Non Linear Pedagogy


Pedagogy is “the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept” (, 2016). There are two main types of pedagogy in coaching, these are linear and non linear. In this blog post I will talk through what linear and non linear pedagogy is before analysing the best ways to utilise it. Finally I will outline how I have used non linear pedagogy in the past.

Linear pedagogy

Linear pedagogy is the more traditional type of pedagogy and consists of structured sessions teaching individual movement patterns, where the out come is planned and aimed for. It used specific activities which isolates one or more of these movement patterns and can follow on from a demonstration. (Vinson et al., 2016) states “linear pedagogies which are characterised in this context by the assumption that knowledge is acquired by the participant predominantly, and directly, through the medium of the coach”. This kind of pedagogy shows great improvements by participants in the skills which they are targeting. However this is only when introduced to the technique and as skill level progresses the rate at which skills are learnt decreases and in some cases can reverse. It is also more difficult to teach these skills to be used in game situations.

Non linear pedagogy

This is a newer less traditional type of coaching pedagogy which is less structured and centres mainly on the outcome and the participant rather than the process. Due to this, coaches can use silence as a tool for learning, this encourages the participants to think for themselves and be unencumbered by the coaches voice (Vinson et al., 2016). Non linear pedagogy can involve more games like practices and coaching is more sporadic, only becoming involved when needed. The preferred method here is to give the participants problems to solve in which they need to develop skills to do so. Compared to linear pedagogy, non linear pedagogy focuses around the facilitation of learning by the participants rather than learning from the coaches. This is achieved through challenging environments and games where the participants have to solve problems themself rather than being given the answer and just repeating it (Renshaw, 2012).

In a learning context this method has its merits but also has its downfalls. At first it can take the players longer to grasp techniques and skills. After a duration of time they will become more skilled and continue to advance further than the participants using only linear pedagogy. Non linear pedagogy is ideally used with participants who already have a basic grasp on the core techniques in the sport you are working on. This then builds on their knowledge and progresses them to the next level which linear pedagogy couldn’t achieve. The participants will also take to this approach quicker as they already have a basic foundation of skills.

I find this method quite difficult to perform in a cycling specific environment because the nature of competition in cycling is round a course or route. Thus making it difficult to create multidimensional games and activities. Due to this, I avoid using the non linear approach with a preference to the safer linear one. In the future however I will try to involve this practice into my coaching in my next blog I will analyse a session in which I have attempted to use a non linear pedagogy.


The future of coaching is being influenced towards the non linear method of practice, however I believe a mixture of both will be the most effective way of utilising these approaches. Integrating linear pedagogy by taking the participants to basic level, then further progressing with non linear pedagogy by taking the participants to a higher level would optimise skill acquisition and player improvement.

References (2016). pedagogy – definition of pedagogy in English from the Oxford dictionary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Apr. 2016].

Renshaw, I. (2012). Nonlinear Pedagogy Underpins Intrinsic Motivation in Sports Coaching. The Open Sports Sciences Journal, 5(1), pp.88-99.

Vinson, D., Brady, A., Moreland, B. and Judge, N. (2016). Exploring coach behaviours, session contexts and key stakeholder perceptions of non-linear coaching approaches in youth sport.International journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 11(1), pp.54-68.


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