5 Resources to Take Net Games to the Next Level

Net games are a wonderful lifetime activity and an important part of physical education programs. The skills learned in net games such as volleyball, pickleball, badminton, and tennis transfer to other physical activities and provide students the opportunity to interact with others for a positive social experience.

Five resources to take your net games to a new level:

These unique net game cards teach new games at the three main net heights. Each provides a brief demo video linked via QR Code, a “how it works” rules list, equipment needed, and a modifications section. I’ve found that exploring a variety of net games with students improves their overall experience and fosters a sense of creativity in what is possible beyond the traditional. Students come to realize the non-traditional games featured in the resource are creative extensions of the traditional versions they typically played. I challenge students to compare and contrast the skills and strategies of each game and use this knowledge to create their own games and modifications.

Traditional Net Game: Non-traditional Net Games by Net Height:
QR Code Game Signs
Volleyball: (High Net) Team Launch Volleyball: Volleyball with mini-parachute cooperative skills
Bounce Volleyball: Volleyball with mandatory bounce rule.
Rolley-ball: Racquet + Volleyball. Use small racquet and high bounce ball.
Badminton: (Medium Net)Whamball: Volleyball + closed fist hits. Optional bounce rule.
Sepak Takraw: Volleyball + Soccer. Feet only. Use any net level.
Paddle Volleyball: Volleyball + Pickleball. Use paddle and high bounce ball.
Pickleball: (Low Net) Futpong: Volleyball + Soccer. Feet only (Beginner level Sepak Takraw)
Volley Tennis: Volleyball + Pickleball. Use paddle or hand for striking.
Nitroball: Volleyball + mandatory bounce rule. Hit downward motion.

The jigsaw method is a favorite cooperative learning strategy that teaches students to learn, lead, and follow. Each student has an important role, and their participation is essential for the activity to be successful. Students are responsible for learning a game and then teaching that game to their “home” group. I have been using this teaching strategy for years whether it be to help students review content or learn a dance by breaking it into smaller pieces. The jigsaw method is particularly great to challenge older students.

See how I use it in my volleyball unit via this PE workshop document: Exploring Net Games & Infusing iPads (pages 1-3).

Technology is an important tool that can enhance lessons. I love using the QR code game signs from above so students can work at their own pace: scan the code, view the demo video, read the rules, and then play the game. I also use iPads for video feedback to improve skill development and for game-play analysis. Use a video delay function so students can view skill work and identify areas of improvement or offer peer feedback. For game-play analysis, using your video camera function only, establish a four to five-minute game play rotation where some teams are off while others are playing. The off teams watch game play video taken from the previous group (first two minutes) and then record two minutes of new game play for the current group so that when they rotate, they will have game-play footage to watch. If you have a video delay app and a good tripod, you can leave an iPad running and teams can switch on/off and watch the game-play coverage automatically. I challenge teams to identify one thing they are doing well and one thing they plan to work on when they rotate back in.

Check out this brief overview: Infusing iPads in PE.

4Use a Smart Space Saver: ComboCourt Badminton Net System

The ultimate space saving solution that has supported my net games has been Gopher’s ComboCourt Badminton Net System. It is not just for badminton. I use it for all my net games (volleyball, pickleball, badminton, etc.), and it can be used indoors or outside. I no longer need 6 portable floor standards. In fact, I’ve narrowed it down to just one! This setup gives me 4 mini-courts per basketball court floor space. Floor standards are expensive and can be cumbersome to store and move. I appreciate how this adjustable net system has given me the freedom to have any height net and eliminates the need for floor standards, allowing my budget to be stretched further.

I can finally have multiple heights of nets going at the same time, which allows students to explore different games all in the same lesson. For my 8th grade net games unit, I focused on exploring a variety of games using the jigsaw method. Students learned games at the three different net heights and then taught them to the rest of the class. My soccer-loving students were thrilled to learn Futpong and Sepak Takraw on my two low nets while at the same time the two higher nets offered volleyball-themed games.

Having an understanding of the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) model has benefited my teaching. I want my students to develop an awareness of the “why” and “what to do” during game play by experiencing different game-based situations and challenges and by asking critical thinking questions about game play. I enjoy using various forms of game-based approaches in my teaching where students are learning strategies through game play vs. separating skill development and only integrating game play at the end of a unit. I need to be able to break games down, challenge students, ask good questions, and teach through progressions. Matt Pomeroy, a fantastic middle school physical education teacher and co-host of the SHAPE America Podcast, created a fantastic TFGU Volleyball Unit Plan resource page with activity videos. I find it to be a worthy share in this blog. Thank you, Matt!

Continue the Conversation: What are your favorite net games? What are your favorite game-play modifications or adaptations? Share your ideas and resources below, or drop a line on Twitter to @GopherSport and @JessicaShawley.

Jessica is a Physical Education Teacher, NBCT in Moscow, Idaho. She is the 2012 National NASPE Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, a National Board certified Physical Education Specialist, and served on the SHAPE Idaho board for over 7 years as President, Conference Manager and District Representative. She has and continues to travel the country providing professional development workshops and keynotes on a variety of topics.

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