PE Insights Episode 6: Jack Rolfe – Enhancing Physical Education Through Game-Based Learning


In this PE Insight review, we delve into the world of game-based learning in physical education through a conversation with Jack Rolfe, founder of the Coaching Lab. Jack shares insights from his educational journey, emphasising the importance of sports in shaping character and fostering lifelong skills. The conversation centres on the significance of physical education (PE) and how game-based approaches can create meaningful learning experiences for students.

Educational Journey and Passion for PE

Jack reflects on his educational journey, acknowledging the impact of teachers who inspired him. He emphasises the need for students to realise the broader aspects of sports beyond playing, highlighting the diverse opportunities within the sports industry. Despite not foreseeing a career in sports during his school days, Jack now works full-time in sports education, coaching, and running The Coaching Lab.

Importance of Physical Education

Addressing the question of why physical education is important, Jack stresses its role in opening doors for young people. He discusses the foundation it provides for life, enabling individuals to realise their potential and develop essential skills such as confidence, communication, and adaptability. Jack believes that PE is not just about creating full-time athletes but empowering individuals to enjoy sports throughout their lives.

Comparing PE Experiences in the UK and Australia

Drawing on his experiences in both the UK and Australia, Jack highlights differences in PE approaches. He notes the impact of weather on outdoor activities in Australia and appreciates the emphasis on student choice in selecting sports. In contrast, he reflects on more rigid sports choices in UK private schools. Jack advocates for a balance between structured curriculum units and allowing students to choose sports, fostering ownership and engagement.

Formation of the Coaching Lab

Jack shares the origin of the Coaching Lab during his university years, influenced by a dissertation on developing psychological skills in players. The result was the creation of game-based learning cards that evolved into the Coaching Lab. He discusses how these cards, used by prestigious organisations globally, facilitate team and player challenges, individual reflections, and effective coaching.

Utilising Match Play Cards

Detailing the practical application of match play cards, Jack provides examples of team challenges, individual player challenges, and reflective questions. He emphasises the value of these cards in promoting engagement, skill development, and confidence among students. Jack also discusses how the cards can be adapted for different age groups and teaching contexts.

Evolution to Animal Matchmakers

 Responding to the need for a younger age group resource, Jack introduces Animal Matchmakers. Tailored for primary school children, these cards utilise playful language and animal themes to enhance engagement and understanding.

Jack illustrates how these cards align with the developmental needs and interests of younger students.

The Coaching Lab’s Future

Jack discusses the future of the Coaching Lab, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to support teachers and coaches globally. He emphasises the importance of choice and challenge in teaching, encouraging educators to tailor their use of cards based on the students and learning objectives. Jack envisions continued growth, with a focus on helping teachers make their lives easier.

Philosophy on Game-Based Learning

Closing the conversation, Jack shares his philosophy on game-based learning, advocating for a non-linear pedagogy that incorporates games to enhance learning. He stresses the importance of providing choices and challenges to students, fostering autonomy and competence. Jack encourages educators to create positive and lasting memories for students, ensuring they remain enthusiastic about sports throughout their lives.


This Podcast review explores the transformative power of game-based learning in physical education, as revealed through the insights of Jack Aldridge, founder of the Coaching Lab. From the evolution of matchplay cards to the creation of Animal Matchmakers, Jack’s commitment to enhancing physical education experiences shines through. The Coaching Lab’s innovative approach aligns with Jack’s philosophy of prioritising choice, challenge, and positive memories to create lifelong sports enthusiasts.

About the Guest

Episode 6 is a brilliant conversation with Jack Rolfe – Jack is the founder of The Coaching Lab ( In this conversation, we talk about where the idea came from, building his brand, and developing the Match Play and Reflection cards. Jack also explains his philosophy around sports coaching and PE, in turn, sharing his golden rules for PE teachers. I hope you enjoy this episode.

PE Teachers – check out the cards here:

For further information, please email Jack directly at [email protected].

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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