Do You Ever Wish You Had a Slow Motion Button?

By: Mark Banasiak @MoreThanGym

Last month, I talked about basketball activities that force the students to look up while dribbling the ball. Along with dribbling, our 3rd-5th grade basketball unit typically focuses on passing, pivoting, shooting, and offensive/defensive strategies. At the end of the unit, I like to introduce and place the 4th and 5th grade students into 3v3 basketball activities. For our third graders, we practice all of the previously listed skills during the first semester. During the second semester, we review those skills and then add the 3v3 component.

One big problem we face when placing the students into any type of offensive or defensive situation is that the students have trouble staying under control. Therefore, we place strict parameters to keep them in order. For instance, when we practice offensive and defensive strategies, we use the lines of a 4-square court to keep the students under control. Similarly, we use pieces of floor tape to help keep the control in our 3rd grade 3v3 basketball.

3v3 Basketball (3rd Grade): Students are divided into groups of 6 at each goal. Three will be on offense while three are on defense. Prior to class, I put three X’s on the floor near the goal with floor tape.


Each defender MUST keep one foot on an X at ALL times. This activity gives the offense the ability to move without having a defender all up on them. The offense must make at least 2-3 passes prior to shooting at the basket. If the offense makes a bad pass, misses a shot, makes a shot, loses control of the ball, or if the ball is intercepted by the defense, the offense may start all over.   The teacher will tell the groups when to switch from offense to defense (usually every 2-3 minutes). Otherwise, the students waste a lot of time rotating after each score or error. This also provides the team of three a chance to immediately practice the same situation if an error was made.

3v3 Basketball is a great activity to introduce to students who are not used to competitive sports. It is fun; however, it restricts the defense just enough to keep things under control and allow multiple matches to occur at the same time (i.e., one at each basketball goal).

Similarly, we use slow motion buttons (i.e., paper plates) to help keep the control in our 4th-5th grade 3v3 paper plate basketball.


3v3 Paper Plate Basketball (4th-5th Grade): This activity is identical to 3v3 Basketball except the defenders place one foot on a paper plate instead of an X. They may move anywhere as long as their foot stays on the paper plate.   The defenders must also stay one arm’s length away from the person they are guarding. The slow motion button allows the defenders the freedom to move while keeping them under control. I have found that the cheapest paper plates are the best. We sometimes allow the 3rd grade students to use the slow motion buttons on the last day of their unit.


I am thankful to teach in a gym that is roughly 60’ x 96’ and has 6 permanent basketball goals. We have also added an additional 6 portable goals to give us a total of 12 basketball shooting areas. If needed, I have a 3v3 match going on at each of the 12 goals. Sometimes, I place the students into groups of 9 (i.e., 3v3 with a group of 3 waiting). After 2-3 minutes, I say, “Switch!” The offense then becomes the defense, the defense goes to the wall, and those against the wall become the offense. This scenario allows the team that is waiting to observe how the other two teams participate.

I have also found other uses for the slow motion button.

When we teach soccer dribbling to our 1st-2nd grade students inside the gym, we initially practice dribbling in general space and then introduce trapping to help them change directions. We then introduce a tag activity where several students move around trying to tag the soccer balls using half of a pool noodle. If your ball gets tagged, you simply move to the wall, execute 10 jumping jacks, and get back in the activity. Whenever we use taggers in these situations, they can quickly get out of control. As a result, I like to have the taggers use a slow motion button. They can move anywhere in the gym as long they keep one foot on their paper plate. This slows down the taggers just enough to keep order while giving those who are fleeing a slight advantage. You can also do this activity with basketball dribbling.

One of my favorite large group activities is Treasure Island. It is a high energy, invasion type of activity that requires the students to work together, get their heart rates up, think, and have fun. My students love it! If you don’t have enough scooters for half of your class, you can use the slow motion buttons to control the taggers.

The slow motion button is cost effective and can dramatically improve several situations in your gym. In fact, they can be used in any situation where you need to control the taggers, defenders, and/or give one side a slight advantage. I encourage you to try using them!

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6 thoughts on “Do You Ever Wish You Had a Slow Motion Button?

  1. Love the idea of the “X” and slow motion !! It seems that I spend more time backing the defense away from the offense and end up losing sight of the skills being taught !! While I appreciate the competitiveness of some of my students…..PE isn’t the place for my best basketball players to overwhelm others with their GREAT defensive skills !! :O) Thanks a ton for sharing !!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good stuff Mark – I like the 3v3 basketball setup, I’ve done something similar with a foot in a hoop instead of on a paper plate, but I like the progression from the “X” then moving to a “slow motion” defense. Thanks for the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

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