Outward Appearances Can Belie the Talents Within

In the “Looks Can be Deceptive” category. Never discount a person, no matter how feeble or unassuming they may appear. This video shows a tiny old lady participating in a talent show. She’s 80 years of age, can barely walk, doesn’t hear too well and her hands shake as she is holding the microphone.

Then, when she sings, she absolutely fills the room with her voice. This is the “Britain’s Got Talent” video of Janey Cutler. Be sure to watch the video right to the end to hear her really belt it out.

This video provides a teaching point for young people: never discount that elderly person using a walker; the street person sleeping on a park bench or even fellow students in physical education class who can’t catch a ball or sink a foul shot. Those people may have talents in other areas that would put yours to shame.

And for those students whose abilities don’t lie on the courts or in the gym. Make sure you encourage them to develop the other talents they have hidden within!



Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,inspiration,looks can be deceiving[/tags]

“He Called On It All” – A Motivational Video for Track Athletes

It’s track and field championship season. If you’re looking for a video to motivate your runners, check this out. It’s not a high quality production, but it’s set to music and the message is great. It’s called “He Called on it All.”

It shows Olympic 800m champion, Dave Wottle, in his surprise come-from-behind victory at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. It shows Wottle, wearing a white cap, trailing the field by 10m over the 1st lap. It does a nice job of following Wottle in his final 300m as he moves up on the field, then the final 100m in which he overcomes an apparently insurmountable lead to win.

It’s interspersed with video of current American 800m star, Nick Symmonds, running similar tactics at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. He’s wearing a white singlet and black compression shorts.

If this doesn’t get your runners fired up, nothing will.

The video concludes with the quote by Norman Harris – a description of Jack Lovelocks’s finishing kick to win the 1936 Olympic 1500m:

“It came like electricity, it came from every fibre, from his fingertips to his toes.
“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”.
He called on it all.”


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

P.S. Norman Harris, the author of the wonderful verse that ends this clip has told me that the words shown on the video have become confused. In fact, the correct wording is:

“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”

Thanks for the feedback, Norman!

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[tags]physical education,track and field,800m,Dave Wottle, Nick Symmonds[/tags]

“Track and Field Coach” Website – A Great Free Resource for Coaches

track and field,physical education

If you’re like most of the track coaches that I know, you’re always searching for new information resources.

So, good news – there’s a new website that provides loads of track and field technique information. Called “Track and Field Coach,” it’s the brainchild of Ron Parker, a Canadian coach from Victoria, BC, with 40 years of experience under his belt.

The site provides free technique articles, video analysis and workout planning tips that are sure to improve your abilities as a coach.

I particularly like the “Event on a Page” articles, that condense the primary technical points for each track and field event on a single page that you can print out and bring to practice.

You can see “Track and Field Coach” at the following link:


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,track and field coaching,track and field coaches[/tags]

Parkour Can Spice Up Your Gymnastics Unit

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK) is a sport in which participants use a variety of gymnastics, tumbling and balance moves to run quickly through an urban environment. Participants negotiate obstacles by jumping, vaulting, swinging, climbing and scaling walls.

While Parkour is not competitive, its close relative, “Freerunning,”  is a competition sport. Freerunning is similar to parkour but includes acrobatic trick moves such as aerial rotations and spins that aren’t efficient in terms of speed of movement through a course, but add drama to the sport.

Parkour and freerunning were developed in France, based on the originators’ experience with Vietnamese soldiers’ use of the techniques as a means of escaping pursuit. Parkour is now taught to the British and U.S. marines.

Parkour has received publicity from its inclusion in video games and popular movies such as Casino Royale, where it was employed in a famous chase scene.

Because of the obvious risks, you should discourage your students from practicing parkour in real-life, outdoor situations. However, you can use the sport’s growing media-generated “buzz” to make it a popular addition to your gymnastics unit. Here’s a video that is a compilation of a 3-week parkour unit for elementary school students.


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,parkour,freerunning,[/tags]

Sun and Mud and a Spring Day and Just Having Fun

At last! After long winter months of running in school hallways. After endless hurdle drills on linoleum and cement. After dreary, dark training runs on icy roads—Spring had sprung. We were finally the recipients of a beautiful, sunny Spring day, and, track coach that I am, it was time to rejoice. Although it was partly snow-covered, 200 meters of our outdoor track had melted.

With that familiar spring smell of fresh air and melting dog-doo in our nostrils, we were finally ready to do some serious damage in track practice. To begin the deadly serious business of winning city, regional and provincial championships… and who knows—maybe even qualifying for the Olympic trials later in the summer.

It was a Saturday sprinters’ practice and our racehorses were ready to tear up the track, unfettered by the threat of looming hallway walls and locker-door collisions.

But surprisingly, two of our distance runners also showed up for practice. I was surprised because their Saturday workout was just an optional, easy distance run. These two girls, 14 and 15 years old, were elite cross-country skiers who enjoy running in the summer time.

“We’ll just go for a run,” they said as they left the track at a slow jog. I assumed they would head down the road where the footing was safe.

Our stadium is in a beautiful setting: surrounded by rocky hills that are criss-crossed with skiing and jogging trails. Although these trails are popular in mid-winter and summer, in the Spring they’re a no-man’s land of mud, ice, partially melted snow and leafless trees. It was part way through our workout that I realized the girls had headed onto these trails. My first clue came 20 minutes before they actually jogged back into view—a fanfare of giggles and screams and laughter echoing sharp and clear off the hills.

One of my sprinters looked at me and asked, “Where in the heck are they—out on the trails? They’ve got to be nuts!”

Another fast 200m for our sprinters, then another. I kept peeking up into the hills, waiting for the source of the laughter to appear.  And then I saw them. Both girls, wearing only T-shirts, shorts and shoes, sliding down a snowy slope on their butts. And laughing like crazy. Landing at the bottom, they ran back up the hill and slid down standing up—cross country skiing without their skis.

Their “run” completed, they jogged back to the track, climbed our timers’ stand and lay on their backs,  their muddy feet flopped onto a handrail. Contented, they just lay there, soaking up the sun and the warmth and the fresh air.

For the girls, it had been a great afternoon. No video games, no high-tech toys, no television, no organized team competitions—just a muddy trail, a pair of shoes, a sunny day and a friend to enjoy them with.

One of my older girls remarked, “Teenagers really are annoying at that age. All they do is giggle.” I didn’t say anything, but I had to disagree—I left that practice feeling happy, and carefree, and very young.

It had occurred to me as I watched them sliding down that hill—and I can still hear their laughter echoing off the hills as I write this article—that this is what sports, and fitness, and the professions of coaching and physical education are really all about.

Winning and excellence and personal improvement are admirable goals. But in it’s essence, sport is really just play. Necessary play. And the joy that comes with movement, and being fit and interacting in a physical way with nature. And being young…and (for us older folks) realizing that by being able to play, we can experience the joy and innocence of youth all of our lives.

I hope the girls always remember that day. And I hope I will too. Especially on those occasions when I take the achievement aspect of sport a little too seriously. I hope the memory of their laughter ringing off those hills will give me a subtle slap on the face and the reminder, ”Hey, it’s only play after all. This is supposed to be fun!”


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,track,running,fitness fun,youth sports,youth fitness[/tags]

Some Team Nicknames Aren’t Intimidating

Ferocious, tenacious, aggressive, fierce, proud. These are the qualities we usually associate with our sports teams.

As coaches, we want the very mention of our team’s name to strike fear into the hearts of opponents. We want them sitting in their locker rooms the day before they play us, stomachs knotted in fear, thinking, “My gosh, tomorrow we play the Screaming Scarlet Eviscerators. Maybe my mom can write me a note so I don’t have to go.”

That’s why we give our teams nicknames that embody these traits: Lions, Hawks, Vikings, Wolves, Red-Eyed Panthers.

Keeping this in mind, it’s surprising how many teams are named for less than frightening things. A quick scan through a university directory reveals some interesting monikers.

For example, some team nicknames seem downright nice. I can’t imagine a friendlier contest than one between the Gentlemen of Centenary College and the Monks of Saint Joseph’s College. Or the Poets of Whittier College and the Missionaries of Whitman College. Heck, they probably don’t even hire referees for their games.

In contrast, one of the yuckiest matchups would have to be the Banana Slugs of U. of Cal at Santa Cruz versus the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian. How’d you like to mop the gym floor after that one?

And another messy contest in which the feathers are sure to fly: the Fightin’ Blue Hens of Delaware against the Power Gulls of Endicott College.

Some nicknames conjure up powerful images: The Austin College Kangaroos slam-dunking the basketball. The Fighting Parsons of NYACK College telling their opponents, “Don’t elbow me again, or I’ll give you a good blessing.” The Florida Southern Moccasins getting stepped all over by their opponents. The Rhode Island College Anchormen doing their own play-by-play TV coverage. The Retrievers of U. of Maryland-Baltimore County going for the long ball. And the Vandals of Idaho U. spraying graffiti on locker room walls wherever they play.

And then there are the totally uncoachable Mules of Central Missouri, in contrast to the Diplomats of Franklin and Marshall College, who’ll do anything you ask. And, of course, the Chokers of Grays Harbor College, who, for some reason, always seem to miss that game-winning shot.

Some schools, realizing their men’s team nickname may not be popular with their female athletes, have a separate women’s nickname. The Weevils of U. of Arkansas-Monticello mercifully become the women’s Cotton Blossoms. The Student Princes of Heidelburg College become the Student Princesses. However, some teams are not so sensitive to the image of their women’s teams. Surely the Jumbos can’t be a popular nickname among women athletes at Tufts. Ditto for the Pittsburgh State Gorillas or the Trolls of Trinity Christian College.

Finally, there are some team nicknames that just leave you wondering what they are—a great strategy for keeping the opposition confused and unprepared. How do you match up against a Gee Gee from the U. of Ottawa, or an Ook from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology? And what exactly is an Washurn U. Icabod, or a St. Louis U. Billiken?

If nothing else, the research I’ve done for this article has given me some great words to use in my next Scrabble game. For example, do you know what a Saluki is? Or a Catamount? Let’s break out that Scrabble board!


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

Saluki: A hunting dog native to Asia and North Africa. Team nickname for Southern Illinois U.
Catamount: A wild cat such as a cougar or lynx. Team nickname for Vermont U.


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[tags]physical education,team nicknames[/tags]