Unopposed Practice – A review

I have recently read a blog post by Ben Franks titled ‘Unopposed Practice: What exactly are they learning’. In this blog post I will be providing a review of the blog post explains whether agree or disagree with the the blog post whilst using some literature to support some of my opinons.

The first thing I noticed after reading the blog post was that he didn’t acknowledge the benefits of unopposed practice.  Although many coaches in the world suggest it isn’t the best path, it still have some benefits such as it is a good way to learn the basic movements and allows individuals get used to the basic movements before putting them into an opposed situation where they must think. As part as reflection as coaches we should just focus on the negative but also the positives. I feel in terms of appreciation the benefits of unopposed practice he has neglected them and allowed them to fall down the cracks which in a way leaves his argument against unopposed practice, unopposed.

However the blog post does have a provide a lot of knowledge and the author knows his aim and provides sufficient detail and support for his points. A certain point which I feel is important that he discussed was the aspect of mental knowledge of the game and how having opposed practice can help develop this. This is the main argument between unopposed and opposed and how much work an individual must do by thinking before the ‘do’, Handford, 1997 state that skill acquisition ’emphasizes information-processing activities of the mind’.

The author does also state how he doesn’t say you should overload certain individuals with opposed practice. The example he uses is putting a 5 year old into a 11vs11 game of football, which again it is important that this is made clear. This could provide too much over load for the young child and it could also be early signs of ‘early specialisation’ . Jayanthi et al, 2013 describes ‘early specialisation as intense training in one sport while excluding others’. Early specialisation  can have a negative affect on future involvement, performance and life.

Although I have said he could have provided an argument for unopposed practice, I do agree with the author. I feel the best way to approach coaching is by competition as all sports include competitions so it has more than once use. In my coaching I always try to have opposed practice as I believe it helps development but also as when I take part I prefer to have competition.

Overall I think this is a very good blog post although he didn’t provide an argument for the benefits of unopposed practice. The author goes into a lot of depth and provides some academic literature to support the statements which he has made.


Franks, B. (2015). Unopposed Practice: What exactly are they learning?. Sport IQ. Retrieved from

HANDFORD, C., DAVIDS, K., BENNETT, S., & BUTTON, C. (1997). Skill acquisition in sport: Some applications of an evolving practice ecology. Journal Of Sport Sciences, 15(6), 621-640.

Jayanthi, N., Pinkham, C., Dugas, L., Patrick, B., & LaBella, C. (2013). Sports Specialization in Young Athletes. Sports Health, 5(3), 251-257.


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