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Developing confidence by controlling springing and landing

Landing: Safety Falls

Possible Learning Activities

The Shoulder Roll

Use a mat for these exercises. Provide the following instructions, either orally or written on a card.

  1. Squat down with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. One foot should be forward, and your arm on the same side should also be forward so that the back of your hand is on the mat in front of and inside your front foot. Turn your head in the direction of that hand and tuck it into your chest.
  3. Hold your other arm out to the side for balance.
  4. Roll forward, keeping your chin on your chest and landing on the back of your shoulder.
  5. Slap the mat hard with your arm and the palm of your other hand as you roll.
  6. Roll diagonally across your back to finish standing up, with one foot behind the other.

Falling from Kneeling

Provide the following instructions (perhaps on a card).

  1. Kneel on the mat with your head up.
  2. Keeping your whole body from head to knee in a straight line, fall forward and cushion the force of the fall with your hands, bending your elbows at the same time.
  3. Finish with your chest and shoulders just off the mat and hold that position for three seconds.

Suggested learning outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate, to a partner, a springing or landing skill that they had previously found challenging and say how confident they now feel about doing it (3B2);
  • identify personal strengths that contribute to a sense of self-worth during gymnastic activities (2A4).


Developing personal identity and self-awareness by identifying personal strengths in gymnastic situations.

Attitudes and values

Developing a positive and responsible attitude to their own physical, mental and emotional, social, and spiritual well-being and strengthening their perseverance and courage.

Teachers' note

Learning to fall helps to prevent injury. In a physical activity programme, students should be given opportunities to learn and practise techniques that allow them to practise springing and landing activities safely and gain confidence.

These activities are best taught in sequence to ensure the students' safety.

The skills can be taught over several lessons. Warm-ups could include revision of safe falls and landings.

Encourage the students to transfer the skills gained to other physical activities, for example:

  • ball games, such as volleyball, netball, and basketball;
  • ballet and gymnastics;
  • skateboarding, scooting and rollerblading.

The back shoulder roll

If using a declining slope to help the students to practise shoulder rolls, provide the following instructions (perhaps on a card).

  1. Squat down with your knees bent and your back to the downward slope. Roll onto your bottom and back, lifting your legs quickly to your left and rolling through onto your knees, with your arms spread wide.

If using a mat, provide these instructions.

  1. Lie on your back, bend your legs, and lift them up and over to touch the ground beside your head on the left side. Roll over onto your knees, with your arms spread wide.

Repeat, with the students bringing their legs to the right side of their head.

Challenge the students to think about and trial ways of decreasing the speed of their rolls, and encourage them to use a variety of movement patterns, such as:

  • rolling along a line;
  • rolling in a circle;
  • rolling along a diagonal.

Landing on your side

Tell the students to squat on the mat, roll over to one side of their body, and roll back onto their feet. Then try doing it on the other side. As a variation, the class could practise doing this to music, rolling to the left and to the right or playing follow-the-leader over different apparatus, ‘jumping off, landing on their feet, squatting, and doing a side roll.

The Break Fall

Tell the students that this fall is used whenever you are forced off balance backwards. Squat with your back to the mat. Fall back and land flat, but just before you hit the mat, fling each arm straight out towards the side and slap the mat backwards to break your fall. Use your arms and the palms of your hands. Continue to roll backwards into a back shoulder roll and onto your feet.

Teachers' note

  • Controlling movement: If the students roll with their arms wide, they will move slowly and if they move with their arms close to their bodies, they will move faster. Let the students experiment with controlling the speed at shich they rotate by holding their arms closer or further away from their bodies. A sloping surface is required for this activity.
  • Use a fat mat for the students to fall back onto or layers of flat mats to build up the falling surface.