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Playing the game

Australian children participate in swimming
The Playing for Life philosophy was developed by the ASC as a means to engage children of all abilities in junior sports

31 May 2013

New research by Victoria University’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) has confirmed that coaching which focuses on games rather than drills is more likely to maintain the interests of children in sport or physical activity.

The research report, which was commissioned by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), was released recently by the Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy together with the Market Segmentation for Sport Participation: Children five to 13 years.

The research report tested the Playing for Life (P4L) philosophy, which was developed in 2005 for the use in the ASC’s Active After-school Communities program and has since been adopted by several national sporting organisations (NSOs).   

'The P4L philosophy was developed by the ASC as a means to engage children of all abilities in junior sports and to provide positive sporting experiences,' Minister Lundy said.

'It has been validated with children aged five to 12, and was found to be effective at creating fun and inclusive environments for sport participation.'

The P4L research also revealed the philosophy provides a number of benefits, such as increasing physical activities, improving fundamental motor skills — such as running and jumping — and helping to overcome barriers to participation by removing the emphasis on competition.

The report recommends continuing the P4L approach in junior sports, with particular focus on maintaining the interest of children as they approach their teenage years. 

More information:

The ASC has collaborated with NSOs to develop a variety of resources to assist coaches in the delivery of the P4L philosophy. These include:

  • P4L Resource Kit — this includes a coach’s guide, activity finder, companion books, activity cards and change it guide which aims to assist coaches.
  • AASC-endorsed junior sport program coaching manuals — developed by the ASC and various NSOs, these resources are based on existing national junior sporting programs. The resources also follow the P4L philosophy to teach primary school-aged children sport-specific skills through modified games.

For information please visit

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Quick numbers

11.6 million Australian adults participate in sport or physical activity three or more times per week.
3.2 million Australian children participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school.
$10 billion is spent annually by Australians on fees for participation in sport or physical activity.
17 million Australian adults participate in a sport or physical activity every year.
650 thousand Australians either coach, teach or instruct sport.