Identifying, Developing & Implementing Physical Education Programs

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we discuss ways to identify, develop, and implement programs of physical education, along with meeting instructional objectives and goals.

Physical Education and Student Health

Do you remember physical education classes in school? Today, many doctors and exercise physiologists believe physical activity can help prevent a host of potential deadly conditions, including diabetes and hypertension. Some scientists even believe obesity may be the number one cause of childhood cancer. In fact, in today's computer age, many children spend hours per day inside, and rarely go outside to play after school.

The school playground is a place for students to compete against one another and learn how to cooperate as friends.

Identifying Developmentally Appropriate Activities

Identifying which activities are appropriate for each level is crucial, as they must be learned in order to gain maximum benefits:

  • At the elementary school level, the emphasis is on the basic motor skills, which are throwing and catching, running and jumping, and climbing.
  • At the middle school level, we see a transition to the implementation of these basic skills in games such as kickball, dodgeball, and basketball.
  • At the high school level, we go to the final stage of specialization, in which very specific skills, such as cross country running, weightlifting, or yoga, are taught.

National, State, and Local Standards

Federal, state, and local guidelines govern physical education classes, so they can vary from school district to school district. Shape America (Shape is an acronym for Society of Health and Physical Educators) is the federal governing body for school physical fitness.

Shape America stresses that its goal is developing individual students that are physically literate. This means that the student should:

  • Actually be physically fit
  • Be a regular participant in physical activities
  • Learn the necessary skills to be active
  • Know the benefits of exercise
  • Value a lifestyle that is healthy

Overarching Goals

A quality physical education program is one that meets many goals and standards like increased overall health, higher levels of overall fitness, motor skill enhancement, cognitive improvement, improved mood, increased social skills, and the ability to cooperate with others.

Competition versus Cooperation

The ideal classroom environment is one that stresses both competition and cooperation, as opposed to the old-school model of only emphasizing competition. For example, the coach could have the students run a tricky cross country course, and have students pair up as running buddies in case one gets injured, perhaps spraining an ankle far from the school grounds. At the same time, the students would still try to defeat each other and run their best times.

Another example would be to have students pair up to help each other do partner yoga stretches. At the same time, the coach would still evaluate and grade each individual student based on how well they were doing a particular pose.


For many years, physical education classes tested the students with the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Only the best students could receive the coveted patch, and the Pull-Up Test was known for dashing many dreams.

It is desirable that a coach be able to assess a student's improvement. This can be done by testing the student's abilities in strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility at the beginning of the school year. Then these baselines can be retested throughout the year. For example, the Sit and Reach Test can be used to determine flexibility, and the 100-yard dash can be used to determine speed. A bench press or shot put can indicate different types of strength, and a distance run from 600 yards to a mile can measure endurance.

Outlining a Program

  • The first thing a coach must do is to set and establish goals for the class.
  • The coach should explain to the students the signal for starting and stopping, whether it be a hand gesture or a whistle.
  • The coach should first teach the students about safety concepts such as balance, control, and spatial awareness. This will greatly reduce the risk of injuries when the students do start to play.
  • The coach should explain the concepts of sportsmanship and teamwork, so when the students play they do not cheat, and the winners do not taunt the losers.
  • The students should do a brief warmup of a few minutes to loosen up cold muscles. At the end of the class, they should do a brief cooldown and may stretch warm muscles.

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