Do Schools Really Need Floorball?

I’ve been around the block enough times now to hear a lot of the same comments and arguments. One of the first comments that comes up is Floorball would be great for hockey players. The other comment that comes stating, “This would be perfect in schools”. The true question in anything is asking the question. Do schools really need Floorball in their physical education curriculum?

Let’s step back and try to analyze that question as unbiased as possible. Believe me, I’m pretty biased on this question, but I think it’s worth asking the question. Hopefully you’ll be able to make your own decision. A big part in answering that question is to look at the current role physical education plays in our society, specifically in U.S. schools. Unfortunately in the U.S. emphasis, funding, and time spent on physical education is rather low, especially when compared to cost spent on other subjects. However, there are a plethora of studies and research done on the importance of physical health and it’s relation to long-term benefits inside and outside of the classroom. Needless to say it’s just not a priority, and without getting into the political components of the argument in the short-term that simply won’t change overnight.

If you haven’t spent time in a physical education class in the past 10 years you’d likely notice some differences from your youth. One of the differences I notice aside from a lack of funding, is the size of kids in physical education classes. In the classroom we’re asking one teacher to manage 25-30 plus kids, but in a P.E. class that can jump to 50-60 per teacher. On top of that physical education classes are fractured in their consistency. Kids don’t have P.E. every day, and instead may go one week for three days, and then have two or three weeks off before they come back to P.E. Each school teacher, school, district, and state are different, but it’s certainly a huge challenge. Simply managing that time and schedule is a huge undertaking; especially if you add on top of that the requirements for meeting and showing students are meeting state and national standards.

With all of this in hand teachers simply don’t have the time or resources needed to dedicate enough time on everything they want to do. There are some really great resources out there, and there is a huge push on teachers getting creative. The results from this are astounding, and they should be applauded. The impacts P.E. teachers are making across the country to ensure students are getting exposed to new things, moving, having fun, and learning are a crucial component to their overall development.

So where would Floorball fit into this mix? That’s a question that each teacher has to answer for themselves. The physical benefits of the sport are a no brainer. If you break down the sport it is pretty clear how it can meet state standards in regards to physical development. I think it has a place in some form in schools. If a teacher doesn’t have floorball sticks, but has hockey sticks can they teach floorball? Of course! The keys are making the necessary adaptations to teach the sport. Focus on the rules of the game, use goals that you have. If you’re lucky enough to get a grant buy equipment and make it available for students during recess. There are options, but to think that the whole growth of the sport hinges on schools is not true. It should be a component, and that is where outside organizations play the bigger role. A kid who gets excited about Floorball in school, but has nowhere to play outside of school misses an opportunity to play.

So before you jump to expecting the schools to grow the game I would turn it around and say, what are you doing to support that?

Physical Literacy and Floorball

In the field of recreation, fitness, and physical education there are some terms or buzz words that get thrown around with some regularity. One of the particular buzz words is physical literacy. Some of you may know what that means, or be able to deduce the meaning from the word itself. It’s not intended to be rocket science, but the more and more you think about it to be physically literate is something we should all strive for. Floorball is just one more tool that can be used to help others develop and improve their own physical literacy.

What is physical literacy? For the purposes of this topic we’ll use the following definition.

Physical literacy is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” (Mandigo, Francis, Lodewyk & Lopez, 2012)

Let’s look into this a bit further. As children we are in a constant state of development. It’s talked about on a regular basis, and in many ways is the core to our existence as people. If you break it down it’s essentially asking you to develop a wide array of skills to move. This could include throwing a ball while moving, standing on one foot with the other in the air, and so on. This notion is not a new thing, but the problem is that as we’ve evolved in different ways we’re missing out this development.

From an athletic standpoint more and more youth programs are specializing in one sport at younger levels it’s hurting a players overall physical development. This lack of development is being seen at the highest levels of competition. Players are so focused on one sport, skill, and movement that they don’t know how to move. There is so much more to dive into on this specific topic, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Coming back to physical literacy and Floorball. For many, the concept of using a stick to control, move, defend and play with is a foreign concept. Or, at the very least is not something they do on a regular basis. In teaching the sport I’m somewhat astonished at the lack of skill in this area. It shouldn’t surprise me too much given a lack of opportunity for kids in my area to use a hockey stick. We just don’t have it, unless they happen to play floor hockey one week out of the year in school. However, as they develop those skills their confidence increases, and their level of skill increases in a number of ways.

If you’re a teacher and you’re wondering if floorball will meet standards it does. I talk about that in my book Floorball Guru Primer, as I wanted to make sure it would. Think about the motion of swinging the stick, stopping the ball, dribbling using static and dynamic movements. All of it fits, and I would argue giving kids opportunities to do things they’re not used to will help them improve in other ways beyond the physical. At the very least the great thing about Floorball is that it’s really hard to stay still and not be engaged in the game. I encourage you to check it out.