The skill-related components of fitness include movement activities that are necessary for various skilled performances and athletic competitions. There are six skill-related components of physical fitness: agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction time, and speed. All of these components can be improved with proper training and practice within a physical education program. The skill-related components are distinct from the health-related fitness components in that they focus more on performing sports and physical activities rather than concentrating on body composition and health.
In this blog post, I will explore the six skill-related fitness components in detail, with a list of definitions and examples to help students become more proficient at several PE movement skills. I'll go through these ideas in more depth by highlighting some of my PE Super Friends visuals to illustrate them. I will also examine how the skill-related components of fitness can be integrated into a typical physical education class.
Definition and National PE Standard
Skill-related fitness refers to the physical abilities that contribute to success in performance-based sports or other forms of exercise. Addressing the skill-related components and including them in our movement experiences during PE classes is important because people who acquire motor skills as youngsters are more likely to be active for a lifetime than those who don't.
The skill-related components of physical fitness directly correlate well with SHAPE America Standard 3, which states: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.*
What are the six skill-related components of fitness?
1. Agility, 2. Balance, 3. Coordination, 4. Power, 5. Reaction Time, and 6. Speed.
All six of these fitness components are important for students to develop so they can participate in a variety of movement activities and sports. The PE Super Friend visuals highlighted below allow for a better understanding of each component concept.
Agility is the ability to rapidly and accurately change the direction of the whole body in space while maintaining balance. For example, when playing soccer, a player needs to be able to quickly change directions to keep up with the play of the game. Another example would be if someone was playing tennis and they needed to quickly get to the ball that was hit by their opponent.
To improve your agility, try activities where you move quickly and in a variety of directions such as basketball, volleyball, pickleball, or flag football. Also, agility drills such as the shuttle run or dot jumping help too.
Balance is the ability to maintain equilibrium (control of your body) while stationary or moving. There are two types of balance: Static and dynamic. Static balance is when you are stationary and maintaining equilibrium like a gymnast performing a stationary handstand. Dynamic balance is when you are moving and still maintaining equilibrium such as a person skiing down a snow hill.
To improve your balance, try activities such as yoga, gymnastics, or ballet. Sports such as football, hockey, basketball, and water skiing also require great balance and a solid center of gravity.
Coordination is the ability to use the senses and body parts to perform motor tasks smoothly and accurately. It’s the ability to skillfully execute movements while performing other tasks. For example, dribbling a soccer ball and then kicking it toward the goal.
To improve your coordination, try activities in which you use several parts of your body such as biking, swimming, skiing, or golf. Also, activities in which you use an object or different objects to catch, toss, throw, strike or kick like juggling, tennis, and base games help you become more coordinated.
Power is the ability to perform a task quickly and forcefully; strength x speed. An example of power would be a weightlifter quickly and forcefully lifting a heavy weight overhead or a sprinter accelerating as fast as possible to reach top speed. Power can be improved through activities like doing push-ups or jumping rope.
To improve your Power, try a variety of “explosive” activities such as plyometrics (ex. box jumps, jump squats, and medicine ball throws), track and field, and creative dance. Also, activities such as football, gymnastics, and tennis help your power level too.
Reaction time is the ability to react or respond quickly to what you hear, see, or feel. An example of reaction time would be a goalkeeper diving to save a soccer ball heading for the net or a batter hitting a fastball thrown by a pitcher.
To improve your reaction time, try activities in which you must react quickly during a game situation such as sprint starts, table tennis, badminton, racquetball, or cup stacking.
Speed is the ability to move quickly from one point to another. An example of speed would be a sprinter running as fast as possible over 100 meters or a defender running across the field to intercept a football.
To improve your speed, try activities that you must move quickly from point A to point B such as sprinting, bicycling, or rowing. Also, speed training with intervals and strength exercises such as squats and burpees help increase your overall speed.
Incorporating the skill-related fitness components into a PE class
Keep these few things in mind when trying to incorporate skill-related fitness components into a PE class. First, it's important to focus on activities that will provide ample opportunities for students to practice whatever component you are targeting. For example, jumping rope is an excellent skill to help a student develop better coordination. Second, make sure the activities are developmentally appropriate for the students. What you do with a Kindergarten student would be much different than what you would do with a 6th grader. Third, provide clear and concise instructions so that students can be successful in performing the given tasks. And fourth, create a safe environment for students to practice and learn.
By incorporating these components into a PE class, students will be better able to improve their motor skill development.
Now that we are all familiar with the definition, different aspects, and some examples of the skill-related components, let's explore some physical activity examples we could use in our PE classes.
1. Skill-Related Fitness Circuits
Fitness Circuit training involves short sequences of movements that you perform one after the other, with only a brief rest in between. Using circuits that concentrate solely on one of the skill-related components works best (i.e. balance circuit with 12 balance movements or holds). A timer can be used (for example 30 seconds to 1 minute) to time the circuit movement.
Create some skill-related movement/exercise signs (with or without graphics). Print and laminate for future use
Place the movement/exercise cards in set areas around your learning area (spread them out)
Place students in small groups and have them start at one of the fitness circuit signs
When the music starts playing or the teacher gives a start cue, students read their circuit sign and begin moving according
At each station, students read and do an exercise for 30 seconds to a minute
Students move to the next circuit card when the music changes or when the teacher gives a cue
The students continue from circuit sign to circuit sign for a specified time (i.e. 5 to 10 minutes)
Balance and Kinesthetic Awareness Circuit
2. Skill-Based Fitness Stations
Skill-based fitness stations involve a series of focused movements/actions, with or without PE equipment that students rotate throughout the entire class period. The stations last longer than circuits (usually 5 to 15 minutes) and each station can represent a different skill-related component of fitness. For example, you could have an agility station that is an obstacle course and a reaction time cup-stacking station.
Make some exercise signs that are skill-related (with or without graphics). Print them out and laminate them so you can use them again in the future
Place the station signs in various locations around your learning area
Assign students to small groups and have them start at one of the stations
When the music starts playing or the teacher gives a start cue, students read their station sign and take turns or work on their own to perform the station tasks
At each station, students read and do the designated task for 5 to 10 minutes
When the instructor gives a signal, the students move to the next station area
The students continue from the station for a specified time (i.e. 20 to 30 minutes)
3. Large Group PE Games
Large group games are PE activities that many students can play simultaneously. They usually involve multiple skills and incorporate several of the skill-related components within the game. They are often semi-competitive and they offer abundant opportunities for practicing skills and permit students to perform different roles within the game. Large group physical education games work well for students with limited PE skills and also for those that have a greater ability to perform the tasks.
Usually takes up the whole learning space or a good part of it
Place all the equipment needed for the game out before the students arrive
Instruct or review the rules and use students to demonstrate how to play. Discuss the skills that the game helps you practice
When the music starts playing or the teacher gives a start cue, students begin the large group game
Stop the game often to discuss strategy, rules, and/or behavioral issues
Re-set up the game when the class is over for the next group of students
Survivor 2- Great Large Group Agility and Reaction Time Game
4. Skill-Based Task Cards
Skill-based task cards are graphic activities or movements that students can perform independently, at their own pace and developmental level. They often have multiple challenges that students can pick and choose from. The cards make it easy for students to first read and then perform a variety of engaging fitness-based movements in a gym, classroom, or home. Teachers can easily walk around and provide individual feedback during a class period.
Create some skill-related task cards (with or without graphics). Print and laminate for future use
Place appropriate PE equipment in pods around your learning space
Distribute a task card to each student at the beginning of a lesson. Note- The teacher can also project the visual on a whiteboard or screen for all the students to do at the same time.
Place the extra cards in piles around the learning area
When the music starts playing or the teacher gives a start cue, students read their task card and then begin to move around accordingly.
Students perform the task in their own personal space
When they are finished, they can trade with another student or get another one from the pile
The skill-related fitness components of fitness are important elements for students to learn in physical education classes. These components can help students improve their motor skills and increase their overall level of fitness. The six skill-related fitness components are agility, balance, coordination, reaction time, and speed. They can be easily incorporated into a variety of activities and games and ultimately become a part of a student's healthy fitness routine. Large group games are a great way to practice many skills at once, while skill-based task cards are a more independent way for students to improve their skills. By incorporating these activities into a physical education class, students will be able to improve their fitness levels and skills.
What other ways have you incorporated the skill-related fitness components in your physical education classes...in high school, middle school, or elementary? What are your students' favorite activities? Let me know in the comments below!
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author
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