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Storytelling Through Play

Updated: Oct 30, 2021

Stories are about drawing on themes, characters, problem-solving and searching for solutions.

Using stories as a learning tool brings meaning, feeling and context to concepts that come sometimes be lifeless by themselves. They invite players to explore their learning journey in an experience that is interactive, descriptive and collaborative.


Stories will stay with people much longer than facts or statistics they influence how we live our lives. If we can become better storytellers we will ensure that our concepts are embedded into a learners memory for years to come.


When we start a story we never know what the ending is going to be, it drives home the message that there can be multiple solutions to explore and search for as players move through their learning experience. Here's how we are using our NEW limited-edition Animal MatchPlay Cards to create stories for players to explore and play their way through....

🗺 Draw on themes to explore

Stories have a depth of meaning when there is a theme, one way to bring Animal MatchPlay Cards to life through themes is to allow players to choose their own stories will allow players to ride their learning journeying, providing them with the opportunity to experience the impact of their decision. Use themes to create an adventure world format of the game where players actively explore the game through the cards that are in play, helping you as the coach to reveal the ultimate importance of the process you are describing.


Animal MatchPlay Cards are built around three worlds; safari, ocean and jungle. You could draw on themes whilst playing through small-sided-games as players move between the three worlds, each pitch having its own twist.


- How does the theme connect with what the asks players to do?


🦈 Use movement to engage

Stories bring information, knowledge, and truth to life. The use of movement will activate the learner's memory and maintain their attention focused on what you are communicating. You can create your own story with Animal MatchPlay Cards by making characters more memorable when you give them personalities and attributes that engage a learner.


Scan the pitch like an owl, attack the ball like a shark, weave with the ball like a snake or jump between playing zones like a kangaroo.


You can use players to help you in solving the problem, you may tell the first half of the story by selecting your choice of Animal MatchPlay Cards for one team before inviting players to finish the ending by choosing cards for their opposing team. This could be done with teams playing against each other or involving single players as they self-challenge by choosing a card for themselves or nominating another player to explore it.


- Can you co-create a game that players explore new solutions?

- Consider movement on and off the ball


🦁 Invite players to interact and engage

When creating your story with Animal MatchPlay Cards, engage a learner's senses. This may be through asking players to choose a challenge card that represents a certain set of behaviours for a particular position or using Animal MatchPlay Cards in certain positions on your coaching board that represent that positions movement and focus. The more a story activates the senses, the more memorable it becomes.


Pause and open up to players and capture their thoughts and reflections partway through, when are able to offer their predictions, they are more invested in the future and end of the story to see if they were right.


Get players to create their BIG 5 playing combinations with Animal MatchPLay Cards and share them with us on social media @The_CoachingLab.


- What players thrive off responsibility to lead the story for others?

- Who can help you to narrate the story?



"We love the team huddles discussing Animal MatchPlay Cards, children really enjoy using the cards to show their creativity and skills" Angie Cottee, School Sports Coach and England Hockey Coach of The Year.

🐍 Create a timeline

Kids love the idea of gamifying their learning experience, adding levels to explore and having a story to play their own way through. Adding Animal MatchPlay Cards in as a player challenges with a timeline to complete them gives players a journey or should we say expedition. Thereby, letting kids use their imagination and creativity to build a story.


It could be that every 5 minutes of the game a new challenge card is added. Each time replacing the previous one or call a single players name to break away from the game to choose the next Animal MatchPlay Card to put into the game.


You may write your timeline visually with checkpoints as to when new cards are going to be added or removed into the game. When you are done, the timeline will be filled out and can act as a visual prop for your students to self reflect and for coaches to delve deeper into a players experience by asking questions to capture the learning.


- How will you introduce Animal MatchPlay Cards to the group?

- How can players interact with the storyboard during the game?



"So many adventures to explore with Animal MatchPlay Cards and our younger pupils" Oundle School Sports Department

🐼 Use repetition

Some psychologists argue that telling stories is one of the primary ways humans learn. It is crucial to create an environment for your story; what are you exploring, searching or discovering?


It may be that every session builds on from where you left off, a new session is a new chapter where players use their past experiences and knowledge to influence the future. Create your own skill games with Animal MatchPlay Cards by naming certain games after the challenge cards you are using; Shark Attack, Jungle Run or Adventure World. You can describe the same concept with different words as players experience what the game is asking them to do.


- How will you pause the game for players to pick up again in future?

- What are the key moments you will come back to in the game?


We launched Animal MatchPlay Cards to bring this all life for your players! Create your own story with our NEW Animal MatchPlay Cards, stacked with tones of different characters for players to explore and play their way through in your training.


LIMITED EDITION - OUT NOW: https://www.thecoachinglab.org/product-page/animal-matchplay-cards



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