I think some school coaches are trying to make up for all the movement kids don't get in the rest of their lives.
These coaches mean really, really well. And they face almost impossible challenges.
They have to design group workouts for kids at all different levels of skill and activity. And they're expected to design a workout, when what a child may really need is rehab.
But some of their programming seems to be doing---well, not more harm than good---but about an equal amount of harm AND good.
The kids think it's normal; they don't realize they're not supposed to be limping home.
Many of the following are industrialized world problems. If you're raised with constant movement, it doesn't feel so foreign when the time comes.
You don't see many "uncoordinated" kids in areas where coordination means survival.
But in these less industrialized places, kids often start helping to work, lift, carry and cook when they're five.
For many kids in the U.S.---and this obviously goes back a long time---a P.E. class is the first time we're tasked with a lot of new kinds of movement.
That doesn't mean we should ramp it up to make for lost time. It means we have to start slowly.
We're just starting out; there's no reason for huge expectations.
Yet P.E. is often when we start getting blame---or blaming ourselves---for how we do and don't move.
When athletes get NKT or a similar therapy and discover the way the body unexpectedly wires muscles together, the athletes suddenly understand why they couldn't break certain patterns.
"So THAT'S why I can't touch my toes. I was stretching my hamstrings every day."
"So THAT's why I could never improve my deadlift/speed/endurance/etc. My coach said I wasn't practicing hard enough."
"So THAT's why I hate swimming. It always feels like I can't breathe."
So even athletes hit these walls. But what happens when kids hit them?
"I hate sports."
"My kid's really uncoordinated."
"Alice works hard, but she's never going to be an athlete."
We can reframe this. Even if you can't find or afford the assessments/corrective exercise/ideal coaching etc. for your kid---and most people can't---just understanding that your child's motor control program is fighting their best efforts can take the blame out of the equation and help everyone understand what's possible.
This is usually not permanent wiring. It's probably not their destiny.
But it may be something they need to tend to if they're going to succeed at Xtreme P.E.
Finding the right form will help them. Thankfully, there are a lot of free resources online. Even if their coach/P.E. teacher/etc. is an expert on form, it's nearly impossible to oversee the form of a lot of kids at once.
Family, read Move Your DNA, by Katy Bowman, and experiment with its suggestions. Lisa Ann McCall's The McCall Body Balance Method is also good. These are simple, beautifully written guides to helping us find our form. They're the manuals we didn't get by osmosis when we were five.
Encourage your kids to describe what they feel when they move---not just pain and tension, but what muscles are engaging when, or anything else they feel. It can be as creative or literal as they want. You don't need to know much about the body---or even to have much body awareness yourself---to encourage this kind of awareness.
In some cases, even when they are very expressive, kids may not be communicating pain or tension to anyone. This can be because they think it's normal, they don't want to worry a parent, they think they may not be allowed to play a certain sport, or something else. So opening up the airwaves and reassuring them may be important.
Finding another family that's interested in the same goals may be helpful. There are some great online communities, such as the Facebook page "All About Alignment", for people who are wanting to add more healthy movement into their families' lives.
Just as with all education, activity starts and ends at home. Move at home so the coach doesn't have an impossible job. Designing 10 different programs is way above their paygrade.
But start gradually. You can keep expectations high but not impractical. Not overdoing it will help kids build happy associations with movement and exercise.