Why Are There No Timeouts in Endurance Sports?


I watched a basketball game this weekend, in which play was stopped over and over again for timeouts. There were so many timeouts that the final 30 seconds of the game took five minutes to complete.

Typical comments from commentators included: “That was a good timeout. You could see the team needed a breather.”
Or…
“That timeout was perfectly called. Coach needed to change tactics. What a momentum-change that provided.”

Hilary, one of my cross-country runners, takes exception to timeouts in team sports.  In Hilary’s words, “If they can take timeouts in basketball because they’re tired, why not in cross-country?”

Good point. I’d love to be able to call a timeout when my cross-country racers are dropping off the pace and need a break. Or in a middle distance track race, when my runners are boxed-in on the curb. It would make a big difference if I could jump onto the track with my hands in the traditional time-out signal and get the officials to whistle the race to a stop. A 30-second conference  with my athlete with instructions such as:

“I told you to stay off the curb, Joe. Now get back in there and move out of that box!”

And off to the races again, with Joe nicely moving out of his boxed-in position and ready for a kick to the finish.

Alas, I fear this is never to be.  All is not fair in love and war…or, apparently, sport!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports humor, sports humour,physical education,timeouts in sport[/tags]

Inspirational Video for the Underdog – Beating the Odds

Does your team have an upcoming competition against an overwhelming favorite? Do they think they don’t stand a chance? Do you need a way to fire them up and get them to believe?

Then have them watch this inspirational video, produced as a Nike advertisement in 2010.

Here’s a sample of the script:

“Just remember, out here, the results don’t always add up. No matter what the stats may say, no matter what the experts may think, and commentators may have predicted, when the race is on, all bets are off. Don’t be surprised if somebody decides to flip the script and take a pass on yelling ‘Uncle.” And then suddenly, as the old saying goes, “We got ourselves a game.”

There’s just one caveat about the language. The video contains the phrase, “Just because they’re strong doesn’t mean they can’t get their asses kicked.” That might not be appropriate for the classroom or for younger students.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]inspirational video,sports inspiration,underdogs,underdog,coaching,physical education[/tags]

A New Sport? The 100m Hurdles in Swim Fins

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100 Hurdles in Swim Fins

There are a number of hybrid sports:  the biathlon combines nordic skiing and shooting; the heptathlon combines seven track and field events; the triathlon combines swimming, cycling and running. So why not another hybrid –  swim-fin-hurdling?

Sound crazy? Yup – but the World record is fast!  In fact, heptathlete Veronica Torr from New Zealand broke the old World mark of 22.35 seconds by flipper-hurdling over the 100m distance in 19.28 seconds. While the world’s non-flippered best run the event in just over 12 seconds and credible high school athletes run in 14, she’s not far off. Especially for a flipper-foot.

You can see the World record, as it was set, in the following video. You’ll notice that, unlike the Olympic hurdles races, that Ms. Torr is grinning ear-to-ear throughout the entire race.

And for those technical hurdle experts out there, you can see the entire race in slow-motion.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]swim fin hurdling,hurdling with swim fins, swim fin hurdles record[/tags]

Thunderstorms, Night Meets, Canada Geese and Fireflies Provide an Unforgettable Experience

Canada-Geese_webI ‘m a track fan and I love night meets. There’s nothing quite like them. The stadium lights turn the track into a giant stage as everything around the track fades into the darkness.  There’s a heightened sense of drama because athletes look like they’re performing under a spotlight.

The wind drops to nothing, there’s a bite to the air, and conditions become perfect for competition. And there’s an elevated sense of anticipation, as if everyone in the stadium is holding their breath, waiting for the next great performance.

Our regional championships were held in my hometown last week, and a lightning-delay forced the meet to linger into the night. Of course, I was delighted by Mother Nature’s intervention. As always, the night competition heightened the track experience, but nature provided two perks that made the evening even more special for me.

As the meet was ending, a large flock of Canada geese flew over the field, barely clearing the stadium roof. A fly-over by the air force couldn’t have been more dramatic. Everyone became silent,  the only sound a chorus of honking and the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the powerful birds as they thrust the air beneath their wings. They had appeared suddenly, close above us, highlighted in sharp detail beneath the stadium lights and then just as suddenly disappeared into the darkness, their sounds slowly fading into the night. It was definitely a “wow” moment for everyone who witnessed it.

The other special experience happened soon afterward, as I rode my bicycle home, two kilometers down a dirt path.  Pedaling beneath its overhanging canopy, I could barely see the silhouette of the bordering tree trunks as I flew down the path. Suddenly, without warning, I was surrounded by hundreds of fireflies, igniting and disappearing like signal lights in the darkness. Sensing my approach, they moved to the edge of the path and formed a flickering audience for over 200 meters as I pedaled through them, my jaw wide open in awe.

A track meet under the lights … a fly-over by floodlit Canada geese … a flood of fireflies… all in one night!  Life can be good.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]track and field,track & field,night track meets,physical education,Mother Nature,Canada Geese,fireflies[/tags]

Can Physical Education Unite a War-Torn Country?

Athletes-Shaking-Hands_webWhen it comes to physical education, it seems that Uganda is more advanced in its thinking than many North American school boards. Rather than firing PE teachers and cutting PE from school curricula, Uganda’s ministry for education has announced that they’ll be recruiting 3600 new physical education teachers over the next two years.

In justifying this expenditure, the minister stated the well-known (but often ignored or misunderstood) rationale of improved health among students.

However, he also  expressed a benefit that is overlooked in North America but is of great urgency in a country with a long history of civil war…unity!

In education minister Kamanda Bataringaya’s speech, he appealed for local leaders to support sport in their districts as a way to unite their communities. In his words: “Very many countries fight each other but when it comes to sports, they are one.”

Fitness, health, national unity.

In Bataringaya’s words,  “So, education should go hand in hand with sports.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Reference: Paul Watala and Joseph Wanzusi, “Government Eyes 3600 to Train Physical Education,” AllAfrica.com,  April 8, 2010.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,PE,physical education advantages,physical education and unity,sport and unity,sport advantages[/tags]

Why the Olympics are So Addictive

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The Winter Olympics are over, and if you’re like me, you’re feeling a huge void in your life! That’s particularly true here in Canada, where Olympaholics like myself became accustomed to following the Games in the mornings, at the office, during meals, in the shower, and late at night.

It’s interesting, but for those 17 days, I completely forgot about the Toronto Raptors, a team I’d been following before the Olympics. Somehow, the struggles of the millionaire players on that squad seemed inconsequential compared to the efforts of the world’s snowboarders, curlers, nordic skiers, ice dancers,  skeleton racers, and bobsledders, many of whom live below the poverty line.

I was particularly interested in the efforts of two athletes, Canadian hockey player Rebecca Johnston and cross-country skier, Devon Kershaw. I coached them both in their high school days, when they were competitive runners in addition to being phenoms in their chosen sport.

They were both excellent runners, having won medals at the provincial, and in Rebecca’s case, the National Junior level (in the 400m).  I can take absolutely no credit for their Olympic success – they made wise choices in specializing in sports other than running. But it sure was fun watching them perform at the highest level, at our home Olympics, under the most intense scrutiny they’ll ever face.

Rebecca, a speedy forward on the team’s “energy line,” won a gold medal in hockey – Canada’s game- with every eye in the country watching her every move! At only 20 years of age, she played with incredible composure and was a threat to score every time she took the ice.

Devon helped put Canada’s men’s team on the map in cross-country skiing, placing a surprise fourth in the men’s team sprint (a two-man relay), then a shocking fifth in the 50km mass start – the most prestigious of the cross-country skiing events. Better known as a sprinter, he missed fourth by a photo-finish and a bronze medal by .5 of a second.

My favorite moment of the Games was Devon’s interview immediately after his race, when, exhausted and emotional, he was asked why he was so upset. He said, that it was a tough pill to swallow to have skied for two hours only to come up 1.5 seconds from a gold medal… Not the bronze, not a silver. but gold. What a mental shift from an athlete who went into the race ranked 27th, and before the Games would have thought a top-10 finish to be a dream result.

For me, that’s why Olympics are so addictive to so many. The pressure-filled atmosphere allows us a glimpse into both the athletic evolution and the true character of the athletes we observe, and if we’re lucky, with whom we’ve associated.

You can see the finish of Devon’s race and his interview at:
http://www.ctvolympics.ca/cross-country-skiing/results-and-schedules/event=ccm750000/phase=ccm750101/highlights.html

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic cross-country skiing,Olympic nordic skiing,,Olympic hockey[/tags]