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Outside the Box Fitness Station Ideas

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Michael Beringer

When you think of fitness stations, you likely think of stations involving a piece of fitness equipment, like dumbbells, jump ropes, resistance bands, or medicine balls. Sometimes you need to switch it up to keep fitness and fitness stations fresh!

Below are four creative fitness stations that I have used. These unique and easy-to-use stations have really motivated my students to be more physically active and get their sweat on. To get started, simply divide your gymnasium or physical education space into 4 quadrants.

Fidget spinner PE spin boardsStation 1: Fidget Spinner PE Spin Boards

As we all know, fidget spinners are popular right now. Why not jump on-board and be the “cool teacher” that actually lets students use them in class? I’m a firm believer in building relationships with students and this will help you do just that.

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While searching twitter, I came across these cool pre-made Fidget Spinner PE Spin Boards. All you need are a bunch of Fidget Spinners (I bought mine at the Dollar Store) and these awesome Fidget Spinner PE Spin Boards, created by Pete Charrette AKA @CapnPetesPE on twitter.

Station 2: Fitness Puzzles

Fitness puzzles

My next station combines teamwork, cooperation, fitness, and literacy all into one station. All you need to do with these Fitness Puzzles is print, cut, laminate, and you are done. Put the puzzle pieces on the floor and let the students solve the fitness puzzles. When the group solves a puzzle, have the students perform the exercise and how many reps it says until it’s time to rotate to the next station.

 

Themed Fitness WorkoutsStation 3: Themed Fitness Workouts

Switch your stations up using themed fitness circuits or workout routines. Darebee.com allows you to pick from a variety of themed circuits and workout routines, all you need to do is print, laminate, and display the workout.
 

 

Station 4: Fitness Tic-Tac-Toe

This activity can be used for 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3, depending on how much wait time you want. Use the ACTION! Quick-Tac-Toe Set or use hula-hoops for a DIY version.

The objective is to have your team get three in a row like in tic-tac-toe. If all the objects have been played and there is no tic-tac-toe, the next player in line will run down and move one of their own objects into an open hoop.

How to Play:

  • Each player has one scarf (or any object they can carry).
  • On the signal, the first person in each group runs as fast as they can down to the tic-tac-toe board and places his/her object into one of the nine hula hoops.
  • After he/she places the object, he/she runs back to the team line and high fives the next player in line.
  • The next player will then run down and place their object in an open hoop. 

Tic-Tac-Toe Hula Hoops



9 Skill-Based Gymnastics Games for All Ages! [Video]

Posted 2 months ago - by Gopher Community

Students love to play gymnastic games, and teachers love to see their students build strength while learning core skills that align with National P.E. Standards! With these gymnastics games, students can gain core muscle, arm muscle, and confidence in gymnastics and tumbling; all while playing games and having fun! All you need are some mats! Brittney Resler, Owatonna Gymnastics Club Executive Director, shares nine gymnastic games that her gymnasts love and your students will too!

1. Active Warm-Up Game

 

Grab your students’ attention as you call out spots around the gym. Wherever you call, they need to run to that location. You can mix it up by having your students run to a mat and complete an activity. Bunk Beds, Man Overboard, Fish Eggs, and Lover’s Leap are some fun activities that will get your students instantly moving, and enjoying it!

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2. The Amazing Chase Game

 

Students will have fun with this ultimate game of tag! Place four mats around the gym and one in the middle. Students then run from one mat to the other, trying to tag the classmate in front of them. Meanwhile, they are running from the classmate behind them. Everyone runs in the same direction to avoid collisions! When a student is tagged, they go to the mat in the middle and complete 15 jumping jacks before joining the game again!

 

3. Wheelbarrow Workout

 

Build strength and teamwork! Students need to be in pairs to complete the Wheelbarrow Workout. One student in each pair will hold their partner’s ankles as they walk on their hands from one end of a mat and to the other. That’s not all! Once the holder calls out “Push-up”, the partner must perform a push-up before continuing. Once your students are comfortable with this exercise, have them hold their partner’s hands on their shoulders for an added challenge!

 

4. Headstand Progression

 

In this gymnastics video, students practice balance with a headstand progression! Positioned on a mat, students’ knees rest on their elbows. Have them practice balancing in this position. Once they are comfortable, they can lift their legs up, completing the headstand progression!

Take it a step further by having students hold their headstand! In pairs, one student will perform a headstand while the other student is their spotter, holding their partner’s legs up. When you say, “Go”, spotters need to run to another student in the headstand formation and spot them before they fall! The last pair in the headstand formation wins the game! Students should not hold this pose for too long because it can cause light-headedness.
 

5. Wall Walks

 

Once students can balance themselves in a headstand, they can move onto a handstand. This is a great activity to build confidence and arm strength. Put a mat on the floor, next to a mat on the wall. Students walk down the mat with their feet against the wall and hands on the floor. This strengthens their core and arm muscles, preparing them for handstands!

 

6. Forward Roll Progression

 

Motivate your class as they practice forward rolls! Stack a panel mat on top of another for extra cushion. Students should curve their back while rolling down the mat, looking at their stomachs can help create a c-shape curve in their spine! They can advance in the progression by removing the top mat and beginning their forward roll in the handstand formation.

 

7. Bridge Breakthrough

 

Increase core muscles, arm muscles, and stability with Bridge Breakthrough. Students’ fingers face their feet as they push their abdomen towards the ceiling. Once they have perfected the bridge pose, they can challenge their balance by lifting an arm or leg off the ground. Make this exercise a fun gymnastic game by having students give their friends high fives!

 

8. Shipwreck 

 

Shipwreck is a tag game that students will ask to play again! Begin with one student, the tagger, on a mat in the middle of four other mats, which are scattered around the gym. The rest of the class begins scattered across the other four mats. Once the tagger yells, “shipwreck”, everyone moves to another mat, running from the tagger. If someone is tagged, they go to the middle mat with the other taggers. The last student to be tagged is the winner!

 

9. Stick-It Gymnastic Game

 

Challenge your class with Stick-It! Each student stands on a mat, facing one another in a circle. The instructor calls out various jumps or activities, such as a tuck jump.  The goal is to correctly perform the jump and land on your feet. If a student fumbles or falls, they are out. The last student standing is the winner! This is a great way to end class, and assess which jumps your students have mastered or need to practice more.

Keep students moving and learning with these games, progressions, and challenges! From a game of tag with a twist to a headstand progression, students will learn new skills while having fun!

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Mat Mayhem: P.E. Game Ideas with Mats

Posted 3 months ago - by Jason Gemberling

Almost all elementary P.E. teachers have gymnastic mats in their storage closets, but do they get used for any activities other than a gymnastics unit? Why not try to get more use out of those mats that you probably had to fight to keep in your budget! And if you don’t have mats currently because of budget deficits, try explaining to your administration that gymnastics mats can be used for a wide variety of activities, therefore making them a great item to purchase in a tight budget!

Here are a couple of activities/games when you can utilize these mats! 

1. Barrel Racing

 

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In the part of the country that I teach, horse riding is popular and with that comes rodeos! At the rodeo one of the events is barrel racing, which is a fast sprint around three barrels in a specific order to get back to the finish line. So why not barrel race with your students?! 

Take three mats and set them upright and in a circle to look like a barrel. Then, space the barrels in the pattern below, or you can do this in any pattern you choose, just make sure the start and finish are in the same spot. Students sprint, or gallop like a horse, in the direction of the arrows. 

Variations:

  • Relay-race style
  • Practice different body movements by having students walk like different animals. I mean really what kid doesn’t like to learn how to walk like a crab?!? 
  • If you have more than 3 mats, make multiple race loops or give them more barrels to round.

2. Battleship

 

Another game you could play is Battleship!  Give each team 3 or 4 mats to set up at their end as screens. Then give each team 10-15 bowling pins, or if you don’t have bowling pins start saving plastic water bottles. The students will set up the pins in rows of 3 or more in the space behind their screens as “battleships.” They can have as many “battleships” as they can create in the space with the number of pins provided. Each team gets an evenly divided number of coated-foam balls to use as the missiles.

On your “go,” students start firing their missiles over the screen of the other team. When one of the teams’ ships is sunk they must yell, “you sank our ship”, and then immediately everyone on the team has to do a designated exercise, such as dive bomber push-ups. When all of a teams’ ships have been sunk the team yells, “we surrender!” This ends the round and all of the ships are reset and you play again. 

3. Gladiators

 

My final suggestion is a throwback to one of my favorite shows as kid, American Gladiators! One of the games they played had contestants trying to score points by running around a designated area and throwing a ball into a cylindrical goal. Now, in the show they were brutally defending these goals, but I do NOT recommend that in your PE classes. 

I set up the goals, which would again be your mats on edge formed in circles, and have teams. Play with rules similar to basketball in that you can defend and steal the ball, but there is NO contact or there is a foul called. This is a NO dribbling game and I encourage the use of at least 10 foam balls. After all of the foam balls are scored in a goal, the game is over. The team that scores the most goals is the winner for that round. Then you get set up and start again.

4. Introductory Basketball Hoops

 

Mats make great basketball hoops for younger elementary classes. The lower height allows students to experience success with shooting a basketball and allows them to practice using the correct shooting form. We all know that young students struggle to shoot at a regulation basketball hoop using correct form, so again stand you mats on edge and curl them into a circle.

Three or four students can use one mat at one time, and if you have enough round objects that are light, then they can all shoot at one time. You can also set up different stations around the gym and have students shoot from different distances to help build their confidence and reinforce shooting with correct form.

 

These are just a couple games that utilize mats in different ways, but there are tons more! As P.E. teachers, if you can be creative, you can create many games utilizing equipment in ways other than its intended use to allow you to maximize what you have! And please when you come up with a new way of using not only gym mats, but any of your equipment, SHARE, SHARE, SHARE those ideas with the rest of the P.E. world!  

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Teaching Non-Traditional Sports in P.E.

Posted 3 months ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

Over the past decade in teacher education, I have evolved my practice to support student teachers to teach Health and Physical Education globally in various school contexts. Whether it be the demographics of a school community, the economic disparities of the surrounding communities, or various educational policies and practices that are supported at the school or board level, a question that remains to transcend any school context is this…

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“What conditions are necessary for young people to thrive in Physical Education?”

The first class in my teacher education program, I ask my student teachers to reflect on their personal experiences in HPE – good or bad. I ask them to create a human value line in the gymnasium according to whether they had a positive, mediocre, or negative experience in PE; all conditions that impact the degree in which one thrives in PE. From there, I ask my student teachers to “fold the line”, partnering up with a peer and share their differing perspectives and experiences in PE.

“My PE experience from grades 1-12 in Canadian schools can be described using two words “sporty” and “disengaging”. Students were expected to model the exact same steps as their HPE teacher without being encouraged to inquire and examine through different lens to understand why certain skills, rules and tactics work in certain situations.”

“With sports like volleyball, it often resulted in a very short rally with the students who were really good at the sport became quickly bored and the students who were not (like me) became further disengaged with the idea that ‘I can’t do it’”

This exercise allows student teachers to deconstruct their attitudes towards PE and to think about the “so what” – how will these attitudes inform their understanding about teaching PE?

The Ontario 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum states “To be effective, instruction must be based on the belief that all students can be successful [thrive] and that learning in health and physical education is important and valuable for all students.”

Scott Kretchmar (2006) identified five criteria for meaningful experiences in physical education to help guide how learning activities might be planned to foster meaningful experiences for all students in physical education. Each component is important of itself but are related and can influence one another. The five criteria include:

  • Social interaction
  • Fun
  • Challenge “just right”
  • Delight
  • Motor Competence
  • Personal Relevant Learning (recently added by the LAMPE Learning About Meaningful Experiences in Physical Education project team)

Consider implementing into your PE program non-traditional North American sports such as Tchoukball, Omnikin, Speedball, and Danish Longball. These novel-type games can foster meaningful experiences in PE as they:

  1. Provide new experiences for students while equalizing the playing field for all levels of ability
  2. Provide opportunities for positive social interaction to develop interpersonal skills easily translated into other aspects of their lives
  3. Develop movement competence with an appropriate level of challenge and promote fun, joyful movement experiences.

Tchoukball: A game with a social conscience

Tchoukball, was invented by Dr. Hermann Brandt in 1968 with a focus on team work, fair play and respect as fundamental components of the game. With no interception and physical contact, students of all abilities, gender, and size can play together regardless of skill differences. Brant, believed “the objective of human physical activities is not to make champions but to make a contribution to building a harmonious society”.

Check out this video clip for a very informative overview of Tchoukball using the TGFU approach.

Omnikin: A game with a focus on cooperation

Kin-Ball is a team sport created by a physical education professor, Mario Demers, from Quebec in 1986 and is now played world-wide. What makes it unique is the very large size of the ball and the matches are played with three teams at once instead of the traditional 1 vs 1 in team games. View a rather humorous, yet informative, overview of Kin-Ball.

Speedball: A game with a focus on student self-efficacy

Speedball is a fast-paced game that combines many aspects of other sports. It is a hybrid game of soccer, basketball, and European handball. Students can decide whether they want to strike and receive the ball with their feet or their hands! Play the ball on the ground – play soccer. Play the ball in the air – play European handball. Students can choose the challenge that is just right for them to enjoy and have success in the game. Check out this version of Speedball by CIRA (Canadian Intramural Recreation Association).

Danish Longball: A novel game that promotes decision making as a player and a team player

A bat and ball game founded in Denmark, Danish Longball is a hybrid game of baseball, kickball, cricket, and rounders, with lots of action and little static play. The game involves individual and team responsibilities when introducing students to the realm of striking and fielding games. Learn more about Danish Longball.

I suggest you give these games a try, especially at the beginning of the school year to establish a respectful learning environment, build community, and to lay a foundation for meaningful experiences in PE!

“When movement is experienced as joy, it adorns our lives, makes our days go better, and gives us something to look forward to.  When movement is joyful and meaningful, it may even inspire us to do things we never thought possible” (Kretchmar, 2008).

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Introductory Volleyball Activities for Elementary P.E.

Posted 3 months ago - by Terri Pitts

Volleyball can be a hard unit to teach at the elementary level.  These games and activities have been successful with my students and have become some of their favorite activities. 

Big Ball Volleyball

 

Focus on skills like teamwork, catching, and throwing with this fun game! Place students into groups of four (2nd-5th grades) or groups of eight (Kindergarten-1st grade). Each group has a small parachute or a bed sheet. Groups must work together in order to get an Omnikin ball, lightweight oversized ball, or a beach ball over the net only using the parachute. The ball cannot touch the ground or it is a point for the other team. Groups must use teamwork to catch the ball and get the ball over the net.

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Get everything you need to play Big Ball Volleyball with this Team Launch Volleyball Set!

Volleyball Serving

 

Even though this activity is an easy setup, students enjoy it so much because they enjoy the challenge. I challenge the class to make a certain amount in the hoops, and I keep score.

There is a volleyball net set up in the gym to encourage the students to serve the volleyball high and over. Place students in lines along the baseline of the volleyball court. For younger students, you’ll want to start your lines within the volleyball court. Students serve the volleyball and try to make it into a hula-hoop on that is directly across from them on the other side of the net. On the count of three, the first person in each line servea. Students should serve quickly, but keep the students who waiting in line moving by doing various fitness or locomotor activities until it is their turn. Depending on their age or grade level, they can pass a ball to themselves in place or practice their serving form.

Newcomb Variation

 

This game has been around since the early 1900’s and is great for 3rd-5th grade. Instead of bumping and setting, the students are learning rotation and focusing on three players playing or touching the ball after they receive a serve.

Two teams (12 players total) on the court at a time. Play begins with the student in the serving position serving the ball over the net to the other team. Students then catch and throw the ball back and forth over the net until it drops. Three players may play the ball before throwing it over the net. If it is more than three players or if the receiving team misses, the serving team scores a point. The serving team then rotates and the next play begins with a different server.  If the serving team does not get the ball over, it loses the serve and the opposing team scores a point. The next play begins with the opponents as the serving team. Each time a team wins a point, they rotate so a different player serves for the next play. This allows everybody to get a turn serving in the limited time. The first team scoring 11 points or the team with the most points after a set time limit wins the game.

Passing Challenge

 

Split players up into groups of five to eight and challenge each group of players to see how many times they can pass the volleyball to other players in the circle without letting it hit the ground.  Beach volleyballs, oversized volleyballs, or balloons can be substituted for a regular volleyball depending on the age and skill level of the players.  Older players can also do the same challenge but instead of passing they will set the volleyball to other players.

A variation of the passing challenge is to pair players up and see how many passes they can complete back and forth without the ball touching the ground. 

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3 Tactical Soccer Games for PE [Video]

Posted 4 months ago - by Gopher Community

Before starting a soccer unit, I find it beneficial for students to self-assess and think about whether they are a beginner, expert, or somewhere in between. This helps them make real-time decisions during the game based on their level of comfort.

I always start with more students on offense to increase scoring and skill practice. Once the students show me mastery of these skills, I make the teams even. I also focus on progressing from warm-ups to conditioning activities, and end each game with one or two focus skills. The focus skills of the games below are passing and possession.


Color Call Out

 

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The goal of a good warm-up is to get students ready for game play. Focus on a specific skill or activity such as passing, shooting, or keeping your head up.

Set-Up:

Teams begin by passing the ball with short passes. Start with stationary passing, and then progress to moving while passing. When either goalkeeper calls your team color, the player on the ball takes two touches and tries to score on that goalie. The keeper then throws the ball out to another team member in the same group and the passing continues. Teachers can use other skills to progress to, such as volleying to a partner, headers, or throw-ins.

Stop every few minutes to stretch dynamically, making sure all muscle groups are stretched.
 

Attackers vs. Defenders

 

Disguising conditioning during small-sided games keeps the game fast paced and keeps students actively engaged both physically and mentally.

Set-Up: I recommend setting this activity up in a small-sided games format with multiple fields and teams.

  • 1 large goal at end of field
  • 2 small goals on the sidelines, 1 on each side (use cones or pop-up goals)

The offense will stay in the shape of two forwards up front and five midfielders behind them. Encourage them to “play big” instead of grouping together to make more of a challenge for the defense.

The attacking group tries to score on the big goal, while the goalkeeper and defenders try to win the ball and score by shooting into the two smaller goals down the sidelines. Adding these sideline goals helps eliminate defenders simply clearing the ball into the middle and encourages them to start their attack down the sideline. This also helps the defensive team to stay compact and communicate to help defined as a unit.

Play for about five to six minutes and then switch up defensive and offensive players, so each student gets the opportunity to play both positions.

 

Soccer Match-Up

 

This is a possession game where each player picks a partner on the other team. Players are only allowed to defend the person they are matched-up with. I start with a simple scoring system where four consecutive passes earns a team one point. You can adjust the number of passes to increase or decrease difficulty. The goal is to encourage students to dribble the ball and create passing opportunities to their teammates.

This game meets SHAPE America National Physical Education Standards 1 and 2.

Standard 1 - The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.

Standard 2 - The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.

 

Game and activity ideas provided by Michael Cummings.

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Five Passes: One Game, Endless Possibilities [Video]

Posted 4 months ago - by Aaron Beighle

Although the origin is unknown, the game “Five Passes” has been in the Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children textbook and lesson plans since 1972. In other words, it’s an “oldie but a goodie”. One beauty of this game is that it offers a plethora of variations to integrate many skills, concepts, and sports. Further, it allows for various curriculum and instructional models. As a qualifier, as with most things in life, Five Passes is not inherently good or bad. It has to be taught using effective teaching practices. Thus, simply using the information presented below alone for an entire lesson without the use of progression, skill instruction, questioning, scaffolding, differentiation, and/or an instructional model is not advocated. If you want to learn more about these, I encourage you to look into them as this blog does not allow space to delve into them in detail.

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The basic purpose of the game is for a team (preferably small-sided) to get five passes in a row to score a point. Typically, the game is played with a 5” dia coated-foam ball with throwing, passing, and catching as the primary manipulative skills used to achieve five passes. Using this as the foundation is where the fun starts. The remainder of this blog will outline various modifications to rules, scoring, and equipment that allow one game to turn into infinite possibilities for learning experiences.

 

Rules

Typically when taught, the first “challenge” is simply for the offensive team to get five passes in a row without the ball being knocked away or dropped. The defense works to prevent five passes. From there rules and tactics can be added one or two at a time. Adding them all at once is not advised as this takes extended time for instruction, and students are not able to absorb and apply all of the rules/tactics. Additional basic rules are provided below. Keep in mind, depending on the variation, other rules may be necessary.

  • The player with the ball can hold the ball for only three seconds.
  • The player with the ball can take only three steps.
  • The player with the ball can dribble three times.
  • The defense has to be arm’s length away from the player with the ball. The ball can be contacted/caught only by the defense while it’s in the air.
  • No pass backs for 4 vs 4 or greater.
  • At least three team members must catch one of the five passes if greater than 4 vs 4.
  • If the ball goes to the ground, that last team to possess the ball must give the ball to the other team. This prevents diving and scrums on the floor for the ball.
     

Game Progression

  • The first time teaching this game it is advantageous to do so in scattered formation. That is, one team is not going in one direction or the other. This allows students to get the hang of the concepts and strategy without confounding the process with directions.
  • Once the rules have been added and students are grasping the concepts, then directions can be added. This can be accomplished with a rule such as “if the blue team catches their fifth pass in the coned off area on the north side of the gym, they get two points. Red team, your coned off area is on the south side.”
  • One final step for a basic game designed to lead-up to a game such as Team Handball is to add a scoring mechanism. For instance, after the fifth pass, if a team can throw the ball into their goal, they receive two points. The variations discussed below have countless modifications that may require unique progressions.
     

Variations

The obvious variations for the basic Five Passes game are for any invasion game such as basketball, soccer, hockey, tchoukball, and ultimate. The most prominent change will be the equipment used, the skills needed, and scoring. However, the foundational information provided above remains.

 

Slam Ball

 

This version is a derivation of a version created by students at the STEAM Academy in Lexington, KY, and involves several levels of play (three will be described here). In addition to Five Passes, elements of volleyball and Saucer Slam are added. It was created as part of a “Game Tester” unit in which students created innovative, inexpensive, and inclusive games.

  • This version is played 2 v 2 and final pass must be hit (slammed) into the goal. The goal can be a cone, a cone with a ball on top, a clothes basket, Saucer Slam goal etc.
  • Next, four teams of 3 play on four small courts in a grid like space. One player from each team guards their goal in their grid. Teams can score on any of the other three goals and 2 to 3 balls are used.
  • Finally, to add an element of volleying in the game, the fifth pass must be set to a teammate who then spikes into the goal. This version may require a larger goal.

 

Speed Football

 

This adaptation was created by 3rd grade students of mine while teaching at the Episcopal School of Dallas. The small twist on the kick-off added an element of excitement and energy for them. This change also prevented the “losers walk” and game stoppage of a traditional kick off.

  • The game is played with a Fun Gripper Football rather than a traditional ball.
  • No steps are allowed and no dribbling. Older students may be able to dribble the football with their feet or hands but the elementary students could not.
  • Once a team scores, the person who catches the pass immediately throws the ball to the other end of the field. This serves as the kick-off and the ball has to go beyond the center line.
  • The team who catches the kick-off is immediately on offense. The only rule I added is a team could not score more than two touchdowns in a row.

 

Speed-A-Way

 

This game is another oldie but goodie created by Marjorie Larsen in the 50’s. It combines soccer, football, team handball, and many other skills. It is included here because teachers can build on Five Passes to teach this game. Below are some additional rules.

  • Players wear flags. If a player in possession of the ball has his/her flag pulled, the ball changes possession.
  • The ball can be advanced either by dribbling with hands, running (no more than three steps before a hand dribble), or dribbling with the feet.
  • If the ball is on the ground and in play, it cannot be picked up with the hands. It has to be transferred from the feet to the hands. Players can do this by lifting it to themselves, or a teammate can lift it to another teammate. Advanced students may be able to pass with their foot, ala a soccer pass, to a teammate down field.
  • Running the ball into the endzone is worth one point. Throwing to a teammate in the endzone is two points. Kicking to a teammate in the endzone is worth three points.
  • As with most games, rules, such as how many players must touch the ball, how many touchdowns a player can have, etc. should be added as needed to avoid one or two players dominating a game.

I will force myself to stop here. I am sure most of you kept thinking, “or you could do this” to each of the ideas presented above. And there are so many more variations that could be taught, all building on the foundational concept taught with Five Passes. I encourage you to try some of these or variations or your own ideas. Change things up. It might work or it might not. That’s okay. Ask students how to improve the game. Have them add rules or suggest equipment changes. Empower students to make the game their own. tHRIVE!

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How to Hit a Home Run Teaching Softball

Posted 4 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

THIS OR THAT? Which game will students get the most out of?

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As a former collegiate softball athlete and head high school coach you would think teaching the game is one of my favorite times of year. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t when I first started teaching but it definitely is now! It all started to really come together when I approached it from a small-sided games perspective and helped students focus on skill building and enjoyment of the game. Small-sided game play is one of the most game-changing best practices in physical education I have implemented to help students feel successful and build their skills. The visuals here are from my Small-Sided Games webinar  from the Gopher Solutions Webinar Series. Visit my website for the slides if you want to dive into this topic a bit further.

Softball is a great lifetime/recreational physical activity that students can enjoy outside of school. Issues arise when teaching this sport though with ill-informed lesson design and poor implementation of activities. Here are 5 keys to hitting a home run the next time you teach softball.

1. Use a progression of small-sided games.

The image below from my Gopher small-sided games webinar provides an example of game progressions from simple to more complex. In any of the activities, the success is in the smaller field and focusing on one or two key aspects of the game as a challenge so that students can get better. It allows you to layer in the rules and progress to the larger game context near the end of the unit. I am able to walk around and help students more. The students also get in a lot more repetitions.

  • Game #1 - 2 vs. 2 Hit for Points: The focus is for students to hit for points and for the defense to field the ball cleanly.

    • Basic rules – Offense: Track your points. Whichever cone you hit it past, you get those points. Hit twice and then rotate offense/defense. Defense: Track your points. Field it cleanly to get points. 1 point for a grounder. 3 points for a fly ball.
       
  • Game #2 - Back & Forth for Points: Everyone is against each other for points. The runner/batter gets 1-point for each touch of a cone. They run “cricket” style back and forth after hitting off the tee (large cone). Defenders field the ball and then make a throw to each person on defense. The last person to catch a throw runs it to the big cone to stop the play.
     
  • Game #3 – Hit & Run Through First: Focus on grounders and running through first base. Defense fields ball and throw to first for a point. The batter must hit a grounder for a point and then complete the run through first base. Rotate hitters.
     
  • Game #4 – Around the Bases for Points: The batter hits and then runs around the bases (scoring 1 point for each base touched) and keeps running until the defense has fielded the ball and thrown it to each person before running it home to stop the runner. Some students may get in two rounds around the bases (8 points)! This focuses on all aspects of the game.
     
  • Games #5 – 4 vs. 4 Softball: Put it all together and play on a smaller field. You can also see Figure 2 for a 7-person softball game with a rotation explanation.

 

 

Figure 1. Small-sided softball setup examples.

 

 

  

Figure 2.  Rotation for 7-person Softball

C=Catcher, B=Batter, P=Pitcher,
I=Infield, O=Outfield


2. Have a plan for indoor lessons when the weather doesn’t cooperate

The spring brings a mix of rain and sun. This year has been historically rainy, testing my ability to bring traditionally outdoor activities inside for longer periods of time. I appreciate how this challenge brings out the extra creativity in me. Here are a few favorite games and adaptions for indoor play, which can obviously still be used outside as well.

  • Play backyard baseball/wiffle ball (No peg outs, please. No one likes to get hit with a ball). Foam balls/wiffle balls and foam bats are essential for success here. Having a “double field” game such as Gopher’s DiamondDash would fit well here for indoor play.
  • Under “Activity Session Documents” on my small-sided game info webpage, there are a few more modified softball games you can use for indoors. Gopher has a great video demonstration of this concept in their Team Home Run Derby Set. I’d recommend this for anyone getting started with small-sided games in softball.
  • Use innovative indoor equipment and/or rules:
    • My students love the Big Hitter Game when inside because of the BIG bat!
    • “Wombat” uses a softball/kickball format where you pitch a light rubber ball underhand and it must bounce first before the batter hits the ball with a large bat. We use the bouncy SoffPlay Balls to add an element of bounce inside so we can play off the walls. For my older students, we combined this wombat game with the ramp from the ACTION! RampedUp game and the BigHitter Bat mentioned above to hit a SoffPlay ball!
    • Allow two runners on base. Use a large base system or a large cone as a base works well. Students learn by getting experience and having more than one runner on when indoors can add an element of complexity to situations.
    • “Freebies to first” is something novel to try out in certain contexts. Though the out is recorded for the defense (you can play 3 to 5 outs), the runner is safe at first so they can experience base running. This gives the defense some more action as well.

Simple field setup for small-sided games.

Hit off 3 pitches and/or hit off the cone as a tee.

 

3. Have an organized framework.

I now use Rainbow color-coded equipment for six teams throughout the unit and this has made a huge impact upon the flow of the lesson. Each team has a bucket of equipment they are responsible for. This makes setup and clean up super easy! I find the students take care of “their color” and there is no mistaking whose equipment it is. See images below.

 

Rainbow® Color-coded Equipment Team Buckets.

Yellow bag with lefty-throw gloves & extra gloves.

Teams of 4: 4 Gloves, 1 Foam Bat & Ball, 3 Softballs, 4 mini-cones, 1 large cone as a tee.

 

4. Use a sport education model when possible.

I like using a modified sport education model that emphasizes team roles so all students have a responsibility and a role to fulfill to help the lessons run more smoothly and give students the opportunity to learn responsibility and to be on a team. With small teams, this makes it easy. Here is a sample team form with the information.

 

5. Emphasize teamwork and teach empathy.

This is a highly skilled team sport that involves a lot of different rules and positions. For quite a few students, this is their first introduction to the game, making it a challenge to design a quality experience for all skill levels. Again, I focus on skill development and layer in progressions, emphasizing fun and personal challenge.  I remind students to have empathy for others as everyone comes in with different levels of experience in any activity we learn and that we are here to help make each other better so that when we want to play it outside of school there are others willing to play with us because they had a positive experience learning it in physical education. I think it is important to remind students that we are here to have an enjoyable experience, to improve our skills personally (and not at the cost of others), and to learn lifelong activities. So, let’s have fun and get better together!

 

I hope these tips help you hit a home run the next time you teach softball!

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Refine Sport Skills with Tchoukball & Sabakiball

Posted 4 months ago - by Jason Gemberling

Speed, agility, strategy, teamwork, and hand-eye coordination are all keep skills for almost all traditional American sports, such as basketball, football, and baseball, and all of these skills are brought into play in Tchoukball and Sabakiball. 

Tchoukball and Sabakiball are 2 of the more popular units in our high school physical education classes.  And as teachers, we love both of these games as well because of all of the skills mentioned PLUS the tremendous amount of cardio our students get while playing. 

Tchoukball

Tchoukball is a game that reminds me of basketball, but more intense!  This game is extremely fast and goes end to end in the blink of an eye.  Another great aspect of Tchoukball is that there is NO defending, which allows students to feel more comfortable playing the game.  Teams are throwing at a target, which is a rebounder that kicks the ball back into play for the opposing team to try and catch before it contacts the floor. 

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This game requires teams to work on spacing on the floor to cover more area, communication on who is going for the ball, and speed and agility to react to the ball as it comes off of the rebounder.  And that is just the team on defense!  Offensively, the idea is to trick your opponent and shoot at the rebounder using angles avoid giving the opposing team the opportunity to catch the ball before it hits the floor.  One very unique piece to the game is that teams can shoot at either end of the floor, so again it requires excellent communication and floor spacing. 

As a former basketball coach, I would love my players to play Tchoukball while working on spacing and communication!  As a PE teacher, I encourage you to put pedometers or heart rate monitors on your students while they play Tchoukball, you will be amazed at the results!

Want to add Tchoukball to your classes? Get the complete pack or a rebounder here!

 

Sabakiball

Sabakiball is a game similar to basketball again with a little soccer thrown in if needed.  Two teams defend a pin at their ends of the court.  Players must move the ball down the court, passing with their hands or feet. But before they shoot at the baki-pin, they must complete at least three consecutive passes using only their hands.  Again, floor spacing is a crucial element to this game and translates very well to basketball or soccer.  Teams may play defense in Sabakiball and as soon as a steal is made, just like in basketball or soccer, teams must transition to offense.  Defensively, teams have a goalie, who just like in soccer will try to defend the baki-pin by any means.  Sabakiball is another fast-paced game designed to increase students’ heart rate and get students working on game strategy and communication. 

For both Tchoukball and Sabakiball, my students have created plays and set themselves up in different formations to be as effective as possible.  This is another beautiful piece to these games, because I do not give them the answers to strategy.  We go over the rules to the games and talk about teamwork and communication, but after that they play and slowly learn the nuances to the game as a team and as a class.  It is amazing to watch as students form the plays and positioning and work together to fine tune their plans!

I encourage you all to jump onto YouTube and search for videos on Tchoukball and Sabakiball.  It is amazing to watch videos of these games being played at extremely high levels, some internationally!  I have taken time to show my students some of these videos at the beginning of these units in an effort to generate some excitement!  My students can’t believe the athleticism of these players! 

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P.E. Activities with Cones, Hoops, and Poly Spots

Posted 5 months ago - by Michael Beringer

Every Physical Education teacher has equipment that they use on a daily basis. Whether they are teaching indoors, outdoors, or in an alternative space or location, these must-have pieces of equipment are always within reach. You know, those items you replenish every year because you use them ALL of the time? However, not every P.E. teacher’s list of essential equipment is going to look the same. Here our my most commonly used pieces of equipment (in no particular order) and 5 fun P.E. activities using them:

  • Poly Spots
  • Cones
  • Hula Hoops

Maze – Cooperative Activity

My favorite poly spot activity is a cooperative activity called Maze. You will need 30 poly spots and several already made maze cards for each group. Divide your class into 6 groups with about 5 students in each.

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How to Play:
The students set the 30 poly spots into a 6 x 5 grid. One student in each group holds the pre-made maze cards on one side of the poly spot grid and the other 4 students stand on the opposite side. One student at a time picks a poly spot that they think will get them through the maze. If correct, they can keep picking. If they are wrong, they go back to the end of the line and the next person goes. This keeps going until all the team members get out of the maze.

 

Musical Fitness

My second favorite activity that includes poly spots is Musical Fitness. All you need to play this activity is 30-40 poly spots and 30-40 fitness exercise cards. Place the exercise cards in a circle around the perimeter of the gym. Then place the ploy spots on top of the exercise cards. 

How to Play:
On the signal, have the students jog around the poly spots until the music tops. Whatever poly spot they stopped by is the exercise they need to perform. After 30-60 seconds, play the music again and have the students jog or perform a different movement activity around the ploy spots. Continue for 5-10 minutes. This activity is great for an instant activity/warm-up/ASAP to start class. 
 

Flip It Fitness

My favorite activity to play with my students involving cones is Flip It Fitness. Kevin Tiller created this idea and the overall objective of the game is modeled after the bottle flip craze. As your students enter the gym, have them pair up and go to a set of cones.

How to Play:
At the signal, each pair of students starts to flip their cones. The first one to flip their cone and land it wins. The student that wins does a victory push-up and the other person does jumping jacks until a new challenger arrives.  You can also do this activity in partner relay lines. In addition, you can write exercises on the cones themselves and have them perform the exercises when a cone flips and lands.

 

Target Holders

Another favorite use for cones is as target holders. Cones are great for all target games. You can use many skills including rolling, overhand throwing, and underhand throwing in order to get the students to hit the targets. You can also use a variety of equipment including throwing discs, foam dice, foam balls, etc.

 

Fitness Timer

My favorite hula-hoop activity is Hula Hoop Timer. Hand each student a hoop as they enter the gymnasium. You should have a series of exercises written on a whiteboard, a sheet of paper, or just have the students pick their own exercise.

How to Play:
At the signal, the students spin their hoop. While the hula hoops spins, the students perform the exercise until the hoop completely stops. You can also have them do this activity in pairs and you can specify what component of fitness they must perform. Look at a great video of this activity by Justin Cahill. 

For additional P.E. activities featuring hoops and poly spots, check out these blogs:

* Disclaimer: The activities described above are common P.E. Activities and are not my own creations.

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