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How to support young people suffering from trauma in PE

I was walking down the corridor at school on Tuesday last week when a head of department came rushing up to thank me.

I asked ‘What for?’ And she said ‘Whatever you did with your year 8’s in PE yesterday. They have never been so focused and keen to learn in my lesson. It was brilliant. When I asked them why, they said it was because they had done relaxation in PE period 2. You worked miracles with them, thank you.’

Now the group in question came into that class from a tough circuit training session, requesting to take part in the body scanning task that we had done the week before.

Body scanning involves lying down focusing on your breathing before considering how each area of the body feels, it enables people to relax with no outside stimulus and consider some important questions like how are they feeling? Are they relaxed or tense? If they are tense where about's in their body? And are they worried about anything? They then had a quick stretch before returning to learn about the mental fitness pyramid focusing on building confidence and then taking part in a yoga session tailored to their needs in this case a pelvic flexibility session as there were a lot of footballers in the group.

Now the key area was the focus on breathing. I have just completed some excellent training by Beacon House on Trauma training and how the brain works in children. Now the brain stem is a key part of the brain and if that is anxious or alerted it will trigger the fight, flight or fright response. Focusing on your breathing for a prolonged period of time soothes the brain stem, increasing an individual's window of tolerance, enabling the individual to engage the higher aspects of the brain such as the Limbic brain and then the Cortex brain which allowed the class in question to function and learn more efficiently. By increasing the window of tolerance we are seeing greater staff/student relationships, improved behaviour, more productive learning and more importantly happier young people.

Body scanning & yoga are just two practical strategies of many in our ‘Building Mental Fitness’ course which is having a transformational impact on young people.

Created by Future Action, it is an online CPD course with editable resources that upskills teachers, saving them hours of time planning and enables teachers to deliver the unit of work in 6 different ways to enable PE departments to have whole school impact.

It gives pupils proactive practical strategies to improve their mental health at school and for the rest of their lives. If you would like to find out more information then please visit us at

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