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Teaching Strategies

Examples of Basic Strategies to Accommodate Learners with Disabilities in Regular Physical Education

Reduce the Size of the Playing Field

  • Soccer: Reduce size of field so there is less distance to cover and the ball moves from one end of the field to the other faster. Reduce size of goal if the individual is goalkeeper so there is less area to cover; the size of the goal is commensurate with student's movement ability

  • Badminton: Reduce size of court so there is less space to cover. Create a "level playing field" by asking a student with a disability to cover the singles court while a student with better mobility covers the entire doubles court

  • Horseshoes: Reduce the distance from delivery area to stake. Introduce larger pieces of equipment

  • Track: Reduce the length of the race.  Instead of a 440, perhaps the student would be more successful doing a 220

Reduce the Size of the Playing Area

  • Volleyball: Add more players so there is less area for each person to cover. To equalize the "playing field", for example, 3 of the more skilled, more mobile volleyball players can cover the court while playing 9 less mobile individuals

  • Handball: Play triples so there is less area for each person to cover

  • Tennis and Badminton: Play triples so there is less area for each person to cover. Make minor rule changes

Change the Size of the Equipment

  • Softball: Use beach ball so the speed of the ball is decreased. Use larger, bright ball so it is more easily tracked. Use larger (but light) bats so the bat is more easily moved through range of movement

  • Volleyball: Use a beach ball to slow speed of the ball. Use a balloon to decrease finger strength and dexterity required to contact the ball

  • Badminton: Allow the individual to use a larger, but lightweight racquet. Introduce lighter equipment

  • Bowling: Use lighter ball so person lacking strength has greater control of ball. Note: If a person is using a bowling ramp, however, a heavier ball may insure success

  • Archery: Use lighter bow so person lacking strength can draw and control bow. Modify size of team

Use Specialized Equipment

  • Baseball or Softball: Use a batting tee

  • Bowling: Bowl with bumpers (available at most alleys) to ensure success. Use a bowling ramp. Use an automatic handle release ball

  • Skiing: Use a sit-ski. Use poles with runners

Modify Basic Rules

  • Basketball:

    • Substitute every 3 or 4 minutes if an individual becomes fatigued.  Make quarters 5 or 6 minutes long to accommodate students with less endurance.

  • Bowling:

    • Bowl only 3 or 4 or 5 frames to accommodate a bowler with less endurance and finger/hand strength

  • Handball:

    • Play a game to 5 or 7 points

  • Swimming:

    • Level the "playing field" by allowing heats based on time. For example, accommodate the swimmer with a disability by, for example, allowing a swimmer to race for 50 meters against another swimmer racing 100 meters

    • Allow a swimmer who fatigues or becomes disoriented to swim next to the wall and use the wall to rest or reorient, as needed. In relays, allow 8 swimmers to race against 4 swimmers in a 200 free, 200 medley, 400 free, 400 medley, or 800 free relay

  • Tennis:

    • Allow a less mobile player two or three bounces to get to the ball

    • Play a tiebreaker instead of a full set. Play a best two of three sets instead of a best three of five match. Reduce number of points required to win contest

  • Volleyball:

    • Play the whole game with all participants in seated position. Allow 5-7 contacts of the ball on one side of the net. Allow a student to serve the volleyball from any position on the court to ensure success

  • Wrestling:

    • Use physical contact to begin the match. The individual with a severe visual disability will assume the takedown position to ensure physical contact with opponent, enabling him or her to know where opponent is at all times


Modified from:

  • Auxter, D., Pyfer. J., & Huettig, C. (1997). Principles and methods of adapted physical education and recreation (8th ed.).  Now available through McGraw-Hill, St. Louis

page last updated 10/9/2014 6:14 PM