Implementing short-handled striking activities and games in a PE class can be a great way to get your students learning while having fun at the same time. To make physical education lessons more engaging, teachers have a wide variety of rackets and paddles at their disposal. From modified badminton or tennis rackets to modern foam or plastic paddles, these items can be used in countless skill-based learning experiences. The great thing is that the striking activities and games can be modified to accommodate any age or skill level. With the help of short-handled implements such as rackets and paddles, you can easily implement engaging activities for your PE class no matter what age group - elementary, middle or high school.
There are several skills involved when using short-handled implements, including striking accuracy and control, footwork and agility, hand-eye coordination and overall fitness. Consequently, activities and games that use rackets and paddles are a fantastic way for students to have fun while simultaneously enhancing their physical fitness levels as well as improving their manipulative and motor skills. All of these skills can be honed with a physical education class centered on striking through the use of stations and small group activities. This method of teaching can be an essential tool to help students, regardless of their striking abilities, learn and thrive in class.
In this blog post, I will provide you with some practical approaches to incorporate short-handled implement activities and games into your lesson plans so that all students are optimally involved. Additionally, I will provide you with ten energetic and engaging skill-based ideas to liven up your unit that incorporate fun PE stations and small group tasks. Let's make an impact!!
Can striking stations and small group games help students meet PE standards?
Physical education can be a source of fun for students when you add engaging racket and paddle skill stations, as well as small group activities. Not only is it enjoyable for the kids, but this approach also allows educators to meet district, state and national standards. By introducing skill-building drills and engaging lead-up games to beach tennis, badminton and pickleball, children get the chance to refine their fundamental motor skills and develop manipulative movement abilities-- two essential aspects for any successful physical education program.
The highlighted PE activities in this blog article directly correlate with SHAPE America Standard 1 which states: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.*
Ten tips for implementing short-handled striking activities in a PE class?
Are you looking for ways to ensure your PE striking lessons are engaging and effective? Here are some helpful tips on how to get started with setting up effective racket and paddle stations!
Be Prepared: To ensure the success of your physical education class, make sure that you have adequate space and enough implements; tennis, badminton or squash rackets or pickleball paddles to provide for each station or small group activity.
Plan Wisely: Ensure that the equipment you use and the activities and games you implement are appropriate for the age or skill level of the students in your class. Make the activities challenging yet attainable.
Safety First: Make sure your equipment is in good condition, the area around each station is safe and clear, and that the playing rules are clearly outlined for the activities being implemented. Anyone who has played racket sports understands that a safe space to play is important.
Differentiate: Incorporate different levels of skill and difficulty into your stations to ensure that all students in the class are challenged at their own level.
Model the Activity: Demonstrate how to properly hold and use the racket or paddle before giving it to students. Share tips on proper form, and encourage students to think critically about their movements as they practice.
Give Clear Instructions: Make sure that everyone in your class understands the rules and objectives of each station or game. Be sure to give students ample time to ask questions before getting started.
Encourage Participation: Even if some students are struggling at first, try to keep everyone engaged by providing support and offering modifications where needed. Remember, the goal is for everyone to have fun while developing their skills!
Keep it Under Control: Set up stations that allow students to practice striking skills with accuracy and control. Encourage your students to exercise self-control when striking in a station or zoned-off area, especially indoors.
Monitor Progress: Keep an eye on students as they rotate through the stations, and offer feedback to help them improve. Help those who are struggling, and challenge those who seem to be excelling.
Be Flexible: Things don't always go according to plan, so be prepared to make adjustments on the fly. The most important thing is that your students are having fun and staying safe.
10 Short-Handled Striking Stations and Small Group Games for PE
Get your students motivated and energized with these ten amazing PE racket sport and/or paddle sport activities that include both stations and small group games!
Through station-based activities and movements, students are able to increase their mastery of specific movement skills (for most popular racket sports) such as serving, forehand striking, backhand striking, tracking and court footwork. These exercises allow them to hone in on key techniques while feeling secure within a safe setting that encourages confidence building.
Racket Striking Skill PE Stations - Video by Christina Fuller @TheCoachFuller
1: Individual Volley- Students work alone to tap a hollow plastic ball, tennis ball, small beachball or birdie up in the air using a tennis racket or paddle. They can keep track of the number of consecutive successful hits they make and strive to surpass their personal best. For an additional challenge, students can test their skills by attempting to switch the paddle between forehand and backhand taps.
2: Individual Wall Ball- Students work alone to practice performing both forehand and backhand shots off the wall using a racket or paddle. Encourage students to let the indoor tennis balls bounce off the floor prior to each strike. For everyone's safety, students must exercise caution and restraint when striking off a wall in any station or designated area. They can count the number of successful touches on the wall in a row and strive to break their own record.
3: Wall Target Hit- Students practice making contact with the ball in order to hit a target. At the station, each participant will hit 5 consecutive shots using a racket/paddle and a birdie/ball, attempting to hit the target on the wall. Students wait for their turn, then can choose a challenging distance in which to perform the task. After 5 shots, each student will retrieve the birdies/balls and go back to the start line to wait for their next turn.
4: Partner Volley- Working in pairs, students volley a lightweight beach ball or birdie back and forth to each other. Partners can count the number of times they can consecutively strike it back and forth to each other. If you have a gym or field line, it can be used as an intermediary for players to remain on either side.
5: Keep it Up- By working together in teams of 3 or 4, students work together to keep a birdie or ball afloat in the air using paddles and rackets. Individual players should alternate hits with their teammates. Each small group can count how many times they can hit it the ball or birdie up in the air.
6: Serve to a Hoop- Students hone their striking skills by serving a birdie or ball from the designated service line into an open hula hoop on the ground. By varying the distance of each serve, they will be able to challenge themselves and further improve their skills. All players should take turns serving and count how many times they can successfully score a point.
B- Small Group Games
Participating in small group games is a fun way to not only further cultivate your students' striking skills, but also provide a healthy environment for friendly competition and fun. Through the use of interactive and engaging small-sided games, students are more likely to succeed compared to those who rely on traditional striking sports such as table tennis (ping pong), badminton, tennis or pickleball.
Lollipop Paddle 4 Square - Video by Andrew Wymer @AndrewWymer10s
7: Paddle or Racket 4 Square- Students work in small groups to play classic 4 square, abiding by standard regulations but instead use a racket or paddle for performing hits. They attempt to hit the ball into another player's square. Players rotate from Square #4 to Square #1. The ball may bounce 1 time in a square before it must be hit. Lines on the outside of the court are considered "in play", whereas lines within the court will result in a stoppage of play.
8: Circle Rally- Students work in small groups to rally a ball across a circle, hitting and receiving bounce shots. They should attempt to let the ball bounce once before striking the ball up. Players must not hit the ball to their immediate neighbor or the individual who just hit it to them.
9: Team Wall Ball- Students, in small relay lines, take turns hitting and receiving a ball to and from the wall. The 1st person in line hits a ball and goes to the back of the line. The object is for your team to hit the ball as many consecutive times as possible. They can keep track of their personal group record. For added challenge and excitement, students can try the played sport of H-O-R-S-E off the wall. If someone misses a shot, they automatically receive a letter in the word HORSE!
10: Two vs Two Short Court Pickleball or Racket/Paddle Tennis- Students are divided into groups of six, with two players from each team competing in games of either pickle ball or short court tennis using a small tennis court (or badminton court) and a low net. With paddles or rackets at the ready, these competitors battle for victory! Games go to 5 points. The extra 2 players serve as referees and line judges and rotate in after each game. Because the playing areas are small, restraint must be used when playing over a net into the other team's court.
2 vs 2 Short Court Indoor Tennis Games
An excellent way to keep your students captivated and engaged while increasing their physical activity is to include striking activities and small group games in PE classes. It is clear that utilizing short-handled implements such as rackets and paddles in your PE classes can be an engaging and entertaining way for students to improve their manipulative and motor skills. From solo drills in a station format to small group games, there are plenty of ways to help your students develop their striking skills while having fun!
In this post, I highlighted 10 dynamic and enjoyable activities that you can easily use for your physical education classes. These activities are sure to provide students with a fun and interactive learning experience! I'm sure you'll appreciate the value of these activities, as your students will have a blast while learning essential striking methods alongside their peers!
Unleash your imagination and make the most of small-handled striking implements by trying some new activities or inventing your own games; the sky's the limit! Regardless of age and ability, you can customize activities to perfectly suit your class needs. So get out and enjoy the fun of racket and paddle sports with your students! With a bit of practice, they'll be playing like pros in no time.
Do you have any favorite short-handled implement striking games or small group activities that your PE students just love? We are all ears - leave a comment to let us all know so we can incorporate some of your creative strategies!
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.
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