Tip of the Month – July 2019

Coach Monika Says…

Sitting with Faulty Hand/Finger Position Creates ‘Bad Habits’

I have observed the sitting postures of athletes during instruction and training sessions (coach talking/athletes sitting) and conditioning or exercise practices. I also see adult spectators at various sporting events with faulty/incorrect hand placement when sitting on the ground, floor, grass, or on bleachers. 

The arms are usually straight or ‘locked’ with hand placement backward or sideways as demonstrated in the pictures. The argument is usually the same… “It feels so much better sitting that way.” True – but our arms do not flex or bend in that direction, and the incorrect hand/finger placement actually forms ‘bad habits!’ If you ever slip and fall the automatic reaction is to reach backward with straight arms and hands facing away from the body … resulting in one or two broken elbows or arms! Hospital reports indicate the frequency of such events. I learned from coaching gymnastics where we teach the correct and safe way to fall and how to absorb the shock in forward, backward, or sideways falls… these become lifelong skills! 

This past January, I slipped on ‘black ice’ outside my garage and fell. I broke the right ankle but arms and elbows were fine due to my trained reaction in falling! Therefore, always place hands and fingers facing forward toward your feet when sitting down or exercising!

Nature Versus Nurture – The Debate Continues

The expression ‘nature and nurture’ is actually derived from ancient Greek (ἁπό φύσεως καὶ εὐτροφίας – by nature and process), and has been in use since medieval England and France. In the twentieth century, studies of twins separated at birth were thought to settle the debate, namely that human behavioural development is affected both by peoples’ natural disposition and the environment in which they are raised. 

And… the debate continues: is human development ‘nature versus nurture?’ The outcome is almost always the same as researchers still disagree whether it is determined by a person’s genes influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors or due to the environment, either prenatal or during one’s lifespan. Nurture is generally said to be the influence of external factors after conception e.g. the exposure, experience, and the learning process of an individual. The view that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioural traits from ‘nurture’ was termed tabula rasa (“blank slate”) by John Locke in 1690. This view in human developmental psychology assumes that human behavioural traits develop almost exclusively from the environmental influences that were widely held during much of the 20th century.

Determinants of Athletic Potential: Nature versus Nurture?

The ‘nature versus nurture’ question surfaces in athletics as well, especially in the world of elite sports. Two main theories aim to explain both arguments: the genetic influence model and the training/practice model. Are world-class athletes born or bred? Is there a certain amount of practice that can turn the average athlete into an elite competitor? Coaches usually are committed to a developmental approach but they should not believe that an athlete’s progression is linear or the same for all because each athlete is unique. Therefore, those, who believe in process-oriented success need to accept that development, especially long-term and sustained development has to be nourished within each individual athlete. While coaches usually operate within a certain philosophical framework from which to proceed they also have to realize that unique growth within each athlete has to be nurtured. Therefore, the way in which each athlete learns and functions within the given program has to be explored and ultimately encouraged. In addition, it is critical that coaches consider the complex assortment of personal learning styles among their athletes. 

Adapted from “Nature vs. Nurture” by Dominique Stasulli (n.d.) on SimpliFaster.com – with modification by Schloder

The genetic model argues that a predetermined set of genetic traits predicts athletic potential and success. Physical traits are made up of many genes, which produce the ultimate elite ‘phenotype’ (identified as a set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction with the environment), according to Tucker and Collins (2012). The four most influential: gender, height, skeletal muscle composition, and VO2max, which denote the differences in athletic male and female performances as proof of genetic predisposition to athletic potential. Height is developed by both nature and nurture (nutrition) and is very predictive of sport-specific success, for example, basketball, which is however not conducive to long-distance running. 

According to studies, the numbers of VO2max genes in untrained individuals, inherently genetic, are also activated through training influenced by the environment (Tucker & Collins, 2012). VO2max is a strong predictor of maximal aerobic capacity such as performance in endurance-based events. Being genetically gifted with a superior aerobic capacity automatically places the athlete in an advantageous position to advance to the elite level. Skeletal muscle properties are subject to similar genetic and environmental influences. Athletes born with greater strength capacity in musculature have an easier time transitioning into strength-based sports such as football or wrestling, according to research.

The international dominance of East African runners in middle- and long-distance events is well-known as 85% of the top 20 rank in the world are primarily from Kenya and Ethiopia (Vancini, Pesquero, Fachina, Andrade, Borin, Montagner, & de Lira, 2014). These athletes are found to have a high volume of VO2 max, hemoglobin, hematocrit, optimal muscle fibre type composition as well as a high tolerance to altitude, combined with their training pattern of optimal running economy. Their diet includes rice and beans, which is also seen beneficial to their development Researchers consider this as the possibility that genetic factors have yielded an advantage, especially genes responsible for anthropometric, cardiovascular, and muscular adaptations to training (Vancini et al., 2014).


Likewise, there are environmental factors that may play a role in the success of these middle- and long-distance runners. Physiological adaptations, diet and nutrition, as well as socioeconomic factors are potential considerations. Certain physiological parameters have measured higher in this population, such as total hemoglobin, VO2 max, and hematocrit. This is attributed to the altitude at which they live and train in the range of 2,000-2,500 meters (6,500-8,200 feet) (Wilber & Pitsiladis, 2012). Exceptional cardiovascular development may be the result of 86% of Kenyan and 68% of Ethiopian international elite athletes as children use running as a primary means of transportation to school (Wilber & Pitsiladis, 2012). VO2 max, the measure of maximal oxygen uptake, did not appear significantly dissimilar to other elite athletes of different nationalities despite their gap in performance, indicating that there is more than VO2 max that contributes to their success. Similar results were found with hematological values (Wilber & Pitsiladis, 2012).

The traditional East African diet is low in fat and composed of roughly three-quarters carbohydrates, derived mostly from vegetables, fruits, and high-glycemic-index grains such as ugali, a potato-based cultural food (Wilber & Pitsiladis, 2012). Even the staple drink is ‘chai’, a milky tea made with significant amounts of sugar, which serves as the main source of glycogen replenishment in athletes’ post-workout. Nevertheless, it can be said that socio-economic conditions provide a substantial amount of motivation to achieve a better quality of life as an individual and that individual’s immediate family. About half of Kenya’s population and 40% of Ethiopia’s is under the World Health Organization (WHO) poverty line, calling for a desperate need to utilize the gifted resources present throughout the generations of talented athletes.

While physiological parameters are impressive in these distance runners, they are not significantly superior to their elite counterparts in different countries. It could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that develop into supreme athleticism and that phenomenal endurance capacity. The incorporation of the ‘deliberate practice’ model suggests engaging in sport-specific training during critical points of motor skill development (Tucker & Collins, 2012). ‘Deliberate practice’ is defined as ‘activities that possess complete focus on developing a particular aspect of sporting performance’, which may activate the athletic potential genes present in every healthy individual’s DNA. The model proposes that 10,000 hours of training over the course of a 10-year period allows an athlete to breach elite level status. According to the theory, any athlete who fails to meet this level of competition status must have violated the 10,000-hour/10-year rule in one capacity or another.

However, there are gaps in this model because it does not explain the reason some athletes reach elite/international levels in less than 10 years or with less than 10,000 hours of practice, or that some meet or exceed those requirements in training but fail to reach elite levels. So, other factors, genetic, mental, or emotional may either accelerate or hinder athletic development.

Natural Giftedness and Talent in Sports

The ‘nature versus nurture’ debate can broaden the argument of natural giftedness over learned ability in determining athletic talent potential. In essence, do natural talent and acquired talent both allow for the same potential to be achieved in the end? Tranckle and Cushion (2006) cite Gagné (1998) on the subject of innate and acquired talent, who describes his continuum in which aptitudes/gifts lie at one end and competencies/talent lie at the other. Gifts are genetically inborn, but may take maturation or informal learning for them to become fully expressed; talent, on the contrary, is developed methodically over time, and heavily influenced by external sources of motivation and opportunity. Most often, giftedness and talent are thought of as equal and interchangeable terms, though distinguishing between the two is important.

Being Gifted and Talent are Thought to be Equal Terms But Distinguishing Between the Two is Important 

Gagné (1998) created four categories of natural abilities: intellectual, creative, socio-affective, and sensorimotor (Tranckle & Cushion, 2006). These include the following subcategories, though not all-inclusive: reasoning, metacognition, innovation, retrieval fluency, originality, perceptiveness, empathy, leadership, and various components of the sensorimotor system. Intrapersonal features such as personality, motivation, temperament, and well-being all factor into the developmental process. On the other hand, environmental variables affect athletes’ development through physical, cultural, social and familial influences, in addition to program participation, and coaching intervention.

This continuum is not to say that athletes have to fall exclusively at either end of the spectrum. Some may start with natural giftedness, advance those gifts, and progress along the continuum to develop skills via environmental influences, with the end product being the total sum of their talent. Others may not be born with innate gifts, but rather begin higher up on the athletic continuum to master their skills in order to maximize their end-talent potential. Talent identification has sparked much debate, and it seems there is no conclusive methodology for recognizing and delineating talent from giftedness in athletes. As outlined, the distinction is important in order for coaches to know various ways to approach the developmental process through informal or formal teaching/training progression. The question remains still unanswered. According to Gagné’s continuum, it would seem as though giftedness allows for a premature advantage in the developmental process, i.e., starting with a ‘lead.’ It remains uncertain whether giftedness, skill acquisition, or a combination of the two is the optimal route for maximizing talent potential.


Over the many years of coaching, I have always reinforced hard work ethics and positive mindsets over natural God-given talent in athletes. We can embrace the gifted ones and push them to the top with relative ease but I find it far more rewarding to work with those, who have to put every ounce of effort in order to reach their goals without reliance on natural giftedness. Many of the so-called gifted athletes I have coached lacked not only work ethics but also motivation, ‘riding on their natural talent’ rather than pushing themselves toward the pursuit of excellence. Whereas hard-working athletes own each and every success and failure, the gifted ones can easily attribute failure to a lack of maximal work ethic. The inclusion of so-called ‘physical literacy’ (formerly called ‘general athleticism’) is the best way to develop athletic abilities within the Long-term Athlete Development Model (LTAD), a framework for optimal training, competition and recovery for each stage of the athletic development. Coaches who engage in this model and its practices are more likely to produce athletes who reach their full athletic potential. If coaches can tap into the potential in their athletes, then the genetic predilections can not only be maximized but also expanded upon to reach the best possible performance at higher levels.


Gagné, F. (1998). A biased survey and interpretation of the nature-nurture literature. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol. 21(3), 415-416. Cambridge University. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X98321238

Gagné, F. (1999). My conviction about the nature of abilities, gifts, and talents. Journal for the Education of the Gifted. January 1999. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/016235329902200202

McLeod, S. (2018 update). Nature vs. Nurture in Psychology. Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html

Schloder, M. E. (2017). Developing physical literacy for children and youth through fun, fitness, and fundamentals. [DVD and Interactive PDF book]. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Arête Sports Website: www.coachingbest.com

Stasulli, D. (n.d.). Nature vs. nurture: Determinants of athletic potential. Blog. SimplyFaster. Retrieved July 16, from https://simplifaster.com/articles/nature-vs-nurture-determinants-athletic-potential/

Tranckle, P., & Cushion, C. J. (2006). Rethinking giftedness and talent in sport. Quest, 58, 265-282. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00336297.2006.10491883

Tucker, R., & Collins, M. (2012). “What makes champions? A review of the relative contribution of genes and training to sporting success.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 46, 555-561.

Vancini, R. L., Pesquero, J. B., Fachina, R. J., Andrade, M. D. S., Borin, J. P., Montagner, P. C., & de Lira, C. A. B. (2014). “Genetic aspects of athletic performance: The African runners phenomenon.” Journal of Sports Medicine, 5, 123-127.

Wilber, R. L. & Pitsiladis, Y. P. (2012). “Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners: What makes them so good?” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 7(2), 92-102.

Yan, X., Papadimitriou, I., Lidor R., & Eynon, N. (2016). Nature versus nurture in determining athletic ability. Basel: Karger. Med Sport Sci, 2016(61), 15-28. Genetics in Sport. Posthumus, Collins, M. (ed.). Genetics and Sports (2nd ed. revised).  DOI:10.1159/000445 238

Tip of the Month – June

Coach Monika Says…

Signs Of A Good Youth Coach

1. Help athletes to learn “life lessons” through sport


2. Listen to athletes’ thoughts and opinions

ids communication illustration

3. Develop a positive rapport with athletes


4. Support, encourage, motivate and inspire athletes


5. Work together to set individual and team goals


6. Help them to understand there is more to sports than just winning


7. Win and lose graciously (coach and athlete)


8. Encourage athletes to be the first to arrive and the last to leave the training


9. Show respect for officials and never interfere with judges/referees


Are Sports Under Moral Attack by Liberal Academics?

Academics Claim: Dodgeball Harms Student Players!

I was actually working on “gender and female coach mentorship” for the June Newsletter when I received this bizarre article over the Internet and US Fox News, USA. 

Yes, coaches, get this! The play/game and physical activity of dodgeball that many of us most likely played during our school years or in our neighbourhood is under attack although the game has been a gym class staple for generations. For some, it is the highlight of the day but for others, it is “an anxiety-inducing activity calling it legalized bullying,” according to UBC professor Dr. Joy Butler. No game seems to rouse the passions of reform-minded educational progressives quite like dodgeball, a team sport in which players throw balls at each other, trying to hit competitors, and banish them to the sidelines. 

Thousands of academics gathered in Vancouver, BC for the Annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, June 1-7. A trio of education theorists argued that dodgeball is not only problematic, in the modern sense of displaying hierarchies of privilege based on athletic skill, but that it is outright “miseducative.” Really? Dr. Butler argues that dodgeball also encourages students to aggressively single others out for “dominance and to enjoy that dominance as a victory.” What? According to Dr. Butler, the games children play in schoolyards are “famously horrible, if you stop and think about them.” Tag, for example, singles out one poor participant, often the slowest child, as the “dehumanized It”, who runs vainly in pursuit of the quicker ones. Capture the Flag is “nakedly militaristic.” British Bulldog has obvious “jingoistic colonial themes.” Red Ass, known in America asButts Up” involves the “deliberate imposition of corporal punishment on losers.” Really? Is this funded academic research or just an opinion?

Players are Human Targets?

Dr. Butler recounts the story of a girl in elementary school running to the back of the gym and hiding from her classmates to avoid getting hit. “She is being hounded, said Butler. What is she learning from that experience?” Butler believes the game teaches kids to avoid their classmates rather than engage with them and says there are alternative activities educators can opt for, activities that don’t teach kids “it’s OK to actually victimize other people.” Some American schools have even banned dodgeball, but Butler said the game shouldn’t be played in schools, and start paying attention to kids cowering in the back rather than catering to their classmates “with the loudest voices”, who take pleasure in “picking off human targets.”

Dodge Ball Equals “Murder” Ball?

Stephen Berg, an education professor at UBC Okanagan, said he grew up loving dodgeball – a game his teachers called “murder ball” – but “changed his tune” when he became an educator. “In schools we talk a lot about kindness, empathy, compassion, and citizenship,” said Berg, who finds those terms “go out the window” in the gym. “It’s almost contradictory to what we are trying to demonstrate in schools,” he said. Berg knows the anxiety that dodgeball can induce from his daughter. He said she is “a great human being but not that athletic”, and when she leaves a gym class after a game of dodgeball she “feels ashamed that she is not contributing.” Berg acknowledged that other kids love and excel at the game and that it is a chance to release energy, but he disagrees with the notion that kids should “suck it up or toughen up.” He said mental health is a serious concern these days for youth, and telling them to toughen up “just doesn’t fly anymore.” Berg agreed with Butler that a variety of alternative, more inclusive activities could be substituted for dodgeball.

According to Josephine Mathias, National Post, Canada (video): “These congresses are safe places for opinion writers, who masquerade as researchers to present an exchange of ideas in an academic bubble.” So, what is next? Attacking any sport we play? It is not enough that children and youth sports have to bow under pressure that a) everyone has to participate, b) there are no winners and losers, and c) everyone has to receive an award! This approach does not teach “lessons for life” as society has traditionally argued but it has resulted in a “coddled whiner” generation hovered over by “helicopter” parents who protect their children even to the point of College/University admission scandals to secure entry to their favoured school. Now, dodgeball is no longer a physical activity or game played in school gyms or schoolyards, but is a physical attack on teammates!


Let’s examine the nature of dodgeball: 

Modern dodgeball may be based on a game first observed in Africa about 200 years ago, where players threw rocks at each other with the aim being to injure and possibly even kill other players. Defending injured players while trying to retaliate taught teamwork, endurance, and hunting skills. Missionary Dr. James H. Carlisle saw them playing this game and returned to teach at St. Mary’s College, Norfolk, where he transformed the dangerous African game into a safer game with a leather ball instead of rocks. In 1884, Phillip Ferguson of Yale redesigned the game with a faster pace like modern dodgeball. In 1905, he returned to America and wrote the first official rules. American colleges started playing each other and the sport grew rapidly into what we now call dodgeball. 

Dodgeball is a team sport in which players on two teams try to throw balls and hit opponents, while avoiding being hit. The objective of each team is to eliminate all members of the opposing team by hitting them with thrown balls, catching a ball thrown by an opponent, or induce an opponent to commit a violation, such as stepping outside the court. The sport is played informally (in schools and pick-up games) under varying rules, and formally as an international sport under rules that vary among international governing bodies, such as the World Dodgeball Federation (WDBF) and the World Dodgeball Association (WDA). The National Dodgeball League is an organized league in the United State.

Duane Wysynski, Head of Dodgeball Canada is coming to his sport’s defense in the National Post: “Inclusion is at the very heart of Dodgeball.” Asked in an interview, he had this to say (citation verbatim by Schloder with some modifications, June 4, 2019):

…For some, the word might trigger painful childhood memories of being pummelled with a ball by the most sadistic kid in your class while your gym teacher looked on. Others might think of the 2004 not-Oscar-winning movie Dodgeball. It’s a bit of a source of amusement in the community because our community is actually made up of a lot of people who have moved into our sport from more mainstream sports where they didn’t necessarily feel included… 

Q: The nature of the sport is to smash balls into your opponent’s body, right? 

…No, I wouldn’t say that’s the nature, to smash balls. Yes, you do throw balls, and the object of the sport is to hit people and to get them out. However, it would be like saying that the nature of hockey is to lay someone out with a hard check, or the nature of football is to hit a crushing tackle. Teams that rely on brute strength are not going to be successful, because trying to overpower someone with a direct throw is almost always going to result in a catch. Our sport focuses on teamwork and strategy. Hitting someone in the toe or picking them off on the hand is always going to be a better way to get an out than to go at someone really hard with the ball. The balls that we use in competition, from youth to high-performance competition, are foam balls. So, they are specifically designed to not cause a lot of pain. It’s difficult to look at any sport and not see that part of the point of the sport is to win or to get better or to improve yourself. What we try to do with dodgeball is, especially for youth, we focus on the aspects of teamwork, strategy, of fellowship within the game, of communication on the court. Winning becomes kind of secondary at that age. I compare it a bit to when you start playing something like Tim Hortons soccer. You don’t even keep the score because the objective isn’t to get the kids to be extremely complex on the field with their footwork and to score a lot of goals. But it’s introducing them to the core mechanics of the sport. It’s introducing them to the athleticism of the sport…

Q: But the concern is that it picks on kids. A lot of the complaints are about the weak kid in school or some kid that gets bullied ends up being victimized in this game. Is that the reality?

…No. I think again it depends on how any sport is taught, how is it introduced. I actually received an email earlier this morning after the reply the rebuttal to the post was printed. The comment was from someone who was in her 50s, and she said one of the things she liked about dodgeball was every little mistake wasn’t put on display. Since there were six balls and there was a lot going on, if she made a mistake it wasn’t on display as opposed to when playing baseball, and it was obvious when she was at the bat if she could or couldn’t perform… (Wysynski, 2019, June 5)

“The world needs more dodgeball not less of it”

David Staples, Post Media, Edmonton, Alberta commented on the dodgeball attack. (citation verbatim by Schloder with some modifications, 2019, June 5). He argues that:

1. Dodgeball is the most democratic of sports

…For a sport that is supposedly so bad, folks sure love it, according to an online poll. A variety of us can at least adequately play dodgeball, which is much more than we can say for most other sports. You don’t need to be rich to excel at the game; don’t need expensive equipment or lessons. No one practices this sport much, unlike most school sports, and everyone is on similar footing starting out. Athletic children do have an advantage but tall or strong ones do not necessarily triumph…

2. It is important to carefully weigh risks

…The game involves lessons on risks and rewards. Rushing to grab a loose ball, or catch an opponent’s throw and thus eliminating him/her are skills entailed in the game. In other words, “hustle”! On the other hand, if a player pushes too intensely, the attempt to scoop or catch the ball can lead to elimination…

3. The best things in life are free

  … The game teaches us about Fun we can have without spending much money. The sport is cheap, cheap plastic balls but it gets the children running, jumping, sweating, and laughing. Where else can you find such “bang for your phys-ed buck?”…

4. There are smart and safe ways to channel powerful human instincts

…The genius of dodgeball is that it is safe but also satisfying.  It is a clever pantomime of the primal activity of hunting. Children get to play act as being both predator and prey, but without any bloodshed. It is important that this is the aspect of the game which seems to offend academics. They argue that is a moral problem because it encourages students to aggressively “single out others for dominance and to glory in the victory of a kill.” How did we get to the point where harmless play-acting is classified as a moral problem? The academics are confused. They inappropriately inject social justice thinking into the realm of games and play, and thus fail to grasp the innate safe-but-satisfying allure of the game, which is so enticing that even indolent children “married” to their video games can be persuaded to play…

5. Authority figures don’t always get it right

…For a long time, headshots were allowed in the game. One could slam the ball into the opponent’s face, which would eliminate, humiliate, and harm the opponent. Some teachers may still allow this but they are wrong now. The lesson here is not that dodgeball is bad, it’s that sometimes authority figures get the rules wrong. In the case of the current debate, the professors are the authority figures. As educational experts, they have the power to influence physical education curriculums for provinces or states. In this case, the danger is that they are being listened to and that schools move forward eliminating an engrossing and healthy physical activity. If this should happen not only dodgeball but other sports will be banned, which widens the gap even more among children. On the other hand, parents who know the many benefits of sports and competition surely find schools or private programs where those values are still emphasized, thus preparing their own children for the robust team play and complex competition of the real world. On the other hand, public schools swept away in misguided socially engineered attempts to reduce imagined victimization won’t prepare students. They will instead “coddle” them – a recipe for failure…  

My reflection on Dr. Butler’s hypothesis

If her arguments have any base at all then any contact sport is oppressive! Take Canada’s favorite past time game of hockey. NHL playoff games recently showed players running into backs of opponents, smashing them into boards, hitting them on the chin and head, and causing concussions. According to Coaching Canada NCCP and Ethical Decision Making and Rules of Fair Play: That is intent to harm! Is it oppressive play, degrading, and dehumanizing? How about CFL and NFL Football? A caucasian linebacker tackling a black receiver, or vice versa – is that now racial oppression and dehumanizing a race? How about Boxing? How about Wrestling? How about Karate and Judo?

Canada’s ParticipAction advertisements regularly on television encourage 45-60 minutes of daily activities for children and youth. Dodgeball can represent all the values discussed with supervision and control by the teacher/coach, in my opinion. The actual issue, however, is that being ejected from the game does very little to enhance children’s physical fitness or activity – unless of course they really “hustle” to avoid such happening! There are enough problems to encourage increasingly overweight and obese children to move regularly. Many Elementary schools lack quality physical education programs, and in most cases, those programs do not even exist! “Free Time” on the school playgrounds usually resembles a “zoo” where children run, shove and push, kick and hit each other! Is that not disrespect for classmates and dehumanizing or bullying? Dr. Butler, have you visited school recess lately in BC schools? 

Many Elementary Schools have removed so-called wall bars because of complaints that they were too dangerous and children could “slip and fall.” Wall bars are safe and have multiple uses if instructors are trained appropriately. In my Calgary neighbourhood schools have removed playgrounds and all equipment! It is too dangerous! Really? Instead of standing around and chatting while sipping from tumbler coffee mugs teachers ought to lead some activities. But that is too much to ask! If the inclusion of trained physical education teachers were to be mandatory there would not be issues in programming. Teachers usually have one-semester of physical activity course experience offered by many education departments, and therefore are not qualified! Nevertheless, the government continues to promote ParticipAction without substantial practical leadership action.

Physical Literacy has been promoted in Canada for a number of years. Balyi, Way, and Higgs (2013) publication: “Long-term athlete development. A guide to developing a philosophy of sport for life; training frameworks; a consistently successful organization” has served as the basis for the Canadian Sport4Life approach with the annual national symposium held in Gatineau, Quebec. Children, adolescents, and adults are encouraged to engage in physical activity with the “Womb to Tomb” approach to foster life-long health, physical and functional well-being. The notion that a game like dodgeball or any other sport activity could be dehumanizing takes away the notion that physical engagement, recreational and competitive sports are played to determine the better-skilled participant, which should motivate the lesser skilled to improve their abilities. 

Growing up as an athlete, who was identified by the age of 12 years for specific sports (swimming and athletics) was based on my involvement in multi-sport recreational activities, providing the opportunity to measure my skills against others. Never in my life have I felt humiliated – instead I pushed myself to do better, get ahead, and strive for excellence!

I strongly suggest that these academics get acquainted with German classical literature and philosophy on the “Nature of Play.” In his “Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man” German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) writes: “Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.” “Man is never so authentically himself than when at play. Jean-Paul Charles Sartre, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, political activist, biographer, and literary critic (1905-1980) states: “As soon as a man apprehends himself as free and wishes to use his freedom…then his activity is play.”

By the way, I refuse to replace the usage of “man” – meaning universal mankind – as cited in the original quotes with the “politically correct madness” of using nouns and pronouns that are now saturating our society! The quotes stand as written during those years of enlightenment! 


Brean, J. (2019, June 5). Dodgeball isn’t just problematic, it’s an unethical tool of ‘oppression’: researchers. The moral problem is that dodgeball encourages students to aggressively single others out for dominance and to enjoy that dominance as a victory. National Post, Canada. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from  https://nationalpost.com/news/dodgeball-isnt-just-problematic-its-an-unethical-tool-of-oppression-researchers

CBC Radio (2019, June 11). Profs took aim at dodgeball. Now the head of Dodgeball Canada is fighting back. Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-thursday-edition-1.5173769/profs-took-aim-at-dodgeball-now-the-head-of-dodgeball-canada-is-fighting-back-1.5170657

Mathias, J. (2019, June 21). Oppressive dodgeball, racialized skiing and other dumb research. Comment Nation: It’s not helpful to treat dodgeball as the next battle in the never-ending quest for civil rights for all. National Post, Canada. Retrieved June 21, 2019, from https://nationalpost.com/opinion/josephine-mathias-oppressive-dodgeball-racialized-skiing-and-other-dumb-research

Paplauskas-Ramunas, A (1968). Development of the whole man through physical education. An interdisciplinary comparative exploration and appraisal. Ottawa, ON, CAN: University of Ottawa Press. 

Schloder-Sublette, M. E. (1975). Natural movement as the essence of man. Journal of the Arizona Association of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. Spring 1975, 8-10, 20-21.

Staples, D. (2019, June 5). How dodgeball can help, not harm, students today. The Calgary Herald, A9. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://edmontonjournal.com/business/local-business/david-staples-the-world-needs-more-dodgeball-not-less-of-it

Watson, B. (2019, June 4). ‘Legalized bullying’: Stop playing dodgeball in schools. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/dodgeball-dangerous-stop-ubc-professor-1.5161403

Wysynski, D. (2019, June 10). Don’t pick on Dodgeball. It’s no more ‘oppressive’ or ‘problematic’ than any sport. National Post, Canada. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://nationalpost.com/opinion/duane-wysynski-dodgeball-is-still-an-emerging-sport-but-has-inbuilt-potential-for-teamwork-and-inclusivity




Tip of the Month – May

Coach Monika Says…

Questions For Head Coaches At The End Of The Season

I found this post by Chris Fore (November 19, 2018) quite helpful for personal reflection on the seasonal performance of both coaches and athletes. Although the post originally is directed at team sport and players, I modified the Title and applied it to both, team and individual sports. I adjusted the terminology (example: players/ athletes, competitors; games or matches won or lost/events, competition, time standards; game/competition strategy; spouse, etc.).


Your season is over. Part of you is sad, but part of you can now take a deep breath. You can go home a little earlier, hug your spouse and kids a little more, and maybe go see a movie during the weekends!

But you should also take some time to reflect on the season, in order to make your program better. Watch a film on Saturdays to see how your team played Friday night/your athletes competed on the weekend. Now it is time to evaluate how you did leading the troops. Proper season ending evaluation helps your program improve. Coaches who constantly evaluate their leadership move their program constantly forward in the right direction. Those who fail to do so take their teams/athletes backwards. Spend time now to evaluate your program with the following questions. Get others involved to help you grow.

1. Did I do a good job managing the staff?

In my opinion (Chris), this is the most important part of your job as a head coach during the season. Managing your staff is paramount to success. Was the chemistry of the staff good weeks 1-10? How could you better manage them next year? Take notes now.

2. Did I do a good job managing the players?

Second to managing your staff is managing the athletes. Keeping the chemistry – team sports or individual sports – moving in a positive direction is a challenge. If the chemistry improved throughout the season, you did a great job. If not, why did that happen?

3. Did we increase the morale of the program this year – did it decrease?

Program morale can make or break a season, and thus make or break the competitive season. Obviously, winning “cures” a whole lot of morale issues and losing magnifies the bad parts. If morale of the program did not increase this year, what do you need to do to get it back now – not just with the athletes and coaches but also parents, administration, and the community at large.

4. Did we overachieve or underachieve this year?

The scoreboard/competitive results tell the story every time, and during the season. We all want to overachieve. If you underachieved this year, how did that happen? Figure that out now, to fix it this offseason.

5. Did we stay focused on the overarching goals of our program?

Those fancy sayings on those posters and websites, the “expected school-wide learning results” guide our day-to-day actions. Were those goals carried out this year or did they fall by the wayside?

6. What do we need to focus on during the offseason to make this program better?

This question can usually be answered by addressing the biggest struggle of the season. 

7. Was there any point during the season that I lost control? If so, how did that happen, and how do I avoid a repeat in the future?

This is critical to the future of the program. If you lost control, did you regain the trust/respect of your athletes? Is that negative atmosphere still lingering? If you did lose it, why did that happen? Spend time diagnosing this to help you in the future.

8. What was the major weakness with our coaching staff, and how do I need to fix it?

If your team/athletes struggled in one area that seemed to be a major weakness, can it be fixed by coaching? Sometimes a staff member needs to be let go in order for the staff to get better.

9. If married – did my spouse feel that I made appropriate and quality time during the season?

This might be one of the most important questions here! Avoid being another coaching divorcee statistics – there are too many now these days! Have the discussion with your spouse. Ask them, and be ready to listen. Avoid defending yourself – just listen. Asking the question can go a very long way!


Chris Fore has a Masters degree in Athletic Administration. He is a certified Athletic Administrator, and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the M.S. Physical Education – Sports Management program at Azusa Pacific University, California.


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 Dr. Monika Schloder Welcomes You To The Home of CoachingBest

Your one-stop for Coaching Tips, Training, and Information for the Athletic Coach

Years of teaching and coaching experience in several sports have provided me with the ability to understand the physical, mental, and emotional requirements for developing beginner to elite level athlete in several sports. The ‘knack’ to analyze sport movement, in essence, detect errors and then develop creative corrections and drills to improve, maximize, and optimize performance – no matter the sport – is one of my greatest assets.

Dr. Monika Scloder, Summer Swim Camp- Turku, Finland

Professional Activities:

  • DVD Production: Swimming; Developing Physical Literacy; Athletic Training
  • Learning Facilitator, Canadian National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), having educated nationally and internationally over 26,000 coaches to date
  • Certified Alberta NCCP Coach Developer (2016)
  • Speaker at International Congresses, Coaching Symposiums, and World Clinics
  • Master Coach in Residence, 1991-2004, for the Los Angeles based 84 Legacy of the Games (former Amateur Athletic Foundation or AAF), program developer for Inner City Minority Youth Education and Leadership
  • Author: Coaching Manuals in Swimming and Soccer
  • Co-author “Coaching Athletes: A Foundation for Success”


  • Alberta 2008 Coach of the Year
  • Recipient of 14 International Teaching and Coaching Awards
  • 3M Teaching Fellowship Award for Outstanding Teaching at Canadian Universities
  • Recipient of numerous Teaching Excellence Awards, University of Calgary

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Dr. Schloder has developed a series of Training DVD’s to help Coaches and Athletes
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ASCA Workshop Conference and Presentation

Happenings from November

With Coach Rebecca Atchley – Dr. Schloder was an External Committee Member for Rebeca’s Masters Project Dr. Schloder’s Workshop Presentation

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Conference Photos

Happenings from September

Latest Happenings!!

 Dr. Monika Schloder at the ASCA World Clinic for Swimming, Jacksonville, Florida, Sept 8, 2014 Presenting at the 4-hour Work shop “Dry-land School for Age Group Swimmers” Coaches participate in her workshops… they don’t just sit!

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Back Arch Demo

Coach Schloder in Istanbul, Turkey Swim Camp , June 9-15

Underneath the swimmer to demonstrate the back arch position after the Back Crawl start. Not too many coaches can do this perfectly!

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Developing Physical Literacy

This highly acclaimed presentation was given by Dr. Schloder at the Canadian Sport for Life Summit (CS4L), which will be available as a movie version. Watch for the up-coming DVD: ‘Physical Activities for Children and Youth. Fundamental Movement Skills in the Pursuit of Excellence and Well-being.’

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  1. Michèle Boutin

    Dear Dr. Schloder,

    We are a small competitive swimming club in Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada.
    We are interested in purchasing your DVD+Booklet called Fly Away but it is not available on your online shop.
    Could you please let me know how we could purchase it?

    Best regards,

    Michèle Boutin
    Beaconsfield Bluefins Swim Club

  2. Augusto Acosta

    I love your work!

  3. Kim Cox

    Super new front page on your website, very informative.

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