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.