EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 15-22
Effects of invasion games on physical fitness in primary school
Irena Valantine1Dejan Madic2Goran Sporis3
‹ The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access.
in bent arm hang, sit ups and push-ups in
experimental group. Compared with initial
Studies concerning the effects of different invasion
measurement, there was a significant (p < 0.05)
games on physical fitness in school children are
improvement in Andersen test in invasion games
scarce. Consequently, the purpose of this study was
group, which was not the case with control group
to examine the effects of the application of invasion
(p>0.05). To conclude, invasion games were an
games on physical fitness in primary school
effective way of improving physical fitness in
children. A total of 62 primary school children aged
primary school children, because the results of this
10-12 years voluntarily participated in this study.
study indicate that this method was more effective
They were divided into experimental
(32) and
for physical fitness than traditional school
control (30) group. Physical fitness of children was
estimated by the following tests: Standing broad
jump, Vertical jump, Bent-arm hang, Sit-ups, Push-
Keywords invasion games teachingeffects
ups, Medicine ball test and Andersen test. The
experimental group had twice per week invasion
games on non-consecutive days for
12 weeks.
Participants in control group did not perform
specific program but attended their regular PE class
twice per week. Compared with initial
measurement, there was a significant (p < 0.05)
Physical fitness during childhood has been
improvement in vertical jump test for both groups.
identified as a strong predictor of current and
Furthermore, the group that participated in the
future health status (Smith et al. 2014). However,
invasion games program made significantly greater
the usual school day lasts more than five hours in
gains compared to the control group (p < 0.05) in
most cases, and a great amount of this time is
Standing broad jump
(8.2%; ES=0.56 vs.
composed of sedentary activities. In addition to the
ES=0.2) and Medicine ball test (8.2%; ES=0.6 vs.
hours spent in school, children in numerous
3%; ES=0.3). There was a significant improvement
countries spend almost half of each calendar year
in school. Therefore, schools are responsible for a
large amount of children’s time and have the
potential to provide children an opportunity to
fulfil their daily physical activity needs (Janssen &
Lithuanian Sports University, Department of Sport
Leblanc, 2010).
Management, Economics and Sociology, Kaunas,
Invasion games are team games with purpose to
invade the opponent’s territory while scoring
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sport and
Physical Education, Serbia
points and keeping the opposing team's points to a
minimum, and all within a certain time period
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Kinesiology,
(Pearson & Webb, 2008). The teaching of invasion
EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 15-22
games has been the focus of discussion in recent
games are often taught to children with little
teaching methods, such as Teaching Games for
opportunity for skill practice, no lead-up games, and
Understanding. This method suggests that students
with full-sided teams. The most important is that
should discover the solution to tactical problems
children may benefit from this fun and dynamic
through inquiry learning because it provides the
approach to learning the game of different sports.In
children with the opportunity to discover, explore,
addition to physical characteristics and technical
and build knowledge for deeper understanding. To
skills in team sports, the tactics and decision making
abilities are crucial in order to become a successful
modification of game play is vital. There are four
player (Broek, Boen, Claessens, Feys, &Ceux, 2011).
ways that teachers can use to modify invasion games:
However, the remaining challenge regarding the long
court size, offense-defense ratio, rules and
term athlete development is the amount of time
restrictions, and equipment (Griffin & Butler, 2005).
devoted to various skills (Chevrier, Roy, Turcotte,
It is broadly recognized that Sport Education model
Culver, & Cybulski, 2016). Some studies have shown
and Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) are
the effects of invasion games on improving students’
one of crucial models in conceptual and
game performance (skill execution efficiency and
methodological support for more effective and
efficacy and decision making) in invasion games
appealing learning environments in physical
(Tallir, Lenoir, Valcke, & Musch, 2007), in particular
education classes
2005; Metzler,
for girls and low skill-level students
(Ricardo &
Although the TGfU approach share quite a few
Graca, 2008). However, to the authors’ knowledge
concepts in terms of objectives and pedagogy (Hastie
there are no studies concerning the effects of different
& Curtner-Smith, 2006), it has paid more attention
invasion games on physical fitness in school children.
towards developing learners’ abilities to play games,
Consequently, the purpose of this study was to
emphasizing the need to extend students’ game
examine the impact of the invasion games on physical
appreciation and tactical awareness in order to play
fitness in primary school children.
the games successfully (Metzler, 2000). Therefore,
research on TGfU has centered almost exclusively on
psychomotor and cognitive learning. Indeed, studies
have shown that TGfU can improve both children’
decision making and skill execution
(Allison &
A total of 62 (28 girls) primary school children aged
1997; Harrison et al.,
2004; Turner &
10-12 years voluntarily participated in this study.
Martinek, 1999).
They were divided into experimental (32) and control
Model of Invasion Games is conceptually
(30) group. Children’s characteristics are presented
structured closely to TGfU, but it also resembles a
in the Table 1. Prior to the enrolment in the study,
goal of Sport Education, namely, to create authentic
parents reported their child’s health history and
sport contexts (Musch et al., 2002). The invasion
current activity status through a questionnaire and
games are considered an innovative approach, since
only healthy children from 10 to 12 years old were
the specific nature and the importance of specialized
chosen. All the children had two classes per week and
teaching is considered (Belka, 2004). At the same
were not involved in additional strenuous training
time, the invasion games fill the gaps of the TGfU’s
during this study. Participants were excluded if they
standard procedures that do not differ according to the
had a chronic pediatric disease or had an orthopedic
individual strategic features of each game, whether
condition that would limit their ability to perform
they are invasion games, net/wall games, target
exercise. Participants were excluded if they have
games or striking and fielding games. Therefore, the
missed two consecutive classes during study. The
invasion games take into consideration the fact that
study was approved by the Research Ethics
learning tasks should be aligned with the situational
Committee of the Faculty of sport and physical
demands related to the play of basic forms of invasion
education in Novi Sad, and written informed consent
was gained from both parents and children.
Having in mind that team games have unique
Children’s anthropometric characteristics and
skills, novice players find it difficult to master it due
components of fitness were measured early in the
to small amount of transfer from other sports, except
morning, at least 12 h fasted and 24 h from the last
for footwork. Therefore, children require a great deal
high-intensity exercise effort. Measurements were
of repetition before they are able to consistently
taken in Early-October (a month after the beginning
execute the fundamental skills. Nevertheless, team
of the school year) and in late December.
EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 15-22
Table 1. Basic anthropometric characteristics of the study participants; values are mean±SD
Experimental group
Control group
Age (y)
Body height (cm)
Body weight (kg)
All study procedures took place at a school athletic
out, legs straight and slightly apart, and toes tucked
facility. The same instructors tested and trained the
under. The subject pushes up off the floor with the
same participants and the fitness tests were performed
arms until the elbows are straight while keeping the
in the same order with identical equipment,
legs and back straight. The back should be kept in a
positioning, and technique. All participants took part
straight line from head to toes throughout the test.
in one introductory session during which time proper
Then, the participant lowers the body using the arms
form and technique on each fitness test were reviewed
until the elbows bend at a 90 and the upper arms are
and practiced. During this session, assistants
parallel to the floor. This movement is repeated as
demonstrated proper testing procedures and
many times as possible, finishing when the subject
participants practiced each test. After the training
stops, when the subject does not perform the push up
program, the subjects were instructed to perform the
completely or when subject does not keep the right
tests in the same order as they did before the training
position. This test assesses upper-body muscular
endurance (Castro-Piñero et al., 2009).
Participants were asked not to perform any
Standing broad jump - The subject jumps with
vigorous physical activity the day before or the day of
both feet from the reversed side of Reuter’s bounce
any study procedure. Basic anthropometric
board onto a carpet with scale. The jumping distance
characteristics (Body weight and Body height) were
(in cm) is recorded from take-off line to the nearest
measured, in accordance with the IBP program, on
point of contact on the landing (back of the heels).
the day of the testing. Before each testing, the
Result is the longest distance jumped, the best of three
participants performed a standard 20-minute warm-
up. Standard warm up protocol consisted of 10 min of
Vertical jump test
- corresponding to Sargent
warm up running and 10 min of dynamic stretching
vertical jump test. The measurement of the standing
and 5 x 30m of running exercises.
reach height allowed for a calculation of the relative
Physical fitness of children was estimated by the
jump heights on each of the jumping tasks (absolute
following tests: Sit-ups, Bent-arm hang, Push-ups,
jump height (cm) - standing reach height (cm) =
Standing broad jump, Vertical jump, Medicine ball
relative jump height) (Sheppard, Gabbett, & Reeberg-
test and Andersen test. Most of the tests are briefly
Stanganelli, 2009).
described in Bala, Krneta and Katic (2010).
Medicine Ball Test
- Upper-body explosive
Sit-ups with crossed arms - The subject lies on the
strength was estimated using backward overhead
back, knees bent, arms crossed on the chest, and
medicine ball throw. Medicine ball throws were
performs sit-ups, feet being held fast by an assistant.
performed using the
2-kg rubber medicine balls
The number of correctly executed sit-ups in 60 s is
(Tigar, Pirot, Serbia). All subjects were introduced to
the testing on familiarization session. The skin of the
medicine ball was lightly dampened
Bent-arm hang - The subject grips the bar, fingers
carbonate) to leave an imprint on the floor where first
on top and thumb underneath, pulls up (chin above
contact was made and to ensure precise measurement
the bar) and holds the position as long as possible
of the throwing distance. The athlete holds a medicine
without resting the chin on the bar. Time is measured
ball with arms straight in front of the body and,
in 0.1-s units.
following a countermovement, flexes at the hips and
- The participant assumes a prone
knees before extending forcefully backward to throw
position on the floor with hands placed under or
the ball over the head. Distance was measured from
slightly wider than the shoulders, fingers stretched
EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 15-22
the base of the bench to the closest edge of the
Descriptive characteristics were calculated for all
medicine ball imprint.
variables. Group differences before experiment were
evaluated using independent sample t-tests.
The Andersen test
- developed as proxy for
Normality assumptions for all data before and after
maximal oxygen uptake. For this research only the
were checked respectively with
covered distance was taken (L. B. Andersen, T. E.
Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests. A two-way repeated
Andersen, E. Andersen, & Anderssen, 2008).
measure ANOVA
(2î2) was used to test for
interactions and main effects for time (initial vs. final)
Table 2. PE class and Invasion games
and group
(experimental vs. control) on the
PE class
Experimental program
dependent physical fitness variables. Post hoc follow-
up tests consisted of t-tests (Otto, Coburn, Brown, &
- warm up
- warm up
Spiering, 2012). Effect size (ES) was calculated for
– PE unit
- invasion games
multiple comparisons to determine the magnitude of
– drills
- PE unit
the pre-post changes. ES were classified as follows:
cool down
cool down
<0.2 was defined as trivial, 0.2-0.6 was defined as
small, 0.6-1.2 was defined as moderate, 1.2-2.0 was
The experimental group had twice per week invasion
defined as large, and >2.0 was defined as very large
games on non-consecutive days for 12 weeks under
(Hopkins, Marshall, Batterham, & Hanin,
monitored conditions. Coach specialist discussed and
Statistical analyses were conducted in SPSS (SPSS,
demonstrated proper invasion games procedures
Version 18.0, Chicago; IL). Statistical significance of
during one week, and children had an opportunity to
differences was established a priori at p<0.05 to test
ask questions. The duration of invasion games was
the hypothesis that experimental group would be
recorded, with drills typically lasting 15-20 minutes.
more effective than control in improving physical
Besides these drills, usual physical education classes
fitness measures in children.
were performed. Each class consisted of a warm-up
period (5 to 8 minutes), invasion games (10 to 15 min)
and PE unit phase (15 to 20 minutes), following 5
minutes of cool down. During the warm-up period
subjects performed a series of six to ten mobility
The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test has shown that data
exercises. During the invasion games phase, subjects
were normally distributed. Independent sample t test
performed a variety of games that progressed from
revealed no statistically significant differences
simple to complex as their competence and
between the groups for all variables prior to the
confidence improved. The various exercises included
program. The results for the vertical jump indicated
invasion games from different team sport games (e.g.
no significant differences between groups following
soccer, handball, basketball, rugby). Most exercises
12 weeks (Table 3). Furthermore, the group that
involved throwing and intensive running without the
participated in the invasion games program made
ball. Within each category, the exercises progress
significantly greater gains compared to the control
from the least challenging (e.g. Maintain Possession
(p<0.05) in Standing broad jump
1-Low Level) to the most challenging (e.g. Attack
ES=0.56 vs. 3%; ES=0.2) and Medicine ball test
goal 4-High Level).
(8.2%; ES=0.6 vs. 3%; ES=0.3).
Participants in control group did not perform
specific program but attended their regular PE class
twice per week during the study period and
participated in the same traditional PE activities under
the guidance of a PE teacher.
EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 15-22
Table 3. Mean±SD results of different parameters: strength, jumping, throwing and running performance before the experimental
period (initial) and after the 12-week experimental period (final)
Experimental group
Control group
% ES
% ES
Vertical jump
31.26± 4.25
37.14± 6.19*
32.88± 3.09
35.57± 4.08*
Standing broad jump
132.65± 19.68
143.56± 19.56*†
133.66± 18.44
137.70± 16.56
Medicine ball test
6.24± 0.79
6.34± 0.61
Bent arm hang
35.03± 16.67
Sit ups
Andersen test
The results for the Push-ups indicated no
preadolescent boys. Adeniran and Toriola
significant group by time interaction, but there was a
showed the positive impact of interval running
significant main effect for time. The results for the Sit
training on anaerobic power in girls (Vertical jump
ups indicated no significant group by time interaction,
+13.4% and +14.6%, p<0.05). On
but there was a significant main effect for time in
contrary, Kristicevic, Sporis, Trajkovic, Pencic and
experimental group. There was a significant 2-way
Ignjatovic (2016) found no significant improvements
interaction for bent arm hang. The results indicated
in jumping performance following skill based
that there were significant increases in Bent arm hang
conditioning games in young female volleyball
in experimental group (21.4%; ES=0.4) compared to
control group (4.5%; ES=0.1). Compared with initial
Compared with initial testing in this study, there
measurement, there was a significant improvement in
was a significant (p<0.05) improvement in Medicine
Andersen test in invasion games group, which was
ball test following
12 weeks’ invasion games.
not the case with control group (p>0.05).
Related studies with children that lasted only 6 weeks,
found an increase in the medicine ball throw of 19%
(Faigenbaum & Mediate, 2006). Moreover, after
combined resistance training program and medicine
ball throws Faigenbaum et al.,
(2007) found an
The present study investigated the effect of invasion
increase of
14%, and D. J. Szymanski, J. M.
games on physical fitness in primary school children.
Szymanski, Bradford, Schade and Pascoe (2007) in a
The primary finding of this study was that regular
12-week study found an increase of 10% in the
participation in a progressive invasion games
medicine ball throws. The increases observed in our
program produced greater improvement in physical
study were in line with abovementioned increases.
fitness than traditional physical education lessons in
primary school children after 12 weeks of training. To
One of the findings from our study was that there
measure explosive power, we used Vertical jump,
was a significant improvement in Bent arm hang, Sit
Standing broad jump and Medicine ball test.
ups and Push-ups in experimental group.
Significant improvement was observed for invasion
Performance gains in the Push-up test following
games group in both jumping tests. These results
invasion games were similar to control group
demonstrate that specific invasion games, as part of
concerning the fact that Push-ups are the most
the overall physical education process, can be
frequent exercise in PE programs. Furthermore,
considered a useful tool for the improvement of
training intervention did not include exercise
jumping ability. Rotstein, Dotan, Bar-Or and
specifically designed to enhance core strength.
Tenenbaum (1986) also stated that a9-week interval
However, it is possible that the performance of other
training might improve anaerobic capacity in
movements with proper exercise technique
EQOL Journal (2017) 9(1): 15-22
contributed to improvement in sit ups for
optimization of skill development in team sport while
experimental group.
still obtaining appropriate conditioning levels.
In the present study, the invasion games produced
To conclude, invasion games appear to be an
also a significant improvement in aerobic
effective way of improving physical fitness in
performances. The high intensity of invasion games
primary school children. The results of this study
might explain the higher improvement in compared to
indicate that this method was more effective for
usual PE class. After the training period the average
performance than traditional school program. From a
distance covered following invasion games
practical viewpoint, these findings demonstrate that
(initial) and
invasion games should be implemented in regular
Invasion games group showed significantly better
curricula to enhance the physiological characteristics
results compared to group that was involved in PE
of children. Teachers and coaches could use this
classes. Moreover, it could be speculated that
information in the process of planning the program in
invasion games may enhance enjoyment and increase
schools and teams.
compliance. Similarly, Baquet, Berthoin, Gerbeaux
and Van Praagh (2001) only used short intermittent
exercises as an attempt to improve the adolescents
cardio-respiratory fitness.
Adeniran, S. A., & Toriola, A. L.
(1988). Effects of
A novel finding from the present investigation was
continuous and internal running programs on aerobic
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