Alfriston Sports College celebrated the start of advent with a fun packed She Rallies Festival! The event was run by Alfriston’s tennis coach and She Rallies Activator, Karen Atkinson. Supported by Melanie Burn, Tennis Coach and another Bucks She Rallies Activator. The pair cooked up a feast of festive fun for a group of 10 mixed ability girls aged between 14 – 16 years old.
The 12 Days of Christmas…in no particular order!
10 Girls a Leaping!
The Festival started with 10 girls taking on the challenge of 10 Competitive Skills Stations, each designed to develop a different tennis related skill, be it; balance, agility, hand eye coordination, quick reactions, throwing, catching, developing both the left and right hand side of the body, or controlling the racket head. The girls were organised into 5 teams of two, given a quick demonstration of each station by the coaches and armed with scorecards and pens they leapt into action on the start of the hooter! Each team jumped from station to station, after a period of practice, followed by timed activity and recording their scores. The hall was filled with the noise of girls counting points, laughing and having fun! When all Teams had completed the circuit, they were given the opportunity to repeat a station that they found the most challenging and improve their score. Amazingly every team recorded a higher result, which just goes to show, how quickly skills can be developed by a period of practice, intense timed activity and repetition. As the girls confidence grew so did their competence. Fun prizes were awarded to the 3 top scoring teams and all teams were commended for their concentration and effort throughout.
5 Gold Rings….or rather 5 Yellow Hoops!
After a short break, the girls were put into pairs and 5 yellow hoops given out, one to each pair. The girls were then taken through a series of Paired Skills Builders, working initially on aiming skills and sending skills, rolling and throwing the ball towards the target hoops. Learning how to judge distance and understand how far the hand has to extend towards the target. Progressing to sending and trapping the ball with rackets and learning to get behind the ball.
Finally with 2 hoops and two rackets per pair, the girls progressed through a series of exercises, aimed at helping them to rally consistently, send the ball to their partner with control, in a small space; increasing the challenge through enlarging the distance.
Tina Leahy PE Teacher at Alfriston Sports College commented: “I was very impressed with the activities delivered by Karen and Mel at the She Rallies Festival, which allowed the girls to develop specific skills and technique at an individual rate of progression”. She added: “The constant and subtle change of focus really kept the girls engaged and on task, continually challenging themselves and their individual Performance. The girls were very receptive to the personal feedback provided by the coaches, using it well to consolidate performance”.
11 Pipers Piping …The theme tune to Wimbledon!
The She Rallies Festival concluded with an exciting game of Grand Slam Tennis, made more authentic with the Wimbledon theme tune piping through the sound system! The girls in doubles pairings demonstrated good technique and competitive spirit! There were some thrilling rallies and volley winners and several doubles pairs managed to lift the Wimbledon Trophy!�
Learning Support Assistant at Alfriston, Siobhan Swannell said of the Festival: “The session with Karen and Mel was a great introduction to tennis and enjoyable for our students. The whole session was delivered in a very friendly and professional way. The activities were challenging but set at the correct ability level. The students really enjoyed finishing with the Grand Slam competition, which was great fun”.
Karen Atkinson, Festival organiser and coach enthused: “She Rallies, spearheaded by Judy Murray and launched by the LTA back in February 2017 is a great initiative aimed at getting more girls playing tennis and more women coaching tennis. It has also addressed a key area of coaching the game that is often overlooked; teaching tennis to teen starters.” She concluded “ I hope we have inspired the girls today, to take up tennis. I run a weekly tennis club at Alfriston and am looking forward to welcoming some new members!”
Karen also gave a big thank you to Leap for funding the She Rallies Festival.