"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,
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,
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,
We all know that gymnastics is great, and we love it! We also know that it teaches lots of physical skills to all those involved. A gymnast who has discovered new movement patterns, pathways and more can leave the gym feeling like they have learnt something. But what about the more important stuff? The skills that will stay with you for the rest of your life? By that I don't mean can you still put your foot on your head in 30 years time. All though that would be incredibly impressive.
I'm talking about those fantastic SKILLS FOR LIFE, that we pride ourselves on teaching.
The emotional and mental developmental skills our gymnasts might not even realize they are learning. Those skills!
I have asked a few of our amazing coaches to share what they have learnt through Gymnastics. So I thought I would share them with you also!
"Coaches, what is one thing you have learnt from being a part of gymnastics?"
Coach Saskia - Resilience. I have learnt how to take my time. People might get a skill before me, and that's ok. You need to wait and keep trying. "You're on a different time schedule to everybody else (when it comes to skills)".
Coach Judy - "That I can do things if i set my mind to it!"
Coach Toby - "How to adapt to different situations." Flexibility in all aspects of life. Emotional flexibility, physical and mental. Especially being flexible when it comes to time management. Being able to change things in the moment to be extra beneficial.
Coach Thomas - "How to fall with style!" Being able to get up from a fall both physically and metaphorically.
Coach Kelesa - Discipline. Growing up in gymnastics taught me I had to be there for my teammates. I had to get up early on the weekends, and train really hard. I had people counting on me. "Coming from an Acro background I couldn't miss any training session because all my teammates would be there and it would be bad for them."
We all have things that we will take away from our gymnastics experience. They will become individual to us and only we will be able to have that particular experience. This is why sharing our knowledge and applying it to our coaching is vital for us. We really want to help our gymnasts along in their own personal journeys. Who know's what they might learn!?
Did you want to see more blog posts like this? Do YOU have any questions you would like to ask the coaches? Let me know in the comments and I will be sure to make a blog post about it in the future!
Signing off for now,
As adults it’s easy to forget how important play, creativity and imagination is to a child and their learning experience. It’s helpful to keep in mind that playfulness is a good learning tool within itself, as well as a good motivational tool.
Often when children get tired they tend to get restless, which can then lead into undesirable behavior in a class setting. This can be a good opportunity to utilize some creativity to refocus the class or student to the task at hand.
Gymnastics is a very fun sport. Especially so for children. We are asking them to hang off of bars, swing, run, jump and roll around.
Imagination could be the best coaching tool we all posses.
When we have students hanging off of a bar who are getting tired, or have sore hands. As coaches, we might say things like “pretend there are crocodiles underneath you!”
Or the Coaches might utilize a game, where they have to swing and land as still as possible in their motorbike shape. If they move or wobble, they will be seen by the hungry giant!
If you were to ask a group of students where their favourite area was in the gym, it is very likely most would agree that the trampoline and the foam pit are their favourites. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s bouncy and colourful. The foam pit is also super exciting as it is squishy and they can sink and almost swim through it. With all those exciting qualities it can be a challenge occasionally to encourage a gymnast to get out of the foam pit swiftly.
More games and imagination can be used to progress with the classes rotations. Setting time limits in a fun way, by counting down from 10 to get out of the foam pit or else "the sharks might spot you", for example. Another alternative could be asking each gymnast to stack a single foam block on top of each other outside of the foam pit to build a high tower, as a team! So they will have to be quick to get out of the foam pit, to place it onto the tower!
There are endless ways to try and keep gymnasts of all ages engaged through imagination. Almost any game or activity can be changed to adapt to a particular interest of the gymnast.
Do you have any fun ideas or games you use inside or outside of the Gym? Let us know in the comments below.
Signing off for now,
Working with Toddlers is a very rewarding experience, but of course it can be a challenge at times. It is such a joy to be able to come in to work, knowing you can help these little people to grow and learn in a safe fun environment.
While I am helping our little gymnasts to learn new social skills, gymnastic skills and character growth... they are also helping me to learn.
Here a few things I have learnt:
Have you got a child enrolled in one of our Play Skills programs? Have they taught you anything? Let us know in the comments!
Signing out for now,
Yet. It is such a small word, with such a big impact.
There are two very common forms of mind set we often see. A “Fixed Mind-Set” and a “Growth Mind-Set”. The way we view ourselves and our achievements can be reflected back to either of these two forms of mind sets. Having a fixed mind set can mean you think of yourself as is, without much room for growth. A growth mind set can mean you think of yourself as changing, and believe your skills will change and grow as you learn.
The use of our language can directly impact others, and ourselves when it comes to our developmental learning and our motivation!
Using phrases like “yet” or “not just yet” can really set a goal and boost ones motivational levels.
If a gymnasts says “I can’t do that!”, it’s best to encourage them to say “I can’t do that - yet!”
It also means that with guidance they will continue to learn, and persist in their journey to succeed.
This simple change of language shifts their mindset from fixed, to a growth mind-set. Which will encourage them to learn over time. It is very important we are helping our gymnasts to keep in mind that every attempt they make, will contribute to their long term learning and their goals.
Sometimes it can be challenging for our gymnasts to understand this concept. With help from their coaches and their trusted adults, we can guide them to the understanding that patience, persistence and perseverance in our actions and our words will set them up for success!
What do you think about today’s blog post? Please comment any of your experiences with positive language, and the power of “yet” below, we would love to hear your stories.
Signing off for now,
My journey with FCGC begins in 2007. After enduring cricket, football and tennis, my parents were desperate to find a sport that I truly enjoyed. To their delight, they saw an advert in the local newspaper for an open day at a local gymnastics club, and to my surprise, I loved it. I had an amazing time and had (finally) found the sport for me.
I started as a gymnast and worked my way through the Gymstar program before moving into the MAG program and then into the Freestyle program for a short time. And as I started in high school, I began coaching.
I started coaching once a week after school and it grew from there year by year. I found that not only was coaching a part-time job to work while in school, but it taught me very important lessons about maturity, and working with people from all different walks of life.
All that time I’d always loved gymnastics as a sport and it’d been such a huge part of my life, but it wasn’t until I decided to attend a judging course that my passion grew further. I found that to sit, watch and dissect a routine was such a pleasure for me because I got to analyse the minute details of a skill and produce my own appraisal of it. It gave me confidence in my own gymnastics knowledge and helped me to no end in my coaching, allowing me to focus on my own gymnast’s technique so they can reach their full potential.
Most excitingly, this year I’ve been given the opportunity to share my love for judging by serving as the club’s Judging Coordinator. I’m so excited to see what the rest of the year has in store, and I can’t to see you all around the club.
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!
No one has ever questioned my decision to choose coaching as my career but people find it hard to understand the long hours we work as coaches, or the extra work we put in over weekends for competitions, displays and other events, the time we spend at home planning for classes and dancing around the kitchen making up routines. To me it is very simple, I have made a decision to dedicate my life to helping others succeed, and I am luckily enough to be able to do it via the best sport in the world!
“Success” in gymnastics could easily be associated with competition based awards, but for me and FCGC, there is so much more to it than that. Being able to teach someone to do a back-flip is an achievement that I celebrate, but more so what I am truly celebrating is the dedication that is took for a gymnast to achieve that skill. The perseverance that was required to do the lead up drills hundreds of times before attempting the back-flip. The courage it took for that gymnast to trust in themselves, and me as their coach, to perform a back- flip for the first time. The positive mindset that the gymnast must have had to say to them self “Hey, I can do this!” These are the things I celebrate and these are the things I teach.
Someone recently said to me that I must be really good at gymnastics to be able to demonstrate all the activities my to gymnasts. With great pride I was able to tell them NO WAY!! She was very taken a back and couldn’t work out why I didn’t want to be better than my athletes. I remember being so excited the first time I was able to teach a skill to a gymnast that I was never able to do. That was one of my first tastes of “success” for both the gymnast and I. They were able to learn something new and I was able to teach something that I wouldn’t have previously been able to do. “Success” to me as a coach is being able to help gymnasts to develop to be the best athletes and people they can be and if that means they can perform harder skills than me then I have done my job well.
Being a coach I am constantly challenged with situations where I need to evolve and learn more to help those around me. I am always trying to learn about knew drills to help teach gymnastics, read up on new tactics to help encourage a growth mindset and find out new ways to work with different age groups. Through my continual education and development I am able to push my knowledge forwards and then pass this onto gymnasts, to hopefully inspire them to also have a life long love for learning. I like to be challenged by my gymnasts and asked “Why?”. This my seem like a strange thing to like about my job, but to me it shows that these gymnasts are developing self thought and not just blinding following what they are asked to do. It also means I have to stay on my toes and really understand what and why I am teaching.
Coaching is not just something I have do because I need money to live. It is something I would choose to do, and do choose to do every day. Sometimes to the dismay of my family and friends because I don’t think I ever really stop thinking or talking about it. But I strongly believe that if we don’t push our limits and try to improve ourselves as people we become stagnant. By helping others find confidence and grown in character I am always challenged. I have not just chosen coaching gymnastics as a career but also as a lifestyle because it challenges me to succeed. Helping others learn and grow makes me learn and grow, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.