Jump to it: use alternative sports to engage your least active

Jump rope is a sport that is starting to grab the spotlight. Our very own GB girls have performed on top-selling music videos for stars such as Madonna, James Morrison and Olly Murs as well as making appearances on Soccer AM, This Morning and So You Think You Can Dance. For many schools however, offering alternative sports like jump rope to engage the least active is something that they may not have considered before.

For schools that have ventured in to the world of unfamiliar or non-traditional sports and activities the outcomes have been incredibly rewarding – particularly for the young people who have not experienced any form of after-school sport or clubs.

One of the schools reaping the rewards is Queens’ School in Hertfordshire who have taken part in the Youth Sport Trust’s Matalan yoUR Activity programme. The programme aims to support schools in widening their sport offer to engage their least active young people in out-of-hours sports clubs.

Meryl Charles, Sports Coach Queens’ School: “We kick started our jump rope club by working with two young leaders to recruit students that were interested in coming along to a taster and demonstration session. The sports hall was filled with around 60 students.

“We deliberately targeted those that we felt were ‘non-sporty’ in the hope they would find something that they enjoy doing and would stick at it. It was great to see that between 35-40 girls, and a few boys, most of who have never been in any sort of club before have continued to come along even at the start of the new term.

The school found that the youngsters felt comfortable partaking in the activity as they were with like-minded people and they didn’t have to change into sports kit. As a group the pupils choose their own music to jump to and found themselves having lots of fun – sport was suddenly accessible. The Matalan yoUR Activity resources helped the teaching staff, by simply printing off the jump rope session guides the school has been able to keep club sessions lively and interesting.

Are there added benefits? Of course, there are! Meryl explains: “Some of the girls have really got a lot of confidence out of joining the Matalan yoUR Activity club, so much so that the group was able to do a jump rope demonstration at our open evening for Year 6 students. A few of them have now joined the school trampolining club as well.

“I think one of the most important elements that has helped us to succeed in the introduction of the programme has been timing. We run our club on a Friday afternoon which means the girls will go straight home when they have finished and don’t need to worry about going back to class straight after they’ve been exercising.

“Our focus now is to look at a way to make what we’ve done so far continue and we’re hoping to work towards a celebration performance in the summer term.”

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