Handball is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting sports making the transition from London 2012 Olympics to Secondary School’s Physical Education curriculum. Its highly competitive energetic nature coupled with its novelty promotes coeducation and accessibility to all pupils regardless of skill level. So are the primary Schools missing a trick with its absenteeism from many school’s curriculum and could it be the missing ‘games’ answer to teaching multi skills, traditionally taught through tasks rather than competitive play? Will pupils still develop rudimentary skills but in a more varied competitive and active environment?
Teaching Mini Handball in primary schools would develop fundamental motor skills including running, jumping, throwing, catching and balance as well as perceptual skills like decision making and aiming and has the potential for motor skills to positively transfer across to numerous other sports. With its basic rules and few restrictions, pupils promotes creativity whilst developing social skills such as fair play, teamwork and communication and provides an introduction to officiating from an early age.
The ‘basic’ skill level required to play Handball enables pupils to develop consistent control and quality. Teaching through small games which can be adapted from more well known activities such as bench ball, means that children don’t just learn individual skills in isolated situations but can plan, use and adapt strategies and tactics for individual, pair, small-group and small-team activities.
Basic individual skills such as throwing and catching can have a positive impact on obvious sports such as netball and basketball as well as other sport specific motor skills like a tennis serve or javelin throw. Spatial awareness required for numerous invasion sports can be developed easier in handball when primary focus isn’t on controlling the ball, as in football and hockey.
So what do you need to play Handball? Most primary schools have access to an indoor venue, gym or dinner hall for PE, which is ample room for an adapted handball court, traditionally 12m x 20m for Mini handball. A soft ball that will bounce and can be held with one hand (specific mini handballs can be purchased or given free after attendance on some courses) and bibs.
England Handball Association has produced some excellent resources including a Teacher’s Resource Pack which can be easily found on their website and there are numerous drills and small games ideas available to view online. It’s worth showing some of these to your pupils so they can get a visual image of what the game should look like. Don’t be scared or daunted by what may be a completely new sport to you. Link it to a sport you know well and your students might even be able to create game like practices for you!
Head of PE, Clarendon School, Wiltshire.