Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nov 20

The Family that plays together gets fit together…kinda.

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

My son is 19 and my step-son is 7. A big age gap but surprisingly they have a lot in common.

No, not football (step-son hates watching and is too young to play). Not soccer. Older son doesn’t like it. Nope, not swimming, basketball, running or doing anything athletic.

What they have in common is video games. They can play for hours. Or mostly the 20 year old teaches the tricks to the 7 year old.

I wish kids had more to do at home. Or maybe less. If there were no video games maybe they’d have to go outside for walks. Even at night.

Or maybe they would have to find some other ways to entertain themselves. Like master an instrument.

But at least they play together and have fun. They even fight and argue like real siblings. It’s kinda cute actually. And then it gets obnoxious fast.

Of course, sometimes their fighting leads to big time wrestling and then it does get physical. The little one gets to test his strength and the big one gets to practice his throws and punches. He even gets to build up his strength by doing body presses with the 7 year old.

It could be worse.

Nov 20

Special Education Adapted Pe Assessment. Student #2

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Today, I did an assessment for Adapted PE services on an 8th grade boy. He’s in mainstream PE and taking resource classes, so he’s got pretty good cognitive and intellectual skills.

It’s obvious watching him move that there are gross motor delays. He isn’t fluid in his movements and his limbs seem disconnected from his body.

Also, there are some social delays as well. In his PE class they were playing dodge ball (don’t get me started). He was in the back, just wandering around, not engaged in the game at all. To be fair, neither were a lot of kids but they were at least looking out to see if a ball was going to bonk them in the head.

My student had a great attitude. He knew that he wasn’t very good at certain things. But he tried and did his best. Without going into great detail there were three things I noticed that I think a lot of kids have that would prevent them from being successful in mainstream PE curriculum.

First, his eyes couldn’t track at all. They stared straight ahead and didn’t follow my finger. I wish I had seen if he would move his head to track. I think he would have but I had told him to keep his head still. If we work together again, I will check.

The second gross motor delay was that he had a difficult time applying the correct amount of force to a movement. It was as if he had a two speed bike when an 18 speed was needed.

The third area of concern is that he didn’t have much perceptual awareness of his body in space. He didn’t have much control of where he put his arms or legs. They were in a spot and making fine corrections was going to be difficult.

I think a lot of kids who have problems in PE or youth sports have some of these same issues. My guess is that in these extreme cases that I’m getting it is mostly a matter of brain function. In other less severe cases, it’s probably a combination of brain and limited movement experiences to develop the skills.

I’m not 100% sure he will be added to my caseload. I’m also not sure how much he can improve. I am going to recommend he be added once a week for 30 minutes to see if he can progress and improve.


Nov 20

Favorite Equipment for Youth Sports to Build Agility, Speed and Coordination

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I’m not a huge proponent of using equipment. I find it takes up a lot of space (I live in an apartment and space is at a premium). Another problem is that of picking it up, taking it to the practice field and then having to put it back again.

But there using equipment has some advantages. First, it’s fun and unique. Just by putting something different out there can keep kids interested and focused.

Second, it’s another modality which is important for transferring and improving sports skills.

Third, I think kids like using equipment.

One piece of equipment I’ve used is the agility ladder. I like the ladder because:

  • It doesn’t take up too much space.
  • It’s inexpensive
  • Easy to set-up and take down.
  • Countless variations of movements to do.
  • Easy to run a lot of kids through the ladder.
  • Gives a great workout.

Amazon has them for a very reasonable price. The one I’ve linked too even has a DVD to go with it.

If you’re working with kids and looking to get some equipment for them, you can’t go wrong with an agility ladder. Click the link to see if it’s right for you.

Nov 20

Special Needs Fitness Workout for Kids #3

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Since we only meet once a week for 30 minutes, I didn’t want to overwhelm him with too much. I thought three exercises would be plenty to start off with.

The three exercises, I picked were:

  • Modified push-up using a wall or desk.
  • Modified squats using support
  • Stationary one-leg butt kicks

I wasn’t sure how many or at what angle we should start the push-ups. I thought three steps back (to about 45 degrees) would be close. It turned out that that was too far, so we went to two steps back. He did 5 reps and I had him stop. Remember rule 2? Always leave something left.

For squats he used a table for support. He had a difficult time placing his feet parallel. Also, one leg is stronger than the other, so he wanted to bend and lean and cheat to get up. We worked on doing them correctly and he was much better after instruction.

For squats, I prefer to have kids go all the way down (butt to heels). It works on flexibility and range of motion as well as strength.

For the Butt Kicks, I had him use the table for support. He brought one foot up to his butt as high as possible. Then he drove the knee forward as far as possible. Finally, he put the foot down on the ground. He repeated the entire movement five times and then he switched legs.

His right leg was much better than his left. He tended to bring his knee out to the side. I’m thinking this might be because he has weak abductor muscles as well as tight adductors.

I love this exercise for teaching running technique to kids. It teaches the high foot recovery and you can focus on many different aspects of the gait.

And those are the exercises we used today. The next post will be about how he did, where I think we will progress too and some final thoughts.


Nov 19

Special Needs Fitness Workout for Kids #2

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

The first thing to do when working with kids is to try to make a connection. And the second is to not over do it. We had met briefly, but haven’t established any real relationship. Why should he trust me?

Since he knew a lot about professional sports and athletes, I talked about how all the great ones had their own personal coach and trainer; like Kobe Bryant. And I was now his.

We set some ground rules. Rule number one: If it hurts, don’t do it. Rule number two: Always have at least two more left to stop. Rule #3. It’s better to exercise more often, then to do it only once.

We will see how he does as the weeks go by. I’m very curious and hopeful. He had made progress with his PT on some issues. I think my agenda is larger than hers was.

I also explained that we were going to work on three main categories.

  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Coordination

The flexibility is really range of motion stuff. He seems to have very limited range of motion on his lower body and core areas.

The strength is required for his entire body. We’re introduce a new strength exercise every week or every other week at the most.

The coordination is because I think much of his problems stem from not knowing how to move. Because he grew up with limited experiences, he has to be taught. We are going to work on running technique first.

So that’s our big picture goals and objectives. My next post will be about the exercises I picked for him and how he did.

Nov 19

Special Needs Fitness Workout For Kids #1

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

As an Adapted Physical Education teacher most of the kids I work with have pretty severe mental and physical disabilities. And if you’re a parent of a child like this and you have questions about gross motor concerns, feel free to contact me. I’m glad to help.

But occasionally, I have a child on my caseload who has less severe disabilities. I just picked one up and I’m excited about working with him. He’s a fifth grade student and fairly mobile. He loves sports, both watching and playing. But because of his condition he is much slower than his classmates. He also fatigues much quicker.

When you watch him move, he has an uneven gait and weak core muscles. Honestly, I’m not 100% how much he can do, or what we will be able to accomplish. I set two goals for the next 4 months; to be able to do 5 push-ups and 5 sit-ups. Right now, he can only do them modified (push-ups against a wall about 45 degrees, sit-ups with two hand pulling to get up).

I have more goals for him but those are my legal ones. Big picture, I’d like him to be able to run 1/4 mile without stopping, have a decent stride and be able to run the 50 yard dash in under 20 seconds. Also, I’m not sure if he is strong enough to shoot a basket to the 10 foot rim, so that is one more.

We met today for the first time. He’s a little shy but seems eager to get started and improve.

I’ll keep you updated on how things go.

Nov 19

Youth Fitness and Steroids

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This article about a study in Minnesota states that 5% of kids have used steroids for body enhancement or sports performance.

And that 1/3 of boys and 1/5 of girls have used protein powders to gain muscle.

I bet it’s closer to 90% who have used Gatorade or some other commercial drink that is marketed to be a performance enhancer.

Everyone is looking for a quick fix. They are looking for an easy way to be faster, stronger, have bigger muscles and to lose weight.

The marketers take advantage of this. And as it’s very easy to get Gatorade and almost as easy to get creatine and just a little bit more difficult to get steroids, the kids jump on the band wagon.

I do hope the parents and coaches aren’t providing it. It’s easy enough to get it on their own.

These numbers are high, but they are only going to get higher. The pressure to be bigger, fitter, leaner, faster is only going to increase.

And yet the work and time involved in improving sports performance is going to go down.

And the number of kids who sit and do nothing is going to increase. The numbers of kids without sports or even movement backgrounds is going to decrease.

There will be some who will be great athletes and a whole bunch who will be couch athletes.

Don’t let it happen. Get the kids out and playing. Show them how being an athlete for life is more fun and rewarding than sitting playing tennis on a Wii.

Nov 18

Football Saturday With the Family and Spartans

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Yesterday, I finally got a chance to go to see San Jose State Spartan football team. They are having an awesome year this year and I’ve been wanting to go.

It took some convincing, prodding and concessions but I finally got everyone there. For my girlfriend and her son it was only their second time at a football game. And the first was at Cal which doesn’t really count.

We bundled up and drove to the stadium. I expected a 30 minute walk for parking but some how I found an amazing spot about 100 yards away from the stadium. I think it was because all of the BYU fan (about half the stands) didn’t know the local places to park.

Anyway, the Spartans played an great first half offensively and a gritty defensive one in the second half. They managed to pull off a 20-14 victory. My girlfriend has never seen me at a game and she was surprised at my yelling and cheering. (No, I was not drinking and was not getting obnoxious.)

Sports can be a great family bonding tradition. Both observing and playing can help bring families together. I saw lots of kids with their parents at the game. I’m not sure how much of it they understood but it’s a start.

What are you doing with your kids for sports this weekend?

Nov 17

Vision and Youth Sports Success

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

One of the skills that beginning and intermediate athletes lack is the ability of seeing the entire court or field that they are playing on. They have a difficult time being able to watch the ball and then be aware of where their teammates and opponents are.

Yet, this is a critical skill to have to be successful.

And on the opposite side of the coin, imagine that you’re looking at your opponent, trying to decide which way you should move.

But then your teammate passes you the ball and hit hits your hands (or even worse, hits you in the head). You feel horrible, stupid and convince yourself that you aren’t any good at sports.

This isn’t necessarily true. You just haven’t learned to use your eyes correctly.

I wrote a guide for kids, coaches and parents on how to learn to use your eyesight for sports. I’ve been giving it away as a bonus when you order my Athletic Skills for Soccer program, but I’m looking at moving some of my stuff to Amazon and Kindle.

So, right now, I have the book on Kindle for only $1.99. It’s a great deal. And if you order it, I’ll send you the entire program for free! That’s a savings of over $20! Just for spending less than $2. Plus, it’s guaranteed. If you’re not 100% happy with any of the products I’ll refund your money.

You can’t loose. In fact, you’ll gain because your child or team will learn how to use their eyes while playing. They will have more success and more fun.

You can order the Kindle Book, right here.

Nov 16

Pro Athletes and Youth Athletes…some kids never grow up

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

One of my favorite radio stations is 95.7 The Game. The funny thing is I typically hate talk radio. But for some reason, I find myself listening to it a lot. Perhaps because it covers the 49ers so much.

While listening to the morning segment today, they were talking about professional quarterbacks. Some seem to have a drive and desire to improve. They focus on little details that will help their team win. For instance, they were talking about how one tried to hit his receivers in their favorite hand position (high, low, in the chest) etc. So not only his he throwing the ball to the receiver, he’s trying to get it to a specific spot near the receivers hands.

This kind of attention to detail is very similar to what the best youth athletes do. They work on small details. They practice skills over and over. They rehearse them till they get it perfect and then do it some more.

Whatever the sport, the best athletes are always trying to improve. Just doing something isn’t enough. They have to do it better, faster, stronger.

What can we as coaches and parents do to instill this drive and desire in our kids? Perhaps they are born with it. I don’t know. What do you think?