Making Activities easier or harder

In each activity there will be many variables that can be changed in order to provide a better learning environment for the teaching points.

For example, having an activity where a team scores points by successfully getting the ball into the keyway rather than by scoring baskets can focus the players’ effort on moving the ball rather than on whether or not a shot is ultimately made or missed.

The coach may also want to challenge players who are more skilled, whilst allowing less skilled players to develop at their own pace. For example, requiring a more skilled player to dribble or pass with their non-preferred hand can make the activity more challenging for them, without making it too hard for other players.

The coach may also change the rules of an activity to make it harder or easier as required. For example, a rule such as not allowing a team to grab the ball out of the hands of a player will make it easier for less skilled players who may still be learning to pivot and pass.

The same rule change can also encourage the more skilled players to improve their defensive position and anticipation off the ball, as they can only steal the ball by intercepting a pass.

There are many aspects of an activity that can be changed and in considering what aspects to change, coaches should keep in mind the following approach:4


Coaching style: use questions to particular players or the team to set challenges
for particular aspects of a game. “When should you move to receive a pass?”


How to score/win: change the opportunities to score – e.g. allow passing to a player in a particular area to score, instead of shooting for goal. Vary the size/distance of a target.


Area: increase or decrease the game difficulty by changing the shape or size
of the playing area.


Numbers: consider using different team numbers or varying the number of turns that a player/team receives. Decreasing team size can increase player involvement.


Game rules: change the rules of the activity. Restrict the number of dribbles in order to emphasize passing. Require that no shot can be taken outside the keyway unless the ball has been passed or dribbled into the keyway first.


Equipment: vary the size or type of equipment. Have players dribble two balls instead of one.


Inclusion: ask players to modify activities.


Time: reduce or extend time allowed to perform actions.

How to Change It – A guide to help coaches and teachers improve sport-related games, Australian Sports Commission, 2007, p3