Keeping children active in their current environment
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Keeping children active in the current environment

17 June 2020 By John Healey - Category Buyer of Sports at YPO

sports equipments

Thinking of ways to keep students active whilst safely social distancing is a cause of concern within the educational environment. Core contact sports are currently being replaced by activities which allow for social distancing whilst maintaining a high level of active movement.

During lockdown, many people (myself included) were staying active at 9am every morning by participating in the Body Coaches daily work out. After numerous pulled muscles completely due to lack of warm up on my part, looking at my children’s faces and the enjoyment they got out of the half hour in the living room, I realised how being active and exercise really was fundamental to a daily routine and how could this be incorporated into the school day?

The effects and consequences of Covid-19 have forced PE teachers and PE co-ordinators within primary schools to look more holistically at how to provide safe and meaningful activity. There is no current right or wrong way to deliver lessons and each school will carry out its own risk assessment on how best to deliver the activities in a safe manner.

I have noticed in the months since lockdown, a move to a broader range of sports items have been requested by our customer base and compiled these into a list below along with the potential benefits. This is just as a reference to hopefully give you some ideas for how your establishment can encourage pupils to stay active and physically engaged in these unprecedented times.

Exercise spots

Exercise spots depicting various routines to be carried out are a great way of keeping active whilst being socially distant. Each station spot shows the required exercise and can be positioned the required distance apart. Time each session for a minute before moving on to the next station, have a 30 second breather and then begin the next exercise. These styles of exercise routines are achievable by pupils of varying fitness levels, which means children can go at their own pace. You can also cater the exercises from a moderate intensity to high intensity physical activity.

Arrows archery

Arrows archery has been created for primary schools to introduce young people to archery. The set has been designed to enable teachers with no formal archery experience to deliver the lesson in any school setting and is provided with activity cards, a teacher guide and all accessories required to carry out the activity. I must point out at this point as a few readers will be gasping for breath at the thought of archery sets within primary schools, the arrows have round plastic suckers on the ends and are not sharp tipped! and breath again….

The activities within the set encourage learning in other areas for example maths through scoring and citizenship through co-operation and self-discipline and increase hand eye co-ordination. Using the archery set is, as I can tell you from personal experience, very addictive, great fun and extremely engaging for the participants. The activities can be undertaken safely either in an indoors or outdoors environment.


Another item that has seen a resurgence is the old school classic of All Surface Swingball. How many of us can remember playing Swingball with family and friends in the garden or whilst on our holidays in the UK for those 2 wet weeks in the summer that seemed to choose every year? In those halcyon days, Swingball was played purely for fun. Due to Covid-19, Swingball has come into its own as a great means of keeping pupils active whilst reducing your risk by maintaining a safe social distance. Swingball is once again a great resource to develop hand eye co-ordination and improve balance

Utilising resources from the store cupboard

How about utilising some of the resources already found within the PE store cupboard, outside in the fresh air in a different way?

Taking schools by storm and appearing on social media recently is footgolf. All that is required is a football, a hula hoop and a rounders post and base to use as the flag. If you really wanted to make the game a touch more professional use cones placed at intervals to mark out a course. Pupils start on the tee (usually a space marker) and take it in turns to see who gets it in the hole in the least amount of kicks. A great activity in keeping active and the all-important social distancing.

Skipping ropes, hula hoops and plastic bats and balls are all a natural social distance resource and in extremely high demand (not that they ever were not in high demand to be fair and always a staple of any school PE resource cupboard). Given the relative low cost of these items, some schools have allocated a hoop, a skipping rope, bat and ball to the individual pupil and placed their name on the equipment. This may prove of interest should disinfecting of products after each use prove an issue.

Naturally social distancing activities such as tennis, table tennis, badminton are also still widely being practiced as schools begin their phased return, and again these resources in the main will be found in most school PE cupboards and are guaranteed to keep pupils active and engaged through these times.

Just because team sports are currently being replaced by a new way of being active, this does not mean that team sports should be ignored. Individual skills drills can be carried out within a safe social distancing environment.


YPO can offer advice to schools on individual team drills across a multitude of sports and we would also highly appreciate any drills that our customers are also utilising in their lessons.

I am also interested in how schools have adapted post COVID-19 and any activities they are using in their physical activity/movement lessons and I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch or view our full sports range now.

Further information and support on physical education, school sport and physical activity can be found through our partners at the Association for Physical Education (AfPE).


*It is recommended to disinfect all resources after each session has been completed.

*As with all school physical activities, it is important to follow government advice which is constantly being updated.

Categories: Education

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