Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Coaching is Teaching"

    On Thursday evening, I was able to attend the guest speaker presentation given by Paul Alexander. Paul Alexander is a Physical Education Cortland Alum, who has become a very successful coach. It was neat get the chance to hear an alumni who not too long ago long ago was sitting in the same classes as I am now, and has worked his way up to a very respectable coaching position in the NFL. Alexander has been offensive line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals for the past 14 seasons, and in the past three years he made franchise history for fewest sacks allowed by an offensive line.
The presentation given was based around, “Coaching is Teaching”. Throughout the presentation he touched upon a variety of things such as teaching, coaching, attitudes, philosophies, biomechanics, and composure. One of the things I agreed with was the importance of coaching and biomechanics. In order to be an affective coach, you must be knowledgeable in the way the body moves. He proved this with a simple demonstration. He asked two people to come up to the front, one of them standing there with arms straight out and palms facing down. He asked the other person to push down on the first persons arm while that first person tried to resist his movements and try and keep his hands up. He struggled to keep his arms up and the second person was able to push his arms down with a lot of ease. Then he asked them to perform the same task, but instead have thumb facing up. The person was able to keep his arms up a lot better than the previous try. This is simple due to biomechanics, if the thumb is face up then more muscles are activated to support the arm such as the shoulder and back muscles instead of just the arm muscles. Understanding little things like this will help you become a better coach because you will be able to help correct little things your athletes due and make them stronger and more efficient. Another important part of his speech was one of the last things he touched on and it was about composure. One example he used was Lindsey Jacobellis’s performance in the 2006 Winter Olympics. She was in a snowboard race, and she had a clear cut lead, and it was almost a sure cut lead that would guarantee her a gold medal. However on the second to last jump, it looks like she looked back as she was doing a show boat trick, causing her to wipe out. Instead of getting the gold, she got a silver medal, which she is lucky to get, because she could have walked away with nothing after a stunt like that. It is important to keep your composure at all times because you never know what will happen in sports. There are never any guaranteed or easy victories. You must always go out and give it your best effort and always be working to improve your game.
   I really enjoyed this presentation and I hope to bring some of his philosophies to my own coaching techniques someday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

First Day at St. Mary's

            On Monday afternoon, we were off to our first lab at St. Mary’s.  My group was assigned to the pre-K and worked with kids ranging from 2-5 years old.  When we first got to the school we split up our group and went into one of the two pre-K classrooms.  While in the classrooms with the kids, we basically had time to interact with them and introduce ourselves to them as well as get to know them. We were encouraged to get the kids to talk. At this age it is really important to get kids to start expanding on their vocabulary.  I was trying really hard to ask them questions where they couldn’t use yes or no answers.  I was pretty amazed at what they knew.  When talking to one group about colors, I found out they knew their colors in Spanish, and they taught me a little song they had learned that works with the colors in both English and Spanish.  Also while in the classroom we colored, played with legos and various other toys, had snack time and read stories to the kids.  The last half hour it was finally time to bring them into the gymnasium. At fist the kids ran wild, they had so much energy from being in the classroom all day.  We didn’t have any set games for the kids, but my group kind of split up and tried creating some different games and the kid’s choice what they wanted to do.  One game we set up with hula-hoops on the floor and played a sort of hopscotch game. We tried incorporating colors and also motor skills by calling out commands such as, “hop on one foot in a green hoop”.  Another game that we tried all the instructors in our group were holding a hula-hoop and one or two kids would be inside the hoop holding on. The kids would walk and we would steer them around by turning the hoop and they would follow our steering. This was a quick fun activity that the kids really seemed to enjoy.  One thing I noticed was that not all the kids wanted to be involved in the group activity.  One boy kept sitting out, and I would keep going over and asking him why, he would say he wanted to play a different game and then I would try and create something that he could like. The time in the gymnasium flew by and before we knew it, it was already 5 o’clock, the day ended with one group activity and then a group cheer.

            Overall I had a great first experience at St. Mary’s and I am really looking forward to the upcoming labs.  I am really excited to work with the different age levels and try and incorporate more activities into their after school program.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

SPARK Workshop

On Thursday morning during class and on Saturday morning I was able to attend parts of the SPARK workshop. SPARK stands for Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids. During these workshops I learned a ton about ways to become a better physical educator and how to make physical fitness in schools fun. Some main objectives of the SPARK program were to help teachers use effective organization, proper class management techniques, effective instructional methods, alternative teaching styles, and strategies to responding to “real world” challenges that arise in schools today.  If physical educators tackle these objectives and master them the benefits to school physical education will sky rocket.  The truth is that today many physical education classes are on the chopping blocks due to budget cuts and what not.  Studies show that in most physical education classes, students are only moving around and participating in about 30% of the class time. This needs to change, and SPARK shows many ways of doing this.  In this workshop we learned the benefits of splitting up the class into small groups, and also cutting down instruction time.  Most of the time Physical Education teachers may dwell on explanations when they often don’t have to, which can lead to students sitting around and becoming bored.  In the workshop we worked on giving brief explanation followed by a quick visual, which will keep students on the same page and active throughout the class.

One important thing I got out of the workshop was disguising physical fitness exercises.  Such as the usual warm-ups of physical education classes usually consist of taking a few laps and doing push-ups and sit-ups, which after a while gets repetitive and boring.  Why not add a short dance routine in for a warm-up that will serve the same purpose as running laps but it can be put to music, along with working on students rhythm, balance, coordination, along with cardiovascular endurance. Instead of doing push-ups for upper-body strength, we did some different fun activities. We split up into partners, while facing are partners about a yard a part we got into a push up position with a bean bag on the floor in between us. We alternated clapping hands while music was playing, as the music stopped both partners tried to grab the beanbag. Another variation was to be in push-up position about 5-8 feet away from each other and use the bean bag like a hockey puck and try and score it between your partners arms. These activities were a lot more exciting then push-ups and kids will be getting the benefits of push-ups while having fun.

Overall I had a great experience at the workshop and I hope to one day incorporate some of the games into my own physical education classes. 

-Here is a video I found that help explains the objectives of SPARK