Early Bird Specials for Soccer

Article excerpt

Waiting for students to change clothes and report to the gym for roll call is often a management nightmare for physical education teachers. Those students who dress and arrive early are restless and want to get started, while other students take too much time in dressing and reporting to the gym. Students who arrive early are told to wait quietly until the attendance is taken and class can officially begin. This waiting period often results in student misbehavior, further complicating the physical educator's attempts to begin class on time. Physical educators can avoid these situations by skillfully employing "Early Bird Specials" as preclass activities (Strand & Scantling, 1999).

An Early Bird Special (EBS) is an entry activity that requires little time and organization. If an EBS activity is taught in a previous lesson and becomes part of the daily routine, it will enable the physical educator to concentrate on management tasks such as taking attendance. It is important for physical educators to remember to post the EBS activity in a conspicuous place where students can see it as they enter the gym or playing field. The demands of conducting an EBS activity can be minimized by selecting previously taught drills or modified versions of games that the students already know. The EBS should be designed so that individuals or small groups of students can engage in the activity quickly and so that the physical educator needs only to provide general supervision, without any officiating or management. A well-designed and well-planned EBS should not place additional management demands on the physical educator.

An EBS may increase time-on-task by turning time that is usually spent on waiting into activity time. However, an EBS is a preclass activity and should not take time away from regular class instruction. Therefore, an EBS should be designed to allow the activity to be completed in a short amount of time (about 5 to 10 minutes of previously wasted class time).

An EBS may provide an instructional benefit for students when it is related to the current unit of instruction and to student needs. Carefully selected and designed EBS activities "that are related to that particular [unit] activity" (Strand & Scantling, 1999, p. 9) can provide students a review of what they have previously learned. As the physical educator moves through a unit of instruction to other skills and game play, an EBS activity can provide students the opportunity to continue perfecting a previously taught skill. An EBS activity can even remind students to use an underutilized skill during game play. Therefore, a well thought out EBS activity that provides students with the opportunities to master class content will increase the academic learning time in physical education (ALT-PE).

An EBS may replace the jogging, jumping jacks, and stretching exercises that are typically used during warm-ups if the EBS meets the physical intensity specification suggested by Knudson (1999). In order to serve as a warm-up activity, an EBS should not be performed at maximum intensity. However, an EBS activity that enables students to "perform light to moderate muscle actions of gradually increasing intensity" (Knudson, 1999, p. 26) may be a better warm-up than stretching for most sports.

Before using Early Bird Specials in a soccer unit, the teacher should ensure that the students are given proper instruction and enough time to practice each EBS activity in order for it to be effective. Students must know how to perform the skills in a drill or game before it is used as an EBS. In addition, they must have participated in the drill or game during a previous class. Furthermore, students should be taught appropriate play behavior so that they know what the indirect and direct fouls are in soccer. For example, "tackling" drills and games must not be used as EBS activities until students are taught that you tackle the ball, not the opponent. …