The field hockey coaching process across both Malaysia and India favours a traditional, coach-centred approach of mastering technical skills in terms of game play parameters, fitness, intensity, and load training, whereas a tactical- and player-centred pedagogical approach still takes a backseat. On the other hand, the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) model offers tactical-cognitive instruction and is gaining international recognition for its ability to produce intelligent players via a problem-solving approach in game play. Therefore, the purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to investigate the effect of TGfU compared to skill mastery instruction, termed as Skill Drill Technical (SDT), among Malaysian and Indian elite junior hockey players in term of the game play attributes of adjust and cover in 5 vs. 5 small-sided game play and game play intensity via heart rate (HR) at different points of game play. A total of n = 60 players with an average age of 15 ± 1.03 was selected via simple random sampling from both countries involved in this study and assigned equally to groups, with 15 per group for TGfU and for SDT across Malaysia and India. Gathered data were analysed using the ANOVA and ANCOVA techniques. Findings indicated that there were no significant differences for adjust in 5 vs. 5 game play between TGfU and SDT across Malaysia and India after the intervention. For cover, there was significant improvement for Malaysian players using the TGfU model compared to SDT. In contrast, there was no significant difference between these two models among the Indian players after the intervention. There was significant difference between these two models in terms of warm-up HR across the two countries, and HR was higher via TGfU. For HR immediately after the 5 vs. 5 game play intervention and HR after three minutes’ recovery, Indian players with TGfU recorded a higher and significant difference compared to SDT. However, findings indicated no significant difference between these two instruction types among Malaysians, although TGfU proved to have higher HR intensity. Therefore, these findings reiterated that TGfU is a useful approach for game play to enhance intensity and cardiac output. In conclusion, for TGfU to be more relevant to the coaching environment, future research should link game play and physiological parameters. TGfU should able to overcome the barriers of tradition and cultural background that may hinder its momentum.
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