PE Insights Episode 15: Dr Shane Pill – Mosston and Ashworth’s Spectrum of Teaching Styles


In this captivating podcast episode, Dr Shane Pill, an esteemed educator with a remarkable 36-year teaching career, takes listeners on a journey through his educational experiences and the evolution of his pedagogical approach. Hosted by Nathan Walker, the conversation promises a deep dive into physical education, curriculum leadership, and the fascinating world of game sense. Shane also shares a personal journey of discovering Mosston and Ashworth’s Spectrum of Teaching Styles and its application in physical education.

Educational Journey

Shane shares his rich educational journey, from being a Head of Department in Health and Physical Education to transitioning into teacher education and sports coaching at Flinders University. His narrative encapsulates the diverse roles he undertook, including New Level coordinator, sports coordinator, and Deputy Principal, providing valuable insights into his transformative career.

Philosophy and Pragmatism

The discussion unfolds into Shane’s philosophy of pedagogy, emphasising his pragmatic approach to curriculum leadership. Nathan commends Shane’s stance on pragmatism, particularly in an educational landscape often dominated by prescriptive methodologies. The podcast captures Shane’s commitment to the art of teaching and the consistent theme of curriculum and pedagogy that has defined his work.

Game Sense Approach

A highlight of the episode is Shane’s exploration of the game sense approach in physical education. The conversation delves into the origins of Shane’s interest, tracing it back to the influence of renowned figures like Ric Charlesworth. Shane articulates how the game sense approach became a solution to the cognitive tension he faced in aligning teaching practices with curriculum expectations.

Importance of Physical Education

Addressing the relevance of physical education, Shane challenges assumptions about its inherent importance to young children. He questions whether physical education is crucial or if the absence of education itself is the true concern. The conversation navigates through the complexities of physical education’s role, highlighting the need for a strong identity within the subject area to make a meaningful impact.

Moss and Ashworth Legacy

The podcast delves into Shane’s co-authored book, The Spectrum of Sport Coaching Styles, exploring the enduring legacy of Mosston and Ashworth in physical education. Shane sheds light on how their teaching styles made a lasting impression and discusses the book’s significance in reviving awareness about these influential figures. Shane offers practical insights into the application of Moss and Ashworth’s principles in contemporary physical education. The podcast further delves into the intersection of the spectrum with game-based approaches.

Retrieval Practice in Physical Education

Shane’s exploration culminated in a compelling paper reconciling game-based approaches through the lens of Mosston and Ashworth’s teaching styles. The distinction between retrieval practice and creativity becomes a focal point. The analogy of using small-sided games as retrieval practice challenges traditional interpretations, urging educators to embrace a more practical approach. The concept of clusters within the spectrum is unravelled, demonstrating the flexibility to merge styles from different ends. The intentional, purposeful, and explicit design phases are highlighted, emphasising the impact phase’s role in gauging the alignment between pedagogy and desired learning outcomes.

Golden Nuggets for Physical Education Teachers: Play, Data, and Clarity

In the concluding segment, Shane shares valuable takeaways for physical education teachers. The emphasis on the inherent desire to play, the significance of data-driven planning, and the call for clarity in defining what the curriculum stands for become the golden nuggets for educators.


In conclusion, this podcast episode with Shane Pill provides a riveting exploration of educational philosophy, pedagogical approaches, and the dynamic landscape of physical education. Nathan skilfully navigates through Shane’s experiences, offering listeners a blend of historical perspectives and practical insights. Shane’s personal journey, coupled with insights from colleagues and practical applications, creates a rich narrative that invites educators to reflect on their teaching philosophies and embrace intentional, purposeful pedagogy.  Shane offers a thoughtful exploration of Mosston and Ashworth’s Spectrum of Teaching Styles, encourages a paradigm shift in approaching retrieval practice and leaves the audience with valuable considerations for effective physical education teaching.

About the Guest

This episode is a conversation with Dr Shane Pill, Associate Professor in PE and Sport Coaching at Flinders University in Adelaide. 

You can connect with Shane directly via X at @pilly66

Listen and Connect

To listen to the full episode please follow these links to Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

If you would like to be a guest on the PE Insights Podcast please reach out by contacting us here or reach out to Nathan Walker via X at @NWalkerPE

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