Celebrating the journey, and exciting checkpoints along the way!
As many of you may know, we have introduced a program called BIG at FCGC this year. It stands for Building Independent Gymnasts, and aims to give our gymnasts (many of whom only train once or twice a week) the opportunity to focus on goal skills and areas of their choosing. We have started a tradition of highlighting the achievements of BIG participants each week; personally through little acknowledgment cards, and publicly through our BGotW (BIG Gymnast of the week!).
Through this I have been reminded that amazing things happen in the gym each week.
It’s gymnasts overcoming fears, failing and then trying again to learn a new skill, giving tips to other gymnast to help them achieve a goal, or unlocking another piece of understanding to work toward their own goals. It’s coaches working together to create innovative ways to teach an existing skill, making up crazy drills, or practicing their spotting techniques to help gymnasts safely develop their confidence and ability. It is so amazing to see gymnasts growing in their leadership capacity; to realise they are all role models of our club, and can all be someone’s inspiration, just as they are inspired by other gymnasts.
I can barely wait to see all the cool skills our gymnasts will be developing through the BIG program, as they dedicate themselves to their own goals, and all work as a team of coaches and gymnasts to help each other achieve them.
Keep training hard BIG gymnasts, keep celebrating the mistakes as well as the failures, as they all contribute to developing you into the amazing people you are!
At FCGC we provide opportunities for people to develop skills for life. An important part of this is ensuring gymnasts own their experiences. Parents are an important factor in ensuring gymnasts develop the ability to own their experiences, which will enable them to make better decisions on their own and accept the consequences of their choices.
So what can parents do to help? Anne Josephine from JAG Gym suggests the following 12 ways to let your child own their sport experience.
1. Drop WE for HE/SHE. Watch what pronouns you are using when you are talking about your child’s sport. Unless you are your child’s coach, WE do not have practice or a game, HE/SHE does. Pronouns are the part of speech that indicates possession. Let your child possess their sports experience.
2. Don’t keep up with the Jones’. Just because the Jones’ hire a private coach, send their child to an expensive sports camp or begin home-schooling so little Janie can train more, does not mean your family needs to follow suit.
3. Sole expectation: character counts. The only expectations you should have of your child is that they treat their coaches, teammates and opponents with respect, and that they give their best effort.
4. Little gymnasts have big ears. Be careful of your comments around your child regarding the coaches or the abilities of other teammates. Critiquing the coach can disturb the bond between the coach and athlete. Comparing your child’s performance to a teammate’s can create jealousy and weaken friendships. If you have a problem or question, speak directly to the coach.
5. Take a break from the bleachers. Watch how much and how intently you watch practice. Give your child some space to have the experience to themselves.
6. If you can’t say anything nice… You have two options on the sidelines: cheer or be silent.
7. No comment. Don’t comment on refereeing or judging.
8. Goals are between coach and athlete. Let your child and your child’s coach set the goals related to the sport. If asked about your goals for your child your answer should be for them to have fun.
9. Don’t process your feelings with your child. Your feelings of inadequacy from your own childhood sports experience, your frustration with your child’s coach or your feelings of disappointment with your child’s results; are not things to talk about with your child. Instead, turn to your partner, friend or therapist for support, but do not make your child responsible for your feelings. It is your job to help your child with their feelings not the other way around.
10. Don’t use the car ride to coach. Talk about mastering skills, how good it feels to exercise or be part of team instead of win/loss records, missed plays or how the child can improve his/her performance.
11. Let your child experience logical consequences. If your child violates a team policy and has to miss a game, breaks a rule and has a consequence or forgets a necessary piece of equipment and cannot play, don’t rescue them. Sure, if they are very young, they need parental help to keep their gear together, but by 8 or 9 years they should be responsible for their own items.
12. Encourage your child to communicate directly with their coaches. Again, as reasonably expected given the child’s age, the athlete should take responsibility in communicating with the coach.
There is a saying that if we are lucky we will have two chances at the parent-child relationship. First, as the child, then as the parent. It is important to remember which role we are playing and whose sports journey this is.
1. Fun: We all know how much fun gymnastics can be. It lets kids be kids, by climbing, jumping, swinging, playing and learning.
All the things amazing little people love to do!
2. Team Work: Although you may not consider gymnastics a team sport, for a pre-schooler, their class is their team. They need to
interact and play in a positive manner, enabling everyone to have a good time while sharing equipment and the coaches’ time.
3. Asking for Help: If children feel confident asking for the help of adults at a young age, they are more likely to be able to use that skill later in life. Gymnastics will at times be challenging, creating the perfect opportunity for gymnasts to ask for help, not only from their grown ups but also from other adult figures such as coaches, and even their peers.
4. Persistence: The first time a gymnast walks into class they are not going to be able to do every activity asked of them, but through
repetition and encouragement gymnasts will begin to understand that, by repeating a skill over and over they will see progression and achievement.
5. Conflict Resolution: How does a gymnast feel when they miss out on sitting on a green carpet square? Or when someone makes it to the rings before they do, requiring them to wait their turn? Gymnastics classes are the perfect opportunity for grown ups to help children understand how to deal with these situations and how to control their emotions in a positive way.
6. Following Instruction: Following instructions is a skill that has to be learned, just like walking. We help our children learn to walk by supporting them physically and creating a safe environment where they can trial and error the skill. This is what a gymnastics class does for instructions. (If gymnasts are not able to follow a set instruction, they will be able to explore what is important to them at the time and then be brought back to the activity. This is done through adult guidance or through recognition, by seeing another gymnasts
7. Appropriate Interaction: Learning to have good manners and speak in a way that is respectful is an important skill for pre-schoolers to learn. Gymnastics class helps a child learn to treat the teacher with respect, and helps then understand how to navigate social
dynamics with their pre-school peers.
8. Brain Development: Gymnastics is the best sport for helping children develop brain skills such as cross patterning, vestibular
awareness, problem solving, kinaesthetic development and visual tracking. Each week our classes are programmed to specially involve activities that build on these skills.
9. Confidence: How could gymnasts not become more confident when working and developing physically, mentally and socially?
With the support of their grown up and team mates, children are able to increase self-esteem from an early age.
10. Creating a life long love of Physical Activity and Movement: In a world that is becoming more and more sedentary, developing a love and enjoyment of physical activity and body confidence at a young age is crucial. This will assist in leading a long, happy and healthy lifestyle.
Both of my boys, Jake who is now 15 and Gus who is 12 have been doing gymnastics since they could walk. Like most boys, they have tried a multitude of other sports; cricket, football and soccer which they enjoyed, but when made to choose have never wavered from their commitment to gymnastics. They love it.
When we started at FCGC 10 years ago, there was an amazing group of young men who were training at a senior level and also coaching the little boys. I am not sure if these boys realised at the time what a huge influence they had on the younger gymnasts. These older boys were idolised by the little boys. They were probably unaware that the boys would watch them performing amazing skills and just want to be able to do them too.
Through their entire time at FCGC, the boys have been surrounded by inspiring older boys that have acted as positive role models and mentors even if they didn’t realise it at the time. I have always found this to be a very special part of being part of FCGC and you don’t tend to see it in other sports where the main influencers are high profile, elite sports-people (who aren’t always positive role models!).
Over the Christmas holidays, my boys attended a BIG training session where they were working on their skills with Thomas. When they were finished, a few little girls from the holiday program presented them with this note:
“You’re good at what you are doing”
When they showed me the note I was very proud of them, but it dawned on me that my boys are getting to the age where they are now becoming the role models, particularly Jake who is doing the leadership program and training to be a coach. They have the eyes of a whole lot of little gymnasts on them, watching and learning from them.
And that in itself is an amazing thing because it means that they will learn a completely different skill….the responsibility of being a role model and coach and understand that they can have the same positive influence on the younger gymnasts that they were blessed with when they started gymnastics so long ago!