Primary School Pickleball - what an adventure!
We Pickleballers in Dereham are working hard to get the next generation into the great sport that we all love so dearly – PICKLEBALL.
* How is that possible when we are limited to daytime sessions at the Leisure Centre?
* Take the game to the schools is the fastest route and that is exactly what we have just been doing.
Thanks to our entry in the directory for’ Active Norfolk’, which was picked up by the PE Teacher of the Alderman Peel High School in Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk.
The PE Teacher, Shane Brett, contacted me to explain the game of Pickleball as he was looking for a new sport that he could introduce to his school.
attendoI ‘sold’ him a lot of information about the sport, which he quickly became attracted to and also suggested that he could see some views of the sport being played i.e. YouTube etc.
We arranged to meet the following week at the school when I took paddles & balls with me. After a long discussion, I offered some ‘taster’ sessions (free of charge) which he gladly accepted. As he is the PE Teacher for both the Primary and the High schools in Wells, he decided that he would like to start with the Primary School first and, if all was well, then to extend it to the High School. We arranged to meet for the next 3 weeks on a Thursday – from 09.30 until 3.00pm when the game would be introduced to the 6 – 10 year old groups.
Imagine my surprise when, on arrival, each class consisted of between 25 – 27 children.
Fortunately, the weather had been kind to us, so it was agreed that we would set up courts outside in the playground. The school provided 4 mini-tennis nets and we gave each class 1 hour sessions. So at the end of the first session, you can imagine the noise from the children, but they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and looked forward to the next session. However, I did not imagine how tiring this exercise would be – around 100 children screaming and shouting. However, I did prevail and each week was more entertaining than the last and the children certainly enjoyed the experience and were disappointed when the final session finished last week.
We, at Dereham, offered a Promotional Pickleball Open Session on October 19th for newcomers and following my sessions in Wells, some of these children attended with their parents.
However, in the long term for the school, I do not think that this will become a ‘full time’ lesson due to the fact that not quite all the children took to it but certainly can be brought into their system as an extra curriculum class for after school which is where the teacher, Shane Brett, will hopefully be taking it.
Quite a few of the children already had some experience with racquet sports (mainly tennis) so the hand-to-eye-ball coordination was already visible. However, we spent more time with the younger group teaching them eye to ball coordination but on the whole there were quite a few children that one could see future promise and it is here that we should be spending our time with encouragement.
It was a humbling experience for me as I have never really spent time teaching children (apart from my own). I will miss these past 3 weeks and I feel sure from their receptions that the children will also miss ‘Pickleball’’.
The down-side – if one can call it that – is the fact that the children did scrape the paddles along the ground which meant that after each session, I would have to make temporary repairs to most of the paddles.
So for any future coaches considering a similar exercise, use a cheaper version of the paddle and ensure that you have an up-to-date DBS certificate (which can be applied for on-line at gov.uk/dbs) – (Disclosure & Barring Service).
Thanks to Shane Brett and all the staff at the Alderman Peel Primary school who made my visits so enjoyable. Yes, even one or two of the class teachers took part and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have left Shane several contact numbers should he require any further assistance e.g. Pickleballengland.org / pickleballshop.co.uk / etc.
Keep Pickling !!!
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