Maths isn’t always an easy subject to grasp, which is why trying to get kids to learn in new and fun ways can really make all the difference. Teaching maths through sports is a wonderful way to provide real-life opportunities for students to apply and grow their skills and make it feel more enjoyable and accessible. Whether they’re keeping score for a game, timing each half, or calculating which angle the player should hit the ball to score - maths is key in sports. Here are some simple ways to teach maths through sports.
In many sports such as athletics and swimming, specific events are measured in time. This can be a wonderful learning opportunity for students, especially if you give them the responsibility of using a stopwatch to record times for each participant. Not only is this good practice in understanding numbers and time, but it’s a great way for them to learn that as little as one hundredth (.01) of a second could mean the difference between winning a race and losing it. For a bit of extra maths practice you could even ask students to calculate the average speed of a group of scores from a national athletic event and use percentages to calculate differences in race results. For example, Participant A was 15% faster than Participant B. Having real-life examples to practice maths keeps it interesting and certainly makes it fun!
- Keeping Score
For younger students, encouraging them to keep score while playing or watching competitive sports such as basketball, football, netball or hockey is a great way for them to practice numeracy skills. For older kids, ask them to go the extra mile and keep track of other factors, such as strikes and fouls, or the number of innings in a cricket match. Several sports such as rugby, cricket and basketball also include a levelled scoring system, which provides a great opportunity to build up multiplication skills.
- Use Geometry
Many sporting events involve a lot of geometry, which means you can discuss the importance of shapes and angels, especially in reference to techniques. Ask students to observe the different shapes of the fields, as well as different lines and markings. Discuss why players use shapes such as triangles to make themselves available to receive a ball from their teammates, so that the player with the ball has three passing options. Ask other maths related questions such as:
- At what angle should a player kick or hit the ball?
- Why are different sporting fields shaped differently?
- What angle should a javelin be held as it is released?
These questions will not only get students to apply different maths concepts to sports, it shows how important maths can be when it comes to scoring or playing well as a team.
- Explore Probability
Introduce students to the concept of chance and probability by using sports. With younger kids, start off with explaining how many competitions begin with a coin toss, asking them what percentage is the chance of either a heads or tails outcome. For older pupils, try getting them to calculate trickier probabilities such as the chances of a particular player scoring depending on how many other teammates they have, or the likelihood of a team winning based on previous scores.