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Why Dodgeball is perfect for PE lessons

According to a recent research article from OFSTED, dodgeball is the second most popular sport behind football amongst primary children in the UK. The report goes on to list dodgeball as the most in-demand sport in the UK (33% of primary school children questioned want more dodgeball, compared to 30% which wanted more football (OFSTED, 2018)). OFSTED Survey

Those are some pretty impressive statistics, but we don’t think dodgeball should just be limited to afterschool clubs. You might think this is a bold statement, but here goes: Dodgeball is the BEST sport to play during PE Classes. Played using the right equipment and the correct British Dodgeball rules, dodgeball is safe, fun and boosts children’s communication skills, self-esteem due to the increased chances for success, and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s answer some questions you may have:

  1. Why is dodgeball better for developing physical literacy than traditional sports such as football, hockey, netball etc? Because dodgeball is played with more than one ball! This gives children more opportunities to develop basic object control and co-ordination skills through throwing and catching.
  2. What about the other children without a ball? They aren’t simply stood still waiting to be passed to – they need to maintain awareness in order to actively dodge and retrieve balls for their team. This develops their agility and balance as they run, jump, duck and dive their way to success.
  3. But aren’t children stood on the side when they go ‘out’? Maybe in official games*, but one of dodgeball’s key strengths is how easy it is to adapt! Instead of a child going out when hit or caught, why not have them join the other team, or crouch down and wait for a pass to ‘free’ them? How about ‘stuck in the mud’ dodgeball, where you need to crawl through your teammates’ legs to release them? Dodgeball is one of the best sports for ensuring that all pupils remain active throughout a PE lesson. *But this is never for long as junior games only last 2 minutes - and what's more your team mate can catch you back in.
  4. Isn’t dodgeball dangerous/aggressive? Played using the correct equipment (British Dodgeball size 1 foam balls in primary school and British Dodgeball size 2/3 cloth balls in secondary school), dodgeball is safe for all pupils to participate in. There are specific rules banning headshots which serve to keep players safe and ensure they have the most amount of fun possible whilst playing. Furthermore, the dodgeball code is based around honesty and respect in order to teach children the value of good sportsmanship.
  5. Are the rules complicated? Not at all and to make things easy for you we have put together a nicely animated rules video. Check it out here: Junior Rules Video

Dodgeball is an inclusive sport suitable for all ages, ability levels and genders. It supports the development of physical literacy in a child by encouraging the development of basic running, jumping, throwing and catching skills. At older ages, it then facilitates the building of these skills by using them in combination, reflecting on their performance and improving them. It gives pupils the chance to develop tactics in games where there is no single spotlight (e.g. one ball in football) and so barriers against the sport are less likely to develop. Ultimately, this ticks off many of the national curriculum objectives (see below) and promotes an active, healthy lifestyle among young people. Try dodgeball in your class today, you won’t regret it!

National Curriculum Objectives

Need some ideas for how to link dodgeball into your PE curriculum? Let’s look at the National Curriculum and see why dodgeball is so suitable:

KS1

  • Master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities (just plan dodgeball-related activity; it develops all of these basic movements)
  • Participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending (Children can use simple tactics such as throwing low and from the centre of the court to attack and getting back quickly, catching/dodging to defend themselves)

KS2

  • use running, jumping, throwing and catching in isolation and in combination (dodgeball encourages combinations of these skills e.g. running throws and jump catches)
  • play competitive games, modified where appropriate and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending (pupils can learn more complex skills like counterattacks and blocking to defend)
  • develop flexibility, strength, technique, control and balance (throwing develops full body strength, technique and control. Dodging refines balance, flexibility and core strength in order to change direction quickly)
  • compare their performances with previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best (pupils can evaluate their skills at the start and end of lessons with their peers, and reflect on their learning)

KS3

  • use a range of tactics and strategies to overcome opponents in direct competition through team and individual games (at this level, children can learn to organise team throws to effectively attack, and different ways of gaining ball possession such as faking)
  • develop their technique and improve their performance in other competitive sports (children can refine their throwing technique to further utilise their whole body, and their dodging ability in order to become less predictable)
  • analyse their performances compared to previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best (children can reflect on their skill set and their performances during matches and identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop into a stronger player)
  • take part in competitive sports and activities outside school through community links or sports clubs (British Dodgeball has over 200 teams in the UK and is expanding massively at junior level – it’s never been easier to join a dodgeball club!)

KS4

  • use and develop a variety of tactics and strategies to overcome opponents in team and individual games (children can learn advanced tactics such as quick releases and team fakes and organise team counter attacks in order to defend)
  • develop their technique and improve their performance in other competitive sports (children can refine their situational play, their catching technique using their whole body and their decision making around catching/dodging)
  • evaluate their performances compared to previous ones and demonstrate improvement across a range of physical activities to achieve their personal best (pupils can reflect on their tactical approach to matches and outline a plan to develop their weaknesses in order to develop into a stronger player)
  • continue to take part regularly in competitive sports and activities outside school through community links or sports clubs (British Dodgeball hosts over 100 competitions per year for participants to get involved in – come join in)
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