As Gymnastics isn’t the most obvious sport through which to develop aspects of teamwork, coaches and teachers have to work particularly hard to identify activity ideas that will challenge participants to work collaboratively, co-operate, communicate, problem solve, resolve conflict, identify roles and responsibilities etc. Accordingly, I hope to use my Blog page as a way to share a variety of teamwork based activity ideas as I come across/develop them starting with an idea that randomly popped into my head whilst doing my best to relax on a spa break! I knew I wanted to devise an extra-curricular session based on hoop work and, for some reason, the ‘buzzer game’ that often features as a school fete stall came to mind. It led me to wonder if gymnasts could successfully explore the idea of creating various ‘wire’ shapes with their bodies’ for others to guide a hoop along whilst trying to avoid making contact.
As soon as I was back to work, I set to making a plan in which this idea featured as the main activity and then had to wait patiently until the day I’d get to try it out. In practice, the gymnasts enjoyed it so much that I decided to ditch the development activity planned for the latter part of the session in favour of discovering and exploring a range of further learning opportunities and challenges inspired by the ‘buzzer game’ activity. This is the series of challenges that transpired during that session:
In pairs, swapping between the roles of performer and hoop controller, explore individual body shapes to come up with a range of ‘wire’ shapes along which the controller can successfully manoeuvre the hoop without making contact with the shape.
Example: Front support ‘wire’ shape with hoop starting around the feet and finishing around the hands (see photo 1 above).
Score a point for every new ‘wire’ shape along which the hoop is moved successfully.
In pairs, swapping between the roles of performer and hoop controller, return to the individual ‘wire’ shapes along which you could not successfully move the hoop from one end to the other. Explore ways of adapting/changing those ‘wire’ shapes as the hoop is moved along to make an impossible ‘wire’ shape possible to negotiate successfully. The only rule is that the ‘wire’ shape is the same at the start and end of the hoop transfer.
Example: V-sit ‘wire’ shape adapted to a back support at the mid-point of the hoop transfer.
Score a point for every previously impossible ‘wire’ shape along which the hoop is now moved successfully.
In groups of 4, swapping between the roles of 2 performers and 2 hoop controllers, explore basic contact pair shapes in which both performers show the same shape to come up with a range of longer symmetrical ‘wire’ shapes along which the controllers can successfully manoeuvre the hoop without making contact with the shape.
N.B. The 2 controllers can either move the hoop together with one on each side of the shape or one can start the hoop transfer with the other taking over at the mid-point.
Example: The performers create a standing arch shape by touching palms above their heads with one performer standing in the hoop (see photo 2 above).
Score a point for every pair ‘wire’ shape along which the hoop is moved successfully.
In groups of 4, swapping between the roles of 2 performers and 2 hoop controllers, explore basic contact pair shapes in which both performers show a different shape to come up with a range of asymmetrical ‘wire’ shapes along which the controllers can successfully manoeuvre the hoop without making contact with the shape.
N.B. Group members can collaborate to adapt/change the shape as the hoop is moved along to increase the range of responses and chances of success as long as the shape is the same at the start and finish and the basic contact between performers is not broken.
Example: One performer shows a standing straight shape whilst holding the legs of the other performer who is showing a shoulder stand.
At the venue where this extra-curricular session occurred, I had access to three different sized sets of hoops. As such, I was able to develop a tactical element to the latter challenges. Gymnasts had the option to use a large hoop and score 1 point for a successful hoop manoeuvre, use a medium hoop and score 2 points or use a small hoop and score 3 points. This added to the decision-making element and also gave groups the opportunity to be successful with a challenging ‘wire’ shape or further challenge the hoop and body shape control by trying a previously successful ‘wire’ shape with a smaller hoop.
The fact that success across these four challenges depended on a combination of effective communication, collaboration, co-operation, the identification of roles and responsibilities according to individual strengths, decision making, problem solving and tactical thinking (not to mention a bit of creativity, ability to balance and overwhelming positive vibes from the gymnasts too) leads me to believe that it’s worth continuing to explore the full scope of teamwork skill development opportunities that lie within the ‘buzzer game’ alongside other routes for developing teamwork skills through Gymnastics activities. I look forward to sharing what I come up with in future Blogs but would also welcome hearing from coaches, teachers and PE colleagues about their exploration of the ‘buzzer game’ and any other Gymnastics activities that have the development of teamwork skills at their essence.