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Gotta Catch Em All

Pokémon Go is taking over the world and has already been downloaded around 30 million times. But what does this mean for the world of sport, physical activity and coaching? I downloaded the app 5 days ago to see what it’s all about…

The app has been a game changer in getting more people active and has captured the imagination of even the most inactive people that are the target of Sport England in their new strategy An Active Nation. The BBC have reported that “players are using Pokémon Go for an average of 43 minutes a day - that's more than WhatsApp, Instagram or Snapchat. Since the game makes players walk around to hunt Pokémon, it means an average man playing the game for seven days would burn 1,795 calories - and a woman would burn 1,503”.

Pokémon Go has definitely awoken me from my activity slumber and got me out walking and running again trying to ‘catch em all’ and become an expert Pokémon Trainer. I have been out moving around my village everyday dragging along my 3 year old along to help justify a 32 year old man going around catching Squirtles, Pidgeys and Drowzee’s. According to my app I have walked over 10miles since I started playing the game meaning I am walking on average 2 miles day. I have also bumped into friends out hunting Pokémon with their children who would normally be sat inside playing on their X Box, PlayStation or other consoles.

Pokemon Go screenshotThe way that Nintendo has caught the imagination of such a cross section of society and got them moving is amazing and demonstrates the need for sport and physical activity to continue to embrace technology.

What does this mean for coaches? I downloaded the app to help me connect with the young people I coach and talk about something outside of football. However it’s made me reflect on my current coaching by looking at how Nintendo have used gamification, goal setting, challenges and storytelling to draw people into playing Pokémon Go.
The other thing that has intrigued me is how Pokémon Go has drawn me more into the world of blogs, vlogs and online discussion forums to help me progress in the game. Technology allows us to find information on demand to solve any challenges or problems we are facing or just help us to get better at things. I have quickly went from being a level 1 trainer to level 11 mainly down to being supported by people through blogs and vlogs which has made me think about how can coaching mirror this approach. Recent research from Sports Coach UK talks about technology broadening our definition of coaching and participants utilising Remote and Self Directed Coaching through technology. 

I don’t claim to have any of the answers to the above questions or thoughts but hopefully it might make you stop and think. What can we learn from games like Pokémon Go and how can coaches utilise technology more effectively? I’m off to use my lucky egg and lures at to try and catch some more Pokémon and to find out…

Paul Thompson, Sports Coach UK Coaching Network Manager