For our first session back after the half term break we welcomed a new member - Jimmy - who hopefully likes the club enough to come back and be a regular member. Always great to see new members coming along and joining in on the fun!
Our main sport this week was Tennis so the session involved a number of activities and games revolving around a racquet and tennis ball. These included ball control, balancing, working in pairs and team games.
As always the session started with a warm up and as usual it was led by Ray, Ciara and Ollie. Then it was straight in to the skills practice session. First up it was balancing the ball on the racquet and then starting to move around the ball without dropping it. This not only helps teach good balance but the kids get to feel for the sweet spot on the racquet. Then it was on to bouncing the ball using the racquet but rather than just whack it and see it bounce high in the air the aim was to get the racquet as close to the ground as possible as it is a lot harder to keep the ball bouncing this way.
The kids then when on to work in pairs, some with the coaches, practising returning the ball to the partners. So one child would throw the ball to their partner with a bounce pass and the partner had to return it with the racquet. Again this is about control and direction and not just hitting the ball hard in any direction. It sounds simple but is a lot harder in practice so the drills do help build up their skill levels.
The next skills based game was Build-a-burger. It is a simple game but takes a lot of balancing skills and concentration. The idea is to build a Burger which is made of different layers - in our case the kids balance tennis balls between racquets. So a full burger would be racquet at the bottom with a ball on top, then another racquet, another ball etc with three or four members working together with a racquet on top. Obviously the round balls make the whole stack quite unstable so the challenge is to get the burger built and then move (together) down the hall around a series of cones without the burger collapsing. Very tricky indeed! As you can see the last photo above the girls led by Ciara did a very impressive job with four people balancing together
After a short drinks break it was out with the tennis nets to make things real. The kids worked in pairs or small groups to have little games with the object being to get the ball over the net to each other, in the court, and to hopefully try and build a few good rallies. As you can imagine there were times when balls were flying off in all directions but the kids showed some great skills too and with a little concentration they hit some lovely returns.
After a final break for drinks and snacks our last game was a firm favourite - King / Queen of the court. This is where one person throws the ball over the net for the member to return. If they return it over the net, in to the court and without it being caught without bouncing they live to go again and re-join the back of the queue. However, fail to get the ball back over the net or hit it out of the court or get caught then you join the bowlers side of the net trying to catch people out. The last person standing (not out) is the Queen or King of the Court! This game brings together all the things we had practiced around balance, hitting the ball accurately in the right direction and at the correct speed. It is a great game and one all the kids love no matter what side of the net they find themselves on.
Epping Forest Sportability Club is a multi-sports club for young people with mild to moderate physical and learning difficulties.