You Don’t Need The Best Facilities to be the Best Athletes

The World Cup is over and I’m still blown away by what players at that level can do with a soccer ball. But what happens when you combine soccer with Capoeira, the acrobatic martial art from Brazil? Take a look (warning…don’t try this at home).

These young athletes aren’t practicing on groomed grass fields. They’re performing in an inner-city setting on dirt lots, paved streets, rooftops and courtyards. This video may help your students to realize that it doesn’t take the best facilities in the world to become the best athletes in the world. It takes work, dedication, constant practice and the obvious passion for one’s sport demonstrated by these athletes. Incidentally, Brazil is one of the best soccer countries on the globe.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]soccer, Capoeira,soccer skills,acrobatic soccer moves[/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]

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]

Fashion Versus Functionality in Sport & Eyeglasses

Glasses_blog2As I was recently watching the world’s women’s curling championships, I was struck by the number of participants who were wearing the latest fashion in eyeglasses –  spectacles with extremely wide arms and transparent rims. In many cases, they made a probably-attractive wearer look very severe.

I know they’re the latest fashion because I just purchased some new glasses and the optometrist was pushing hard for me to get that latest look. You can call me an old fogey, but while this style may be the latest thing, I think they’re often unattractive.  And I also believe they aren’t as functional as narrow-armed glasses because the wide arms block your peripheral vision.

When you think of it, why would eyewear even have a “latest fashion?” Surely there are specific styles that work best with the shape of your face – and that has nothing to do with the latest fashion. And from a functionality standpoint, glasses that completely block your peripheral vision certainly won’t help your driving record.

The fashion phenomenon is common in sport as well as in eyewear, and often to the detriment of athletes. Running shoes are the best example. In order to stimulate sales, running shoe companies change their models every year or two. That way, their products always have the “latest features” that make their predecessor obsolete. The unfortunate result is that athletes, whose old shoes were ideal, must now wear new-and-improved models that neither feel nor work as well as the old model.

In sport, as in eyewear, following the latest fashion often benefits nobody but the manufacturers.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sport equipment,sport fashion,running shoes,running shoe models[/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]

A Lesson From the Winter Olympics – Don’t Regret Taking a Risk

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The Winter Olympics have been my constant companion since the first minutes of the opening ceremonies. In fact, they’re on my office TV as I write this blog.

I’m a proud Canadian and have watched a number of Canucks, some of them favorites in their event, finish off the podium.

Skeleton racer and race favourite, Melissa Hollingsworth dropped from 2nd to finish fifth on her last run of the competition. Chris del Bosco, in sight of the finish line with a solid bronze medal in his pocket, took a risky jump and hit the deck. He finished fourth. Bobsledder Lyndon Rush crashed his sled after an excellent start – he was in third place at the time. A number of our Canadian downhill and grand slalom skiers fell on the icy slopes at Whistler.

I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Why? Because these athletes could have played it safe and settled for a performance that might have netted a minor medal but would have, in their mind, been mediocre. Instead, they rolled the dice and went for it all.

There is no big payout without big risk.

It’s a concept I am constantly trying to teach my young athletes. I ask them never to regret taking a gamble and pushing for more. Sometimes taking a risk works and sometimes it doesn’t, but they’ll never know their limits unless they try.

Thank you, Mellisa and Chris and everyone who has taken a gamble on that biggest of stages. For some of you, it has paid off wonderfully. For others it hasn’t. But it’s better to test your limits and crash then to always wonder how much better you could have been. It’s what competing and pushing for excellence is all about. It’s what the Olympics are supposed to be all about.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic skeleton,Olympic ski cross,Olympic bobsled,Olympic Downhill[/tags]