I was always the kid who raised their hand and wanted to be picked first to play any game in PE. Those that didn’t, I never understood why they showed no interest and ran away practically. Years and a 15 year old son later who is not an athlete, I know the benefits involved with overall physical development compared to only playing sports in PE. The unfortunate reality is teachers and coaches give more attention the the kids in PE who want to play sports. Why? Because teachers and coaches are human, and humans gravitate toward people with common interests. So how do we make a positive impact on childhood obesity and get the kids who aren’t interested in playing sports to participate? The answer is long term athletic develoment.
SHAPE America has developed standards around physical literacy that teach movement fundamentals before sports and sports specific skills. Not all states subscribe to this philosophy for PE, and with PE not a typically state tested subject, the initiative to get more kids involved is left to each individual teacher. Besides physical literacy and long term athletic development being a NATIONAL guideline, it really does make sense to including all students and not just the sports & active minded ones. Every child needs to learn how to control both sides of their body in a variety of environments. Whether they are in a pool, on a field, on the ice/snow, or in the air like gymnastics; controlling your body and having confidence in the related movements creates a healthier child. Less than 1% of kids become professional athletes, 99% of the population has to maintain their health as an adult to pay the bills and care for their families. Teaching healthy movements that lead to lifetime skills benefits everyone.
Part of what my company Movement Academy does, is give professional development seminars on LTAD to PE teachers. Our goal is to educate the educator so they can lay the foundation for a healthier and more active next generation. To have this goal occur, more education and accountability is needed. Test scores that reflect a knowledge of movement and not just participation are necessary to hold both students and teachers accountable. Talk to your teacher, principal, school board, and state leaders to make PE accountable not optional. The only negatives are reduced obesity, stroke, and heart disease in children and future adults. Learning movement before sports is the key to improving participation in PE and changing our next generation of adults.
Contact Matt Peale, who is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for any questions and comments.
When was the last time you noticed your child’s or any other child’s range of motion and flexibility? Have you noticed they have problems touching their toes or even ankles with straight legs? In addition to the obesity and sedentary epidemic, there has become a lack of muscle flexibility epidemic. In working with youth ages 8-13 on a regular basis, a large percentage of them male and female have horrible flexibility. Their lower back and hamstrings are so tight and underused they can barely stand on one foot much less bend at the waist to touch their foot. Ask a child to perform a sumo stretch as in the picture below and you will be astounded by what you see.
Flexibility is one of the core components of overall fitness. Yes, it is a use it or lose it skill. Children are more pliable than adults due to their bones still hardening as they mature and hit puberty. With kids sitting and starting at video screens more often, they are also losing range of motion that is extremely difficult to get back as an adult. Does this mean you have to enroll your child in Bikram Yoga? Absolutely not. What it does mean is teach your child some basic warm and cool down stretches as part of their sports and activities. Proper dynamic (in motion) stretching before movement, and static stretching after movement is completed.
While touching your toes is not an Olympic event unto itself, practicing flexibility movements does reduce injuries and is part of a healthy lifestyle. Take a few minutes with your students, children, and athletes to work on their stretches in good form. It’s the habits we instill in them now that change our next generation.
Matt Peale has seen his fair share of kids have the flexibility of a 70 year old as an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Contact him at email@example.com and check out Learn To Move Academy for your school and sports organization.
You have all heard the phrase actions speak louder than words. When working with children, sometimes we turn this around and our words attempt to speak louder than actions. This reversal of the phrase is unfortunately found in PE classes around the country. With the shortage of time spent in PE, and childhood obesity learned from parents and other influential adults, PE teachers are often the only model of fitness a child encounters. PE teachers are more and more needed to be group fitness instructors and providing a true physical education, which includes fundamentals of movement in addition to sports specific skills.
If you take the analogy of a PE coach/teacher to be a group fitness instructor/personal trainer, would you pay an overweight, out of shape personal trainer who cannot demonstrate exercises without falling down or getting out of breath? The answer is NO!! So why are coaches/teachers, who play an even more important role than personal trainers, out of shape and falling down and unable to demonstrate movements being the role models for health fitness? The point is not for coaches/teachers to be professional athletes and bodybuilders. The point is coaches/teachers need to be true representatives of healthy, active lifestyle to impress upon their students the importance of exercise and making healthy choices.
Think about it, why did you become a teacher? Why did you become a PE teacher? Usually the answer is because someone made a positive impact on your life regarding sports or some athletic endeavor. Be a product of your product, which is imprinting lifelong healthy habits on your students. Less than .5% of kids become pro athletes, the rest of us have to learn and use exercise and nutrition information from what is taught in school. Be their role model and make the massive impact on the next generation of adults by letting your healthy actions speak louder than your words.
Follow Learn To Move Academy on Facebook for more information about our professional development seminars and long term athletic development PE program for your school and sports organization.