With the upcoming rise of Handball throughout the UK, this research went about understanding whether Handball has a use within the National Curriculum in England and whether alternative sports can develop necessary fundamental movement skills in comparison to traditional sports.
How effective are alternative sports for developing a student’s fundamental movement skills?
Children develop a range of transferable skills through involvement in sport; however national curriculum choices are often limited to a narrow range of traditional sports. Hand-eye coordination is recognised as a core component of the ‘fundamental movement skills’ developed through Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum and competency has a major influence on the long term engagement with life-long physical activity. Seeking to investigate the impact of a sport such as Handball on the development of hand-eye coordination, a group of year 7 pupils were engaged in a 6-week programme to evaluate the influence of Handball over that of a traditional National Curriculum sport.
Handball is a sport that, through its successful exposure in London 2012, has seen its profile raised in the national consciousness (British Handball, 2012). It is also a sport that, as a result, some schools are beginning to consider for inclusion in PE curricula as an alternative or an addition to traditional sports. But, is it more appropriate than traditional sports? A recent study by Grigore, Mitrache, Predoiu and Rosca (2012) suggested that ‘contact’ sports were more effective than others in the development of hand-eye coordination in participants. Further to this, a research study was conducted that evaluated the effectiveness of Handball (new sport) and Rugby League (traditional sport) at developing hand-eye coordination.
This study utilising a standardised ‘Hand wall toss’ test, as described by Ashtok (2008), by throwing a hand sized ball with one hand and catching it with the other, assessed based on the number of catches in a 30 second period. Students were assessed before a 6-week programme of delivery, in one of the two sports, and also after the programme. The table below shows the averages defined by this test.
After the first results had been recorded and the 6 week programme was completed all the students were re-tested and the two-sets of data analysed.
Using a ‘T-Test’ (William and Wragg, 2004) to evaluate the level of positive correlation between the results obtained and the sports, a measure of less than 0.1 would indicate a relationship between the variables (Gratton and Jones, 2010). Following analysis it can be seen that Handball generated a value of 0.0825 whereas Rugby League’s value was 0.4280. This suggests that there was no relationship between the Rugby League programme and the hand-eye coordination results. However the results of the Handball programme had a value less than 0.1, strongly suggesting that Handball was the reason for the increase in hand-eye coordination
On average handball improved hand eye coordination by 16% across the range of scores while the change in the scores from Rugby League was a drop of 1.3%. Based on the results of this study it can be suggested that Handball has a greater impact in developing the core fundamental sport skill of hand-eye coordination than ‘traditional’ curriculum sports. As such handball has the potential to have a greater positive influence, than ‘traditional’ sports, on the competence of participants in this vital transferable skill.
Given the suggestion that ‘newer’ sports such as Handball have a positive contribution to make to the PE curriculum, is it time for PE professionals and departments to review the sports selected for the national curriculum?