Every week you take your children to their gymnastics classes - sometimes staying to watch them train. We all know the incredible benefits gymnastics has on children but have you ever thought about what having a child in the gym is teaching you?
How to trust in the process:
This is a life lesson for both the parents and gymnasts - kids aren’t going to learn how to flip and somersault their very first lesson which is what most people associate with gymnastics. Instead there is a big foundation of body shaping, body tension, strength and many, many drills before gymnasts start hitting the harder skills. This process is so important to ensure gymnasts don’t
hurt themselves throwing skills they are not ready for - however can be slightly frustrating for parents watching. Parents with gymnasts quickly learn that there is a process and how to celebrate the small successes with their children knowing they are one step closer to that skill they really want!
It can take a brave parent to watch their child do gymnastics for so many different reasons. Gymnasts have to learn to be brave and trust themselves and their coaches, but parents also have to learn this bravery watching their children train skills that they may find scary, knowing you can’t be right there to help. Sometimes this means watching with your heart in your mouth as your child tries that new skill on the high beam for the first time! Watching your gymnasts at competitions or events takes a lot of bravery too - sometimes children forget their routines or fall in their routine - which is all part of gymnastics, but as a parent it can be hard to watch!
So I applaud all parents who are able to watch their children train and compete and can stay relatively calm doing so. You are all learning to be so brave on behalf of your children.
Learning to watch your child fall:
If you’re an experienced gymnastics parents you’re probably nodding your head at this one - if you’re new to the sport it may sound a little crazy. Falling is a massive part of gymnastics but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch! Gymnasts first learn how to fall properly before they start doing bigger skills (and yes there is a right and a wrong way to fall). If they know how to fall
properly it lowers the chance of injury! Some falls will be funny, some will be frustrating and sometimes a fall can be pretty scary. Parents have to learn to watch these from afar without being able to do anything for their child. This one also links back to bravery as well. Being a gymnastics parent isn’t always easy!
Just remember next time your child falls - it’s an important part of the sport and is helping them in the long run, try using positive words when you talk about it after practice.
Bars, sweet bar. So much fun but also so much ouch! We love bars but yes, they do hurt your hands - especially while in the process of making your hands strong and tough. Sometimes your children come home with a dreaded rip and you have to somehow make it better! I guess we could say gymnastics is teaching you wound care as well, aren’t you lucky! If you are struggling
with how to help your child with their rips here are some top tips.
1.Make sure their hands are washed clean to get all the chalk out of the rip
2. Cut of the dead skin surrounding the rip - if this gets left on it can rip more
3. Get a wet tea-bag and have your child hold it on the rip for 5-10 minutes
4. You can put some antiseptic creams on it following this as well
5. Cover the rip for the next practice.
If you’re bringing a child to gymnastics we think you’re amazing and are so glad we can help teach you some life lessons too!
Thank you for helping support your child's development through this wonderful sport.
- Coach Saskia
As many people know, FCGC Gymnastics runs an adult gymnastics class but did you know that FCGC Gymnastics also runs an adults gymnastics program for those with differing abilities too?
Every Thursday afternoon FCGC Gymnastics facilitates Gymnastics for Adults with varying abilities. Most of our inclusive gymnasts are Adults living with Autism.
Majority of these adult gymnasts come from a center with their careers, for a 45 minute class of fun, jumping and physical movement.
Like all of our programs, we aim to teach Skills for Life with a big focus on
movement and coordination. Along with the ability to listen and follow instructions, to communicate and develop their social skills.
We have a structured routine to help keep the adult gymnasts from being overwhelmed. We find it is important that we keep the same class structure each week for our classes, as routine plays a very important part in the life of Autism.
The Adults begin with sitting on a box each and we all sing a hello song to
welcome everyone. We include ASL (American Sign Language) into our greeting song as well, as many of our individual gymnasts may be non-verbal.
After this, we use a hand-held pom pom and we go around the circle and
welcome everyone using their names for example “hello sarah” and then
sarah can wave. Sarah will then get up and walk to pass it to the next person.
It is important to stand up and walk to the next person as this promotes
We then go through a warm up that consists of balancing, stretches, hand
eye coordination, core stability and upper/ lower body strength. To do this we use hand apparatuses’ such as beanbags,
hoops, scarves, foam blocks, coloured mats to assist in the process.
From here, they move onto a circuit through the gym which includes
jumping, swinging, hanging, climbing, and balancing. We spend some time helping each individual around an area of the gym - encouraging them to have a try at different stations. The trampoline is always a favourite however, so many gymnasts will spend a lot of their time bounding up and down for as long as possible!
After this we then use a cue to signal our running activity. For this final activity we run around the circle of boxes from the start to some music. This cue is
important for them to know it’s coming to the end of the class.
Lastly, we get a large parachute out and wave it up and down and say
goodbye. We say goodbye to each individual by using their names, and giving them a moment of recognition in the large group.
We at FCGC Gymnastics believes that Gymnastics has the ability to help
EVERYONE and for those who have a disability it is an opportunity to build upon social skills, communication skills, fitness, motor skills (gross and fine), mental stimulation and much more.
Our coaches develop such strong bonds with all the adults who come into FCGC Gymnastics, and all our coaches really look forward to each Thursday morning in the gym.
Thanks for reading today's blog!
Gymnastics is a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities!
People tend to think gymnastics is just for kids but I would like to share with you the benefits it can offer to adults.
Gymnastics covers so many amazing skills that can be used in everyday life as well as helping us develop a healthier lifestyle outside of the gym. At gymnastics we learn flexibility, balance, co-ordination, strength, conditioning and so much more. In this blog I am going to go through some of the important benefits taking up an adult gymnastics class can have for a healthier you.
When you participate in gymnastics, you can achieve greater overall health.
Being strong and healthy promotes your body’s ability to fight off disease and illness. With the ability to heal itself when you do get sick. There are studies that show adults who are physically active have lower instances of cancer, asthma, cardiac disease, diabetes, and obesity.
You will also increase your flexibility, co-ordination and balance!
This gives you a greater range of motion and greater control of your movements. Many adults assume they might get injured when they think of partaking in gymnastics. This is not the case. As you train in your gymnastics classes and become more flexible, you will reduce the risk of injury not only in the gym but in your everyday life.
Gymnastics will help you build strength!
Especially core strength which we use for most things we do in our daily routines. It can also be a great social event. You can build friendships with people you train hard with each week, and you learn to encourage/support each other.
Gymnastics or any physical activity is beneficial for improving your focus and concentration capacity, when you work out, your body produces more endorphin’s.
Endorphin’s are an important part of feeling happy and satisfied with life, being involved in gymnastics helps you feel happier!
If you are reading this blog and have always wanted to try gymnastics I urge you to go for it. It is an all-round sport, it is great for so many factors we use in our everyday lives. You'll also be challenged in positive ways you never thought you could, it's amazing what the body and mind can achieve if we just give things a try!
If you want to try an adult class, get in contact with us to book in your free Trial!
Every individual that walks through our gym is going to learn in a slightly different way. Some require verbal ques (linguistic) to understand a process, while others might require a kinesthetic approach by trying the activity themselves. There are many other ways to learn that include Visual (spatial), Aural (auditory), Logical (mathematical), Social (interpersonal) and Solitary (intrapersonal). All of these methods of learning will help our gymnasts to fully understand and grasp a concept.
In our gymnastics classes we try to use as many of these learning styles in each class as possible. This way all of our gymnasts are getting the most out of their experience.
Our learning styles have a large influence over the way we recall information and the way that information is internally represented. Research has shown us that each of these learning styles activates different parts of the brain. By increasing the number of parts of the brain used, we remember more of what we have learnt. Resulting in a more effective learning environment.
In young children, it is especially vital to take all of these learning styles into consideration. As children often learn through play, they will be using nearly all of these learning styles simultaneously.
In our Playskills programs - such as our Gecko's program - we utilize these learning styles through use of "learning cards". These learning cards are accessible through out the gymnastics circuit to the children and their grown ups. The learning cards will contain imagery of the gymnastics skill (visual), a worded description of the activity (linguistic) as well as the opportunity to work on their social skills (interpersonal) with their grown up and the other gymnasts around them.
This is the perfect learning environment for young children to develop their neural pathways in their brain, that will lead to a successful opportunity for learning into their adult hood.
It is also a great opportunity for parents/grown-ups to observe the manner in which their child is engaged through learning.
Do they seem the most interested when the group plays a game of "Follow the leader" (Kinesthetic)? Do they constantly ask you to read the learning cards to them? (Auditory)? Do they need to see how a skill is achieved before they try (Spatial)? Take as much as you possibly can in. The more you know about how they learn; the more you will be able to help them learn.
Do you know how you learn best? Do you think your child learns the same way you do?
Let us know in the comments below! We would love the hear you responses.
Signing off for now,
"So can you do the splits?" - This is one of the most commonly asked questions when gymnastics is brought up in a conversation.
Flexibility is not just a fundamental part of gymnastics, it is actually very important in nearly every sport - although it
may not be as obvious.
Playing soccer, rugby or footy the athletes need hamstring
flexibility for their kicks. Rowing needs good hip flexibility to get the most out of
each stroke. Swimmers shoulders need a good range of movement to increase
their speed. I could carry on but you get the point... flexibility is important!
So how do we help our children increase their flexibility? Try these top tips!
If gymnasts are only stretching once or twice a week in class, it is unlikely they
will see a lot of improvement. To increase flexibility, it is important to create a
stretching routine to do either every night or every second night. It doesn't have
to be long 10-15 minutes a day is plenty of time to start seeing some great
results. This could be incorporated before or after (for an extra challenge try
during) homework, while watching tv or even just before going to bed.
Progress photos are a great tool to help motivate both children and adults. When stretching, it may feel like there are no changes being made as it can take a few months of consistent stretching to really see some big results. Taking a photo of your child (or yourself) while they are stretching every couple of weeks will help them see the differences and help keep them motivated to keep going!
Use a mixture of active and passive stretches.
It is important that both active and passive flexibility are practiced. Active
stretching incorporates flexibility through movement, this kind of stretching
requires strength through the muscles to help achieve the stretch which is done without the use of gravity, or a hand - think all kinds of kicks (its harder to hold your leg in the air if you don’t have a hand helping pull it up).
Passive stretching relies on body weight and gravity and requires good joint mobility. Both kinds of stretches are very important for example – you need to be able to do the splits on the floor to do them in the air however; just because you have them on the floor doesn’t necessarily mean you have the active flexibility and strength to be able to do them in the air.
The information to take away from this is incorporate
both kinds of flexibility into your stretching routine!
Get some inspiration!
There are so many videos of amazing gymnasts, dancers and contortionists on
YouTube. Try watching some videos with your child and you both might be
inspired to stick to that stretching routine. When I first started stretching I kept a photo of a skill I wanted to be able to do as my phone background – it may have taken a year but when I finally managed to do it I was so proud! So find some inspo and have your gymnast set themselves a challenge.
You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved!
Be careful not to over stretch!
Yes I know this sounds slightly crazy considering I have been going on about how great stretching is, however we need to make sure our gymnasts/children/selves are not stretching to the point of injury.
When stretching it is important not to feel pain. Discomfort yes but pain, no!
If it is too painful for the gymnast to sit in the stretch for more than a few seconds they are stretching too far and need
something simpler to start with.
The ideal length of time to hold a stretch is between
20-30 seconds. It is also important to note we never want gymnasts ‘bouncing’ in their stretch to try get further as this too can cause unwanted damage.
Hopefully you can enjoy the process and learn to love stretching as much as I have!
Thanks for reading today's blog.
Did you find any of it helpful with your own personal stretching goals?
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,
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,
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,