Physical Literacy Personified
For those of you who have read my newsletters over the years, you’re by now quite familiar with my Irish heritage. Hard to get away from it when you’re one of eight children and have 77 first cousins. Well, of those 8 children, the first 5 were boys (I like to refer to myself as “the oldest middle child” (I’ll do the math for you - I was number 4). People joked that my mom kept having kids until she got her daughter, but after Ellen - Danny and Elizabeth Ann (now known as Alannah) were still to come. 
Because of our heritage, it seems at some point, we were all exposed to Irish cultural experiences. I’m not afraid to admit it now, but I took an immediate liking to Irish Dance. I practiced my “cross, kick, one, two, three, fours” like no other. I liked the music. I liked the teacher. I had fun and I liked the affirmation I got from my parents (sounds a bit like youth sports, huh). What I didn’t like was three older brothers who - very typical of the time - made it shall we say, challenging , at the very least to continue. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they really just needed me to complete front yard 2 v. 2 rosters. My “dancing career” was not allowing them to have as much fun as they could with me. So, I gave up the hard shoes for the hard court - and mixed in 5 or 6 other sports along the way.

But for my sisters - it was a different story. Look - we were an athletic family. My brothers and I played anything and everything - and my sisters - well, they danced. And to this day - I declare them the two best athletes in my family. Not surprisingly, they regularly won competitions around the United States and both often qualified for the world championships in Ireland. Not surprisingly still, they now run one of the most successful Irish Dance schools on the East Coast If you ever want wedding crashers - they are the most fun to have at weddings (where I’m often coerced to break out the old moves :-). 
The Boyle Clan- My sisters are the one's holding infants!
Irish Dance was making headlines this week. Some of you may have recently seen the stories going around about exceptional NFL running back Alex Collins of the Baltimore Ravens. Click on the video below and try not to smile watching this piece from CBS news (skip ad after 5 sec) .   
I love this story on so many levels. While there are many directions I could take it, let’s break it down for the sole purpose of explaining exactly what Physical Literacy is - a question I get asked all the time. Physical Literacy is the ability, balance, confidence, desire and explorative nature to be active for life” . ( National Association of Physical Literacy definition) .

Ability - Alex references what are essentially fundamental motion skills that quite literally cross over from one movement activity to another.

Balance - this has both the figurative and literal connotation intended in our definition. Alex is developing quality physical balance by dancing, but he is also modeling a balanced lifestyle.

Confidence - Alex is not the best Irish Dancer, but the confidence he has in football allows him to confidently try, fail, and try some more in an activity like Irish Dance without fear of ridicule from his peers.

Desire - You get the sense that Alex is eager to learn more as he appreciates the feedback he’s getting, sees how it is helping him in football and uses his new activity to inspire others.

Explorative Nature - Alex is not a prototype of Irish Dance, but he enjoys sampling other movement activities and learning how the skills of one “sport” apply to another. By trying other activities, it also allows him to more greatly appreciate those he excels in.

Active for Life - Alex will likely not be able to play football for the rest of his life, but he will most likely be able to dance. And maybe it won’t be just Irish dancing -but I can almost guarantee you - this guy will be fun at weddings as well!!

Steve Boyle
Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports
Advisory Board Chair of the National Association of Physical Literacy
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The Boyle School of Irish Dance at Half Time of the Harlem Globetrotters Game in Washington DC
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