Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
30 December, 2019

Concept of Space in PE

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Concept of Space in PE

Continuing with the development of the students conceptual understanding, over the past few weeks during their Physical Education lessons students have been exploring their understanding of the concept of Space. Within this the students have been examining the conceptual understanding statement of:

If we understand where our body is in relation to objects or other people, then we can respond to changes in the position of these people and objects to help ensure that we are in an appropriate position to exploit or defend that space. 

In middle years, students have been using this statement to explore how to most effectively cover space on the volleyball court. This has included students understanding the importance of using the three passes to move the ball from the backcourt as well as how they can best position the ball so that they open the full court for the return over the net. By opening the full court, it means the opposition have a greater amount of court space to cover which results in greater space being opened for the ball to be played into.

This then led to the students understanding the role that they must play, depending on the position of the court they are in within their rotation. Several students who previously would go out of position to play the ball and subsequently lost the point due to the ball falling into the vacated space, started to hold their position for the subsequent plays.

In Handball, students have been looking at the benefit of operating a zonal defence system, which resulted in a re-examination of the most appropriate way the attack and to create space against such a system. When this system was initially introduced the attacking team, would all attack from the central third of the court. When asked to identify the problems they were having against the zone defence, they identified the lack of space between each defender resulted in their shots being blocked with ease.

As a solution, they identified that if two players went into a wide position that this would increase the distance between the defended resulting in greater space being available to ‘shoot through’. At this point, several students made a reference to the learning that had took place in volleyball, that in order for you to either create or defend space, each individual is responsible within their own role and if you move away from that role it has an impact on the overall effectiveness of the team’s performance. Since introducing a concept-based curriculum model into our lessons this was one of the first examples of the students transferring their understanding from one context to another and showing their ability for synergistic thinking.

In addition to looking at the principal of width and how this is used to develop their understanding of space, the students also examined the importance of depth. Once they had players in a wing position, they realized that many of their passes were being intercepted by the opposition when moving the ball to find space in the defensive line. They also recognized that when shooting they were shooting form a standing position. Therefore, work has been done on developing the students understanding of attacking from deep and how this can create space by drawing defensive players away from the defensive line, which in turn creates space in the vacated space behind.

We hope that by understanding how space is created and defended within the context of handball, that these principals can be applied within other sporting contexts to allow for this transfer of understanding and synergistic thinking to continue.


Todd Wain
Director of Sports