must complete a particular sequence of skills/techniques before able to score
  • Change the size of the playing area
  • Change the parts of the playing area that the players can use
  • Alter number of players
  • Introduce additional tasks to be able to score.

Examples of Conditioned Games

  • To encourage the use of a short passing and moving game (physical –tactics) in football a condition may be placed on the game where the team are not allowed to play the ball above knee height when passing. If a pass goes higher than knee height the team loses possession. A further condition could be added where a team score an additional point if 6 passes are played without the opposition touching the ball.

  • A basketball player may be encouraged to use a lay up to score by awarding double points for every lay up scored. Encouraging the use of the lay up in this way will help the performer to practice the skill (physical –skills) in game situations. This will also develop the players confidence (Emotional) in their ability to perform the skill in matches

  • A volleyball player could develop their ability to control their anger (emotional) through adjusting the scoring in a game so that any time they show signs of anger (such as swearing, pulling the net down, shouting at themselves/teammates etc.) they lose a point for their team.

  • A badminton player could develop their mental toughness (mental) by playing a game where they have to win three rallies before they can score a point. This game will develop their ability to perform well under pressure as the pressure will be great in the 3rd rally as they will have to start again if the rally is lost.

  • A handball team could develop each players ability to contribute to the team (social) by playing in a game where they are awarded a point each time all of the players successfully take up the correct position in their zone defence.

  • A table tennis player may use a conditioned game to develop their use of the forehand drive (physical – skills). The condition on the game could be that before a point can be scored a forehand drive rally must be played where each player plays 5 forehand drives.

  • An Ice Hockey player may develop their ability to handle pressure (mental) by playing a game where whenever their team scores they must score a shootout goal before the goal is counted.

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Advantages (Benefits) of Conditioned Games

  • Performers often find this method of practice motivating as they get to participate in a competitive game.

  • Conditions can be placed on the game that encourage the performer to change how they play/or act during a game situation.

  • The theme of the session is maintained in a competitive situation, so performers don’t simply forget what they have been working on during the session when they go into a game.

  • During conditioned games the performer will experience very similar situations to those they will face during real games. Therefore developing performance in conditioned games makes it easier to transfer this development into real games.

  • Conditioned games will help to develop a range of factors over and above the focus of the session.

  • o For example a player may be focusing on developing their drop shot and be given double points for scoring using this shot. This game will not only help the player to develop this sill but also their decision making, confidence, use of tactics, concentration and mental toughness.

Disadvantages (Limitations) of Conditioned Games

  • Can be easy to lose focus on what you are working on and just try to beat the opponent

  • Can become de-motivating if the practice is too difficult and you are not experiencing success.

  • Can develop poor decision making if you are being encouraged to perform skills or tactics at the wrong times.

  • If an opponent is aware of the condition then this may create a false situation. This may make it easier for the opponent to read what will happen and therefore be in the right position at the right time to make it difficult to be successful. This may discourage the use of this in real games as you don’t feel it works.

  • Enough players are needed to run the conditioned game. This may be difficult to organise.