Modifying Dual & Team Sports for All Levels

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we discuss how to modify dual and teams sports, which allows for students of all levels and physical abilities to participate in the action and helps to keep the children safe from injuries as well.

Why Modify Sports

Who does not remember the thrill of smashing that red rubber kickball or scoring a point against an opponent in table tennis? Dual and team sports can be a lot of fun to participate in for students. However, due to injury concerns, equipment costs, and the time constraints of a short gym class period, it may often be desirable to modify many sports.

A dual sport is one in which there are only two players, and they compete against one another in a head-to-head situation. A team sport is one that involves a group of organized individuals coming together to score a goal or a point.

However, because of the strenuous nature of many sports or other factors, not all students can participate. This is where educators may modify, or make subtle changes to reduce an extreme nature, both dual and team sports to make them more user friendly to all students of all abilities.

While there are hundreds of dual and team sports, certain common threads exist when it comes to a coach modifying them for physical education classes. They include:

  • Eliminating or modifying any violent physical moves, such as football hits or soccer slide tackles
  • Removing or modifying any time-consuming and difficult to learn techniques, such as the table tennis serve
  • Adding or modifying time-saving rules, such as eliminating the huddle between each play in football
  • Replacing or modifying equipment, such as using larger tennis balls

Standard American football can be modified to flag football, which is a much safer alternative that most students can enjoy

How to Modify Sports

For example, football is the most popular team sport in America based on television ratings. However, it is a somewhat violent sport and involves the use of hundreds of dollars worth of expensive pads and helmets. To modify the sport, a coach can have his students play flag football. The students wear flags that stick out of their pockets and a tackle instead occurs when someone on the opposing team pulls a flag. The game can be further modified by banning certain types of blocks and hard physical contact.

Now let us look at an example of a coach modifying a dual sport. Tennis is probably the most popular dual sport in America. It is a highly athletic pursuit that involves endurance, strength, and athleticism. However, in a one-hour physical education class, it is too difficult for many students to play. In tennis, there are two serves allowed, but for the average amateur, the task is time-consuming and too difficult. The coach can modify the serve by ruling that the server need not get the ball into the small service box, but merely get the ball over the net. The coach can also modify the game by allowing the students to hit the ball after two bounces instead of only one bounce. Third, the coach can allow the students to use the whole court, including the doubles regions on the side, instead of just the singles area.

Now let's talk about modifying a sport for indoors when it is raining and the students are stuck in the gymnasium. Soccer is a sport that is growing rapidly in America. However, the soccer field, actually known as the soccer pitch, is larger than a football field. Indoors, the coach can set up two smaller than standard goals at the far ends of the gym. She can also use a lighter, red rubber kickball instead of the heavier soccer ball. Then she can modify the rules to allow the players to kick the ball off of the walls (or even the ceiling) and still be in play. Needless to say, soccer can also be a violent sport involving rough slide tackles, but the coach can ban these moves to make the game safe for all involved indoors.

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