By Justin Loudon CSCS, *D, RSCC
Once upon a time, in a far, far away place, it may have been easy for a teacher or coach to tell their student-athletes to lift, run, and compete, and for every student to do it without question to their full potential. However, in reality, creating an environment that fosters physical activity and fitness is not always easy, especially with the growing prevalence of sedentary lifestyles and the distractions of technology. The modern-day challenges of keeping children active and healthy cannot be underestimated. It requires a concerted effort to design a curriculum that inspires and motivates students to lead physically active lifestyles.
As a teacher or coach working with children, your main goal should be to help them become physically literate individuals who enjoy being active and recognize the value of regular exercise.
Physical Education is an essential part of any school curriculum, as it provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy and active lives. It teaches them about the benefits of being physically active, which include improved physical and mental health, increased academic performance, and enhanced social and emotional well-being. By participating in a variety of activities, such as playing games, practicing skills, and working as a team, students can develop physical literacy, which is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide range of physical activities.
“your main goal should be to help them become physically literate individuals who enjoy being active and recognize the value of regular exercise” – Justin Loudon
Strength and Conditioning classes can be an extremely rewarding experience for students, as they gain strength, endurance, and agility through regular exercise. However, the repetitive nature of daily training can become stagnant, leading to a lack of motivation and engagement. Coaches must therefore be creative and innovative in their approach to keep the students interested and motivated.
Incorporating game play into their Strength and Conditioning classes can make them more dynamic, challenging, and enjoyable. Games can help to build camaraderie among participants, increase the intensity of workouts, and provide variety to the class. By incorporating games into their workouts, participants are more likely to stick to their exercise routine and achieve their fitness goals.
Games can work on various health and skill-related components of physical fitness, such as cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, body composition, agility, balance, coordination, power, speed, and reaction time. Playing invasion games with a tag component can help to improve agility, body coordination, reaction time, and balance. Games that involve getting from point A to point B in a certain time limit can work on speed, force production, acceleration and deceleration, and cardiovascular endurance. By tailoring games to specific fitness goals, coaches can ensure that their students are getting a well-rounded workout that addresses all aspects of physical fitness.
Bring it to Life!
Playing developmental games can also be a great way for coaches to have fun and enjoy the process alongside their student-athletes. It is said that if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. By creating a fun and engaging environment that fosters physical activity and fitness, coaches can inspire their students to adopt a lifelong habit of staying active and healthy. In addition, coaches can model positive behavior and attitudes towards fitness, which can have a lasting impact on their students’ lives.
Below are some examples of games I like to play that help bring enjoyment back to learning and training while still working on improving oneself.
- Toilet tag– is a game where one player is “it” and their job is to tag their peers. When a player is tagged, they sit in a squat position with their thumb above their head. The goal is for another player to come around and push down their thumb, mimicking flushing a toilet. The tagged player must then spin in a circle and act as if the toilet was flushed before they can play again.
- Line Tag-is a game that uses the lines on a basketball court or gym floor. One or two players are designated as “it” and their goal is to tag their peers. However, players are not allowed to leave the lines on the court or jump between them. The game requires players to stay on their respective lines and avoid being tagged while trying to tag others.
- Powerball– is a game involving two teams with their own sidelines and dodgeballs. In the middle, there are yoga balls lined up. The objective is to throw the dodgeball at the yoga ball and get it to cross the opponents’ side line. The team with the most yoga balls across the opponents’ side line after 2-3 minutes wins.
- Tic/Tac/Toe– is a relay race game that involves two teams of 3-5 people and a tic/tac/toe board set up at one end space. The game starts with one person from each team running down to the board with a bean bag and placing it in one of the boxes, then returning to their team. The team that completes a tic/tac/toe sequence first wins the game.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors-is a game involving two students standing 3-5 yards away from each other. On the command “go,” the students play a round of traditional rock-paper-scissors. The winner of the round then has to run and tag the person who lost the round.
- The PVC Agility game– involves students holding their own PVC pipe in a circle. The teacher calls out “left” or “right” and students must quickly release their pipe and move in that direction to grab the next person’s pipe before it falls. If they fail to grab a pipe, they are out.
- Two Ball– is a game played by a group of 5-10 students in a circle. One player starts by throwing two balls underhand with one hand. The receiving player can use both hands to catch the balls. If the receiving player fails to catch both balls, they receive a strike. After three strikes, the player is out.
Acceleration and Deceleration:
- Red light/ Green light– To play the game, one player is designated as the “stoplight” and stands at one end of the playing area with their back facing the other players. The other players line up at the other end of the playing area, facing the stoplight. The game begins when the stoplight says “green light” and the players start to move towards the stoplight. The objective is to reach the stoplight as quickly as possible. However, at any point, the stoplight can say “red light” and turn around to face the other players. The players must then stop moving immediately. If any player is caught moving after the stoplight says “red light”, they are out of the game. The game continues in this way with the stoplight saying “green light” to allow the players to move and “red light” to make them stop. The first player to reach the stoplight becomes the new stoplight, and the game continues with them giving the commands.
Creating a fun and engaging environment that fosters physical activity and fitness is crucial in helping children become physically literate individuals. By incorporating game play into Strength and Conditioning classes, coaches can increase motivation, engagement, and enjoyment for participants, while working on various health and skill-related components of physical fitness. With the right approach, training can be something that participants look forward to, rather than dread. So, let’s get out there, have fun, and play some games! Remember, physical activity is not only important for our physical health, but also for our mental, emotional, and social well-being.
- “Baseball Warm up Drill | 2 Ball is FUN.” Youtube, Uploaded by ZONEDSportsAcademy, 29 August 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2xjyfU_7HQ
- “CrossFit Warm Up Games (“PVC Game”) – CrossFit Krypton.” Youtube, Uploaded by Adam Klink, 12 August 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBMSH-k_7As&t=137s
- “Mr Potochney Rock Paper Scissor Tag.” Youtube, Uploaded by Samantha Lam, 1 May 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsToD32wYjc
- “P.E. Games – Line Tag.” Youtube, uploaded by PhysEdGames, 14 May 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVn84xsTDTM
- “PE Games – Toilet Tag.” Youtube, uploaded by Ballerz Ltd, 5 September, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KmwjRKObe8
- “Physical Education Games – Powerball.” Youtube, Uploaded by PhysEdGames, 14 May 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t75NB1b-ho&t=47s
- “Physical Education Games – Red-Light Green-Light.” Youtube, Uploaded by PhysEdGames, 14 May 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPHi7WBtZXE
- “TIC TAC TOE – Best Game Ever.” Youtube, uploaded by InnovativeTraining 4all, 3 March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRDp5HcZyVA&t=10s
Justin is in his first year as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Ezell-Harding Christian School in Antioch, Tennessee. Prior to joining Ezell-Harding, Justin was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Vista Ridge High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During his time there, he received the 2021 NHSSCA Colorado Strength Coach of the Year award, and his program was named the recipient of the 2022 Program of Excellence Award and the 2022 Strength of America Award. He has also received the 2018 Aliorum De Award from the Special Education Advisory Committee, which recognizes the dedication and commitment of individuals who have touched the life of a student with a disability. Justin earned his B.S. in Health and Physical Education from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. He is married to his wife, Kimberly, and they have a three-year-old son named Asher.
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