Young leaders take ownership of handball
Two of the beneficiaries of the young leaders’ programme to deliver handball stepped up to the mark at the recent National Schools finals as they undertook coaching duties.
A number of schools are training up young leaders to deliver handball to fellow students, and the programmes have been an instant success. This was shown when leaders at two of the schools at the finals, Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire in the under-13 girl’s competition, and Marling School in Stroud in the boy’s under-15 tournament, helped coach their teams.
What has made these programmes gain such traction from within the student body? Mark Nicholson, Head of PE at Marling said: “It gives them that sense of ownership and empowerment, which is better than the kids being driven by adults. The day they realise it’s for them, and is being supported by them and by the other students, they have a greater affinity for it. And as a result you don’t get to the stage where people don’t turn up for training.”
Mark say that because handball may be a new sport for students, they have taken ownership. He added: “With handball being new and fresh, we said the best advert would come from the students themselves. “As a result students have latched on and said, it’s been coached by students for students, I’ll have some of this; and if they can do it so can we. It seems to be working well!”
What has the impact been on the students involved? PE teacher Mike Shaw from Rushcliffe said: “They have gone from being excited about developing and picking up a new sport, and being successful at that sport, to then really wanting to share their joy at that sport with others - and develop and work closely with the younger students to get them as good.” Mike picks out one student for her commitment to coaching younger pupils. He said: “One girl in particular has given up her Thursday and Friday lunchtimes for the entirety of this school year, to coach the Year-8 team. “She’s worked really, really well with them and, with her assistance, they were able to qualify for the nationals this year. She came with the year-8 team to support them and coach them and lead them at the National Schools Finals.”
Mike says the young leaders take some of his workload. “I’m spread very thinly so I need all the support and help I can get, so there’s times where they can take a lot of responsibility from me. So I’m there in a supervisory role, and they’re taking the practicals, the drills, and leading the session and developing the students’ skills – which is fantastic from my point of view!”
Mark agrees that not only do the students reduce his workload, but they see the benefits in the young people. “We give them opportunities to express themselves - how they’re developing their leadership skills, communication skills, resilience, teamworking. They get a lot of non-academic skills, life skills, that they take across not just within sport, but take back in to the main curriculum to allow them to develop as better people.”
“Let the kids take the lead! Give them the opportunity.”
Why is handball the sport that the students have chosen to take ownership of? Both teachers highlight the low requirement for equipment and facilities, as well as the number of crossover skills between handball and other sports. Mike said: “We find that kids tend to have those skills from other sports, initially, but then become very good and better at handball, because it is relatively straightforward to use those initial basic skills.”
Mark agrees. “There are a lot of generic skills that cross-over from invasion games. Several of our rugby players have been doing handball and have found the benefit of that transferring into rugby. The basketballers have done exactly the same. For footballers, it’s different in that you’re holding the ball in your hands rather than your feet, but again there’s a crossover in their ability to be agile, to move into space, to lose defenders.
“So we’re getting a cross section of those who are already playing sport – but also another reason for doing it is an opportunity for those who haven’t found their niche, haven’t found their sport yet. Why don’t you try this out? We’ve got a range of those who want to take it further, and then we’ve also got those who want to come for that social aspect, working with other people in a sport that’s totally alien because it’s not delivered within the curriculum.”
Other teachers will surely take note.