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
As responsible adults we have taken it upon ourselves to help raise the next generation of people. We do our best to raise compassionate and resilient humans. We send our children to school, encourage them to study and join extracurricular activities. Hoping that a good education will lead to a happy successful adult life.
What if I told you that a UK based study in 2015, by Harvard School of Education, found that in more than 4,000 young adults that the most important characteristic to predict a child's success is GRIT.
The study found that certain life skills such as teamwork, patience, psychological toughness, social skills and determination could all be found being taught in gymnastics classes. The findings supported the idea that life skills and a 'growth mindset' had more significance on a child's future success than a traditional educational intelligence test or exam result.
In recent years more schools around the globe have been adapting and changing the way they "test" their students. We have seen a shift away from pen and paper examination. Instead we are seeing 'real world' skills being put to the test.
To further support this claim, "in the US an NCAA study found more than 90% of college students who were involved in NCAA gymnastics graduated at a significantly higher rate than those who didn't participate in gymnastics".
Have that being said, let's name just a few of the leadership and life skills these students would have learnt through their time in gymnastics.
Work Ethic & Time Management
As adults we often find ourselves juggling our jobs, chores, schooling, social activities, raising our children, cooking, exercise, family time and so much more! Do you ever wish you had more time in a day or better organisational skills so you had enough time for each daily task? Luckily for those young children involved in gymnastics they are starting early. They are already learning how to prioritize tasks and learning to understand the benefits of planning and working smart.
Discipline & Determination
Being a gymnast can be demanding. You are spending long hours in the gym, with your body & mind being pushed to perform at their highest level every day. On top of that your muscles will be aching, your hands will be sore, you might be tired from a bad nights rest... but you have a competition coming up and you can't afford to not use your time wisely. Gymnasts around the world have incredible mental resilience to get themselves through what many of us, would likely walk away from.
We all have the memory of someone we always thought was good at ANYTHING they ever did, be it sports, art, maths or making friends. But im here to tell you something... they would of failed at things as well. Shocking, i know! We all will fail at things in our life time. Some of us will be more comfortable with this than others. The difference is, those who understand that failure leads to success are the individuals who will succeed the most. Having the ability to understand and acknowledge that failure is part of the process, is what will help mold a strong and capable adult.
There are limitless ways that being a gymnast can aid a child's growth into a resourceful and kind adult. The only thing left to do is allow them to be a part of the process.
If you are interested in reading more about this you can find more information here:
Signing off for now,
"The fear of facing fears is harder to overcome than the fear itself." - Anonymous
Previously we have discussed the power of "Yet" and how language can effect our actions. This time, I would like to discuss how our thoughts can effect our actions in the Gym.
Recently I found myself being encouraged to discuss this topic to a wider audience, and I couldn't agree more with how beneficial it could be. Yet it is such a vast topic, where would I possibly start? In that question I had found my answer. Uncertainty.
The words "I can't" are heard all too often in the gym, but they do not mean what you think. The words "I can't" are being spoken from a place of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. The words represent the self doubt we face when we are confronted with something new.
To dive into the unknown when there is a risk is a daunting task, no matter the age of the individual. The added threat of injury at any given attempt only makes it all the more challenging.
So how can we approach something that we cannot touch or see?
I believe understanding and acceptance are where a gymnast will make their largest strides to success. Fear is natural, and has been evident in nature for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no getting rid of fear. It is here to stay!
However, Fear is not bad. In fact it is incredibly useful. It will keep a gymnast concentrating on their technique. It will aid a coach in making sure a gymnast is ready for a skill before they attempt it. It will encourage precaution and sensibility in the most outgoing of gymnasts.
Forcing a gymnast through a skill might seem like the appropriate thing to do, either as a parent or as a coach. We might see it as a simple task, and we can see they are capable. Which in turn might get some of us a little frustrated, which means we can rush things. This can lead to "mental blocks" or "skill blocks". There is a big difference between encouragement and pressuring.
If you force a gymnast to attempt a skill there is a very strong chance they are going to bail. They are not going to commit to the skill, they are going to get half way through and then they are going to panic, and do anything they can to get out of the skill. The problem is, we aren't quite as effective as cats... so when a gymnast is high in the air and decides they don't like it, they aren't able to twist their bodies and land back casually on their feet. They are almost certainly going to land on the heaviest and most vital part of their bodies. Yep, you guessed it. Their heads.
This will only prove to the gymnast that their fears where in fact correct, the worst could possibly happen and they will get hurt.
It is important to remember that a child or teenager is not as skilled at identifying emotional challenges like adults are. They need guidance until they can find themselves at a resolution.
Here are some ways we can handle fear:
1. Identifying the source of the fear. For this you will need to communicate, unless you are in fact a mind-reader and in which case may i strongly suggest a career change! Is your gymnast afraid of the fall? The height? Have they previously attempted this skill and it didn't go to plan? Are they not strong enough yet? Are they worried about looking silly?
2. Game, set and match! You need to approach it in small portions. If they are afraid of being on a high bar, change the bar or raise the crash mats so it doesn't seem as high. If they are afraid of looking silly in front of their class mates, offer private lessons until they feel more confident.
3.Mental Strength & Focus. They are always numerous aspects to a skill, and you are expected to execute all of them... at the same time.. but don't over think it... and don't forget to set up the skill properly... oh and definitely don't forget to present at the end. That's a lot to take in right? Helping your gymnast focus on one thing at a time will allow them to truly be present, and focused. This also goes for life outside of the gym. They might have maths' homework, an art project due, a family dinner and an exam coming up they need to study for!
Help them to breathe, pick one to focus on for now, and feel confident in their capabilities.
4. Remind them how brave they are for even trying! Even basic gymnastics skills are not simple, and attempting them in the first place requires bravery & gumption.
There is a lot that go wrong due to fear, but also a lot that can go right!
Do not give up! It may take you longer than you expected but you can and you will get there if you keep fighting for it.
Who do you think should read this blog post? Tag them and let's start the conversation about "I can't".
Signing off for now,
FCGC Footscray will be having our Open Day on:
Monday 11th of March
Save it to your calendars, phones, facebook events and more!
We are going to be opening up the doors to the gym so everyone can come and explore. If we had to pick one thing we love more than coaching gymnastics, it would have to be showing new families why it's so fantastic.
It is going to be a day filled with fun and adventure!
With lots of photo runs for you to treasure.
Some of our super coaches will be available to answer any questions, which gives you the best opportunity before your first session!
We will even have a BBQ to help fuel your tummy,
thanks to Friends of FCGC, the snag's are quite yummy.
The gym will be open from 10 - 3
On a sunny Autumn day of 23 degrees.
We can't wait to see you there!
Signing off for now, Take care.
This is one part of training that is too often neglected, forgotten or avoided. It takes time and is often uncomfortable... yett should never be painful. Of course I am talking about stretching!
I feel like there are 3 types of people when it comes to stretching and flexibility training: Person 1. Loves it! Person 2. It's Ok I guess Person 3. Really REALLY doesn't like it.
We all have different natural ranges of movement, which is going to heavily impact on this outcome. The problem is that no matter what your opinion on stretching is, your attitude could be effecting your likely hood of injury.
If you are naturally very flexible and find stretching easy, there is a chance you could over stretch and injure yourself because you don't feel the stretching sensation like somebody else might. Alternatively if you truly dislike stretching you could be susceptible to injury through lack of stretching, lazy stretching or through a forced/strained range of movement.
The most common injury points I have witnessed occur through the hips or hip flexor region, back of the legs through the hamstring or sciatic nerve or also commonly through the shoulder in one of the many rotator cuff muscles.
A strain will occur if a muscle, tendon or ligament is torn. This could occur from holding a stretch position for too long, progressing too quickly, inadequate positioning while in the stretch or bouncing in a stretch.
There are 2 main types of stretching. Passive Stretching which involves holding a position over a long period of time with zero or limited movement. Active or Dynamic Stretching which involves a large range of movement through out a stretch (think lunge walks or needle kicks). Both have their benefits, but doing one completely on it's own in a training schedule will only get you so far!
I'm going to outline a very basic stretching routine structure for you all:
- Having a light stretch after getting out of a hot shower as the water will of raised your muscles temperature which will make it more receptive to stretching.
- Practicing a few stretches daily each time you wake up from bed. Don't expect to be doing walk overs first thing in the morning, but practicing simple stretches and joint articulation will really benefit you and the rest of your day.
Stretching is super important to maintain your over all health whether you partake in gymnastics or not. However if you partake in gymnastics it should be a priority of yours to not only maintain but progress your skills!
Do you have any stretching goals for 2019? Share them with us, we would love to know!
Signing off for now,
If I asked you to sing all the words to Mary had a little lamb, without any prompting... could you do it? I can guarantee you can remember almost every word to that nursery rhyme. What about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? I'm sure it would be the same.
There is a reason why you can remember the words to a song after all this time, but you might often forget what someone told you a couple of hours ago.
Songs are a learning tool used around the world to help little ones learn and discover the world around them. Here at FCGC we use songs in all of our PlaySkills programs to aid our gymnasts through learning classroom behavior, social skills, pattern awareness, vocabulary building, rhythm, communication and mimicking behaviors. All of which will be fundamental to your little ones development.
As we sing we tend to slow our speech down and articulate all of the words. This gives your little gymnast time to listen intently and learn how to put sounds together to create a word or a sentence. While singing, it is very common for us to sing in a higher tone which is incredibly engaging and stimulating for a developing brain. The sillier you can make the song, the more likely you are to have your little one mimic you and join you in the process.
Studies have shown that children who enjoy music and who sing and rhyme regularly have an easier time understanding language.
The best part is, you can find a song on just about any topic you like! You can start singing about body parts, colours, numbers, animals, gymnastics skills and more!
Have you attended a PlaySkill class at FCGC before? Can you remember what song you sang? Let me know in the comment section below!
Signing off for now,
Our feet do a lot for us everyday, but how often do we spend trying to keep them fit and healthy? The human foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. That is one complex structure!
Every person who has feet, will have different feet than you. They are very unique to your stride, balance and locomotion. Each person will have a slightly different arch position, width, length, ankle stability, toe spread etc. All of these attributes have been developed over the years of living and even before you were born.
Today I am going to share some great injury prevention exercises with you all to keep you on your feet for as long as possible!
Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart from each other. Try to lift just your big toe's off the floor, leaving all other toes firmly on the ground. Next, try to lift all your little toes and keep your big toes firmly on the ground. Swap between these as many times as you can. This might take some practice as this is a bit of an unusual movement pattern. People who pronate, or roll to the inner arch, have a hard time lifting the big toes and most people who supinate, or roll on to the outer edges of the foot, have a hard time lifting the other toes.
This is an exercise most of us are familiar with and have likely attempted before. However you most likely only thought about it strengthening your calves. When this exercise is slowed right down and a lot of the intention is focused onto the feet, you get a lot of benefits through the gradual articulation of the ligaments.
Stand with your feet close together. You can use an object to help stabilize yourself, but not to hold your body weight. Gradually rise through the ball of your foot and lift your heels off the ground, as slow as possible until you reach releve or full height. Reverse this process until your heel is placed back onto the ground. Be aware of your feet through out the entire exercise and make sure you are not rolling in or outwards over your ankle, and that your weight is distributed evenly over all of your toes.
SOFT SURFACE BALANCES:
We are constantly walking on hard ground all day and our ankles rarely get the opportunity to stabilize you on uneven and soft surfaces. A bosu ball is a piece of equipment often used for this exercise however if you don't have one you can substitute this exercise by standing on pool noodles, a pillow, blanket, sand, crash mat or a sturdy rounded object.
Simply balance on one foot at a time on the soft surface and really consider all the engagement required by those muscles to keep your ankle in alignment. If you find this too simple, you can change it up by trying to do heel raises or balancing on one leg and trying to touch the floor with your hands while balancing or one legged squats.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a video to explain this one instead.
There are numerous ways you can prevent injury or recover from an injury through consistent and comprehensive exercises. These are just a few that I like and find to be exceptionally helpful.
It's never too late to start taking care of your body!
Which exercise was your favorite in today's blog? Which do you think you will try first? Leave a comment below to discuss any ideas!
Signing off for now,