Best PLAYBuilder features and programming for coaches and teachers

Coaches and teachers across the world know that time is precious and there is increasingly less of it in our daily lives. PLAYBuilder was created to be an all-encompassing programming and delivery tool to help solve the issue of time in sports and physical literacy programming. There are many features built into the system that help make life easier for coaches and teachers alike. This blog post will break down the top PLAYBuilder features in detail so you can easily understand how to best use the tool to your advantage when planning and running your lessons.

PLAYBuilder features for coaches and teachers

Best aspects of PLAYBuilder overall

PLAYBuilder has many different features that are beneficial for all users of PLAYBuilder (coaches and teachers included). These features help save time, make for better long-term planning, and can make for more dynamic physical literacy understanding for all involved. The top features to get excited about include:

  • Advanced searching – Search for any physical literacy and quality sport content with advanced filter criteria such as age, environment, development focus, and more. Sport for Life has built 900+ activities to choose from!
  • Playlists – Select the programs you enjoy and group them into folders for easy and tailored access.
  • Favorites – Star content to keep it on your dashboard for ideas later on.
  • Create-Your-Own – Make your own lesson plans, activities, progressions, or collections to tailor your programming even more.
  • Sharing – If you are an administrator, you have the ability to share lesson plans, activities, progressions, and packs with other people on your account.
  • Mobile-friendly – Lead programming directly from your phone or tablet. No more wasted paper!

Best PLAYBuilder feature for teachers

For teachers, one of the best aspects of PLAYBuilder is the pre-built content and the ability to organize it how you want. With over 900 activities and 250 lessons at your disposal, there is a lot to choose from! Content is broken down into Packs, which contain lesson plans, activities, progressions, and collections. One of the hardest things for teachers is to align programming with learning outcome goals. As well, understanding what the base physical literacy level of their class is to start with. Luckily, PLAYBuilder has the content built in that teachers need most to get started running the right programming at the right times for each grade level.

Assessments Content Pack for teachers

Sport for Life has developed two physical literacy assessment tools over the past years. PLAYfun and PLAYbasic are meant to improve the level of physical literacy for all. They are directed at individuals aged seven and up by determining gaps in physical literacy development, and provide calls-to-action to help improve these areas.

While these tools have existed on our physical literacy website, we are proud to announce that all PLAYBuilder clients now can have access to use them within the PLAYBuilder system. The packs include videos on what to look for from your participants, step-by-step instructions on how to run each assessment activity, and a grid to track participant development.

After the assessments are run, you can search which content in PLAYBuilder matches the needs of your participants (ie. if the class is lacking balance skills, then you can run a balance lesson for your specific age range).

Physical literacy assessment in action with PLAYtools

Grade 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-10 Content Packs for teachers

These four content packs develop age-appropriate physical literacy for grades 1-10 and can be extremely helpful in understanding what to run and at what times. Pick and choose from 650 activities and over 130 lesson plans that will be perfect for the ages range you are teaching. From object manipulation skills, balance activities, volleyball and soccer drills, and other fun games, these content packs have everything you need as a teacher to be able to run quality programming for your specific age range focus. Save yourself time by using these activities as your base to start from for grade-specific physical literacy programming. Remember, you can always add activities to your own playlists to re-order lesson plans and activities in the order that fits your needs!

Pro tip: Click the purple “Collection” for each grade you are focused on to get a full list of lesson plans to run in order for 20+ straight classes.

Best PLAYBuilder feature for coaches

In contrast to the more general physical literacy training run by physical education teachers, coaches tend to prefer programming specific to their exact sport once a broad range of basic skills have been acquired by their participants. PLAYBuilder also has a solution for that: the ability to create your own programming! While there is a good mix of sport-specific programming built into PLAYBuilder, it would be impossible to build exact programming for every sport-specific group in the world. That’s why there’s the ability to add your own content in addition to the content that Sport for Life has made.

How to create your own lesson plans for coaching

Lesson plans can be created using any of the activities found within the PLAYBuilder Tool. Staff can create lesson plans specific to their program needs or requirements by selecting activities through the search menu. Lesson plans are divided into 5 sections; Overview, Introduction, Warm-Up, Skill Lessons & Activities, and Cool Down. You have the option to create the following information for each lesson plan in addition to selecting activities:

  • Title and description of lesson plan
  • Overview of the lesson plan
  • Introduction to the lesson plan
  • Water breaks or notes/reminders to staff
  • Any activity specific or lesson plan specific safety considerations

You also have the ability to add videos, pictures, supporting PDF documents as well to ensure that you’ve got everything you need to coach through PLAYBuilder. Watch our full step-by-step video of how to create content below.

Best warm-up options for coaches

Coaches often struggle to find warm-up options that get participants properly moving before practice. Within PLAYBuilder, you have access to dozens of unique warm-up drills in our Movement Prep series. These 44 activities are pre-loaded with video examples, clear instructions, and are broken down into skill level so you can be sure your teams are doing what they need to prior to practice or games.

Physical literacy movement preparation is movement that focuses on incorporating and improving fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills into activity. It prepares the body for movement and enhances the way you move for short-term and long-term benefits. Movement Preparation improves the way you move, which reduces the risk of injury during physical activity. It also teaches skills that will benefit participation in unfamiliar activities.

Movement preparation that is geared toward physical literacy – focusing on the techniques that improve and incorporate fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills – can also foster a more physically active and healthy lifestyle.

Warming up with Movement Prep physical literacy in PLAYBuilder

If you tried out PLAYBuilder and ran an activity or two, let us know how it went in the comments below!

If you are new to PLAYBuilder and do not yet have an account with us, request a demo today and we will show you everything you need to know to get up and running quickly with your physical literacy programming.

How to easily shift from hard copy to paperless physical literacy lesson plans

It is common for coaches, teachers, and leaders in general to run sports and physical literacy programming from a printed version. This is how things have been done for many years. However, things are changing quickly in the digital age and people are starting to run more and more programs directly from their phones or tablets. This blog post will outline the benefits of running lesson plans from a mobile device as well as tips to make your transition from paper to digital smooth and simple.

Using digital physical literacy lesson plans instead of paper copy

Paper vs. Digital Lesson Plans

Paper lesson plans have been used in sports for many years. It is a tried and true method that lots of coaches and teachers still feel comfortable with today. A club soccer coach who was coaching 15 years ago would have never thought of the possibility to have his lessons available at the swipe of his finger to scroll through. A high school physical education teacher may have been used to printing off every single lesson plan for the week on Monday morning before school started. A college basketball coach may have had his assistants each get a copy of the practice plan for the day for every day of the year. This was just how things were done 15 years ago and before.

However, since the iPhone and iPad were released in 2007, there has been a massive shift towards digital solutions in the sports and physical literacy realm. Apps and web-based programs have taken over the world in one of the fastest trends we’ve ever seen in human history. Now, data travels at speeds never before seen and new information is available at the click of a button. Coaches, teachers, and leaders running sports and physical literacy programming are now getting into the digital flow of information with technologies such as PLAYBuilder. These technologies help make life easier in many ways!


Pros and cons of hard-copy lesson plans

Although hard-copy lesson plans are becoming outdated, there still are many pros. Lets take a look at the potential positives and negatives of this style of leading:

Pros:

  • Comfort level for leaders who have used it their whole career
  • Can be folded and put in pocket while coaching
  • Can be written on with pen

Cons:

  • Uses a lot of paper / can be wasteful
  • Copies are not editable for future adjustments
  • If something changes, managing edits can take a long time
  • Not easily managed for sending to large groups
  • Bulkier than mobile devices
  • No ability to show videos on paper
Coach using paper copy lesson plan

Pros and cons of digital lesson plans

By contrast, digital lesson plans also have their own set of positives and negatives.

Pros:

  • Light and mobile
  • Easily adjust lesson plans for large groups in short notice
  • Store lesson plans and activities in one spot for quick access and adjust over time
  • Show videos directly on screen
  • Easily step through each part of your lesson

Cons:

  • Can get wet and damaged if raining / muddy
  • If you have multiple leaders running the lesson at once, then all leaders must have a mobile device with them
  • Some leaders are not comfortable with technology yet over paper

How to switch from paper to digital lesson plans

As you can see above, there are many pros for switching over to digital lesson plans. If the pros outweigh the cons for you and your organization, then there are a few strategies to ensure that everyone running lesson plans from their tablet or mobile phone are comfortable with the switch and can get even more out of their everyday coaching or teaching than they used to with paper copies

Step 1: Invest in an online lesson planning tool

To get the most out of your digital experience, it is really important to use a tool that makes it easy to store your lesson plans and update them as needed for your whole coaching or teaching staff at one time. Why reinvent the wheel when it’s already been created for you? PLAYBuilder is the best tool available online that will allow you to use pre-built lesson plans in conjunction with activities and lessons that you want to build on your own. With over 900 activities and 250 lessons, there is a lot to get excited about for your switch to digital!

Step 2: Get your staff trained

It’s important to have a training day with your staff to ensure everyone is comfortable with how to use your software and all the features and pre-built content they have access to. PLAYBuilder offers virtual training sessions when you come on board as a new client. This can be in conjunction with an in-person training that you offer your staff to get everyone on the same page quickly. The get your group training set up, just reach out to digital@sportforlife.ca

Step 3: Try it out

When it comes to digital technologies, the best thing to do it just try it! Click buttons, try a couple programs, favorite activities and lessons that appeal to you, try creating an activity of your own. The physical literacy world is at your fingertips! PLAYBuilder is extremely intuitive and once you try it for 10 minutes, you will see how easy it is to pick up and run with your digital lesson planning.

Step 4: Make it a habit

There will be times that you feel a paper lesson plan would be easier for your situation. But if that ever is the case, just think to yourself about the long-term benefits of using digital lesson plans and how much easier it is to track, change, and organize your lessons for years to come. Going digital can mean taking your organizations lesson planning to the next level. Commit to it and see the positive changes in the short-term as well as long-term for the children and youth in your programs!

Volleyball team celebrating after coach used a tablet to show the lesson plan

If you tried out PLAYBuilder and ran an activity or two, let us know how it went in the comments below!

If you are new to PLAYBuilder and do not yet have an account with us, request a demo today and we will show you everything you need to know to get up and running quickly with your physical literacy programming.

How to find the physical literacy programming you need faster through PLAYBuilder

Quality sport and physical literacy programming can be hard to come by. There are many lesson plans and activities out there on digital platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, and other physical activity-specific websites. However, the majority of those programs have not been vetted for quality by physical literacy experts. Luckily, PLAYBuilder has over 900 activities that you can pick up and use from your mobile device at a moments notice. You won’t have to worry about making sure your programs are high quality! This blog post outlines how easy it is to find the physical literacy programming you need quickly through PLAYBuilder.

how to find physical literacy programming fast on PLAYBuilder
Physical literacy development through martial arts

Step 1: Explore Content

In PLAYBuilder, there is a feature to search for the content you need. No matter if you are looking for a specific sport, age range, or development focus, you can find what you need in “Explore Content”. In your dashboard, all you have to do is navigate to the top right of your homepage and and click “Explore Content” and then “Search”. This will bring you to the in-depth search page where you can start entering the desired criteria you are looking for.

How to search for content on playbuilder

Step 2: Enter your search criteria

Once you’ve clicked “Explore Content”, it’s now time to enter the search criteria you would like to find. You have numerous options here and can keep it as simple or as broad as you would like. For instance, you could be looking for a Balance Lesson Plan which is 30 minutes or less for ages 1-6 and can be run in a classroom. Or, you could just be looking for a list of possible Balance activities. Either way, you can enter your criteria in the dropdown menus provided and find what you need for your physical literacy and quality sport programming. Below is a list of all the category fields you can choose from. Each category has multiple dropdown options beneath it:

  • Content Source – ie. where the content came from. This can be your organization who created content or Sport for Life.
  • Sport – choose from many different individual sport options.
  • Can be used as – Are you looking for a warm-up? Skill lesson? Activity? Choose it here.
  • Min Time – The minimum amount of time you have to run an activity.
  • Max Time – The minimum amount of time you have to run an activity.
  • With Video – Select this checkbox if you only want to see content with video in it.
  • With PDF – Select this checkbox if you only want to see content with PDFs in them.
  • Min Age – The minimum age of participants you are running programming for.
  • Max Age – The maximum age of participants you are running programming for.
  • Adaptation – Choose from many adaptive programming options to meet the needs of all your participants.
  • Stage of Athletic Development – Choose between Active Start, FUNdamentals, Learn to Train, Train to Train, Train to Compete, Train to Win, and Active for Life.
  • Skill Level – Pick you choice between beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert levels of programming.
  • Fundamental Movement Skills – Choose one or more skills you would like to focus on. The categories are Body, Locomotor, and Object Control & Manipulation with dozens of sub-options within each category.
  • Physical Capabilities – Select the physical capabilities of your participants.
  • Sport-Specific Skills – If you are coaching a sport that has skills outside of the fundamental movement skills, then you can choose from a pre-made list or request additions to the current list in relation to your sport.
  • Life Skills – Choose between various life skills that include health, safety, social, personal responsibility, and many others.
  • Psychological – Here, you can take your pick of finding programming related to confidence, respect, motivation, trust, understanding, working with others, and more!
  • Cultural and Spiritual – Your options here include things like Connection to the Land, Traditional Foods, and more.
  • Physical Education Standards – Choose between standards set out across different provinces which connect to learning outcomes.
  • Environment – Only have access to a certain area for your programming? Choose between field, classroom, gym and more to get programming that fits your exact situation at the moment.
  • Equipment – If you only have access to certain equipment, you can also choose between hundreds of equipment tags that relate to activities and lessons in PLAYBuilder.

Again, with all of these options, you can choose one tag to focus on or as many as you wish. It all depends on how in-depth you want to go with your searching for programming!

Search criteria on PLAYBuilder

Step 3: Choose the physical literacy programming you want to run

Now that you’ve chosen your search criteria, it’s time to choose your activities, lessons, progressions, or collections that suit what you need! There will be a list of content that fits the criteria you searched for, all colour-coded so you can understand what is included faster. For instance, a green-coloured icon is an activity. Blue stands for progressions. Red stands for Lesson plan. And purple stands for Collection. Depending on what kind of programming you are looking for, simply click one of the icons, read through what content is included, and try it out for yourself! You can click “Live Coach” which will step you through the programming on your mobile device or computer. Alternatively, you can also click “PDF” which will generate a printable version of your chosen content.

Finding activities on PLAYBuilder

Good luck with picking a program that is right for you in PLAYBuilder!

If you tried out PLAYBuilder and ran an activity or two, let us know how it went in the comments below!

If you are new to PLAYBuilder and do not yet have an account with us, request a demo today and we will show you everything you need to know to get up and running quickly with your physical literacy programming.

How to get kids participating in physical activities through PLAYBuilder

Sport and physical activity are helpful for developing individuals and society as a whole. The benefits of physical activity are recognized across the world for their positive contribution to well-being. This can come through recreational sport that is more unstructured, active living, free play, and structured sport. However, even though there is a wide understanding that these benefits exist, it can sometimes be hard to motivate kids to get moving. PLAYBuilder, in conjunction with the right mentality and approach, can help solve this problem in a rapidly growing digital world.

how to get kids participating in physical activities
Children participating in physical activity in a nursery setting

Definition of Physical Literacy

“Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.”
– The International Physical Literacy Association, May 2014

Physical literacy is the building blocks of an active lifestyle. If leaders are able to get children being active the right way from a young age, then there is a high likelihood that they will be active for their entire lives. Long-Term Development includes three main early development stages: Active StartFUNdamentals, and Learn to Train. PLAYBuilder comes with content aligned with these stages of development so you can run quality lessons quickly and easily. These lessons are meant to be both fun and developmentally appropriate for the children and kids participating in them.

Definition of physical literacy
Kids participating in a bean bag race, developing their physical literacy

Why children can be unmotivated to participate

Although it is easy to run lesson plans through PLAYBuilder, it does not guarantee that all participants will want to join in on the fun. Like with any environment of learning, there will be times when some kids don’t want to participate. This can happen for various reasons, some of which include:

  • Social factors – Kids don’t want to be different from each other. Perhaps the uninvolved child feels “weird” participating.
  • Skills deficit – There is a chance that the child is not at the same level of physical literacy development as the majority of the class and thus is nervous to try.
  • Boredom – The kids may be bored with participating in an activity. Maybe it has been done too many times the same way?
  • Child with a disability – There are many potential disabilities that could make a child feel uncomfortable participating with their peers.

Motivation tips for disengaged kids

As a leader, there will be times when your participant(s) will not want to take part in activities. This can be due to various factors and is especially common in younger children. We’ve put together 7 tips to get your kids participating in your PLAYBuilder lessons more consistently!

  1. Praise efforts, not results – Frame activities as being about trying your best rather than winning or losing
  2. Mix it up – Kids are more interested when there are varying activities throughout the lessons and not a routine of the same thing every time
  3. Ask questions – If participants are asked about what they learned at the end of each lesson, they are more likely to feel a deeper connection to it the next time
  4. Let them pick – It’s ok to let your participants decide which games to play from time to time. The nice thing about PLAYBuilder is that all lessons are vetted for quality physical literacy activities so no matter what you choose, your participants will benefit!
  5. Offer take-home challenges – If your participants liked the skills they learned that day, then offer simple games they can do at home to keep improving. There are many options to choose from in the PLAYBuilder grade-specific content packs.
  6. Make it FUN – The activities in PLAYBuilder are meant to develop physical literacy while also keeping it fun for participants. Make them your own by customizing your wording based on what you know your participants like. For instance, in the “Alphabet Balance”, you could have them spell funny animal names if you know they like animals!
  7. Celebrate small wins – If a participant is shy and does something well (like great throwing form for example), vocally support them by saying “great job” specifically to them in front of the group. This will motivate them to keep participating while also letting the class know of the proper technique that one of their colleagues is doing.
Children developing physical literacy skills through PLAYBuilder
Children trying hula hoop and developing physical literacy skills

If you tried out PLAYBuilder and ran an activity or two, let us know how it went in the comments below!

If you are new to PLAYBuilder and do not yet have an account with us, request a demo today and we will show you everything you need to know to get up and running quickly with your physical literacy programming.

Top 5 strategies to get up and running quickly on PLAYBuilder

PLAYBuilder is a great tool for running developmentally appropriate physical literacy programming. This article outlines the top 5 strategies to get you off to a smooth start when first using the tool. This will allow you to use your time most effectively while also ensuring you are running the most relevant programming possible for the age range you are leading.

Top 5 strategies to get up and running quickly on PLAYBuilder

Top 5 Strategies

Develop a Physical Literacy Plan

The first step of any successful physical education plan is to lay out your goals and then work back from there on what steps you need to take to reach those goals. If you are a teacher, your goals may be tied to your physical education standards of your province. For British Colombia for instance, the physical health education goals for the 2019-20 school year include Communication, Thinking, Personal & Social skills as the main categories. These can be used as the basis of planning for teachers all across BC. However, if you are a sports coach of a local club, your goals may be different and thus lead to another type of strategy.

Once you have your goals set, it’s important to work back from those and develop strategies that will achieve them. What physical literacy activities and lessons do you need to run in order for your participants to learn what you set out? In the past, this would mean writing down activities and lesson plans on paper. More recently, physical literacy leaders have been updating digital copies of programming in either Microsoft word, excel, or other software. Leaders would find this programming in physical literacy books, past experiences, knowledge from their education background, or online. However, this is an arduous process for most people and can be hard to keep everything sorted for what you need on short timelines. Now, with digital solutions like PLAYBuilder, it is possible to keep all of your physical literacy activities in one place so you can easily run what you need at the right stage of development for your participants.

So, to develop your physical literacy plans, we suggest using PLAYBuilder to keep things sorted from the very start.

Develop a physical literacy plan

Use the search function

Once you’ve decided to use PLAYBuilder as your one-stop shop for physical literacy program, make sure to do a quick search of what activities and lessons are available in the system. There are over 900 pre-built activities and 250 lesson plans to choose from. Whether you are a physical education teacher, sports coach, or recreation centre leader, there are activities that everyone will find useful right away. The key is to use the advance search options to find what suits your needs. Here, you can filter by age, physical literacy stage of development, sport, and more. The content is even split up into packs that house grade-specific content (grades 1-10), stage-specific content (Active Start, Learn To Train, FUNdamentals), and sport-specific content (volleyball, soccer, badminton, martial arts, gymnastics). Take some time to scan through the various activities at your fingertips.

Use the PLAYBuilder search function to find physical literacy content quickly

Try out Live Coaching

One of the best things you can do when using a new technology for the first time is to just TRY IT! It is easier for your brain to process if you test out one activity for yourself rather than reading about how it works. So first and foremost, click on any activity in PLAYBuilder and then scroll down to click on “Live Coach”. This will then guide you through step-by-step directions for which skills will be built upon, the equipment needed, time the activity will take, and specific instructions on what to do. The best part is that Sport for Life has developed all of the programming in PLAYBuilder with long-term physical literacy development in mind. Which means that whatever you run, it will be high quality and also easy to understand and execute! So give it a try, and you will see how running an activity works. You can do this from your phone, tablet, or computer.

Live Coaching on PLAYBuilder

Keep things organized with Favorites

Favorites are a brilliant way to quickly find activities and lessons that you like. For instance, if you ran a balance activity in your physical education class and saw that the participants loved it, then make sure to click the “star” on the top right of the activity. Doing this will then populate your dashboard the activity so it shows up directly on your homepage. Once you start running more and more activities, you will build a large list of options that you can pull from for your future lessons.

Use favourites in PLAYBuilder to quickly access physical literacy programming

Utilize Playlists

Once you have your content picked that you like, you can place them in your playlists. Every PLAYBuilder user will have a different playlist section depending on what kind of activities and lessons suit your needs. To add an activity to a playlist, simply click the 3 dots on the right side of any activity or lesson and then click the playlist you want to add it to. The playlist can be any name you like (ie. soccer practice, P.E. class 2, etc.). Customize what goes into a playlist so that you can quickly access exactly what you need for each lesson you are planning to run. Note that only YOU will have access to this playlist as all users have a different preferences for what is included in their own playlists and favorites sections.

Use PLAYlists in PLAYBuilder to keep track of activities

And that’s it! With these top 5 strategies, you will be up and running on PLAYBuilder in no time. We know it can take some time to get used to a new technology and system of doing things, so we encourage you to take some time to just play around with the tool. We’ve made sure to keep things very user friendly within the system and you will find that once you click around through various activities and lessons, it is easy to navigate and understand. Enjoy running your physical literacy programming through PLAYBuilder!

If you tried out PLAYBuilder and ran an activity or two, let us know how it went in the comments below!

If you are new to PLAYBuilder and do not yet have an account with us, request a demo today and we will show you everything you need to know to get up and running quickly with your physical literacy programming.