Class management is a topic that is very broad as there are many aspects that we can look at in regards to class management but for now, we are going to focus on only a few; a few that I personally find very important.
Getting to know your Gymnasts/students/families and members:
Let’s start with a scenario situation. Let’s go back to our school or university days. You are there many hours, you see the same teachers every week, it’s a month into starting the year and you know your teachers name and you probably have at least one thing you remember about them but… they do not remember your name or, they call you by a different name or better yet, they ask you where you’ve been because they’ve marked you as not present. However, you have been attending the classes? How would this make you feel? I know I’d defiantly feel let down and almost uncared for.
It is so important that as coaches, at the very least you know who’s in your class, by name. Here is where we shift a little bit to transparency.
“I coach so many kids a week, how am I supposed to remember all their names?!” I hear you ask, it’s as simple as being open, honest and transparent. I often find that people avoid using gymnasts’ names because they don’t remember… but that method is NOT going to allow you to remember names, you will continue to use words like “mate, sweetie, buddy etc” which is not personal and for some, it can feel uncomfortable. Here is my handy hint:
Learning your Gymnasts name is a form of respect, without mutual respect, you can easily run into issues with your class behavior.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you feel respected if your coach/teacher/employer didn’t know your name and never bothered to learn it? You wouldn’t feel respected and you probably wouldn’t have a lot of respect for them.
Boundaries (rules) Positive reinforcement and consistency:
Boundaries, along with positive reinforcement (we will get to that next) is probably one of the KEY topics when it comes to class management. Kids and Young People thrive off having clear boundaries.
At the very start of every lesson, let the Gymnasts/students know EXACTLY what you expect from them but do NOT overload them with rules. Something I start off, nearly every class with is:
NEVER GIVE UP! If you stay consistent and follow through with what you say, they will learn, it is all about LEARNING! Learning names & learning boundaries. You’re learning and they’re learning too and a part of learning is pushing boundaries to see whether you, as the coach or teacher, will follow through with what you say so do not give up, do not feel mean. If you say to a Gymnast or student that if they don’t listen to you, or if they run away from the class or if they push inline you’re going to sit them out, you MUST follow through with that consequence. I personally do not like sitting people out UNLESS they are being unsafe and could injury themselves or somebody else. So I came up with a system to avoid that.
So often as humans, we find ourselves focusing on the negative, how easy is it to say;
It is something that you have to CONSCIOUSLY do as it probably won’t come naturally and that is okay!
To assist this process, I implement a “chances” system into my classes, everyone starts off with 3 chances. They can build upon these chances or they can loose these ‘chances’. (I find the word "warning" to have negative connotations to it so I avoid using it). If I notice a Gymnast doing a skill really well, or listening really well, I will give them a chance, but ANY Gymnast, not just the “difficult” Gymnasts can loose chances. The positive of this, is if they are on 1 chance, they can easily build it back up again. They aren’t ‘Doomed’ to be on the verge of sitting out. If they loose all their chances, the gymnasts know they require a minute of two to recompose themselves before joining back in. Once a minute or two is up, we have a quick chat about why their behavior wasn’t acceptable and then they join back in. Once they rejoin the group, they have 3 chances again that they can build upon.
If you are consistent with what you say, the Gymnasts will know that you won’t accept anything less, therefore, learn that what you say goes, leading to a positive class.
Things to remember:
By the time we see our Gymnasts, they have been at school for the bulk of the day. They’re tired or they could be hungry. They’ve done a lot of learning already. As coaches, yelling or disapproving of our gymnasts are not going to help them. If you see one of your Gymnasts not themselves, simply have a chat with them, ask them how their day was, ask them how they’re feeling, ask them if they had a good weekend. Children and Young People go through things too. Their friendship circles change, they may have family stuff going on, they may be finding school difficult, they may have recently moved schools, etc.
They are people too and we cannot expect them to be perfect and their behavior to be perfect. If they aren’t feeling great, that is fine, it is okay to say to them:
We aren’t perfect, they know this. Children and Young People truly do respond well to transparency.
It is so important to figure out what works well with your class in terms of:
Every class, every Gymnast is different…. The most important thing is to seek help from whoever you report to. Some kids are a challenge, and that’s okay, find someone who can support you through class and back you up.
I hope you enjoyed today's blog and you find some of its tips helpful.
- Coach Beth
By definition conditioning is "the process of training or accustoming a person/animal to behave in a certain way or accept certain circumstances."
In this instance we won't be talking about animal training, shame I know. Instead we will be talking about training muscles to get stronger and the mind to get accustomed to the feeling of training ones muscles.
There are a lot of reasons why conditioning is crucial for gymnastics. I think the most important reason of all, would be for safety. Any gymnast is at risk of injury and often times if a gymnast has stronger ligaments and connective tissue, an injury may be prevented or the severity of an injury can be minimized. Other reasons why conditioning is important include stability, strength, mental toughness, team work, responsibility for personal progression and resilience.
Now we know WHY we do conditioning, let's talk about HOW.
Depending on the level a gymnast is, it will reflect the type and duration of the conditioning they will part take in. However, the younger gymnasts will still be introduced to some of the movements and the idea of strength based challenges through games, group activities, and fun circuit stations. For the older gymnasts in Gymstar and ALP they will be working on a larger array of conditioning tasks.
As our gymnasts enter the gym for their class, they will make their way over to a designated area with their coach where they will part take in a group warm-up followed by stretching and fundamental shapes in gymnastics eg. dish, arch, front support etc. From here the coach may take them through some conditioning to help prepare the muscles for high action and full range of motion.
At FCGC we are very lucky in the regards of coaching resources. We have access to class planners on tablets that can aid or provide inspiration for all of our coaches through lesson plans and apparatus stations. Through out an apparatus training session, the coaches will assign conditioning stations among the skill development stations. We do this for several reasons. It helps to give the gymnasts a rest, and it breaks up the back to back skill development that can quickly wear out even the strongest of gymnasts.
Here are a couple of examples for conditioning at an apparatus:
- Chin ups (rings, p-bars, bars)
- Dish/Arch Holds
- Squats or Lunges
- Resistance band exercises
- Exercise ball activities (eg. sit ups, tuck snaps, stability.)
- Bar Toe Touches
- Dorsal Rocks/Inverts
- Leg lifts (Beam, Floor, Pommel)
Among a training session, the gymnasts will be given multiple opportunities to be working on their conditioning. Either worked into a circuit as previously discussed or in its own designated time/space. Each coach will have their own modifications to a strength based task or new ideas that will keep gymnasts engaged through out the session. This gives gymnasts the perfect opportunity to try varying challenges through out the entirety of their gymnastics experience.
Here are some methods you might see used in the gym:
- Timed Intervals
- Partner based exercises
- Whole class strength holds
- Challenges of strength based on repetitions
There are endless possibilities for a good conditioning class structure! So much so, that I can hardly scratch the surface through this blog post alone. If you are interested in some more ideas, the internet will be your best friend! Just remember when trying a new exercise you should always take it easy to avoid injury or strain.
Here are some examples of conditioning at varying levels of difficulty:
Finding a cohesive and functional conditioning plan is essential to the smooth running of any gymnastics class. As you can see there are many ways to go about this! Take your time when trying new activities. If you are frazzled the gymnasts will be as well.
Does your gymnast do extra conditioning at home? Has this given you a few ideas? Let me know in the comments below.
Signing off for now,
Vestibi-what? What is this complicated word and what can it possibly have to do with your child? The answer is, it has quite a lot to do with your child. You may not have heard of it, but I bet you are familiar with some of it's effects.
The Vestibular System is one of the first things to fully develop as it is so incredibly important and crucial to the functioning of the human body. The process is usually complete in the first six months of life!
This system is directly responsible for controlling the sense of movement and balance. It is also considered to have major influence over the other sensory systems that are found in the body. The Vestibular system is in charge of directing information from all the other sensory systems, from the brain to its rightful destination.
Do you remember as a child being able to spin endlessly and recovering quickly from the effects? Yet now as an adult, if you sit up too quickly... you get a head rush? That's your Vestibular system! As we age our senses age with us. This effects our reaction time to many things, including dizziness and nausea.
A study in 1994 by Cutson T.M reported the incidence of dizziness increases from 22% for adults between 65-69 years of age to over 40% for adults between the ages of 80-84 years.
So we know that this system is important... but how does it work?
1. Auditory functions through the cochlear nerve that is found in the inner ear, and sends information to the brain.
2. Balance and equilibrium functions that give us a sense of awareness in space.
3. Visual functions via all surrounding muscle receptors.
4. Tonic muscle control through stabilization of the neck and head.
The Vestibular system should act as one large piece of cohesive machinery, that is constantly working to keep day to day life functional and easy. When an infant climb and crawls across obstacles, their entire body is working together. The sensations from these outside stimuli are adapted into stimuli the brain can comprehend and process.
One of the most important functions of the Vestibular system is increasing & reducing the amount of neural activity, to keep a harmonious balance between all of the nervous systems. If the Vestibular system gets overloaded with outside stimuli, it can become overwhelming and produce a lowered response time. This often can be seen in the emotional responses of a child.
Did you learn anything from todays blog post? Let me know in the comments!
Signing off for now,
There is a saying I often see floating around on the internet as an inspirational quote for gymnasts. It goes like this:
"Gymnastics is all about Trust. You have to trust that your body will move the right way, and that your feet will catch you when you come back down."
As lovely and simple as this quote makes gymnastics sound, I wouldn't necessarily agree.
Gymnastics is all about Trust, this part is true! However it's not about flinging your body around and hoping for the best. No, it's much more than that. It's trust in yourself, your body, your coach and your family. It's trusting the process and most importantly trusting your ability to learn.
There are many foundational skills in regards to gymnastics and trust is undeniably one of them.
There's an old saying that claims;
"Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."
There are a hundred different ways trust can be broken inside of the Gym. A different coach with different coaching methods, a new class, new gym equipment, or a new training space. Injury or a near miss, miscommunication, insufficient knowledge of a skill, lack of strength/flexibility or fear of judgement. The list of possible causes, goes on and on. Knowing how to avoid a break of trust is half the battle.
If we know trust can be broken in the blink of an eye its imperative we all do our part to keep it in tact.
Sometimes a lack of trust can seem out of our control. However on further inspection it may not simply be a "lack of trust". It could stem from a confidence problem or a mental block. In which case, as coaches and family members we can in fact help! I have written a blog recently about this topic that you can read about here.
Other times the lack of trust can be from the absence of a solid relationship with a coach/gymnast. This can also be improved through effective communication. I have found a video by Raleigh Carter, who has over 17 years of coaching experience, who perfectly describes the delicate balance between communication and trustworthy relationships.
I highly recommend you give it a watch!
As Raleigh discusses in the video, there is always more that comes into play when it comes to trust and relationships. He speaks about the impact of sensory communication from a coaches perspective as well as the importance of EFFECTIVE communication.
Ultimately there are going to be numerous factors that will effect the outcome of a situation. It is impossible to be able to know what the outcome will be, but with the right tools you can heavily persuade the possible outcome for both yourself and the gymnast.
As coaches it is our job and responsibility to set our gymnasts up for success. We have to teach our gymnasts that gymnastics is a process. You will almost never reach a final destination unless you decide that is where you want to leave it.
A gymnast needs to trust that their coach is setting them up with all of this strength to benefit them later, as it's part of the process. A gymnast needs to learn to trust that if they fall they can always get back up, as it's part of the process. A coach needs to trust that a gymnast is putting all of their effort in, as it's part of the process. A gymnast needs to trust that their family will be there for them, as it's part of the process.
I'm sure you get the idea!
Gymnastics is wholeheartedly based around trust, there is no denying. Yet it's more than trusting yourself to land a skill and it's more than hoping for the best.
It's the hours of training and time with your coach that will take you to that moment.
Did you ever consider the effects of TRUST inside of the gym? Let me know in the comments.
Signing off for now,
Hi everyone, It's Coach Beth here today!
I'm taking over this weeks blog post to talk about something super fun and seriously educational. Let’s talk about our Holiday Program!
Finding Confidence & Growing Character follows through to all of our programs, INCLUDING the Holiday Program. The program is based around our four corner stones :
Holiday Program provides opportunities for children to make friends, explore,
play, create, develop social skills and team work skills as well as an opportunity to build on life long fundamental skills. Such as coordination, fine motor skills and problem solving skills just to name a few!
How do we do all this at holiday program you might ask? FCGC does this in a
number of ways!
Let's see how you can help develop all these skills, no matter if you are with us for a half day or full day program.
8:00am – 9:00am: Drop off time!
During this hour, as children arrive, our coaches have some quiet activities
(coloring, drawing, board games to name a few) that allow children to quietly
settle in and get to know the coaches for the AM session. This time also allows
children to meet new friends and become familiar with the environment,
especially if they haven’t been to our club before!
9:00am – 10:00am: Ice Breakers and Game time!
Before we get started with the activities for the day, all children go through some ice breaker games and some general fun games! During these ice breaker games, children get to communicate and meet new people in a relaxed and friendly manner. Once children have made some new friends and become relaxed and settled in, the coaches then play some team work games (partner hide and seek for example) as well as some competition type games such as Fruit Salad.
10:00am – 12:00pm: Rotations time!
During this 2 hour block all children are split into groups but DON’T WORRY! They are allowed to be with their friends and for some sessions, the coaches will assist in the group making process, allowing the children to form the groups (problem solving skills!).
All groups will go through 4 different rotations, an activity, snack time and 2x
free time in the gym rotations. What fun!
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Skills Session or Lunch!
Those who are joining holiday program for the PM session as well as the AM
session will more than likely have lunch in this time slot.
Those in the AM only session, will go through some sort of skill session, this may include a Gymnastics session, sometimes an X-Gym session or it could be
something else entirely! At the end of this hour, AM only children go home BUT DON’T FORGET if you made a take-home activity in the morning session, you can take it with you as you leave.
The Afternoon sessions run in a similar way.
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Skills Session & Lunch!
Those who had lunch in the group before, will now do the skills session that took place earlier. Those who are staying all day who haven’t had lunch will have lunch during this time!
2:00pm – 3:30/4pm: Rotation time!
Similar to earlier in the day, the PM children will split into groups but again
DON’T WORRY! They are allowed to be with their friends and some sessions, the coaches will assist in the group making process, allowing the children to form the groups (problem solving skills!).
All groups will go through 4 different rotations, an activity (different to AM), snack time and 2x free time in the gym rotations.
3:30/4pm – 6pm: Quiet Time and pick up time!
After the rotations we all head upstairs to watch a G rated movie, read books or during this time is when, if children bring electronics, they can use those!
All Activities have a focus. These focuses could be any of the following:
And so much more!
We have developed activities to assist in focusing on these skills via cooking, craft, science and even building using gym equipment (in the gym area downstairs)
Birthday Parties and Open Gym still run in the school holidays! Jump onto the
Customer Portal to have a look at Availability and times!
FCGC Gymnastics hopes to see you at a Holiday Program Session soon!
- COACH BETH