Playing Soccer is the perfect time to focus on the foot/ankle complex in Physical Education. Along with good core strength, the feet are literally our foundation. They connect us with the earth and ground us energetically. They provide the gross physical structure for balance, along with the intricate vestibular system. What looks like an ordinary soccer warm-up for the hips by lifting the legs and tapping on the inside and outside of the feet, is really designed to bring students' awareness to this often ignored body part. Dribbling, the most fundamental skill in soccer, is practiced not only as a way to improve upon soccer skills, but to help with this body awareness referred to by Dr. Wachs in Thinking Goes To School, as the “Mental Map of the Body” and also known as Motor Planning. Each tap of the soccer ball to the foot provides important feedback to the brain about where the feet are in relationship to the body and to surrounding objects.
Additionally, there is a very important eye tracking (and subsequent eye-foot coordination) element happening here, which Dr. Wachs describes as a vital element in academic endeavors. As students dribble the ball from right foot to left and change direction they are developing “Coordination of Body's Axes” (Wachs) also known as “Laterality and Directionality”. Further, practice with turning the feet in and out can also help to overcome certain unwanted reflexes so that other movements become more purposeful (See Wieder & Wachs Visual/Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling and Movement). Finally, soccer practice (and sports/physical activity in general) in and of it self, provides students with a useful and appropriate outlet for physical expression, which is innately at the core of our being. Who knew? (Wendy Beffert, Physical Education Teacher, Celebrate the Children)
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.