Alternatives to Using Exercise as Punishment

Alternatives to using exercise as punishment: using exercise as punishment remains common in sports and physical education despite efforts to end the practice
Document Type: Report
Full Text: 
The boys' varsity volleyball team reluctantly gathers around their coach, Ms. Hicks, after dropping their third match of the season (7-3) to the (2-7) Panthers. Ms. Hicks barks at them to "drop and give me 20 push-ups, run three laps, do a cool down stretch, and come to practice tomorrow ready to run." They are going to run "all day long" for making too many mistakes and losing to the Panthers.
At the start of a middle school physical education class, students line up in their squads to listen to Mr. Thomson's instructions about the warm-up activity. Caitlyn has already been asked once to "open her ears " yet she continues to talk with her friends while Mr. Thomson is addressing the class. When he can no longer ignore Caitlyn's disruptions, he stops what he is saying and orders Caitlyn and her friends to take a lap on the track and return to their squad when they are ready to listen, while the rest of the class waits for them.
What are these athletes learning about their sports, their teams, and about physical activity when their coach or teacher uses exercise as a punishment? Why do Ms. Hicks and Mr. Thomson use exercise as punishment to manage their teams and classes? Teachers and coaches may use exercise as punishment because it helps, in the short term, to refocus students' attention and stop bad behavior or attitudes. Although this practice seems common in sport and physical education, it has not been systematically examined and warrants a closer look. Individuals in positions of authority might benefit from reflecting on the intended and unintended consequences of using exercise as punishment or behavior management.
Burak, Rosenthal, and Richardson (2010) explored the use of exercise as punishment or behavior management in a recent survey of 273 undergraduate physical education majors and 65 nonmajors, many of whom have multiple career goals including coaching (68.8 %), teaching physical education (42.4 %), or becoming a fitness professional (71.1 %). The participants included 31 first-year students, 57 sophomores, 91 juniors, 138 seniors, and 21 post-baccalaureate students. Females made up 42.5 percent and males made up 57.5 percent of the participants. The majority of students (96%) reported being athletes, 68.4 percent of them had participated in sports for more than 10 years. More than half of all the students reported that they would likely use exercise as punishment in their teaching, coaching, or fitness careers.
The survey instrument was developed according to the theory-of-reasoned-action guidelines (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) to determine the predictors of intentions to use exercise as punishment. According to the theory, a person's beliefs determine his or her attitudes and norms, which in turn predict intentions and behaviors. Beliefs about the outcomes or consequences of behavior are, therefore, foundational in the development of attitudes and intentions.
To develop the belief-based survey items, Burak et al. (2010) asked 10 individuals who were representative of the student population to identify what they believed to be the positive and negative outcomes of using exercise as punishment. The lists of outcomes were analyzed and compiled into a list of seven possible outcome beliefs: exercise as punishment (1) improves attitudes, (2) increases injuries, (3) improves fitness levels, (4) leads to exercise avoidance, (5) increases mental toughness, (6) establishes the authority of the coach or teacher, and (7) teaches athletes or students that there are consequences to their actions.
Anecdotal evidence and observations in sport and physical education settings by the authors suggest that the use of exercise as punishment is common despite its potential negative outcomes. More than 91 percent of students participating in the study reported that their coaches used exercise as punishment in sport and 42.7 percent reported that their physical education teachers used exercise as punishment in school. School is typically the first place where students are introduced to sport and physical activity, and to exercise as a form of punishment. Although there are no data specifying how many school personnel use exercise as punishment, the 2006 School Health Policies and Programs study (Lee, Burgeson, Fulton, & Spain, 2007) found that staff in 32.3 percent of a representative sample of United States schools were allowed to use physical activity as punishment. Staff were actively discouraged from using exercise as punishment in only 8.9 percent of schools, and staff were allowed to exclude students from physical education for bad behavior in 22.6 percent of schools (Lee et al.).
It is not well understood why coaches and teachers continue to use exercise to punish or manage their students and athletes. According to the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980), people's behaviors are determined by their intentions, attitudes, and norms, which are in turn underpinned by their beliefs. A key to understanding coaches' and teachers' behaviors, therefore, is to understand their underlying outcome beliefs. Outcome beliefs are specific to the behavior in question; they reveal a person's perceptions of what will occur as a result of engaging in a specific behavior.
This article examines participants' beliefs about the outcomes of using exercise as punishment in an effort to better understand why individuals engage in this practice and how future teachers and coaches might be educated to not use this practice. Using Patton's (1990) suggestions for content analysis, participants' outcome beliefs about using exercise as punishment were grouped into three thematic categories: (1) teaching and leadership, (2) fitness training, and (3) mental toughness and attitude. This article will also discuss the prevalence of these beliefs by student participants (figure 1) and provide alternatives to using exercise as punishment or management for coaches and teachers (table 1).
Table 1. Suggested Alternatives to Using Exercise as Punishment
1. Create a task-involved, student-centered environment
2. Adopt the FITT principle (frequency, intensity, type, time)
3. Adapt the fitness plan in response to schedule and fatigue
4. Use positive, detailed, timely feedback to increase desired behaviors
5. Teach for social and personal responsibility, empower students with decision making
6. Focus on the positives
7. Reflect on coaching, class, and team performance
8. Foster mutual respect between teacher/coach and student/athlete
Teaching and Leadership
Student-identified outcome beliefs related to teaching and leadership were that (1) the use of exercise as punishment can teach students that there are consequences to their actions, and (2) that using exercise as punishment can establish the authority of the coach or teacher. At first glance, these outcomes appear quite positive. Understandably, most coaches or teachers want their students or athletes to know that there are consequences to their actions. And using exercise to punish athletes for a loss is sometimes the only way that coaches or teaches know to assert their authority and show students and athletes that losses come with consequences. For example, in the first opening scenario, Ms. Hicks made her team run as punishment for a loss rather than using the next practice for focused and intentional skill development and for honing tactics needed to improve game performance. Perhaps Ms. Hicks did this to compensate for her own perceived lack of control over the situation, or perhaps this behavior was what she herself had experienced as an athlete, and was thus the only way she knew to respond to the loss.
Prevalence of Beliefs. Nearly 82 percent of the participants in the Burak et al. (2009) study agreed that exercise as punishment can teach students that there are consequences to their actions, and 69.4 percent of participants agreed that using exercise as punishment can help the coach or teacher establish authority. Fewer than 10 percent disagreed that exercise as punishment can teach students that there are consequences to their actions.
Alternatives. An alternative to using exercise as punishment after an athletic loss is for the players and coach to openly discuss game performance and to identify specific skills, strategies, tactics, or fitness training that would improve the team's performance before the next game. Researchers have found that coaches who engage in shared decision making with athletes may positively influence athlete autonomy and overall satisfaction with the sport experience (Reinboth & Duda, 2006). Shared decision making and athlete autonomy could effectively eliminate the perceived need for external control over athletes' behaviors. A team loss provides a unique opportunity for coaches and players to discuss the strengths and weakness of themselves and their opponents and to refocus as a team on specific skills and tactics that will improve their game performance. When a coach allows players to engage in this type of problem solving, players become acutely aware that their actions (or lack of action) in the game have consequences.
Furthermore, the coach has an opportunity to establish herself as an authority figure through the mutual respect she demonstrates with her athletes as a result of this coach-athlete dialogue. Fostering mutual respect between the teacher or coach and the student or athlete before problems arise can contribute to a shared and cooperative management of problems when they do arise. Respect can be developed by avoiding certain controlling behaviors and by employing behaviors that increase autonomy. Reinboth and Duda (2006) suggested that coaches should avoid behaviors that put enormous pressure on athletes or that show dominant and controlling power, and that they should be aware that athletes who feel a sense of autonomy may experience enhanced well-being through their sport participation.
Developing athletes' autonomy can be achieved by including them in meaningful discussions about goals and ways to accomplish them, and by using positive reinforcement and feedback to create an environment wherein they want to learn. These techniques are not quick fixes, but they do provide a solid foundation for a positive learning environment.
Punishment or punitive feedback is discouraged by scholars in sport psychology (Smith, 2006) and by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (2004), the Women's Sports Foundation (2007), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1997), and the American Sport Education Program (ASEP, 2007). Scholars in sport psychology support the use of positive reinforcement as the prevailing method of feedback or, in some cases, the use of response-cost punishment (i.e., taking away practice or playing time or some other valued commodity) to strengthen the desired behavior (Smith). The recommended way to change negative behaviors is not to reinforce it at all, but to reinforce desired behaviors (Smith). Reinforcement of desired behaviors clearly shows students and athletes the positive consequences of their behaviors and, if practiced consistently, can lead to the elimination of many undesired behaviors.
Finally, physical education teachers and coaches should always look to school policies and rules for a framework on which to base their management decisions. Teachers and coaches must apply school policies and rules in a consistent manner if they are to he viewed as trusted authority figures in the school. For example, for minor infractions such as being late for class, teachers need to apply the school rule that exists and is used schoolwide (e.g., a warning for a first offense), rather than using exercise as punishment.
Fitness Training
The three outcome beliefs related to fitness were that exercise as punishment can (1) improve fitness levels, (2) discourage students from exercising, and (3) cause injuries. In the physical education example, Mr. Thomson's reaction to Caitlyn's continued talking was to have Caitlyn and her friends "take a lap" on the track while her classmates waited. The net effect of this decision was a reduction of activity time for some class members, who were required to wait. Also, running a lap was meant to be an unpleasant experience for Caitlyn and her friends, who were all aware that their classmates were waiting.
Prevalence of Beliefs. Almost 65 percent of the participants in the Burak et al. (2010) study agreed that using exercise as punishment can increase fitness. Forty-three percent strongly agreed that using exercise as punishment can increase injuries, and 42 percent agreed that its use can result in exercise avoidance.
Alternatives. Increasing fitness is a goal of most physical educators and coaches; it should be a thoughtfully planned portion of each practice and class session. Teachers and coaches can easily handle minor infractions, such as students talking out of turn, by waiting to speak until all students or athletes are quiet and listening. The use of exercise as punishment to develop fitness is ill-advised because it can cause embarrassment, injury, and reduced class time for some students or athletes. Although rare, recent cases of severe injury or death as a result of exercise as punishment underscore the importance of addressing this behavior (Rico, 2002).
Teachers and coaches are encouraged to keep their classroom management system separate from their training and fitness protocol. An alternative for achieving fitness benefits is to plan fitness training guided by research that supports specific, progressive training (e.g., the FITT principle). A clear understanding of physical training principles, exercise motivation principles, and exercise and training goal setting is a necessary part of preservice and inservice teacher education and coach education programs. When training and conditioning are embedded in the behavior-management system, then training is left to chance and the systematic, progressive approach is not consistently implemented for all. When teams engage in a planned progression of fitness training, the result is that all players are trained at an optimal level.
Participants in the Burak et al. (2010) study did recognize that using exercise as punishment can be a dangerous practice in that it may cause injury or may cause students to avoid exercise. These were the only identified outcome beliefs that implied a negative effect of using exercise as punishment, and it is a promising sign that some physical education majors realize that their behavior-management approaches can have a negative impact.
If preservice teachers, coaches, and exercise specialists learn about the serious physical injuries associated with using exercise as punishment, and understand the haphazardness of using it to achieve important fitness goals, their knowledge may inform their beliefs about the possible negative outcomes of the practice.
Mental Toughness and Attitude
The identified outcome beliefs in the final category were that exercise as punishment can (1) increase mental toughness and (2) improve attitudes. Researchers have found that attitudes toward exercise are important predictors of intention to exercise. In a meta-analysis of 111 exercise studies, Downs and Hausenblas (2005) found that attitude about exercise is the primary predictor of intention to exercise. Attitude is clearly important in sport and physical activity settings. In both of the introductory examples, Ms. Hicks and Mr. Thomson used exercise as punishment most likely because they believed that it was something their students or athletes wanted to avoid. It is hard to imagine that at the end of the boys' volleyball "running" practice or after Caitlyn and her friends finished their lap, they had a "better attitude" toward their sport or class.
Prevalence of Beliefs. Sixty-five percent of participants agreed that exercise as punishment could increase mental toughness, and 43 percent believed it could improve attitudes of students and athletes.
Alternatives. Teachers and coaches are the ones who develop the climate in the classroom or on the held that affects student attitudes. The way teachers, coaches, and parents give feedback, define success, and reward or punish athletes contributes to the motivational climate. Teachers and coaches can help students and athletes to develop positive attitudes by creating task-involving climates that include appropriate, positive, instructional feedback. Task-involved climates in physical education and sport are positively related to increased intrinsic motivation, perceived competence, and self-esteem (Barkoukis, Thogersen-Ntoumanis, Ntoumanis & Nikitaras, 2007; Ferrer-Caja & Weiss, 2000; Koka & Hein, 2005). When students feel positively about sport, and are confident in their abilities, they have positive attitudes towards their activities (Biddle, Wang, Kavussanu, & Spray, 2003).
Opposite of the mastery or task-involved climates are the performance or ego-involved climates, wherein coaches foster competition and social comparison among players and punish participants for errors or for losing (Smoll & Smith, 1996; Waldron & Krane, 2005). Ego-involved climates have been found to incite competitive stress and negative feelings among athletes, as well as nonenjoyment of their activities (Biddle et al., 2003; Magyar & Feltz, 2003; Smith, Fry, Ethington, & Li, 2005; Smoll & Smith; Waldron & Krane).
Another common punishment for poor performance in sport attributed to lack of effort or a poor attitude is the withholding of playing time. For this practice to be a positive learning experience, it is important for the coach to be clear with the athlete about why playing time is being withheld and to communicate this to the athlete before the contest. In addition, the coach needs to communicate specific expectations to the athletes about the effort and attitude required to earn playing time. Learning to work hard and to display a positive attitude is best achieved without using exercise as a threat.
Fitness training and sport-skill practice provide a rich context for the development of mental toughness. In order to reach higher levels of fitness or to develop new skills, students and athletes must engage in daily focused practice and often must work beyond their current comfort zone in relationship to fitness activities. Although using exercise as punishment is not recommended, teachers and coaches are encouraged to have high performance expectations for each student or athlete. Mental toughness is best developed through teaching students to challenge themselves to take responsibility for their decisions and actions; and to get through difficult training, practice, and performance tasks with perseverance and problem solving. Punitive behaviors do not increase mental toughness; instead they may increase fear and lead to lack of enjoyment and sport attrition (McCarthy & Jones, 2007; Smith, 2006).
In order to eliminate the practice of using exercise as punishment in sport, physical education, and physical activity settings, the profession needs to move beyond the consensus statements of national organizations that decry its use and understand teachers' and coaches' underlying beliefs about the practice. Beliefs are important because they influence attitudes, which in turn influence intentions to perform behaviors. This article has begun the process of understanding beliefs. It explored preservice students' beliefs about the use of exercise as punishment and included recommendations that can provide future teachers and coaches with alternatives to using exercise as punishment to achieve their desired outcomes. Effective management and motivation of students, athletes, or clients involves a complex set of behaviors and practices. There is no simple "quick fix" to achieve effective management and motivation that works for all.
Students preparing to be teachers, coaches, or fitness leaders need to be taught that when individuals are punished with exercise, key opportunities for the development of the skills, strategies, and fitness needed for success may be lost. Teacher and coach educators can help students by enabling them to reflect on their beliefs and values and to explore and adopt alternative ways to achieve the important and valuable outcomes of sport and physical education.
Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
American Sport Education Program. (2007). Coaching youth lacrosse. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Barkoukis, V., Thogersen-Ntoumanis, C., Ntoumanis, N., & Nikitaras, N. (2007). Achievement goals in physical education: Examining the predictive ability of five different dimensions of motivational climate. European Physical Education Review, 13(3), 267-285.
Biddle, S. J. H., Wang, J. C. K., Kavussanu, M., & Spray, C. M. (2003). Correlates of achievement goal orientations in physical activity: A systematic review of research. European Journal of Sport Science, 3(5), 1-20.
Burak, L., Rosenthal, M., & Richardson, K. (2010). Examining attitudes, beliefs and intentions regarding the use of exercise as punishment in sport, physical education, and activity settings. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1997). Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 46(RR-6), 1-42.
Downs, D. S., & Hausenblas, H. A. (2005). The theories of reasoned action and planned behavior applied to exercise: A meta-analytic update, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2, 76-97.
Ferrer-Caja, E., & Weiss, M. (2000). Predictors of intrinsic motivation among adolescent students in physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71(3), 267-279.
Koka, A., & Hein, V. (2005). The effect of perceived teacher feedback on intrinsic motivation in physical education. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 36, 91-106.
Lee, S. M., Burgeson, C. R., Fulton, J. E., & Spain, C. G. (2007). Physical education and physical activity: Results from the School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. Journal of School Health, 77, 435-463.
Magyar, T. M., & Feltz, D. L. (2003). The influence of dispositional and situational tendencies on adolescent girls' sport confidence sources. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 4, 175-190.
McCarthy, P. J., & Jones, M. V. (2007). A qualitative study of sport enjoyment in the sampling years. The Sport Psychologist, 21, 400-416.
National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2004). Appropriate practices. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from
Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Reinboth, M., & Duda, J. L. (2006). Perceived motivational climate, need satisfaction and indices of well-being in team-sports: A longitudinal perspective. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7, 269-286.
Rico, K. (2002). Excessive exercise as corporal punishment in Moore v. Willis Independent School District: Has the Fifth Circuit "totally isolated" itself in its position? Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, 9(2), 351-386.
Smith, R. E. (2006). Postive reinforcement, performance feedback, and performance enhancement. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology personal growth the peak performance (pp. 40-56). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Smith, S, L., Fry, M. D., Ethington, C. A., & Li, Y. (2005). The effect of female athletes' perceptions of their coaches' behaviors on their perceptions of the motivational climate, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 17, 170-177.
Smoll, F. L., & Smith, R. E. (1996). Children and youth in sport: A biopsychosocial perspective. Madison, WI: Brown and Benchmark.
Waldron, J., & Krane, V. (2005). Motivational climate and goal orientation in adolescent female softball players, Journal of Sport Behavior, 28(4), 378-393.
Women's Sports Foundation. (2007). Addressing the issue of verbal, physical and psychological abuse of athletes. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from
Maura B. Rosenthal ( is an assistant professor, Karen Pagnano-Richardson ( is an assistant professor, and Lydia Burak ( is a professor, in the Department of Movement Arts, Health Promotion, and Leisure Studies at Bridgewater State College, in Bridgewater, MA 02325.
Rosenthal, Maura^Pagnano-Richardson, Karen^Burak, Lydia
Source Citation
Burak, Lydia, Karen Pagnano-Richardson, and Maura Rosenthal. "Alternatives to using exercise as punishment: using exercise as punishment remains common in sports and physical education despite efforts to end the practice." JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 81.5 (2010): 44+. General OneFile. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.
Document URL

Gale Document Number: GALE|A227812338


Earl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Earl said...

Hi All, I had posted Saturday night but I think its lost in the wierd black hole of blog pages.

The article “Alternatives to using exercise as punishment” hit home in many ways (Burak, Rosenthal, and Richardson 2010). I could think of times I have had my students run a lap around the field because I felt nothing else would work. I never really thought that the students would be negatively impacted. Burak, Rosenthal, and Richardson (2010) grouped their findings into three thematic categories: teaching and leadership, fitness training, and mental toughness and attitude. In these categories and throughout the article alternatives to using exercise as punishment were given.

Although I have on occasion practiced the ill-advised exercise as punishment tactic I also have employed very successful positive behavior management practices. The best alternative I have used in my classroom is my “Character Wall of Fame”. Any student that shows good participation, a willingness to help others, and good character throughout the class gets to sign their name on the wall. The priority of the wall was not made to reward all students although it does but to target those hard to reach children that may struggle with task avoidance behaviors.

1. Would you agree or disagree with using exercise as punishment?

2. Is there an alternative that you have tried in your classes that will help achieve effective management?

rbap said...

Earl I liked the “Character Wall of Fame” and I may use that.
Question#1 I would disagree that exercise should be used as a punishment in physical education.
Question # 2 Behavior example: My students seem to have the biggest problems during the introduction because they are so excited about being in the gym.
Format: If a student is talking during instruction:
1st I stop talking until the class is completely quiet (I usually stare at the individual who is talking).
2nd I ask the student what my rule is? Answer: To not talk while Mr. Baptista is talking. I give them a verbal warning (that they may sit out if behavior continues). I usually move them to the front of the group.
3rd Sit them out (close to the group so they don’t miss instruction).
**4th After the instruction is done, I ask the student why I sat them out? Usually they say “I do not know”. I respond by saying “when you can think of a reason I will let you join the group.” Then I walk away and begin teaching. It usually only takes 5 minutes and the student raises their hand to admit what they did. If the student doesn’t raise their hand I will go over to them and ask the question again.
Note: Usually steps 1 and 2 are all I need. The reason for steps 3 and 4 are because the behavior has continued and I do not want take additional time away from the rest of the class. I want my students to understand the value of honesty.
Sometimes my best students have difficulty with talking.

Laura H said...

I disagree 100% with using exercise as punishment. By using exercise as punishment in a Physical Education classroom where students tend to think they hate exercise already, it would be unwise to punish them with push ups or a lap around the track. Students would associate a negative feeling with exercise. Most people would tend to avoid anything that brings up negative feelings. If every time I ate chocolate I got a horrible migraine and felt nauseous, I would tend to avoid eating chocolate altogether. On the other hand, if every time I ate chocolate I felt happy and had lots of energy, I would eat chocolate as much as possible (barring this chocolate was magical chocolate and it didn't have any negative health effects). Similarly, I like to try to find ways to create a positive feeling in students with physical activity. During planning, I spend most of my time trying to come up with ways to make the PE classroom fun as well as educational.
Another strategy I use to keep my students behaviors in check is being consistent. Just like parenting, being consistent in the classroom helps to make the PE classroom conducive to learning. On the first day of class we go over rules and expectations for the class. For the rest of the semester I use positive reinforcement to highlight when a student follows the rules or reaches the expectations of the class. I notice that when I focus on the positive, I tend to see more positives happening in the classroom.

Rachel Lassey said...

I do not believe that exercise, as punishment in physical education is appropriate or helpful to the teacher that is trying to make a point. I do use exercise as punishment to a point when I am coaching. For example, if an athlete swears or is late to practice they either owe me a lap or suicides and to me that is just holding the athlete accountable for the time they missed with their team. I also use what I call a dive and five. If the ball hits the ground during volleyball practice and no one attempted to get it or dove they have to dive and give me 5 push ups while they are down there. It is not just an individual punishment it is a whole team. The point is to show them that it is the teams responsibility to dive after the ball. I don’t really look at it as a punishment I look at it as a lesson. I do not feel as though those are bad practices. I understand that they do not give my athletes a positive feeling, but by mid season they rarely had to do it because they always dove for the ball during practice and even got their hands on an almost impossible ball in games. If you have an alternative for those type of things that would be effective please tell me???

I like to use the positive feedback as an alternative. When a student is talking in class I look at the student closest to them that is paying attention and thank them for listening. Most of the time that gets the point across, but when it doesn’t the student gets a warning and so forth. Earl I really like the character wall of fame, because I really do not get to show praise to my well behaved students enough. That would give me an amazing opportunity to do that. I tried something similar last year when I wrote students names on the board for having a great class or doing something special. Then I just got so overwhelmed with students wanting to get their names on the board I made it easier to get up there. If I were to do that again I would have to make the guidelines for challenging.

CJ said...

I do not believe in exercise as a punishment in Physical Education. At the elementary level students are usually well behaved in class. They are although a little over zealous when entering the class and sitting for instruction. I know what that was like, because I could never and still have a hard time sitting during instruction. Early on I learned from my old PE teacher Mrs. Connor. When the class sat for instruction and students were loud and not in good control Mrs. Connor would point out students who were behaving properly and following the rules of the class. “Maura, I like the way you are sitting criss cross at the circle”, “Laura, I like how your eyes are looking up at me”. These are techniques I still use today and they are very effective. As soon as I start to point out proper behavior the whole class starts to emulate these behaviors. I have on occasion used writing as a punishment. The individual student may have to write out the poor behavior they exhibited or the safety rule they did not follow. This would only happen to repeat offenders especially when class safety in compromised. I save the writing for future reference if the individual has the same issue. In extreme cases, these writing may go home to be signed and returned. Student behavior is usually much improved after these actions.

Aimee said...

I do not use exercise as punishment nor do I think it is okay. What is good about teaching elementary school children is that they love PE and they want to participate. When students are misbehaving I use different methods depending on the behavior. I like CJ often go for positives, “Thank you for listening Joe!” When I have a child who continues to talk while I am talking or cannot hold his/her equipment, sometimes I ask them to move right next to me. In rare circumstances if students are truly misbehaving I ask them to sit out, usually because they are being unsafe with their bodies and I am afraid they are going to hurt themselves or others. I usually talk to these individuals one on one to make sure they understand why they are taking a break. I know there are people in my department who use the exercise as punishment and I cringe when I see it. I want to say to them, do you think the classroom teacher gives “Sally” an extra math worksheet to do during the lesson when she is misbehaving?
On a personal note, I remember my old field hockey coach giving us exercise as punishment. We had to make 20 shots on net each game or it was a 100meter sprint the next practice. One game we did not do very well with our shots on net and ended up doing 15 sprints which equaled sprinting 1500 meters, just about a mile. Needless to say, I was a runner and was not happy about it. I still remember her making us do it. I do not think it was right. I want to go back to her now and say do you think we were not trying to shoot?

Dan said...

Associating exercise with a negative feeling will not make people want to exercise. Imagine getting yelled at by a coach, then having to do 30 push ups. After a while, not only do you not want to do push ups as punishment, but you probably won’t want to do them on your own. We portray exercise in the gym as fun and as a reward. During our Jump Rope for Heart program, the classes that raised the most money got extra PE classes. At the time we were doing fitness stations, so the activity was not game orientated. The students were so excited to come to the gym an extra period that week to exercise.

I like the last thought of Aimee’s post, “do you think we were not trying to shoot?.” You almost want to make shots at the goal to just avoid the sprints which would really take away from the game. Exercise as punishment not only puts a negative spin on exercise, but it also could be detrimental to a player or team. There is no way that the sprints that Aimee did, all 1500 meters, made her a better player. In fact, after a mile of sprints I would have a hard time walking for a few days, let alone play a competitive sport. What if Aimee had a game in a couple days? Some of the players on her team could still have sore legs and therefore not perform as well as they initially could have.

Like CJ mentioned, I sometimes use writing as a punishment and have it taken home to be signed. Not only does writing calm down the student and make them think about their behavior, their behavior usually changes for the better. At my school we are in encouraged to use writing as much as we can so that students can practice for MCAS so this protocol fits in with my school's outlook on behavior. I think writing is a good alternative to exercise as punishment because the last thing I want to do is shy any student away from exercising.

Brad said...

There is a tendency to teach in the same ways that we were taught when we were in school. It is interesting that I do not remember PE teachers who used exercise as punishment. Quite a long time ago it became clear that using exercise as punishment goes against all that I stand for as a teacher. I like how the authors (Burak, Rosenthal, and Richardson 2010) organized the research and made the point very clear. There are so many more positive things that can be done with class time. I am trying to teach that exercise is enjoyable not a punishment. In extreme cases of misbehavior I will sit students out until they are ready to rejoin the class. If I am doing my job and class is enjoyable, students are almost always interested in returning to class. I have little tolerance for students who are negatively impacting other student’s participation. I can’t remember the last time I had a student sit out, 99% of the time; all I have to do is suggest that they sit out to have a positive impact on behavior.
I like Earl’s idea of posting names on a wall. When my school had a small campus of Preschool – 5th grade, I picked one student a month from the oldest group up to be “PE Student of the Month”. I was fascinated by how motivated the students were to get their picture posted in the hallway with all the previous months’ winners. By the end of the year, not every student won the award which led to more teachable moments. I really tried to focus the award on less physically skilled students. Students participating in after school sport are typically showered with rewards. At the end of the year the students were excited about taking their laminated picture home. Now that small campus has closed, all our students (220) are on one campus. Posting names of outstanding students is much more challenging in a larger program but still a good idea. Anyone have ideas about motivating high school students besides grades?

Jared P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared P said...

1.) I think in order to fairly answer the question of whether or not using exercise as punishment is right or wrong, you have to first separate the subjects who are performing this exercise. In the article, ""Alternatives to Using Exercise as Punishment," the authors describe multiple situations in which exercise is used as punishment. On one hand you have a varsity volleyball team running laps and doing push ups as punishment for a loss. But on the other, you have a middle school Physical Education student forced to run laps as a result of talking in class. In my view these two examples have to be separated into different categories, because one is voluntary (participating in a school sport) and the other is required (taking middle school P.E.)

I think most would agree that in a varsity sport at the high school level, the team that is better conditioned has a better chance to win. So if a coach feels like his team lost because they got tired in the 4th quarter, or that the other team out-hussled them to loose balls etc., then the coach is using exercise as a way of improving the overall performance of the team. To me, that is more of a necessary strategy than a punishment, even though the players may disagree. Additionally, if a player chooses to leave the team, they may do so without facing further punishment.

Where as in a middle school physical education class, the student asked to run laps has to follow the orders, unless they want to lose points off of their final grade. If this student decides not to show up to P.E., they will eventually fail the class, as well as receive detentions. Don't get me wrong, I believe that a student who is disruptive in class should in fact face negative consequences for their behavior. However you can still give poor grades as well as detention without adding in the laps as punishment.

Sean Jackson said...

Exercise as punishment has no place in PE. I strongly disagree with that practice because of the negative associations that are linked to exercise. According to the theory-of-reasoned-action guidelines (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980), a person's beliefs determine his or her attitudes and norms, which in turn predict intentions and behaviors. Beliefs about the outcomes or consequences of behavior are, therefore, foundational in the development of attitudes and intentions. When exercise is used as punishment it is cognitively linked to a negative attitude toward exercise. Therefore individuals see exercise as bad.
An alternative to exercise as punishment that I use in my classroom is assertive discipline. Part of this approach is developing a clear classroom discipline plan that consists of rules which students must follow at all times, positive recognition that students will receive for following the rules, and consequences that result when students choose not to follow the rules. Creating a positive active learning environment for all students is one of my goals for each class. My students help to create the rules in the beginning of the year and identify a sense of ownership and clarity in that process. They often create very tough rules and steep consequences. I guide them to a common understanding for why we have rules and the resulting consequences. I use a behavior rubric based on multiple typical behavior responses that PE teachers see throughout the year and depending on the severity of the misbehavior or the number of redirects that a student receives they lose activity time. Therefore physical activity and exercise are not involved with the development of negative attitudes or misbehaviors. This positive approach works well with elementary students.

Kenny Horan said...

Why coaches and physical educators employ exercising as a form of punishment or reprimand is something that I have never been able to understand. I remember even as a 12 year old playing pop warner football wondering why my coach would make us run a lap or do 20 push ups when we were off task or when we messed up. This is something that was confirmed to me when I was an undergraduate in Dr. Richardson's PHED212 course and this concept was first introduced. To me, it makes absolutely no sense why a child should be forced to do some form of exercise as a way of punishing him/her for something they did wrong. First of all, it is extremely hypocritical as a physical education teacher to preach the wonders and the importance of exercising and how important it is to commit yourself to a lifetime of physical fitness and paint it in such a light that it is the most wonderful thing in the world, and then turn around and use it as punishment. As a kid, this would make me take a step back and think, "wait a minute... if exercise is so good for me, why is my teacher/coach making me do exercise every time I do something wrong?" When you think of it that way, it really makes zero sense!

An alternative that I use to any sort of negative attention to bad behavior if I can is to go out of my way to recognize positive behavior. This works especially well with the children that I work with (ages 5-8) because they love recognition and they love positive attention. If I notice responsible/positive behavior from a student without prompting, a lot of times I'll yell FREEZE! during an activity and I'll stand next to the child and point out what he/she did and ask them to "take a bow" in front of the class, at which point the rest of the group would give this student a round of applause, and then the activity is continued as normal. This facilitating of positive and responsible behavior really correlates with the Milford Elementary Schools' PBIS (Positive Behavior Implementation System) which came into play two years ago and is the main reinforcer for positive behavior with these students. Most of the time I will deal with negative behavior on a one on one basis-- pulling a student aside and asking them if what they were doing was a good idea and what they think would be the responsible way of doing things, and usually that's the end of it. I've really found that emphasizing positive behavior and recognizing responsibility in front of peers works much better with kids this age.

Jared P said...

As for the second questioin Earl, in regards to strategies which will help achieve effective classroom management in Physical Education, in my own Physical Education classes, I use a sit-out progression system.

Classroom rules are outlined throughouly in the first few class meetings, therefore all students in class know what their expectations are in terms of behavior, effort, and participation. Students will understand that for any minor classroom disruption, such as talking out, they will receive a verbal warning with no further action.
A second minor infraction of class rules which is a disruption to the class, may result in the student being asked to take a time out from activity. In a middle school setting, this time out would impact a student’s grade from both a conduct as well as participation standpoint. However, this time out is brief, 5 minutes or so in length, and so when I feel like the student is ready to rejoin the activity, I will allow them to return. If they return, and yet a third infraction occurs, the student will be out for the remainder of the period, as well a recieve an after school detention. Finally, if the problem persists, the student’s parents will be contacted to duscuss the issue in detail.

I feel that method is an effective alternative to using exercise as punishment in Physical Education.

Earl said...

Great job with the discussion everyone. I think we can all agree there are more positive ways to approach exercise. thanks for all the great suggestions.