Category Archives for Smart & Swift

A-B-Cs with Rivers of Steel

A for Athlete deploys the A-B-Cs often


Graffiti Lettering Tutorials

See two videos of an ongoing series that explores elements of graffiti and style-writing. Adapted from the same techniques Shane Pilster uses in his role as a teaching artist for Rivers of Steel's Graffiti and Style-writing school residencies, these tutorials provide creative expression (or simply stress relief) for kids and adults alike.

How we’re teaching swimming from behind our computer screens in a dry, fully cyber, summer camp experience in 2020

SKWIM & Water Polo Camp plans and opportunities for HOW MANY? (part 1)


Our opportunities and expected interactions with students and families within the SKWIM & Water Polo domain for Summer Dreamers 2020 are FANTASTIC. They are so strong, on many levels, that we feel it is wise to open up the scope of the project.

Rather than only present and program our activities at camp with 30 students in grades 4 and 5 at Camp Classical, we feel that it would be GREAT if SKWIM & Water Polo was offered to everyone in SDA, and even, everyone in PPS. Let's open up the doors and allow all to participate, if they choose to do so.

These efforts can scale.

We can do this for 30. But, why not for 300 or for 3,000?

Let's talk about these possibilities.

Who, and how many we get to include in the SDA & PPS audience is up to PPS, but we're offering to take our efforts far and wide. Can all PPS students join in? How about all Dreamers in grades 4 & 5 and also how about all PPS students and their families?

Brain Breaks

Within the SDA camp framework, it is also important to offer to allow SKWIM & Water Polo to lead FIVE or more SDA BRAIN BREAKS, in the early days in the camp's schedule so that we can reveal to the others what we are doing and what to expect in our activities. Perhaps they can do SKWIM & Water Polo as an EXTRA activity?

SDA Night Out

As the school year ends, and as summer begins, we should offer SKWIM & Water Polo webinars for students and families to get them excited to show up for Summer Dreamers and to, perhaps, opt into an extra with our activities. 

Many programs are dry this summer. 

We are going to have the support of the International Swim Coaches Association in these efforts.

The situations in Pittsburgh, with closed pools, is being shared elsewhere. So, we can harvest the power of many guests and keep our students engaged. But, we'll also have a focus that is blended between MENTAL and PHYSICAL. The mind leads and the body follows. We want to address far more than the screen time. We're planning on doing academic, enriching things that include our physical self.

We'll get kids and their excited about swimming and water polo, but in fitness and all sports. Wellness matters. When we get back into the team sports and can use the pools again, we'll have planted seeds of confidence and plenty of insights into safety and different perspectives.

Logistically, we could do SDA SKWIM & Water Polo from 11:30 to 12:30 for our students. Plus at another time in the day, perhaps from 8 to 9 am, we could do the "early bird" session as a "dress rehearsal" for district wide viewers. We can be flexible with the plan and talk about that in due times, if you are interested.

  • 1. Water safety lessons
  • 2. Stories -- about water safety, water polo, swimming, water polo.
  • 3. Exercises, including YOGA pose of the day
  • 4. Pedometers are possible. (More research needed, but did it a past year.)
  • 5. A for Athlete, kids vocabulary, translations, illustrations
  • 6. Build wiki-pages & reflective writing
  • 7. Online course, Get Your Feet Wet -- Swimming
  • 8. Video watching from movies to race highlights
  • 9. Goal Setting & Digital Badges
  • 10. Pre-Lifeguard training
  • 11. Quiz making and taking
  • 12. Visualization

Programming

Each day, we'll want to hit upon six to ten mini segments. Each segment is from 5 to 10 minutes in length. We'll keep the sessions moving. Most will be pre-recorded with time to ask questions or watch again later. But then the coaches will keep the pace up-beat. Some of the activities are for later in the day. Here is how to get it started, but then you do the quiz on your own. Here is how you do the submission for the reflective writing, but do that later. Come back and submit and we'll see what the coaches display and get put onto this page tomorrow.

1. Water safety lessons are about saving yourself first of all. 

Then, perhaps, getting smart so you don't get into bad situations around water for yourself or your friends. Heling little brothers, sisters and cousins be safe too. Awareness isn't taken for granted.

2. Stories -- about water safety, water polo, swimming, water polo. 

We all love a good story. We'll have one a day. They are going to be pre-recorded, but we expect to have the story be a launch point for more discussion, often with the subject of the story present for Q&A via the web conference. We've been cultivating these stories for years. Many are pearls and we'll string them together throughout the days of the camp. Some come from podcasts. 

3. Exercises and motivation to exercise are expected every day. 

We'll introduce routines. Many can be done indoors and with limited space and without equipment. We're not talking about boring jumping jacks. Coach Kathi's daughter, a college student and athlete can help with the demonstrations and video instructions. Heart rate, and other fitness concepts are touched upon. Pointers to eBooks are available for more reading. 

4. Calls were places to Zwift as they have taken over from Milestone Pod. 

There is a Zwift Running Pod that can track exercise, $30 retail. But, i am bucking for cases of devices at gratis / sponsorship. Perhaps they'll be former models, etc. We used these with great satisfaction in a past Summer Dreamer experience. They communicate via Bluetooth and then to the cloud. Then all in the club can chart their own metrics and the administrators can witness aggregate results.

5. A for Athlete, kids vocabulary, translations, illustrations. 

We have wiki pages with A-B-Cs with term and the kids generally start with their initial for their first name. Z for Zack! Write a fun quip or bio with a photo and decorate the Z letter. Then let's think of Z words that would go into the tool box of an athlete. The Zoo at Pitt is the student fan club for basketball games. And, the Zoo's founder can join us in a session to lead a cheer and tell of going to Pitt and enjoying college sports as a spectator.

6. Build wiki-pages & reflective writing.

We can explore Wikipedia and then learn how to write and edit wiki pages. This opens up discussions on crowd-sourcing, open source, peer review and making media, with responsible behaviors. Some student athletes with great hopes of getting scholarships -- free college -- have had their social media accounts reviewed by college coaches and lost all hopes of getting offered a scholarship to play sports. This happens all the time. Kids need to learn this at a young age, before it is too late.

7. Online course, Get Your Feet Wet -- Swimming .

 This is perhaps the best activity. Happens in an independent way. But, it takes some hand-holding to get the log-in. Where to find the course. Start it. Resume it. Get credit for taking it. All available now. We can also add more materials to the course such as better photos or illustrations. 

8. Video watching from movies to race highlights. 

Mark Spitz. Michael Phelps, Katie Ladecki. The USA water polo team -- some highlights are fun. And, we've got the video from the 2020 WPIAL Swim Championships too. Let's see a couple of races. Who do you think is going to win? 

9. Goal Setting & Digital Badges.

We have a suite of stages for the digital badges for goal setting. This can come in bite size content areas throughout the summer. The one self assessment Goal Orientation Index (also called the GOI) is from a local Ph.D., Kay Altman.

10. Pre-Lifeguard training can be with a global introduction from some lifeguard instructors.

But the exciting parts are learning from the guests as to what to expect, where to work, views of the various pools and some stories from this summer and the past. Then the students can explore some online resources, such as CPR, First, Aid, etc. 

11. Water safety quizzes, especially with Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 with SKWIM.us. 

Anyone can take these quizzes now, Not many know about them. Each are about 25 questions. Try to get a perfect score at each level. Can be retaken. Can be taken with an adult or friend. Once a good score is obtained, then the next quiz presents itself. Doing one quiz per day is reasonable. More a more demanding challenge comes when the kids are asked to take a test that has been used for becoming a lifeguard. No harm in giving it a go. This test is online now too. The next quiz growth element comes when the students are presented with the option of making their own test / quiz that others can take. Could be a quiz on their favorites (food, music, sports, athletes, teachers, dream vacation spot, etc.) Could be a quiz on the neighborhood or school. Students would use a form to craft the questions and answers. We'll build the back-end web delivery. Kids can do each other's quizzes for fun.

There is a BIG why quiz. Rank the reasons WHY one should swim on a school swim team. 

12. Visualization quiz from Bob Steele. Concentration game. Mini sports psychology reading and stories are available.

Some are able to visualize certain things well, and not other things. This ranks them. Fun day activity. Can be returned to at mid-camp and later in the camp. All athletes, plus musicians, performers, speech presenters, and such can gain from visualization. Swim teams do this frequently. 

If you or anyone else wants a deeper dive into any of these activities, just let me know. 

We need more officials — and this is much like the shortage of lifeguards too

Shortage of officials at WPIAL games

We need more to step up and become officials for our sports. Get your patch!

It’s a nationwide issue

We’re not replenishing the ranks of amateur sports officials to the degree that we have to. In 1976, the average age of people getting into officiating was roughly 21. In 2016, the average age was 44.

The shortage of officials is a real thing, even in swimming.

There’s a shortage of sports officials in the WPIAL, a problem that extends across Pennsylvania and stretches nationwide. The profession needs to add more young officials to its ranks, but persuading millennials like Strednak to don black-and-white stripes has proven difficult.

  • 18 years old or a high school graduate
  • must register on the PIAA website
  • pay $30, which gets them a rule book and study sheet.
  • pass the test and can take the exam twice
  • background checks that cost around $59, valid for five years.
  •  join a local chapter, dues are $45 a year 
  • attend seven meetings a year

The Hustle reports on new weight room toys at LSU

LSU and some MIT grads think data (might) win championships

The Louisiana State Tigers football program makes a strong case for the old “best offense is a good defense” adage. 

But LSU, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25, also seems to have proved that data plays a role as well. 

Geaux nerds

Last January, a startup called Perch -- founded by 3 MIT jocks-cum-entrepreneurs -- started sending unsolicited emails to a number of athletics programs asking them to pilot a device created to collect data through velocity-based training. LSU was the first to say “Heeeeey.”

Velocity-based training is a technique that measures bar speed with respect to total weight and reps. This regimen improves power and explosiveness, which is vital to taking down linemen and breaking tackles.

Perch’s device works by aiming a camera -- similar to an Xbox Kinect -- on top of a weight rack and tracking a player’s movements. Data uploaded to the cloud gives coaches and trainers -- and players, who love to one-up one another -- real-time feedback on performance. 

Also… go team

Three weeks after Perch installed units at LSU’s indoor football facility, Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron said he noticed differences. 

“I think our guys are stronger and quicker and faster,” he told the WSJ. He also noted fewer injuries compared with prior years. 

Since the LSU pilot, Perch has installed units at Duke University and will do so for NFL, NHL, and MLS teams as well as additional college football programs next year.

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