Friday, August 20, 2010

ShotSpots- They’re Not Just For Basketball!

This blog was written by Janice Jodlowski, Catalog Marketing Manager of our newest Preferred Vendor Partner - Palos Sports. Janice is a 16 year veteran in the sports and fitness industry and is responsible for finding new products for the PE market. She also works closely with professionals in the industry to develop activities for the products and integrate them into PE classes. She presents sessions and workshops to school districts and at conferences.

One of the best parts of my job is meeting teachers who are passionate about making P.E. a positive experience for their classes. If there is one nugget of wisdom I’ve learned in working with those Physical Education teachers for 16 years, it’s this: “Do not assume a PE teacher will use a product for its intended purpose. “

Case in point: ShotSpots™. They consist of a set of seven 18” diameter PVC/vinyl, non-skid floor mats that are double sided with numbers and point values. Designed to sharpen shooting skills, players would use these spots to mark shooting stations. Flip the spots on one side for numbers to mark positions or flip them over to create point values for each shot made from the spot’s location.

The PVC/vinyl material they are made from is very similar to the products you use to line cabinets. The packaging states you can use the ShotSpots™ indoors or out. . Indoor- absolutely! On a wood or tile floor the spots do not slip out from under foot. Outdoors- use caution on blacktop. In hot weather they can stick a little and will get dirty rather quickly. On concrete surfaces- they work well and it takes a little longer for them to get dirty. It is recommended to sweep the play area first.

Included in the packaging are 8 game ideas- 4 each for number and point games. They include a version of Around the World, Line ‘Em Up, 7 Shot Add ‘Em Up, Twenty One and a 2 Minute Shootout using the included digital timer.

By design, ShotSpots™ seem pretty straight forward in concept. However, get them in the hands of a creative PE teacher and they take on a life of their own. Here are some activities and ideas that teachers have shared with me recently:

• Use the point value side of the spots and place on the reception side of a volleyball court. Servers must aim at the spots to receive the point values.
• Use the number side of the spots and place on the reception side of a volleyball court. Servers must aim at the spots and hit all spots 1 thru 7. Variation for higher skill levels: if they miss a spot, they must start over.


• Use the number side of the spots and spread out against the wall for bowling lanes. Beginner bowlers aim to roll the ball over the spot. As skill levels increase, flip spots over and use point values. As skill levels further increase, add bowling pins.

Floor Hockey:

• Use point or number sides of spots to create shooting stations for floor hockey. Arrange class into teams and play for points or use as a timed shooting event. Make sure to use a hockey ball or similar to roll over the spot.

• Use the point side of the spots to represent daily portions from each food group. Create a relay using food cards for players to learn portions and food groups.

Granted, most of these ideas are simply using the spots for their numbers or point values, however, using the spots to represent daily portion amounts for food groups is pretty clever. It’s this creative mentality that continues to drive Physical Education teachers to create quality lessons filled with academic content that makes P.E. a positive experience for their students.

That’s just the beginning of the possibilities for the ShotSpots™ as they’ve only been on the market since November 2009. The question is, what would you use them for?

ShotSpots™ are available exclusively at Palos Sports. Visit or call 1-800-233-5484 for more information.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Critical Information for Staying Hydrated

Guest Blogger: Rhonda Fincher of the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation

Fifteen years ago I learned that heat illness can kill and that proper hydration is one way to prevent heat illness. I also learned that it is necessary to TEACH proper hydration. It was 15 years ago at this time that my son Kendrick was in Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Our healthy 13-year-old son had gone to his first day of football practice on a hot Arkansas day and suffered heat stroke. I watched and participated in the fight for his survival, but in the end he died 18 days later from multi-system organ failure as a result of heat stroke.

There was a lot I didn’t know 15 years ago that I know now. Let me share some of these with you:
  • Heat stroke can kill a healthy 13-year-old boy.
  • An athlete and their parents need to make sure they are ready for practices and games; it is not only the coaches’ responsibility.
  • Football practice for 8th grade is not like taking your child to community recreational sports practice.
  • Most people do not recognize the importance of proper hydration throughout their daily lives.
  • Coaches want winning teams and they do what they need to do to ensure the athlete is ready for games. It can be a tough and grueling practice, but everyone wants their team to win, right? Even parents.
  • The Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation would directly educate over 200,000 children and athletes about the importance of proper hydration and heat illness prevention.
  • I would have the resolve to do for 15 years what I wish would have been done before Kendrick died.
  • Athletes still die from heat stroke.
  • I would be sitting in an office adorned with t-shirts from 12 youth runs in memory of my son.
  • I would be lugging tents and misting units and serving ice water across Northwest Arkansas in an effort to keep the community cool.
  • Kendrick’s name would be on the NFL website.
  • Kendrick’s name would be in the US Congressional record.
  • If you Google “Kendrick Fincher” there are pages and pages of results.
Elementary school is a critical time to TEACH children the importance of proper hydration. With the continual media messages that beverage choices should be carbonated, sparkling, flavored, caffeinated, etc., it is important that we demonstrate healthy drink choices and teach children the importance of water to their health. There is also a lot of information I have gained that I have been able to share with educators and coaches. Much of what teachers and coaches are trained in college to do for their job has to do with education and techniques.

Here are some suggestions and resources for physical educators to encourage this healthy lifestyle in the students and teachers they work with:

- Use our “beehydrated” pamphlet that talks about basic hydration information to teach a unit in hydration.

- For athletes, our “Beat the Heat” pamphlet provides a great resource.

- Encourage the teachers to have the children bring in a water bottle and keep on their desk to hydrate throughout the day. It is to their benefit as just a 1% dehydration level of thirst, results in a 10% reduction in the child’s ability to concentrate.

- In high school levels, talk to the principal or superintendent about allowing and encouraging the students to be drinking water throughout the day. Many children are involved in after school sports and unless they are hydrating throughout the day their performance and their safety will be compromised.

- Water fountains, in addition to providing a source of germs, only result in a 1-3 ounce drink of water. Teachers can allow students time to fill up their water bottles in the morning and then use their water fountain trip for a bathroom break.

Properly hydrated children are healthier children! Water affects all aspects of life and what better way to ensure children are in school and learning to their full capacity: TEACH the importance of proper hydration for their body!

For more information and resources, contact Rhonda or visit the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation website.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Power of PEP

This article is a blast from the past, but it so perfectly highlights the Power of the PEP Grant. Learn how the PE4life Academy Training Center in Titusville, PA came to be and how others have put their funding to good use...

Fitness Assessment
The popular PEP grant program has allowed hundreds of school districts to re-energize P.E. programs with new equipment and specialized training.

By Michael Popke, January 2008

Tim McCord was bored. The year was 1999, and after two decades as a physical education teacher at Titusville (Pa.) Middle School — where classes revolved around a traditional curriculum of football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and softball and track and field in the spring — he was looking for a challenge, something to re-energize his department, his students and himself.

"I'd been doing the same things for about 20 years at that time, and I could have continued to do them standing on my head," says McCord, now chair of the physical education department for the Titusville Area School District. "I thought, 'Is it really our job to teach these kids sports skills? Or is it our job to teach them how to live healthy lives?' "

To find the answer, McCord requested permission from the district's superintendent to take a field trip to Naperville, Ill., where students at Central High School were among the first in the country to participate in physical education classes that actually improved more than their ball-handling skills. There, he saw instructors incorporating high-tech fitness equipment and detailed health-risk assessments into everyday P.E. classes.

No longer bored, McCord returned to Titusville — a small and economically stressed community in which half of all students at the time were eligible for free or reduced school-lunch programs — and shared his findings with the school board. The next thing he knew, McCord was handed a check for $30,000 (10 times the district's entire physical education budget that year) to revamp the middle school's P.E. department with cardiovascular-fitness and strength-training equipment, along with plenty of heart-rate monitors. With the following year came another check, this one for $40,000 to replicate the middle school's program at Titusville High School. One year later, the district gave McCord an additional $10,000 to purchase fitness-assessment machines for both schools.

Then, in 2003, the district was awarded $342,000 from the federal government in the form of a Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant, which funded repairs and upgrades to existing equipment, added climbing or traversing walls at every school in the district, and expanded overall P.E. programming. Then came the clincher: The high school's principal rearranged for the daily schedule to expand from eight classes to nine, shifting periods from 43 minutes to 40 and making room for daily P.E. sessions.

"All I did was explain to our school board that our physical education program was going nowhere," McCord says. "Now I don't think our kids understand how good they have it."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How Do You Keep Students Active During PE?

Obesity Rates Keep Rising, Troubling Health Officials - this article was published in The New York Times today. It reports, not surprisingly, that obesity rates continue to be on the rise.

One statement that did stand out in the article: "Children do not get enough exercise during the school day; Dr. Frieden noted that even in gym classes, students are active for only about a third of the time."

We know this is true in many circumstances, but we've also witnessed some awesome PE programs that we know keep students active for more than a third of the time. If you have one of these programs, what's your secret?

1. How do you keep your students' heart rates up during class? Small-sided games? Exergaming?

2. Do you collect data to prove your students are active for longer than a third of the time? If so, how? Heart Rate Monitors?

3. What advice can you give other physical educators to increase activity time in PE?

Leave your answers in the comments below!