Category Archives for Tips

Strategies for Recess

Arizona is the latest state to pass a robust school recess mandate, calling for an equitable two-recess/day minimum standard for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. According to recess advocates, this marks a reversal of unhealthy practices that developed around high stakes testing and No Child Left Behind, in favor of a return to educating the whole child.
SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage other states to do the same. To get started, they advise using step-by-step guidance and evidence-based strategies to support school recess for all K-12 students and enhance active school environments. The two guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, can be downloaded free of charge at:
The guidance documents provide a blueprint for schools to use in implementing successful recess programs for their students. They are designed for state and school district leaders who provide technical assistance and professional development on recess, as well as classroom teachers, recess and playground supervisors, support staff, school administrators, parent-teacher organizations, school health coordinators, advisory councils, parents and anyone interested in supporting recess in schools.
Strategies for Recess in Schools defines recess and identifies 19 evidence-based strategies schools can implement that increase student physical activity and academic achievement. Although most of the evidence and expert opinion for these strategies came from elementary schools, many of the strategies are also applicable to secondary schools. The intent is for school staff or groups working with schools to identify what is currently happening or not happening with recess in their school, and then use this information to develop a recess plan that serves all students.
Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice complements the strategies document by guiding schools through the process of developing a written recess plan that incorporates the identified strategies. In addition, CDC and SHAPE America developed a customizable Recess Planning Template, which enables schools to record details of how they will organize and implement recess at school.
By diving into each of the five broad categories included in the Strategies for Recess in Schools document, school staff or committees will be able to answer specific questions which will help them examine and enhance an existing recess program, or develop a new recess plan for a school.
Download the two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, free of charge at:

5 Simple Solutions on Finding Funding for Skillastics®

So, you’re loving Skillastics® but only have $200 in your annual budget to spend on Physical Education resources? Don’t give up easily! There are many ways to get the funding, and we’re here to help.
Below are some ideas on how you can find the funds to get the Skillastics® Activity Kit System into your program.

1) Go to and explain on the site what you want and why you want it. (if you need any additional information or videos, we would be happy to provide it to you). 85% of submissions are funded!!! Please email us at for more information.

2) Visit your local Walmart or Lowe’s. Tell them that you are a teacher and you were wondering if they have any grants available for schools. Share the reasons why you are seeking funding and why. It’s usually a very simple application, and if a grant is available there is a good chance you will get funded.

3) Local Kiwanis or other service organizations in your area. Put on a short presentation about your program, sharing your goals and objectives for your students. There is a very high percentage that you will get funded. We would be happy to provide you with information and/or videos to help streamline this process for you. Email us at for more information.

4) PTA or PTO at your school. If you would like help with your PowerPoint presentation, please contact us at

5) Explore other funding sources in your District or School. For example, if you are interested in purchasing STEM Skillastics®, reach out to your STEM Coordinator or Principal and explain to them that you are interested in incorporating STEM Learning into your PE program. I promise you they will be thrilled to hear this and will provide you with the funding if you have it.

With a little effort, you will have the Skillastics® Activity Kit System included in your program! Numerous Physical Education Specialists have shared with us that they wish they would have discovered all the local grant opportunities earlier in their career.

Introducing SHAPE America’s Back to School Website

Introducing SHAPE America’s Back to School Website
Putting all children on the path to health and physical literacy through effective health and physical education programs is the center piece of a bold new Back to School website by SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators. The website, which focuses on 50 Million Strong by 2029, will help health and physical education teachers to understand the recently established goals and measurements for the 50 Million Strong initiative, as well as resources and inspiration to help start the new school year, including:
• Teacher-friendly resources in the all-new Download Library;
• Activity ideas, tools and templates in the always-popular Teacher’s Toolbox;
• Affordable, standards-based professional development from the new SHAPE America Online Institute;
• Focused Steps to Success for 50 Million Strong;
• An inspirational video from high school student Cody Retuta, chronicling his journey to health and physical literacy.
“SHAPE America believes that health and physical literacy can be a life-changer for all children,” says SHAPE America President Fran Cleland of West Chester University. “It’s a simple but powerful belief that drives everything we do. We know teachers can have a significant impact on their students’ lives, and we’re proud to offer the resources they need to succeed.”
To learn more, go to


Looking for Backyard Advocates

When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015, this was the first time that health and physical education were included in federal education legislation with other academic subjects.

Funding under ESSA will still be distributed to states this month. But in May, Congress made a drastic change in how much money states and school districts will have to work with when they passed the FY 2017 appropriations legislation. They only allocated $400 million for Title IV, Part A, which is less than 25% of the authorized level of $1.65 billion that was proposed in ESSA. Due to this low level of funding, states are now able to run a competition across school districts for the funds rather than distribute the money by formula to all eligible school districts.

Just because health and physical education are now eligible for federal education funding, it does not mean that states and school districts must spend their dollars on these subjects. States and school districts must hear from you as to why they should use some of their funds to support professional development and programmatic costs for health and physical education. Keep in mind that any programs supported by ESSA funds must show an impact on student achievement, so make sure you make that connection in your messaging.

Here’s what SHAPE America needs everyone to do prior to the next school year:

At the federal level, contact your members of Congress to ask them to fully fund Title IV, Part A for FY 18. The low level of funding appropriated for FY 2017 of only $400 million is just not enough money to support all of the program areas under Title IV, Part A. In addition, the President is proposing complete elimination of this funding for FY 18. We need to ensure our voices are heard!

While Congress is on recess this summer, use SHAPE America’s Backyard Advocacy Toolkit to learn everything you need to know about holding a successful meeting at your representatives’ state and district offices  This toolkit provides a step-by-step guide that covers the entire process, from assembling a team of colleagues to following up after your visit. It also provides specific suggestions about connecting personal stories to your message and all the materials you’ll need to bring to your meeting.

To help pull it all together, watch SHAPE America’s on-demand Backyard Advocacy webinar.

Make sure you stay engaged with your state and school district leaders as ESSA is implemented over the next year. Use our State Advocacy Toolkits to access information and resources. If lawmakers and decision-makers at all levels don’t hear from us loud and clear, it is not guaranteed that health and physical education will be a priority or receive funding support!

When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

Ever hear a teammate say during a basketball drill, “That’s good enough, we’ve done what the coach has asked us to do.” Or a classmate say, “That’s good enough, our teacher won’t look that closely at our project.” Maybe you’ve told yourself, “That’s good enough, Mom and Dad won’t notice that I didn’t clean under my bed.

If any of these examples hit home, you are not alone. We’ve all at some point in our lives, cut short a drill, asked a friend what the book was about instead of reading it ourselves or quickly “cleaned” our room so we could do something more exciting. When we do this it hurts no one but ourselves.

If you want to become the basketball player you know you are capable of becoming, good enough just isn’t good enough. What I mean is that if you cut corners and don’t demand 110% of yourself, the outcome will be less then your best.

I read the following poem in a newspaper and I truly believe in its message. I hope it helps you banish this dangerous phrase from your vocabulary

Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

My child, beware of “good enough.”
It isn’t made of sterling stuff;
It’s something anyone can do;
It marks the many from the few.
The flaw which may escape the eye
And temporarily get by
Shall weaken underneath the strain
And wreck the ship, the car or plane.
With “good enough,” the car breaks down,
And one falls short of high renown.
My child, remember and be wise,
In “good enough,” the shirkers stop
In every factory and shop;
With “good enough,” the failures rest
And lose the one who gives the best.
Who stops at “good enough,” shall find
Success has left them far behind.
For this is true of you and your stuff —
Only the best is “good enough.”

If it is to be, it is up to me (The author of this poem was not cited, so if you know who composed it, please email me so I can give the proper credit.)


Starting the New Year off Right!

Happy New Year! It’s time for new beginnings. Everyone feels happy at the beginning of a new year. Our minds are full of positive thoughts for a wonderful and prosperous New Year.  Now is the perfect time to encourage your young athletes to set individual goals.

Ask them to take the time and answer these questions.

  1. What do you want to accomplish this year?
  2. Do you want to make the varsity?
  3. How many points do you want to average?
  4. How about steals or rebounds?
  5. How about setting a goal to jog at least three times a week?
  6. How about lifting weights?

There are endless possibilities for setting realistic goals. Have them write them down and display it in their room where they can see it often. It’s important that they keep that positive energy throughout the whole year and have a template to refer to when challenges appear.

Let’s all have a fantastic 2017!!!


How Do I “Get Em’ Back”!?!

Many schools are using brain breaks as a tool to increase physical activity during the school day.  Skillastics® activities are great to use for these activity breaks and can be used in a variety of ways (i.e have designated brain break leaders and they lead the class in their favorite Skillastics® task, give teachers a set of Sillastics task cards and they can select one for students to do during a transition period, etc.).  But, probably the most common pull back from teachers is their fear that the students will be out of control and it will take too long to get them back on task.  So, as you are helping classroom teachers with ideas for activity/brain breaks, provide them with some tips for “getting them back”!

Establish a Routine/Expectations like other classroom procedures:

  • Acceptable noise level
  • Safety
  • Understanding the difference in being in the classroom and the gym

Attention Getters:

  • Use a digital timer on the smart board and expect students to be back in their seat at the end of the time
  • Play music, when it stops, students go back to their seats
  • Use a hand signal (hand in air) to let students know it’s time to return to their seat
  • As part of the directions, include “when you are finished, go back to your seat”

Use a variety of noise makers as a stop signal:

  • Train Whistle
  • Duck Whistle
  • Clicker

Call and respond:

  • Say “active kids”, students respond with “do better”
  • Say your school mascot name, students respond with the word “ready”
  • Variety of hand clap patterns, student repeat
  • “Clap two times if you can hear me”

As you model brain breaks for classroom teachers, include some of these strategies for managing movement in the classroom.  Teaching an acceptable routine for having students up and moving is really the key to being successful.  If it is taught like other class procedures then boosting your brain power will be enjoyable for teachers and students alike!



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.”

The Only Discipline that Lasts is Self-Discipline

You’re in the biggest game of your life! Your team is down by one point with 2 seconds left in the game. You made an excellent attempt to win the game, but was fouled in the act of shooting. You missed the shot, but now have the opportunity to win the game if you make these two free throws. Will you be the athlete who walks up to that line confident in knowing that you will make those free throws because you’ve spent hours practicing to prepare for this? Or will you be the athlete who is scared to death — wishing you could go back and practice your free throws instead of skipping that part of your workout because you wanted to meet some friends?
Your coach can make you work hard in practice. Your family can work with you, even your teammates can play with you. But if you don’t workout on your own, you will never reach your potential. It’s all about self-discipline. Every one of us gets 24 hours in a day. It’s the only thing we all have in common. What we do with that 24 hours determines our destiny. Self-discipline is the key to being successful.

Stay Focused

A couple of months ago I got a e-mail from a young athlete requesting information on how to stay consistent in a game. He said he’s slow to start at the beginning of the game and then starts playing better as the game goes on. Sometimes he felt this delay in his ability on the court hindered his team’s chance of winning.

Preparing yourself physically for a game is only half of the preparation. You also have to prepare yourself mentally. As soon as the ball is tossed up at half court to begin the game, you must be all there physically AND mentally. This is not an easy task. In fact, I truly believe it’s the hardest part of being an athlete — preparing yourself mentally.

Before I use to perform, I prepare myself mentally and physically. I warm-up, stretch and then visualize myself succeeding. I focus completely on the task at hand. What I need to do and what I have to do to get there. There is one meditation exercise that I do a lot that helps me, especially when I’ve got a lot of other things on my mind. This meditation exercise helps me think about the exact moment I’m in. Not the past, not the future.

Sit in a comfortable position where you will not be disturbed. Take a note of the time on your watch. Close your eyes and focus on one thing (for instance, your breathing). Pay attention to your breaths in and out. Do this for as long as you maintain only this focus. Open your eyes when your focus moves and note the time on your watch. How much time passed since you began this exercise? One minute? Twenty seconds? Perhaps you were able to maintain a focus on your breathing for five minutes?

Try this type of exercise before your game starts. Focusing on the task at hand will help you maintain consistency in your game. This is not easy. You’ll need to practice this over and over again. But the athlete who works on the mental part of the game, as well as the physical part, will become that athlete that all coaches would like on their team.

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