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Hans van der Mars, Hal A. Lawson, Murray Mitchell, and Phillip Ward

Notwithstanding the contributions of a few policy experts, overall physical education is constrained by policy illiteracy and neglect. A brief historical perspective on physical education policy provides a foundation for “a policy primer” founded on three recurring needs: (a) antecedent and corequisite factors meriting attention in support of policy improvement, (b) field-wide capacity-building in support of policy advocacy and improvement, and (c) specialized policy courses and seminars in physical education teacher education and doctoral physical education teacher education programs. Recommendations for policy-focused research and development structure a new agenda that merits attention and action.

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Phillip Ward, Hans van der Mars, Murray F. Mitchell, and Hal A. Lawson

Manifest challenges to physical education teachers merit identification, analysis, and strategic action. New designs for schools, threats to the well-being of a growing number of children and families, and financial problems confronting school systems are among the external challenges. Meanwhile, too many physical education teachers confront marginalization, isolation, and morale issues. Contributing causes include suboptimal policy; disagreements regarding subject matter, curriculum models, and purposes; working conditions that prevent teachers from implementing evidence-based practices; and two disconnects: (a) between physical education and health and (b) between school programs and community-based programs. Reflecting and fueling these challenges, the field lacks a common purpose and shared direction. This chapter addresses future alternatives for PK–12 physical education. Key recommendations include (a) integrating physical education and health, treating them both instructionally and as integrated content in the curriculum; (b) changing our focus on our instruction from a deficiency-based model to a salutogenic model of health, including stronger connections with the community in which schools exist; and (c) connecting to the community to leverage resources to support students, teachers, and schools. These alternatives derive from a grand claim: we cannot continue to do “business as usual,” producing the same results, because past–present results consistently have been suboptimal.

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Phillip Ward, Murray F. Mitchell, Hal A. Lawson, and Hans van der Mars

The physical education teacher education (PETE) faculty charged with oversight and delivery of initial teacher licensure programs confront several challenges. Some necessitate responses to revised and new standards, while others can be reframed as timely opportunities for improvement and innovation, whether in response to or in anticipation of rapid, dramatic societal change. Six examples of challenges as opportunities are discussed in this chapter: (a) the need to determine the skills, essential knowledge, values, and sensitivities for work practices in the schools of the future; (b) the dual priority for evidence-based practices in PETE and in school programs; (c) PETE faculty members’ obligations to adapt their pedagogical practices and revise preservice programs in concert with expert, veteran teachers from schools with exemplary programs; (d) manifest needs to make choices among competing, evidence-supported physical education program models; (e) needs and opportunities to redesign PETE programs, especially those located in kinesiology departments; and (f) emergent policy imperatives to demonstrate the value-added effects, both short- and long-term, on tomorrow’s teachers.

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Elanor E. Cormack and Jamie Gillman

There are few studies examining coaches’ awareness of their role in developing performance under pressure. This study has explored the application of implicit and explicit learning theory for skill execution under pressure through the understanding of coaches. Seven curling coaches who teach adult novices were interviewed using a semistructured approach. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore their experiences and beliefs around skill acquisition and pressure. Key factors that emerged from the analysis were the coaches’ lack of awareness of their role in developing skill execution under pressure and the importance of coach education in creating that awareness. The recognition of the pressure that players will face in games and the potential for implicit techniques to be employed by the coaches demonstrated positive prospects for the application of implicit/explicit skill acquisition theory. The coaches’ experiences highlighted aspects unique to curling that will need to be considered in progressing the study’s findings. The distinction between skill setup and execution was also raised by coaches and requires further study to identify whether it impacts the effectiveness of building robust skills and the resulting coaching advice. The study provides recommendations for application of the theory and suggestions for future research.

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Edgar Schwarz, Liam D. Harper, Rob Duffield, Robert McCunn, Andrew Govus, Sabrina Skorski, and Hugh H.K. Fullagar

Purpose: To examine practitioners’, coaches’, and athletes’ perceptions of evidence-based practice (EBP) in professional sport in Australia. Methods: One hundred thirty-eight participants (practitioners n = 67, coaches n = 39, and athletes n = 32) in various professional sports in Australia each completed a group-specific online questionnaire. Questions focused on perceptions of research, the contribution of participants’ own experience in implementing knowledge to practice, sources, and barriers for accessing and implementing EBP, preferred methods of feedback, and the required qualities of practitioners. Results: All practitioners reported using EBP, while most coaches and athletes believed that EBP contributes to individual performance and preparation (>85%). Practitioners’ preferred EBP information sources were “peer-reviewed journals” and “other practitioners within their sport,” while athlete sources were “practitioners within their sport” and “other athletes within their sport.” As primary barriers to accessing and implementing research, practitioners highlighted “time constraints,” “poor research translation,” and “nonapplicable research.” Practitioners ranked “informal conversation” as their most valued method of providing feedback; however, coaches prefer feedback from “scheduled meetings,” “online reports,” or “shared database.” Both athletes and coaches value “excellent knowledge of the sport,” “experience,” and “communication skills” in practitioners disseminating EBP. Conclusion: Practitioners, coaches, and athletes believe in the importance of EBP to their profession, although practitioners reported several barriers to accessing and implementing research as part of EBP. Athletes place a high value on experienced practitioners who have excellent knowledge of the sport and communication skills. Collectively, these findings can be used to further stakeholder understanding regarding EBP and the role of research to positively influence athlete health.

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Phillip Ward, Hal A. Lawson, Hans van der Mars, and Murray F. Mitchell

In this chapter, we examine the system of physical education with a Janus-like perspective. We focus on examining and learning from the past as we anticipate what society, school systems, and the physical education system might look like in the future. Drawing on futuristic scenarios developed for this special journal issue, we ask a timely, pivotal question. What does all of this mean for the future of the field of physical education, including its school programs, teacher education programs, doctoral programs, and salient public policies? The several chapters in this special issue can be viewed as a response to this question—and with a delimited focus on the unique context of the United States. This chapter is structured to provide an overall context for these other contributions. It includes a discussion of relevant theories provided in this special issue and a representative summary of the other articles. Selectivity is apparent and unavoidable in every article, and it can be viewed variously as a strength or limitation.

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Evelia Franco, Ricardo Cuevas, Javier Coterón, and Christopher Spray

Purpose: To examine the role of psychological need thwarting in mediating physical education teachers’ work pressures stemming from school authorities and burnout. Method: A total of 345 physical education teachers (M = 47.46; SD = 8.79) completed some online validated questionnaires. Results: Structural equation modeling first revealed that pressures from school authorities predicted needs thwarting which, in turn, predicted burnout. In a second model, in which burnout was deemed as a multidimensional construct, autonomy and competence thwarting was found to predict both emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Discussion: These findings suggest that when teachers find themselves pressured by school authorities to act in certain way, they are more likely to feel more exhausted and to adopt more cynical attitudes toward their students due to the thwarting of their basic needs. Practical implications related to school and national policies are discussed. Conclusion: External pressures affect PE teachers’ emotional states and educational policies should address this issue.

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Travis S. Tilman