Heidelberg Ball School
The Heidelberg Ball School (Ballschule Heidelberg ) is a children's sports project from the Sports Institute of the University of Heidelberg, the oldest university in Germany. The Ball School was founded in 1998 by Professor Dr. Roth and is now one of the most successful children's sports projects of its kind in Germany.
Basics of the Ball School
At the Ball School, children can learn the "ABC’s" of all sports involving balls. The overall goal for the Ball School is to get and keep kids moving. Children here do not become specialized in one game, but instead, become well-rounded and trained in many sports through the holistic development of intellectual, emotional and motor skills. They learn through diverse experiences and perception of game situations by learning the similarities between different ball games. The curriculum of the Ball School rests on the latest scientific and psychological knowledge, that children all have equal access to a professional and equitable development of skills at an early stage in life. Not only are talents discovered and optimally developed, but also every child can benefit from playing non-specific sports with little intervention and lots of free play. This transferable game playing allows the children to understand tactical solutions and skills based answers to the challenges posed by a games with balls. The Ball School aims to develop creativity by free play and implicit learning and get all children involved in physical activity. The school hopes to get wide participation of kids in different sports, provide better general physical education, and to make physical activity an integral part of life.
Ball School Programming
In 2008, the Heidelberg Ball School celebrated its 10th anniversary and in 2009 it received a national award under the project "Land of Ideas.” It is one of the most successful sports projects in the region of Germany. The Ball School continues to grow in enjoyment and interest, as evidenced by its ever growing projects. These projects include the collaborations with clubs of all sports for all age groups: from the Baby Ball School and the Mini-Ball School for kindergarten to elementary school students. Projects are offered for gifted, obese, physically disabled, and children with ADHD. For each, specific concepts and lessons have been developed.
Growth of the Ball School
Over 150 Ball Schools exist throughout Germany and the concept is even now expanding internationally. The Ball School has been introduced to Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Slovenia, Austria, South Africa and USA through various projects and it is continuing to establish a global presence.
A record number of children enrolled was achieved during the 2010-2011 school year. Around 1,000 children come to the Ball School each week through the 90 classes offered at local elementary schools. These take place in 60 participating schools in the metropolitan region of Heidelberg. Nationwide in Germany, the number is naturally higher.
For younger children, there is the new program for the “Mini Ball School.” The Mini Ball School was created to contribute to early childhood skills development. The structure of this Ball School was created for the toddler and preschool ages and then expands to three divisions. In addition to the training of the first motor-based skills, emphasis is first put on linguistic, cognitive and social-emotional skills. Secondly, through the construction of landscape movement, the children get the opportunity to independently explore and discover the environment around them. The third extension is that there are also lessons and exercises in the ball games. The objectives of the Mini Ball School are therefore an integral and loving part in promoting childhood development and the improvement in motor skills base in addition to the linguistic, cognitive and social-emotional skills base.