How frisbee is flying at St Albans School

Andrew Bateman, Learning Support and Games Teacher at St Albans School, looks at alternative sport in schools

During the Summer term, sport can be a welcome relief from the stress and pressure of exams. While the majority perhaps find relaxation in ‘traditional’ summer sports such as cricket or tennis, others turn to more esoteric activities to let off steam.

While training to be a teacher, my placement school in Torquay was looking for alternative sports for pupils to try. I suggested Frisbee, a sport I had first played at Swansea University, albeit only recreationally with some friends.

I first introduced the sport at St Albans School 11 years ago and it has grown steadily in popularity ever since. At the start of this Summer term we had 80 Fifth and Sixth Formers signed up to play. We also give the Third and Fourth Formers a taster for half a term in their PE lessons, and I run a junior Frisbee club for years Seven and Eight on Wednesday afternoons.

While it may not have the recognition of more established sports, Frisbee has a great knack of getting everybody involved, and pupils can really shine over a short period of time

While it may not have the recognition of more established sports, Frisbee has a great knack of getting everybody involved, and pupils can really shine over a short period of time – that’s what I enjoy most about being a Frisbee coach. 

It’s especially good for those who lack confidence and who might not enjoy sport that much. The sessions offer an excellent form of aerobic exercise, help to boost self-esteem, develop new skills, and are a popular way to relax and have fun. 

Only in the Frisbee sessions, I would argue, do these students have the opportunity to get a real ‘wow!’ from their peers. Frisbee games include Ultimate Frisbee and KanJam, as well as Disc Golf, which proves to be especially popular. 

For those that haven’t seen Ultimate Frisbee before, it has elements of Basketball, American Football and Hockey all rolled into one. There are eight players in each team that pass the disc between themselves, but have to stop when they catch it. They are allowed to pivot to find a pass but not move, similar to Basketball and Netball. To score a point, one of the players has to catch the disc in the opponents’ area, like the end-zone in American Football.

Games are played over an hour and broken up into 20 minute periods. We have a fixture list and compete against teams from St Paul’s and Mill Hill, as well as taking part in an annual tournament organized by Tonbridge.

Frisbee is an officially-recognised sport by Sport England and is played internationally, both at a European and worldwide level; the Italians, Swedish and English have particularly strong teams.

Some primary schools even use Frisbee as a precursor to pupils playing Rugby, Hockey and Football – where you are attacking and defending space. Frisbee teaches positional awareness and the skills for passing and moving. 

My long-term aim for Frisbee is to encourage more pupils to see it as a good way of becoming active if they don’t currently engage in any sport. Any activity that encourages those less confident in sport to enjoy themselves has to be welcomed. Judging by the faces on the pupils at St Albans School after a game, they certainly enjoy it and look thoroughly worn out!

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Thursday 4 November 2021, 11am (GMT)