Steve Boyle – National Association of Physical Literacy CEO

Image of Steve Boyle NAPL CEO

We sat down with Steve Boyle, the CEO of The National Association of Physical Literacy (NAPL) and Principal/Founder of 2-4-1 Sports. He has a depth of experience in youth development, education, and athletics that helps guide his work with both NAPL and 2-4-1. We spoke about the origins of NAPL, the importance of sport sampling, and BrainErgizers™.  

“Really, this all stemmed from a moment of outrage. When my daughter was 9 years old, my wife and I took her to try out for a soccer team. The coach came to us saying that she was their ‘number one prospect.’ When we told the coach that our daughter had interest in playing lacrosse part of the year, the coach informed us that they were no longer interested in having her on the team. As a 9 year old, she was told she couldn't be on that soccer team if she was interested in another sport. Instead of just shouting from the mountaintops, we decided to do something about it.”

“We wanted to start a movement around the ‘Life’s 2 short 4 just 1 sport’ philosophy. Before we knew it, we were in DC talking to folks about our approach and philosophy around sport sampling. As we engaged in the national conversation around physical literacy, we realized that sport sampling was not enough. If we’re gonna build confidence and desire to be active for life, we have to take a more deliberate approach. We need to be more intentional with training, with creating fun and engaging programing, and with providing the knowledge that kids need in order to continue on and be active for life. Kids need to know how to nourish themselves both physically and mentally. That’s why we have infused both nourishment and mindfulness, that we call T.O.P. Self™, into our approach T.O.P. stands for Thinking on Purpose).. The evolution from 2-4-1 sports and our sports sampling framework to a more holistic approach around physical literacy lead us to create The National Association of Physical Literacy. We are more interested in provision than promotion. We have found that lots of people advocate but no one is out their programing, offering training, offering certification. We understand there needs to be advocacy and promotion so people understand what it is, but we also want folks to understand why and how.”

“There are many kids who only get exposed to one sport and quit when they are young because of a negative experience. Many of those kids never play a sport, or do any form of movement after that because their only exposure to sport was negative. When we introduce physical literacy we are trying to regain control of the word sport. We hope to make sport positive for kids, to create connections to movement, play, and fun. No one should be telling kids ‘I want you to go outside and work on your game.’ ‘I want you to work on your jump shot, work on your dribbling skills, work on your technique.’ We should be telling kids to go outside and play. ‘Have fun today,’ that’s what parents should be saying to kids when they go to practice, nothing else. We have to regain control of how we approach sport and movement with kids. We are looking to create the dialogue and the language around play and fun.”

“We don’t like the term ‘brain breaks.’ We came up with term BrainErgizer™ because we are not giving the brain a break, we are trying to energize the brain. Research tells us that the only thing that builds new brain cells and not new learning is activity, is exercise. We found that too many schools facing budget cuts looked to cut PE first, then recess. This is all part of the race to nowhere with common core and no child left behind. We want to get physical education back into the school. BrainErgizers are not a PE replacement but a tool to supplement and augment where we can. We are deliberate about making sure that every activity is done with both sides of the body. We deliberately cross the midline, which brain research indicates, triggers brain development. When students use these right before tests, exams, or an intro to a new concept they are going to be met with more success. We developed partnerships at UConn after finding that Lindsay DiStefano, the kinesiology department, and the folks at Husky Sport had been doing simultaneous research around this topic.”

If you want to learn more about Steve’s work with BrainErgizers™, look out for a New York Times article being released in the coming weeks.