American baseball is 'cool' and children are keen to have a go at an alternative sport. All you need is an understanding of rounders, pitches Michael LeFevre
Think ahead to that blissful summer-tinged time when Sats are over. That freedom comes with a degree of pressure though, as teachers wonder how to keep demobbed classes focused. Baseball is fast becoming a popular alternative to the usual project-based activities. It not only grabs pupils' interest, but can offer all-round benefits from general fitness to hand-eye co-ordination and a sense of team playing.
As a supply teacher, I find many primary pupils are eager to try new things, and I admit that having an American accent does give me an advantage. In the US, the sport is widely played in schools and enjoys a "cool" image. Many British pupils have seen baseball portrayed in various films and are keen to have a go themselves.
But you don't need to be American to teach baseball. All you need is an understanding of rounders (including fielding, batting, throwing and catching), plus a basic knowledge of baseball rules.
These can easily be found at the BaseballSoftball UK (BSUK) website, the governing body for baseball in Britain, which provides lots of assistance for fledgling teachers.
Several areas of the country now have youth leagues and associations. BSUK has initial starter packs for teachers, including a video and nine lesson plans that focus on the basic skills of the game. There are also resources for a national initiative involving some 700 schools nationwide called Pitch, Hit and Run that incorporates skills such as throwing accurately, batting and catching with a glove.
Baseball also offers plenty of additional opportunities for cross-curricular links, such as reading books about baseball in English, looking at the history of the game or mathematical calculations concerning the speed and distance covered by the runner.
Teachers can also set up their own leagues or work towards the Play Ball World Series, which takes place every July in Coventry and involves some 30 school teams from across the country
Michael LeFevre is a supply teacher at primary schools across Bristol and Gloucestershire.
YOU CAN DO IT TOO
- Motivate pupils by showing them the informative baseball video from BSUK.
- Start activities with basic throwing and catching skills leading up to catching with a baseball glove. Only then, move on to batting and "running the bases".
- When starting out, have adult support and work with smaller groups.
- Allow pupils to help with equipment, but do not let them carry the baseball bats.