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7 Must-Have Tools for Effective Virtual Physical Education

When we think of physical education classes, we imagine children participating in various outdoor and group activities. The coronavirus has rapidly changed the way we learn. Physical education teachers have had to adapt to the new normal, taking their classes online while ensuring their students maintain an adequate physical activity level.

Although things have changed drastically since physical education classes began going online in March of 2020, teachers have discovered a wealth of resources on the internet that has allowed them to connect with their students. Virtual classes will never substitute in-person physical education, but students can benefit from productive virtual physical education classes with the right tools.

In this article, we’ll look at seven must-have tools for effective virtual physical education.

1. Games

Playing at-home PE games is a great way to encourage students to move while stuck at home. You’ll have to be creative when implementing these games into your at-home learning curriculum. Some games require students to imagine various scenarios, while others simply require students to follow basic instructions.

Games are a great way to motivate students. With these games, kids will always look forward to indoor PE activities. For classes with smaller children, you’ll need their parents to help set up these at home PE games.

Hot Lava

Hot lava is a classic at-home game that teachers can adapt to online learning. The teacher shouts, “the floor is lava,” and students have five seconds to get their feet off the ground. If, after five seconds, their feet are still on the floor, they lose. If everyone gets their feet off the ground, everything returns to normal until the next time the teacher shouts, “the floor is lava.”

You can incorporate this game into your regular classes to add a bit of excitement. Students won’t know when to expect the hot lava game to begin.

Balloon on a Spoon

This at-home PE game focuses on developing kids’ hand-eye coordination. Students need a balloon, a large spoon, and a basket to play the game. Students will guide the balloon around their house on the spoon.

Furniture and other household items are obstacles they need to avoid. Once they’ve made it through the entire house, they return to the starting point and guide the balloon into the basket.

Simon Says

Simon Says is one of the great PE activities for kids. You can adapt it to your classes, and it works great for online learning. Decide what physical activities you want students to work on, and adjust your Simon says game to the learning objectives.

Students follow your instructions when you say Simon Says. If you don’t say Simon Says, they ignore you. You can include jogging, stretching, jumping up and down, crunches, and other activities to ensure students get a full-body workout.

Other possible at-home PE games include:

  • Twister
  • Balance Beam
  • Hula Hoops
  • Hopscotch

2. YouTube Online Fitness Videos

Videos that get kids moving are excellent online PE activities. One of the best ways to move is dancing. Just Dance 2020 is available on YouTube with enough videos to keep kids to keep kids moving for hours. Kids just need to follow the dance moves, and they’ll get an excellent cardio workout while having fun.

Another popular YouTube channel to help kids stay in shape is The Body Coach TV. This channel features easy to follow workouts designed for kids. The entertaining videos are between five and ten minutes and will ensure kids break a sweat.

Here are a few more YouTube channels worth checking out for virtual physical education:

  • Cosmic Yoga Kids
  • Moovlee
  • KIDZ BOP Dance Along
  • Simply Soccer: Soccer Drills You Can Do Indoors
  • Ninja Life: Kids Edition

3. Skillastics Virtual Learning Resources

Skillastics offers comprehensive PE activities for kids stuck at home during the pandemic. There are activities for kids of all ages. Experts designed all of Skillastics’ virtual programs, including martial arts, yoga, pilates, and much more. The programs are compatible with online platforms such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.

4. Sworkit Kids

Designed for elementary and middle school students, Sworkit is a great app to get kids moving in PE home learning classes. Within the app, you can customize workouts to your child’s age, ability, and fitness level. The app features interval-style exercises that build children’s strength and agility. It’s also an excellent app for PE challenges at home. Sworkit makes indoor PE activities more fun.

The app engages kids from the start, making physical exercise seem more like a game than a chore. The activities are easy to learn, and older students will enjoy tailoring workouts based on their preferences. The workouts last from 5 to 60 minutes.

5. Coach Josh Kids

Coach Josh specializes in fitness activities for toddlers and preschoolers. These virtual education videos use adventure, music, and animation to encourage kids to get moving. Some of the activities include surfing, growing a tree, dancing like a monkey, flying an airplane, and much more.

Helping improve gross motor skills development, balance, and coordination are a few of the things Coach Josh’s videos offer. It’s not just fitness with Coach Josh. Kids will also practice colors, numbers, letters, and animals.

6. PE At-Home Challenges

Challenges are a great virtual physical education tool for motivating students at home. Combining technology and virtual group activities will help students feel less isolated while participating in at-home PE activities. The Phys Ed Express has many challenges for students, such as a virtual mileage challenge to see how far a group can travel together.

PE Universe also offers various PE at-home challenges for kids to do in their house. Their videos will keep kids entertained and moving. PE Universe uses celebrities and other cultural icons to draw kids into challenges. Some challenges include Eminem’s My Name Is Fitness Challenge and Superfun Marvel Vs. DC Heros Workout.

Here are a few more fitness challenges:

  • GSN Minute to Win It Blueprints
  • Randy Spring
  • Physical Education At-Home Challenges

7. Nike Training Club

This virtual PE app is ideal for middle school and high school students. Designed by expert trainers, the Nike Training Club app offers 15, 30, and 45-minute workouts. The app includes more than 185 free activities, including bodyweight, yoga, and full-equipment workouts. There are on-demand and studio-style classes.

Nike Master trainers lead the workouts, which range from between 5 and 60 minutes. It includes multi-week programs, so students know what workouts they’ll be doing several weeks in advance. Student-athletes will love the challenge the Nike Training Club provides.

Final Thoughts

Virtual physical education can be educational and challenging with the right tools. Students can maintain their physical fitness while safely learning at home through play, fitness videos, and apps. When designing an online physical education curriculum, be sure to explore the various resources available online and adapt them to meet your students’ needs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made online learning mainstream. Although children aren’t attending in-person physical education classes, teachers need to ensure they’re engaged in physical activity daily. Whether a virtual after school program or a Just Dance challenge, kids can do a range of physical activities at home.

Take advantage of online resources to develop at-home PE ideas that will keep your students moving throughout the pandemic.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email or check out

Developing Volleyball Competency & MVPA

A quality physical education program has curriculum, units, and lessons that are standards based.  One of the important standards for a physical educator is Standard 1 which states that a physically literate person demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns (SHAPE  America; National Standards & Grade Level Outcomes).  This standard allows physical educators to prepare students to participate in many different physical activities and sports with confidence, which will lead to a life full of activity.

I have taught physical education for 23 years, and every year I always ask my students why they may not like certain sports and physical activities that we do.  Each year, I get the same response:  “I don’t like the activity because I’m not very good at it.”  I then ask them how they could get better at it.  Well, we all know that if they got better at the skills, it would make the game play better, and then more fun will be had when they play the activity/sport.

Along with Standard 1, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has become a major focus in our lessons.  However, with this focus on MVPA, some have dropped focusing on Standard 1 because focusing on skills may not get their students’ heart rate up into the appropriate range.  But, this does not have to be the case.  Skills can still be taught effectively while focusing on MVPA as well.

As I have traveled across the country doing presentations at various state and national conferences, my platform and focus has been on infusing fitness into daily lessons.  One of the sports I present on is volleyball, and the teaching of the forearm and overhead pass.  One way I used to teach these skills was with the command style, and they were pretty stationary.  As I went back and looked at my lessons and started asking myself about whether or not they were getting to the appropriate MVPA, I noticed that I needed to change the way I had the students work on their skills.  We all know that if they lack the skills, the game of volleyball is a serve, it hits the ground, and the team scores a point; not much fun for anyone.  So, with a little thinking and creativity, I have been able to increase MVPA and skill development.

Within my research of trying to find ways to increase skills and MVPA, I came across the Skillastics® program.  The first one I used, was the basketball program.  Then, the volleyball kit came out, and I knew I had to have it.  Skillastics® fits with everything I believe in and want to accomplish in my class.  The one nice thing about it, I didn’t have to come up with the fitness activities and there would be a lot of variation in my lessons.  Throughout my volleyball unit, I use the task cards to help with the skill development.  It allows the students to work independently, but yet stay focused on the skills but yet get in a good workout.  Once they have learned the tasks from the kit, we use the entire kit to play Volleyball Skillastics®.  While they are doing this, I know they are working on the skills, increasing MVPA, and having fun.

Skill development is crucial in giving the students confidence they can participate competently in the sport or activity.  However, just because you work on skills, doesn’t mean that MVPA must be lost.  All you need to do is think, be creative, or use a program that already focuses on both.

CLICK HERE To Learn More About Volleyball Skillastics®!

CDC and SHAPE America Help Schools Make the Most of This Critical Part of the School Day

Schools across the country will now have step-by-step guidance and evidence-based strategies to support school recess for all K-12 students and enhance active school environments.  The two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, were recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, and can be downloaded free of charge at:

“This is a milestone in our quest to increase children’s physical activity levels.  Daily recess, monitored by well-trained staff or volunteers, can optimize a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development,” says SHAPE America Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D. “Recess contributes to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for students and helps them apply the knowledge and skills they learn in an effective health and physical education program. In addition, recess supports 50 Million Strong, SHAPE America’s commitment to empower all kids to lead active and healthy lives.”

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.

The new recess documents will be featured at a program session called “Strategies for Recess in Schools” at the organization’s National Convention in Boston on Tuesday, March 14 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. Attendees will learn how recess can help students increase their daily physical activity and contribute to achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.  The new resources will help schools develop a comprehensive plan for recess to increase students’ participation in physical activity and improve their academic achievement.

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:

Follow the conversation using #SHAPErecess and #recess.

Registration now Open for SHAPE America Convention & Expo

Registration is now open for the premier professional development event for health and physical educators — the 132nd National Convention & Expo of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, March 14-18, 2017, in Boston. Health and physical educators will be inspired with new ideas, skills, and ways to transform their schools, while making connections with like-minded colleagues and learning about new funding ideas to support their programs.


Knowing that health and physical educators are vital to students’ social-emotional learning, SHAPE America invited Maya Enista Smith, executive director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, and Steve Gross, chief executive optimist of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, to keynote the Opening General Session on Wednesday, March 15. In her presentation, Enista Smith will discuss “Creating a Kinder and Braver World” while Gross will discuss “Discovering the Power of Optimism.” Dean Kriellaars, Ph.D., University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, will highlight his work with Cirque de Soleil as he presents “Physical Literacy: the Gateway to Active Participation” on Friday, March 17.


According to SHAPE America President Jackie Lund of Georgia State University, “With the recent ESSA legislation, it is a time of great opportunity for the health and physical education professions. To succeed all of us will need new skills, knowledge and the motivation to impact the learning and behavior of America’s children beyond our traditional role in classrooms and gymnasiums.”


Here’s one such convention opportunity: On Tuesday afternoon, March 14, SHAPE America Past President Steve Jefferies and other leaders in the field will host a “50 Million Strong by 2029 Forum,” an interactive session designed to inspire and provide direction on how to get all of America’s school-age children physically active and healthy. Learn firsthand how this commitment will challenge all of us to reconsider, reimagine and redesign how we deliver physical education and health education to America’s students. Hear how progress will be measured, what current evaluation tools and processes can be used to evaluate success, and how you can be a “champion.”

Complimentary 50 Million Strong T-shirts will be given away to the first 300 registered participants.


Research will also have a large presence in Boston. The Research Council is hosting a session titled, “Learning from the Past, Making History” which will be a session that contains a historical perspective of SHAPE America and its research disciplines followed by a discussion about the future. This session will include research and discussion by SHAPE America members Hans van der Mars, Missy Parker and Kevin Patton.  Russ Pate of the University of South Carolina will present the “U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth” while CDC Health Scientist Shannon Michael discusses the “Report on Secular Changes in Physical Education Attendance in the U.S.” and Christina Economos, associate professor, Tufts University, presents “Best Practices in School District-Wide Efforts to Promote Students’ Physical Activity.”
Want to see what other convention sessions you’d like to attend? Check out the preliminary program and schedule-at-a-glance chart! Then, head to the convention registration page to take advantage of $75 in early-bird savings!


Make Your Case

If you need help getting approval from your administrator to attend the event, use this Justification Toolkit, which includes:

  • Convention benefits
  • Justification letter template
  • Tips for speaking with your supervisor


Go Green to Save Green

This year, the convention will be “paper-light” and SHAPE America will make the world a little greener by using the mobile app to navigate convention sessions instead of producing a printed program.


Among the sponsors supporting the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo are Fuel Up to Play 60, Human Kinetics, KIDZ BOP, Life is Good Kids Foundation, New York Road Runners, Reebok and BOKS, Build our Kids’ Success, and Sportime featuring SPARK, a category of School Specialty, Inc.

For more information about SHAPE America’s National Convention & Expo, visit the website and follow #SHAPEBoston. The convention is held in partnership with SHAPE America Eastern District and the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD).

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.”

Play Your Cards Right and Increase Physical Activity

Thanks to all who attended our “Play Your Cards Right and Increase Physical Activity” session in Seattle.  As promised here are three more activities you can do with playing cards.  For those that were not able to attend, think about all of the fun you can have with your students using just a deck (or two or three!) of playing cards.  Even though many have limited budgets, you can still provide fun and creative activities to keep your students active and fit.  Stay tuned next month for a few more ideas!  Until then, “Play Your Cards Right” and keep your students active!!


Card Run

Students walk and jog around the gym.  Each time they pass you, hand them a playing card.  After the students have 2-3 cards stop, have them add up the number of points they received.  Face cards are 10 points and Aces are 1 points.  Then based on their total, they do to the Fitness task card activity that represents that number (1-26) and complete it 10 times.  If they have more than 26 have them subtract 10 points to get their activity.  Collect the cards and repeat the activity.


It’s in the Cards

Students work with a group of 4-6 people.  Each group has a stack of playing cards.  They turn one card over and then do a fitness task card activity listed for that particular card.  Have the four suits assigned to one activity and they do the activity that number of times.  Encourage students to share the job of turning the cards.

Variation:  Use only cards with up to 9 and have students count by that number a total of 10 times (i.e. if it is a 4 of clubs and push up shoulder touches is assigned to clubs they do the push up shoulder touches counting by 4’s until they get to 40).

Cards are on the side of the playing area with Fitness task activity cards posted on the wall.  They come back to their group and lead the group in the activity.


Category Cards                                                                                                                                                     Students work in groups of 3, starting on the side line or outside of playing area. Spread the cards out in the center of playing area.  Students will be assigned a task, locomotor or sport skill (dribble a ball) as they move to the card area. Students pick up a card and carry to team area while doing skill. Keep cards at group area until activity is over. Options: Determine which cards they may chose-only Red cards, only even cards, a sequence of cards, add letters on the back of cards to spell classroom spelling list or Physical Education vocabulary.


Convention Survival Tips

Convention Survival Tips

The Skillastics® Team has been to over 100 National Conventions in the past 20 years. We have some practical tips to share with you about how to get the most enjoyment, learning and connection out of those long days!

  • Don’t be a flipper.  You’ve seen them. Maybe you are one. The attendee who is constantly flipping through the program and realizing only too late that they missed the one session they wanted to go too.  Review the entire program BEFORE you get to the conference.  Create your own calendar and schedule. Set it up by day with the times and location of the specific sessions you will go to, who you want to see in the exhibit hall and which socials and meetings you want to attend.  Download your schedule to your phone – you won’t have to carry the big convention book around.
  • So many raffles, so little time! Print up a sheet or two of labels with your name, school, title, mailing address, email and phone number. Have them handy to hand out for mailing lists, raffles and for order forms. You’ll be glad you did.
  • If you are the convention with colleagues, split up to go to the sessions.  It’s always fun to stay together but you get more “bang for your buck” if you go to different sessions.
  • If you are in a session and it’s now what you expected, it’s ok to leave and go to another one.  Sometimes the descriptions and the actual session are not what you anticipate.  You need to benefit from each session you attend.
  • When you are in the exhibit area, if there is a vendor you want to go back and visit, take time to write down the information for where they are located-normally there are signs for each isle.  By doing this you will save time because you know where to go!
  • If you can’t make a purchase at the convention but find equipment that you think will be approved, ask the vendor how long the convention rate will be honored.
  • Leave some room in your suitcase for the return trip!  Or, there normally is a place at the convention center or close by where you can ship things back if needed.
  • But I can’t connect! Be prepared for difficulty connecting to the internet. Check in advance if the hotel has free wi-fi. And be prepared for access at the convention center to be limited or expensive. Research the nearest Starbucks!
  • Take care of the dogs! We’ve all heard the expression, “My dogs are barking.”
  • Conferences require a lot of walking. Frequently on concrete floors. Be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and that will serve you well for 8-10 hours per day.  And will allow to jump, run and play during the active sessions and demo’s.
  • Get the attention you deserve!
  • Have a specific vendor you want to talk too? Call in advance and set up an appointment. And if you don’t get around to doing that, block out a couple times when sessions are happening but you go to the exhibit hall. Vendors have down time when everyone else is in the sessions and so that is when you get the best service, can ask lot’s of questions and will build a relationship with your vendor.
  • Take a rest. Schedule 20 minutes each day where you will go to your room orsit in a park and recharge your batteries.
  • Fuel! The air in convention centers is dry. And bottled water isn’t cheap.
  • Bring a stainless steel bottle and keep it full. Drink often. Avoid pastry and high carb foods. Pack some high-energy foods like almonds, bananas or protein bars. Eat before you are hungry and drooling at the pizza stand. Your blood sugar will thank you.


Grant Resources

Check out the following resources that you might be interested in applying for.  One of these might be the perfect fit to your vision of establishing more quality physical education and or physical activity in your program!

a.       Smart for the Start Contest: 

                                                               i.      Website:

                                                             ii.      Amount: $2,500 – $20,000

                                                            iii.      Eligibility: Non-profit organizations

                                                           iv.      Deadline: March 2014

b.      Champions for Healthy Kids Academy Nutrition & Dietetics

                                                               i.      Website:

                                                             ii.      Amount: $20,000

                                                            iii.      Eligibility: Non-profit organizations, health

                                  departments, government agencies, schools,

                                  Native American Tribes

                                                           iv.      Deadline: March 2014

Build Self-Confidence

Recently I’ve been receiving e-mails from athletes confiding in me that they have lost their self-confidence. They were doing so well and then it seems like they can’t do anything correctly on the basketball court. They wonder, “What went wrong?,” “How can this happen when I was doing so well?”

First of all, I’m here to tell you this happens to EVERYONE! All the greatest athletes in the world have felt this way at some point in their lives. “Slumps” are a normal part of athletics. The key is how you handle that slump and what steps you take to get yourself out of it! Below I’ve outlined some steps to take in order to get out of a slump and build your self-confidence back. Whether you’re worried about making a team, or just feel like you’re in a slump with your practicing — applying these steps will help you regain that self-confidence and get you back on track.

1) Recognize that ALL athletes have slumps. If you understand that this is a part of being an athlete, you won’t think, “Something’s wrong with me.”

2) You can grow strength and confidence out of physical hardship, frustration, deprivation and failure. Recognize these uncomfortable situations for the CONFIDENCE-DEVELOPING opportunities they are and seize them. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

3) Physical Preparation. The foundation of confidence is neither glamorous nor mysterious. It’s boring, grueling, dirty, and monotonous. It hurts and it is very lonely. It requires constant sacrifice. If you want to feel like champion, then start training like one. Your secret to self-confidence is a four letter word: WORK.

4) Strengthen Your Weaknesses. Everyone loves to practice something they are good at. Because we succeed. The true test of a person’s character is if they work on their weaknesses. For instance, if you are really good at dribbling with your right hand and terrible at dribbling with your left hand, start practicing dribbling with that left hand. Before you know it, you’ll build confidence in using that left hand.

5) Set Up Your Training Environment to Boost Self-Confidence. Motivational signs should be up in your bedroom, reminding you to stay focused and help keep you motivated. My book, Off The Rim: Thoughts and Observations of the Game, was written for this purpose. Just reminding and reinforcing all the positive things about basketball. If you have a favorite saying or poem, hang it up in your bedroom or in your locker. Read it every night. Surround yourself with positive things!

6) Catch Yourself Doing Things Right. Keep track of all the gains you’ve made in your journey toward your ultimate goal. By focusing on the things you’re doing right, instead of dwelling on the things you’re doing wrong, you will begin to see that you have, AND are making progress.

*Some information excerpted from Sports Slump Busting by Alan S. Goldberg

Dribbling Through the Alphabet

How’s your basketball unit going?  Ready to try something new?  Here is an activity that integrates basketball fundamentals, basketball terminology and spelling in one!  First, Copy each of the 26 letters of the alphabet on 26, 8 1/2″  x 11″ sheets of paper.  If possible, laminate each sheet.

Copy each of the 42 basketball definitions on a piece of paper (see below)

Scatter all 26 letters throughout the playing area.  Place a Basketball Skillastics® Task Card under each of the 26 scattered letters.

Scatter the 42 basketball definitions in an area away from the letters.

Every child has a basketball or a ball that bounces.

On the signal, each student retrieves a basketball definition, reads the definition and remembers the word associated with the definition.  The  child can either place the definition back down on the floor or take it with them.

The objective is then to spell the word.  When he or she finds the letter (dribbling the ball to that letter), they look at the Basketball Skillastics® Task Card under that letter.

The student does the activity the number of repetitions that were determined prior to play (blue, red or green).  When the student completes the repetitions, he or she then searches for the next letter in the word they are spelling.

When a student finishes spelling the word, they jog back to the “word definition” area, replacing the last word spelled and retrieves another basketball term to spell and repeats the process.

The length of play is determined by the instructor.

Competitive Option:

  • Appoint teams

o   Each team is told to spell a word (each team has a different word, but has the same amount of letters in the words.  For example, assist and center).

o   The first team to spell the word first and dribble to a designated area, wins.


Basketball Terms:

Assist – A pass to a teammate who scores a basket immediately or after one dribble.

Air Ball – An unblocked shot that fails to hit the rim or backboard.

Alley Oop – An offensive play in which a player throws the ball up near the basket to a teammate who jumps, catches the ball in mid air and immediately scores a basket.

Backboard – The rectangular platform behind the rim that supports it.

Backcourt – The half of the court a team is defending.  The opposite of frontcourt.

Bank Shot – A shot that hits the backboard before hitting the rim or going through the net.

Baseline – The line that marks the playing boundary at either end of the court.  Also called the “end line”.

Block – To tip or deflect a shooter’s shot, altering its flight so the shot misses.

Carry – A penalty when an offensive player is deemed to have held the ball excessively while dribbling.  Also referred to as palming.

Chest Pass – The ball is passed from the chest

Center – one of the three standard player positions.  Centers are generally the tallest players on the floor.

Double-Dribble – To dribble the ball with two hands at the same time.

Dribble – To bounce the ball continuously with one hand.

Dunk – to score by putting the ball directly through the basket with one or both hands.

Fast Break – An offensive tactic in which a team attempts to advance the ball and score as quickly as possible.

Field Goal – A shot made from anywhere on the court, does not include free throws.

Forward – One of the three standard player positions.  Forwards are primarily responsible for scoring and rebounding.

Foul – Violations of the rules.

Free Throw – An unopposed attempt to score a basket, worth one point, from the free throw line.

Granny Shot – An underhand shot taken using both hands, usually as a free throw.

Guard – One of the three standard player positions.  Guards have strong ball-handling and passing skills and are typically used to run the offense.

Halftime – The end of the first of play.  The interval between the two halves.

Jump Shot – An overhead shot taken while jumping.

Key – The free-throw lane.

Lay – Up – A close-range shot using one hand to bank the ball off the backboard.

Man-to-Man Defense – A defense in which each player guards a single opposing player.

Offensive Foul – A foul committed by a  member of the team playing offense.

Overtime – When the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the teams play a five-minute overtime period.

Palming – Referring to the habit of an offensive player to hold the ball under the ball while dribbling.  It is a violation.

Pass – To throw the ball to a teammate.

Pivot Foot – The foot that must remain touching the floor to avoid traveling.

Post Up – To go in or near the key, turn so that you are facing away from the basket towards a teammate who has the ball, and try to establish position to receive a pass.

Rebound – to obtain the ball after a missed field goal attempt.

Set Shot – A shot taken without leaving the floor.

Shot Clock – A timer designed to increase the pace by requiring the ball to either touch the rim or enter the basket before the timer expires, resulting in a loss of possession.

Sixth Man – A player who does not start, but is generally the first person off the bench.

Swish – A shot which goes through the net without hitting the backboard or rim.

Technical Foul – A foul assessed for unsportsmanlike non-contact behavior.

Three-Pointer – A shot, worth three points, attempted with both feet behind the three point line.

Travel – To move one’s pivot foot illegally.

Turnover – A loss of possession.

Violation – An infraction of the rules other than a foul, such as traveling or a three-second violation.

Zone Defense – A defense in which each player is responsible for a section of the court to defend.


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