Help! I Volunteered to Coach and Am Clueless!

Tell me if this is you or has been you:  “Mom or Dad, be my (fill in the sport) coach this year, please!”  You have no clue about much in that sport much less any kind of true fitness knowledge, yet now you’re in charge of 10-15 kids and they expect you to know and show them all how to be professionals.  So you ask another parent to volunteer and be your trusted assistant, maybe they have some kind of sports and/or fitness knowledge.  Somewhere in your mind you remember your football or PE teacher who coached football, and make the kids do the same warmups you did in high school.  The recreation district gave you a book to read and use to teach the sport and some drills, but who has time for that?  Each practice you hope nobody gets hurt, no parents yell at you, your kid still talks to you, and you go undefeated by some miracle.

Unfortunately this scenario plays out all over the country, in every sport, every season of every year.  What is being done to educate volunteer parents on fitness and age appropriate exercises so kids keep coming back past the age of 13?  The answer is not much to nothing at all.  The majority of kids do not start at a travel team level and do not advance to that level.  Most kids just want to have fun with some friends and winning comes later.  With all of the issues dealing with government, recreation district leaders do not invest in providing volunteer coaches with the proper tools to teach kids how to be overall better athletes and develop a love for all sports.

As we all know, the more educated you are in a subject the greater the appreciation you have for it.  It is about time recreation districts provide a way for volunteer coaches to be better and have more confidence in leading their teams.  With the technology of devices today, a systematic approach to age appropriate fitness can be provided along with the old handouts on a specific sport.  That is what my company, Movement Academy, is working on with a sports complex in Hammond, LA.  No infrastructure needs to be invested, and all coaches in all sports benefit.  Kids are smarter because their brains are stimulated properly, they will stick to sports longer, less injuries occur, and more revenue is generated as a result of all the above.

Recreational sports are the backbones of communities.  Kids from different schools meet each other and develop friendships, parents develop new friendships, and lifelong memories are made.  It is truly about having fun, learning socialization skills, and having new experiences by playing a variety of sports.  Suggest to your rec district leaders to invest in providing volunteer coaches better tools.  Everyone wins in the end.  For a free report on how fundamental movements improve cognitive ability and reduce injury, call 985-276-9394.  Leave your name and email address and the report will be sent to you FREE.  You have no obligation to purchase anything.

Everything starts on the grassroots level.  Let’s get this movement going today!


Balance: The Great Equalizer

#workoutwednesday #wellnesswednesday

As a personal trainer since 2008, I have worked with clients of all ages, sizes, and types of health goals.  The one aspect of fitness that all of them struggled on is balance.  In a recent training session with a client, another male gym member who works out religiously and is in great shape, commented on a balance movement I was teaching a female over 50 client.  When I asked him to try the simple movement of touching his toe with a slightly flexed knee standing on one foot, he fell over.  Reaching down to touch your toe standing on one foot is not complicated and does not require massive amounts of strength.  You might say, “Oh I can do that, no problem,” and you may be able too.  Can you do it equally well on either foot? defines balance a number of ways and parts of speech.  The best definition they have for my purpose is a state of bodily equilibrium.  Can you maintain equilibrium when placed in unsteady positions, that is the whole key to balance in a physical fitness and exercise standpoint.  How do you improve balance?  You have to work on it consistently.  If you are a gym goer, try movements like dumbbell bicep curls on one foot, use a BOSU ball for standing dumbbell shoulder presses, try a one leg RDL/toe touch.  When talking about the over 60 population, balance is where life can literally fall apart.

The CDC says falls are the number one cause of injury in senior citizens.  Fall prevention programs are usually part of senior care facilities and medical personnel training that work in those environments.  When I teach the over 60 workout class at the health club I work at, they all want to improve their balance. My individual clients in the same age group also want more balance training because they know it is a fine line between injury and full mobility.  The CDC suggests two or more days a week of muscle strengthening activities for older adults.  Get off the machines and use free weights.  Make the body stabilize and balance in a variety of positions.  More muscle used equals more calories burned anyway, so don’t be afraid of the 10 lb dumbbells.

You may be asking, “How do I find balance exercises and do them safely without killing myself?”  There are a number of answers to fit everyone’s budget.  You can hire a personal trainer like me at your gym/health club, join a group exercise class, find a program online, or make something up at home.  Whatever you do as an active older adult, make sure you stick too it and afford.  For the online group, my company Movement Academy has a program to help called Active Aging System.  For a limited time, it is only $10.95 per month and guaranteed to help you improve your balance.  Check it out, no contract and very affordable.


Balance is key to a longer, healthier life in every aspect.

Matt Peale is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 2008.  You can contact him at and give the Active Aging System a try if you are comfortable with online programs.

FUNdamentals For Physical Development

You see a 7 year old child in his or her’s second year of playing soccer and that child is one of the best players on the field for either team.  Parents, coaches, and even referees comment about that child is scholarship material and SHOULD now play only soccer.  The academy/select level coach hears about this child and tells the parents to get a private coach and sign up for their team, giving up the other sports & activities.  Does this sound familiar?

In teaching physical literacy, children 6-9 years old are still learning how to move their bodies in space.  Developing overall agility, balance, coordination, and speed is the main idea for an overall better moving child.  Playing structured and unstructured games using their entire body in different environments (water, ground, and air) gives them the skills necessary to be healthier and active, not just the glimmer of the 2% club getting a D1 scholarship.  Learning how to make decisions with and without a ball, in space with other kids around, and what is proper behavior in a variety of games are all vital skills needed at this age to be a better athlete if the child chooses as a teenager and beyond.

Early sports specialization does not promote a superstar athlete.  Many factors come into play that changes a child’s desire, skill, and motivation to continue playing a specific sport.  Tell that advanced level coach NO!  It is way too early for your child to choose one and only one sport spending thousands of dollars to play.  No evidence says entering a select level team at the age of seven means a professional contract is waiting for them in high school.  Enroll them in a variety of sports/activities so they can find an interest to pursue as they approach adolescents and then develop sports specific skills.  The fact of playing multiple sports reduces fatigue, dropout, and overuse injuries seen way to often at the prepubescent stage.

It’s called FUNdamentals because FUN is a huge part of physical activity.  When a child is not having fun, they have poor attitudes, performance, and behavior issues.  Yes, they will naturally gravitate to an activity or sport they like more, but until they try a variety, they may find something else they like better.  Don’t beat up your kid, physically and mentally, at this age for competition.  They know the score and will typically forget it a few hours or days after the game anyway.  Encourage, smile, and laugh with them to help foster a love for physical activity that can lead them to a healthier, active life when YOU, and they realize being a professional athlete is not in their future.

For more info on physical literacy, check out ShapeAmerica and their guidelines for PE and overall active habits.  For a great long term athletic development and physical literacy program, Movement Academy is a web based program for your school and sports organization.  Contact Matt Peale at for any questions or comments.




Have You Watched a 10 Year Old Touch Their Toes Lately?

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 and check out Learn To Move Academy for your school and sports organization.


Too Specialized too Soon

Spending thousands of dollars on a single sport for a child only to see that child get burned out in 3 years, is that a quality time and financial investment?  Unfortunately a large percentage of parents all around the United States have bought in hook, line, and sinker into this horrendous brainwashing.  The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine has seen the surgical curve for overuse injuries drop from 18-20 year olds, to 12-14 year olds.  Why is this happening?  Because kids are being wrongfully told they have to compete in one sport only from the age of 6-8 and up.

When we are talking about long term athletic development, sports specialization does not occur until after puberty.  Children are still learning fundamental movement skills to achieve basic strength, balance, and stability.  Not to mention their mental capacity to focus on more intense competition is also still being developed.  Youth sports has become a big business and has lost its focus on creating a well rounded, athletic child.  The importance to win now and forfeit learning has become ingrained way to early in a child’s life.

What can parents do to reduce this one sport win now pressure?  Sign your child up for multiple sports while they are young and let them decide what they enjoy.  All of the top professional athletes played a variety of sports growing up.  It was not until they reached junior high or high school they began to specialize more, and even then they starred in multiple sports.  Do not let the pressure of coaches who want to line their pockets be the deciding influence on your 9 year old.  Registering them for exercise classes at your gym/health club is another great way to show them alternative healthy activities for those not interested in specific sports.  Learn To Move Academy is developing a system for individuals to purchase so children learn these fundamental movements at home.  Finally make sure they have fun.  Learning winning and losing is important and not everyone is a champion for the season, but having fun in the process is vital to returning for more seasons.


Matt Peale is an NASM certified personal trainer since 2008 and works with youth both as a trainer and partner in Learn To Move Academy.  Email Matt at with any questions and comments.


Balancing Act for Seniors

Slips, trips, falls.  Broken hips, wrists, and twisted ankles.  Taking a wobbly step and recovering as a 30 or 40 year old something becomes more difficult as a 60 and 70 year old something.  One of the first physical attributes to go as a senior citizen is balance.  Often times we take balance for granted that it will always be there when we need it.  The unfortunate true story is that balance is a use it or lose it skill.

According to the CDC, one-third of adults over 65 fall each year.  Some of the reasons may be medical such as positional vertigo, Labrynthitis, and vestibular neuronitis.  In these cases a doctor can diagnose and treat with medication the symptoms and or causes of the disease.  When no medical condition exists, it is often due to atrophy and lack of use due to sedentary lifestyle.  The good news for non medical issues is that balance can be relearned and to an extent restored.  In teaching senior exercise classes, one common area they all want to work on are movements to regain the balance they lost over time.  Quality of life for otherwise healthy seniors is typically top of the list for why they exercise.  So the question becomes, what can someone do to stabilize and improve their balance.

A simple yet can feel complex move is to stand on one leg and bend at the waist to touch your knee, ankle, or toes.  Sounds easy enough, and you would be very surprised to see how many people regardless of age fall over from this basic task.  Another balance move even more basic is to stand on one leg for 5 to 10 seconds.  Try doing it on each leg not just your dominate side.  Once these movements are mastered, do them with eyes closed.  Not having any visual cues is a game changer and can be more challenging then when you first started eyes open.  There are many pieces of equipment to use like BOSU balls, physio balls, and balance plates, but if standing on one leg is difficult, no use investing in equipment to clutter the house.


How do you know if your balance is really off, try doing an everyday task on one leg.  At first it will be difficult, but if you can master it in a few attempts that is normal and remember to use both legs individually.  If the task still cannot be mastered after multiple attempts, it may be time to invest into a program that can stabilize, strengthen, and improve coordination of your muscles.  According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non fatal injuries for older Americans.  Look into a program like Learn To Move Academy, and don’t be part of these statistics, get up and move around everyday.  Just being active may save your life!


Matt Peale is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 2008 and a partner in New Orleans area based Learn To Move Academy.  You can Like Learn To Move Academy on Facebook and email Matt at


Optimistic or Realistic: My kid is getting a sports scholarship to college

How many times have we heard the bragging parent in the stands about how their child is the cream of the crop and getting a sports scholarship to college? A part of this problem is the conversation is being heard at U10 and U8 level sports!  The unfortunate dreams of a parent being put on their child whom doesn’t share the same dream, but parents do it anyway.  The NCAA says about 2% of all high schools athletes earn a scholarship, how many U10 and U8 players will even play high school athletics?  Let’s not forget interests change as physical development changes.  So yes, let’s continue filling our children with unrealistic expectations instead of being loving and supporting.

As the surgical curve for ACL, MCL, and rotator cuff injuries has changed from college age to middle school age athletes, take a step back and analyze the situation.  We are hell bent on teaching and promoting one sport instead of movements and multiple sports for the reality of maybe one player on a youth sports team getting a scholarship. As the commercial says by the NCAA, “most of us are going pro in something else,” most of high school athletes aren’t playing another game after their senior year is over.

Learn To Move Academy offers professional development seminars on long term athletic development  and a comprehensive web based program for grades K-9. Learn more about how to prevent injuries and improve cognitive behavior by implementing LTMA at your school and sports organization today.  Contact for info.