3 Niche Sports To Engage Students

PE class is often dreaded by many students: how can we change this?

As a PE teacher for many years I’ve seen generations of kids pass through the schools that I’ve worked in, each one of them offering their own unique challenges.

Whilst some kids look forward to PE each week, anticipating the opportunity to run around for an hour, many students find the entire experience impossibly challenging. There are many reasons why a child might dread their weekly hour of exercise. Overweight children often feel self-conscious undressing in the company of their peers, weaker students can might feel threatened in contact sport scenarios whilst some kids might simply believe exercise to be a waste of their time.

I’ve often found that the best way of engaging as many kids in a physical activity as possible is by introducing them to a sport that they haven’t played before. By teaching students a sport that’s new to them you place them on a level playing field of sorts. Whilst aspects like physical fitness and coordination will still have a bearing on an individual’s performance, the learning process serves as a common experience that all the kids can share, bringing them closer together and encouraging cooperation.

Thanks to the proliferation of live streaming many niche sports are starting to gain traction, so in the event of your students becoming interested in pursuing their new sport they can easily hunt down more information, footage and coaching tips using the internet.

These are the niche sports that might well galvanise the non-PE lovers in your class room:


It’s taken almost a hundred years, but Handball is finally getting the attention that it deserves. Invented by the Danish in the late 19th century, this contact sport is relatively simple to pick up (the rules are a cross between basketball and football) and is sure to please the less coordinated students in your group who have difficulty with dribbling a football or handling a rugby ball. Although matches can start out chaotic, after half a term of training this sport can often bring non-sporty individuals out of their shells.


Although technically not a sport, Hacky-Sacks can be bought in large quantities for a small amount of money. There’s not much difference between a Hacky-Sack and a small beanbag other than the circular shape and the material that it’s made with – but it’s this shape that makes them so much fun to play with. You can start out by handing each student a sack to get to grips with, once they understand how to ‘keep-up’ the sack, you can start taking them away, forcing them to work together to improve their skills.

Table Tennis

I understand that many schools might not have the budget to invest in a space to hold permanent table tennis tables, but there are now plenty of temporary or fold-away options that can make this much maligned sport a real hit with your students. Once you’ve got a hold of the tables to play on you should be able to buy 30 table tennis paddles for a relatively good price from a sports wholesaler. Ping pong balls are easily damaged by overzealous players, but they too can also be procured en mass.