During the Spatial awareness stage the student has to learn how to move without the ball as well as how to run forwards, backwards and to both sides of the court. The student has to learn how to accelerate and how to move into a good position to get the ball in situations where it could be coming from different directions. Combinations of movement without the ball will assist the student’s transfer of those movement skills into game based actions. For example: When playing in a high level you must jump for a ball, however in a medium level, players should hide behind a defender and in a low level players should dive to get the ball from the ground. There are various complex situations that students have to explore before they can get into the ball game. Games with music can help develop these skills in a fun and inviting way where students try to match the rhythm of the music with their body movements. Games following an obstacle course that involves carrying a ball or a bean bag can also help these skills develop.
Once some basic movement skills have been established, the next level is more “Me” with the ball. For instance, how the player can move the ball by carrying it or driving it from point A to point B through defensive and offensive skills. The stage of carrying the ball forward is extremely important for the students to understand because they have to learn how to move without the ball in order to get the ball. Students must also to learn how to drive the ball by passing the ball, following the ball and getting the ball back.
If the student has not been exposed to these physical tasks prior to a match or game, the aspects of throwing, catching and kicking the ball will become more complex and more difficult to complete.
As the student learns how to become the ball carrier, more decision making is needed in a short period of time. Not only does that student have the responsibility of moving the ball forward, the student may also now be being chased by opposition players. The student may also have some team mates behind, in front or to the side of them. In this stage it is extremely important to play games with the students in a small area, supporting the ball carrier but moving all the time. A good example of this is “Piggy in the Middle”. The game will change if the players with possession of the ball have to move every 10 seconds to another position or change positions with the player in front of them. In this scenario it becomes a game situation where we have a ball carrier, intercepting players and a few other team mates available to receive the ball.
When the students pass the ball without moving its not a real game situation. A real game situation involves quick decision making, cooperating with others and being part of the attack, transition or defence. If students are not part of this sport concept they become disengaged.
To progress this minor game into a sport game, two defenders can be added in the middle, so the ball carrier has the ability to pass the ball to a player that is not covered by defenders.
Strategy starts to build between the defenders as they will put more pressure on the weak player to create a stressful situation for them to potentially make a mistake and give the ball away. This is called pressure on the defender and the ball. When defenders intercept and gain possession of the ball, their role will be to hit one of the cones placed on the court. This changes their role form a defender to an attacker. If a now attacking student hits a cone on the court, they rotate back to a defence role.
This minor game is a complete game now, with sports concepts such as attacking, defending, possession of the ball, creating space and transition from offence to defence. This game can be played with any ball and even with bat games such as lacrosse or hockey. The idea is to transfer the concepts from game to game.
If we teach these sports concepts in the early years of education, students have a better chance of being familiar with them in later years.