Category Archives for Park and Recreation

Making Free Throws Count

Think about how many games are won or lost on the free throw line. It happens at all levels – Elementary, Jr. High, High School, College and the Pros. Developing a consistent, reliable foul shot can change your success and your team’s success. With all the physical contact that happens during a game, it’s wonderful to take a shot with no one guarding you. You work hard to get to the free throw line, now just put it in!
Things to remember:
• Take deep breaths; relax your muscles. Take a moment to catch your breath. You rarely go to the line rested.
• Repetition is important. Create a habit every time you step up to the free throw line. For example, dribble twice before you take the shot. Do the same routine every time. It will be comforting.
• Use a consistent shooting technique; each shot must be the same motion. Stay balanced. Keep your elbow in. Fix your eyes on the target and follow through.
• Line up properly. Most indoor courts have a nail placed in the middle of the foul line. Line up your right foot with the nail if you’re right-handed, left foot if you’re left-handed.
• Think positively; you must believe in yourself and have the confidence that you will make the shot. Repetition equals confidence; confidence equals success. Practice, practice, practice.
1. Shoot at least 100 free throws a day.
2. Step up to the foul line and shoot two at a time. Step back off and the line for a split second. Then, shoot two more free throws.
3. Break up your shooting so you don’t get into a groove. Make 10 jump shots around the basket and then step up to the line and shoot 10 free throws. Repeat.
4. My Dad always told me to challenge myself when shooting free throws. If the ball swishes without touching the rim, it counts. If it touches the rim a little, but still goes in, it does not count. You don’t have to do this at first, but work toward this.
5. Keep a record of the shots you make each day.
Free throws are a very important part of the game. Practice shooting free throws so that you have the confidence to step up to that line during a crucial part of the game and put them in.

Family Fitness Fun!

Skillastics® is the perfect large group physical activity resource to incorporate into your Family Fitness Event. Here is a Family Fitness Guide that will provide you step by step instructions on how to host a successful Family Fitness Event!

CLICK HERE for Family Fitness Guide

Confidence or Arrogance?

There is a distinct difference between confidence and arrogance out on the basketball court.  Confidence is defined as an athlete who is sure of his/her abilities and gets the job done.  She or he knows that basketball is a team game and praises his/her teammates – giving credit where credit is due.  Arrogance is defined as an athlete who is sure of his/her abilities, however taking it one step further.  He or she knows they’re good and makes sure everyone around them knows it too. They are never at fault if the ball is turned over, or the ref makes a call — it’s always someone else’s fault.

I found a poem, by Tom Krause that talks about arrogance and coming to the realization that no matter how good we are, we always have room for improvement.

Just Me
by Tom Krause

From the time I was little, I knew I was great
’cause the people would tell me, “You’ll make it – just wait.”
But they never did tell me how great I would be
If I ever played someone who was greater than me.

When I’m in the back yard, I’m king with the ball
To swish all those baskets is no sweat at all.
But all of a sudden there’s a defender in my face
Who doesn’t seem to realize that I’m king of this place.

So the pressure gets to me; I rush with the ball.
My passes to teammates could go through the wall.
My jumper’s not falling, my dribbles not sure.
My hand is not steady; my eye is not pure.

The fault is my teammates – they don’t understand.
The fault is my coaches – what a terrible plan.
The fault is the call by the blind referee.
But the fault is not mine; I’m the greatest, you see.

Then finally it hit me when I started to see
That the face in the mirror looked exactly like me.
It wasn’t my teammates who were dropping the ball,
and it wasn’t my coach shooting bricks at the wall.

That face in the mirror that was always so great
Had some room for improvement instead of just hate.
So I stopped blaming others and I started to grow.
My play got much better and it started to show.

And all of my teammates didn’t seem quite so bad.
I learned to depend on the good friends I had.
Now I like myself better since I started to see
That I was lousy being great – I’m much better being me.

Playground Benefits

Playground Benefits

Playgrounds provide more to our young children than just a place to run and play.  The benefits of playgrounds for children ages 2-5 target emotional, social, physical, and cognitive develop.  That’s right!  Playing on a playground increases brain development.  It was once said by Mr. Rogers that, “Play is real learning.”

Below are some highlights of the benefits of playground structures:

  1. Climbing– when children climb, they are pursuing their innate nature to explore, see, and experience adventure. They are born to do this!  Climbing benefits memory, problem solving and imagery for children.  Other benefits to climbing are gross motor strength of the arms, legs and core (stomach area).  When the body uses its arms and legs in opposition and then crosses over the middle of the body, the entire brain is used increasing brain development. Within safe reason, allow those children to climb away!
  2. Monkey Bars and other Overhead Equipment– Children love to be able to hang and climb with the arms but most children, especially girls ages 0-5 are very weak in the upper body. Climbing with the hands increases core strength, grip strength, hand-eye coordination and sideways weight shifts.  Some children may need assistance at the early stages to not fall.  Be sure the “drop zone” is not too far as broken arms and collar bones are typical when the wood chips are spread too thin and/or the apparatus is too high.
  3. Swings and slides– who doesn’t love time on the swings or a trip down the slide? Children seek out swinging type rides for various reasons. For a child who needs to be motivated, the swings and slides add adventure.  For the over-stimulated child, the swings and slides meet the needs of the excited child providing that exciting feeling of “flying through the air.”  Benefits of swinging type apparatus include gross motor benefits of swinging, swaying, turning, twisting, chest, arm, core, and grip strength.  Swinging and sliding also stimulates the vestibular system that our bodies use to balance ourselves when we move through space. Be sure to caution children not to jump off swings as this provides a danger to both the swinger as well as the passer-by.  In regard to slides, remember to use them safely; slides are for going down and ladders are for going up.  Always slide DOWN the slide feet first.

Don’t live near a playground?  Have no concerns.  Keep those kids active in the yard, at a nearby park or by limited screen time when at home.  There is plenty one can do inside the home provided there is a safe space.  Remember that the suggested minimum guideline is 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  Healthy, active kids make better learners!

Fuel Up to Play 60 Testimonial

Click HERE to learn how Fuel Up to Play 60 has positively changed the culture in this New York school.

Tennis Skillastics®: Fun and Skills All in One!

(Common Core, Physical Literacy and Standards Based Physical Fitness)

My favorite Skillastics® kit is Tennis Skillastics®. It is no surprise that I have a true passion for Tennis. I am a 28-year veteran High School Tennis Coach and played Tennis myself since I was 8. We as teachers may give our students the opportunity to learn and play tennis. Like anything else, the more skilled students become the more they will enjoy the sport. It is an activity, which may be played throughout their lives. It may be played at any level, gender or age. Teaching Tennis in school has never been a question for me, with or without a court. I have seen the bonds made between families and friends, which has such an amazing impact on their lives. Tennis stimulates the mind, body and emotions. It involves cooperative engagement as well as skill development. Tennis decreases the risk of chronic illness, increases social skills, improves mental focus, and discipline. Participating in tennis activities is an excellent way to relieve stress.

Skillastics® works on skills while increasing MVPA in a game situation. It works well for a warm-up/fitness lesson in a Sport Education Season or as a full lesson.
My favorite way to use Tennis Skillastics® is to divide students into teams as in a Sport Education Unit. Students must first learn the terminology, skill and fitness task for the game. This may be done within their teams covering a few skills/terms each day. When using the Sport Education model teams will be awarded points for fair play, fitness, warm-up, completion and order of finish. This is a great activity due to the fact that students are responsible for their own learning and what a great way to include the standards. Using stations may add a common core component and make students responsible for their own learning. Students work together to improve skills and knowledge needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Secondary Stations for Tennis Skillastics®

1. Teams begin with their home base station grid.
2. Read the task card and perform the skill together. This could be considered a common core/physical literacy activity. Students are responsible for their own learning.
3. Perform each station for a time limit. (Example: 3 miinutes each station) When the music stops (using Tabata Pro) move to the next station.
4. Continue until all stations have been completed.

After completing the stations, students will remain with their teams for a fun Skillastics® game. Teams send a player to the mat to roll the die and get the number of the activity to be performed. Students are given the level to participate for the game activity. The game may be played for a time limit or when one team gets around the mat once or twice.

If you would like more information on ways to incorporate Tennis Skillastics® into your curriculum feel free to contact me at or view my website at

Bottom line. “Love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

A Winning Defense

Defense wins games. Great teams play great defense — great overall players play great defense. If you play tough defense, it’s just another way to stand out on your team. Many times you will see a team with less talent win games because its defense causes turnovers, plays smart, forces you into taking poor percentage shots, and boxes out and rebounds well. Defense takes mental toughness, desire and spirit. It’s you against your opponent. The challenge is there. Make your opponents work for every possession and every point.
Body Positioning*
The better defensive position you are in, the better the results. Keep your center of gravity low. The lower you are to the ground, the quicker you will be. Even if your opponent fakes or changes direction, you can recover. You must condition yourself to stay low and balanced. Flex your knees as if you are sitting on a chair with your head over your knees for balance. Do not bend your back to achieve this position.
Points To Remember
1. Position yourself where you can see your opponent and the ball.
2. Overplay the baseline at all times to protect it.
3. Turn your opponent into the middle where you have help.
4. Position yourself so your body forces your opponent to go where you want her to go.
5. Turn slightly sideways to your opponent.
6. Never get your head and shoulders in front of your waist.
7. Your weight is on your rear foot because you must be ready to go back at all times.
8. Try to create mistakes rather than steal the ball.

Remember Your Feet!

When I work with athletes, the one thing I work on more than anything else is footwork.  A move is so much more effective if the footwork is correct.  Once I point that out to an individual, it’s as if a light bulb goes on.  The whole move falls into place.  So much emphasis is made on the proper placement of the hands in a jumpshot or in a defensive stance.  The truth is, it all starts at the feet.


Recently, I worked with a young athlete who had a great jumpshot, but tended to spread her feet too far apart on the jump. She had no idea that she was doing that. Once I pointed that out to her, she felt she had more distance and accuracy in her shot. If you are struggling with a problem with your jumpshot, try thinking about your feet and your feet placement.

Inspire your mind while you work with your feet: get Off The Rim: Thoughts and Observations of the Game, by Sandy Slade.  A GREAT Stocking Stuffer!


Thank You! I know people never get tired of hearing those two words (and most of us probably don’t say them often enough)! I think by now most everyone is back at school doing what you love, teaching students the joy of movement, the benefits of being physically active, the importance of eating healthy foods, and most of all, making each of them feel important and valued. Mark Twain said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I know many of your students will remember not only what you taught them, but how you made them feel.
I had the opportunity recently to help provide a “Let’s Move! Active Schools” in-service in several local schools. It was the week before school started and even though I know there were probably a few “grumpy people” in the audience (they hid it well if they were there!), the atmosphere in those schools was positive and enthusiastic. Unfortunately like in many districts, these teachers once again didn’t receive a raise, they are feeling the pressure of raising test scores and many other negative issues could have influenced their attitudes. But as I was reflecting on how positive each experience was in those schools it confirmed for me that those teachers were there for the right reason……their students! And because of that, I know they will have a great year. So to all of the teachers out there, thank you for all you do each and every day! You are appreciated!!! Have a great year and continue to be proud of what you do and our profession.

Perfect Your Move

Every basketball player has a dribble move he or she loves. It could be the crossover, the spin dribble, jab and go, between the legs, etc.. My favorite move is the crossover dribble from the right hand to the left, but instead of crossing in front of my body, I crossover between my legs and then drive to the basket, dribbling with my left hand to the basket. I love that move and seem to fake the defense out most of the time. Why do I like this move so much? Three reasons: 1) Initially it was easy for me to do, 2) I was successful at it and 3) Because I was successful at the move and enjoyed doing it, I practiced it more, so that I became even better at it. We all have our own individual strengths. It makes sense to capitalize on that strength, practicing it over and over again so that you become faster and stronger at your own move. This drill is designed to take your move and PERFECT IT

Start at the top of the key. Begin in the triple threat stance (the triple threat stance is defined as holding the basketball with both hands in a position which gives you the quickest opportunity to shoot, pass or dribble). Start dribbling, but protect the basketball like someone is defending you. The last move you make will be “your move”. Explode into “your move” and then shoot a jump shot. Repeat 15 times.

This drill is all about intensity and increasing confidence. Perfecting a move you’re already good at only brings you closer to reaching your full potential.

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