Have you been remembering to floss? No I don't mean your teeth or the dance that I am sure is not "cool" anymore. I'm talking about your nerves!
The human body is a largely complex piece of machinery with lots of little things that help keep the engine running - so to speak. In this regard I think a bicycle analogy will be the easiest to understand. Your body is the bicycle and your nerves are the chains. If your nerves are "stuck" or "not maintained" you may still be able to use the bike, though likely at a large convenience to yourself. To help maintain the functionality of your bicycle - you need to keep up maintenance.
Nerve Flossing is exactly that. Maintenance on your nerves to help keep up their flexibility & functionality.
In the world of gymnastics and dance, flexibility plays a large roll. A lot of the time when stretching, you may feel a discomfort or pain that stops you from being able to stretch any further. This is a good indicator that your body is telling you that it has reached its limit. However we can sometimes misunderstand this message. For example: When you are stretching your Pike you may feel a "pull" or tension in the back of your thighs/bottom. The first thing that usually pops into peoples minds is - "My Hamstrings are too tight!"
However this may not be the case at all. It might be your sciatic nerve instead!
Your Sciatic Nerve is a large nerve that starts in your lower back and runs directly down to your feet. The Sciatic Nerve is incredibly important for the body! Thankfully there are ways to tell the difference between a muscle hindering your flexibility progression or a nerve getting in the way.
How to Test it:
When stretching out in a Pike, if you are able to stretch significantly further with your toes pointed as apposed to flexed - there is a good chance your sciatic nerve might be what is stopping you!
So how can we help our nerves? And what does it have to do with flossing? Simply put, you use gliding movements of a limb to stretch one end the nerve while relaxing the opposite end. In a series of repetitive gliding movements, the nerves will respond a lot better than that of a "tradition" static stretch.
How to Floss safely:
While Flossing can be incredibly beneficial... you must like any other stretch be careful.
1. Tissue Warm Up - Step one is crucial if you wish to get the most out of a nerve floss. The easiest/best ways to do this is via gentle to moderate manipulation of the surrounding muscle fibers. This can be achieved through a number of exercises with a foam roller, peanut, lacrosse ball or tennis ball. The pressure of your body weight and the shape of the object combined, is what will give you a deeper and more focused release.
2. Nerve Flossing - Now comes the time for flossing/gliding! The important part to remember that with flossing, you are not supposed to feel a deep stretch. Instead you should be focusing on holding resistance at the full extension of a stretch. It is the repetition of the same movement that will gently release the "stuck" nerve. There are NUMEROUS ways to floss and it is well worth your time to do some research of your own to find the best exercises for you.
3. Active Flexibility - Now comes the time to test those nerves! You have just successfully prepared your nerves at their full range of motion. Now it's time to see if they can use this freshly gained functionality. Now is not the time to hold any static shapes. It's best to use your new range of reach/flexibility through dynamic movements.
4. Passive Stretches - If passive or static stretches are apart of your routine, now is the time to use them. After following all the other steps you should notice a little extra flexibility in your stretches. Remember to take it easy! Your muscles will be more relaxed than usual, so they are prone to being over stretched if you aren't careful.
Take note of your before & after stretches. Have you noticed any improvements? Take some photos of your stretches so you can visualize how you are progressing.
Best of luck to you all & happy flossing!
Signing off for now,
I'm going to ask you to reflect upon your primary school years for a moment. Do you recall your school teachers having these strange 3 sided pencils? Or what about the rubber grips that went around a pencil instead? Did you have a teacher who always seemed to correct you on how to hold your pencils? Or maybe that wasn't a focus at all when you were in school.
The Pincer Grip is a developmental milestone in all children, that is highly encouraged by educational figures in there lives. It also should be encouraged and trained at home!
So why is it so important? Your child will be learning/developing these skills in primary school or kindergarten as you did, right? Incorrect! They will be learning how to refine this skill every day. Regardless of who is teaching them.
I have the suspicion that a majority of people are under the impression that the Pincer Grip is a skill for writing and drawing - and as we head further into the digital age the need for the ability will decrease. I would like to take the time to really discuss the significance of finger dexterity as we age and develop!
As teeny tiny babies, we don't really know we have fingers. We keep them curled up into our palms and occasionally give them a stretch. We start to discover these important digits when we start chewing on them, and sticking them into our mouths. As we grow and our brain develops, we start to process new sensory information. This means we start to understand how touch works.
Babies use touch & taste all the time to get an understanding of the world. If you give them a chance, they will place just about anything into their mouths to give it a chew... including pool noodles! We have all seen that before.
As they begin to grasp the idea of the world, they have a better understanding on how to get things they want. For example, that super shiny set of house keys on the floor! If they want to play with them, and you aren't going to hand it to them... they need to learn to be independent. During this developmental stage your infant will start to develop neural pathways on how to grasp, hold and move objects with their hands. For the first few months of this stage they will use their palm to drag an item to themselves. However, as they grow they will begin to use their thumb & forefinger to retrieve items. This is the first stages of Pincer Grip development!
As the child grows they will use this new finger dexterity to feed themselves, learn to hold utensils or how to pick up their drinking cups. They will need this ability to pick up toys, to scratch themselves or to touch sensory objects. It will also be used in every day life such as brushing teeth, buttoning shirts, doing up zips and even developing into touch typing abilities.
The Pincer Grip is a fine motor developmental skill as it requires finesse and control of a small range of motion. There are lots of activities you can use to help them master this skill! We use a lot of them ourselves in our Playskills programs - including our Wombats & Geckos!
Do you know a little one in your life that could benefit from one of our classes? Don't forget to tag them!
Signing off for now,
Have you ever wondered where gymnastics skills get there names from? I'm sure you know that a few skills are named after particular gymnasts... but do you know when the skill was first competed? Or why it was so special?
The world of gymnastics is ever changing, developing and growing. It is one of the few sports in the world that is guaranteed to evolve over time. In 30 years time, the competing world of gymnastics will not be what it is today. You will likely see current day skills removed, and new skills included.
If youtube and video sharing is still relevant in 30 years, there is bound to be a new collection of "BANNED" gymnastics moves from the 2010's.
To have the honor of having a skill named after you, it needs to be competed at a high level eg. World Championships & Olympics. Each skill is rated from category A (easiest) to category I (hardest).
Victoria Moors: Floor Skill
The Moors is a backwards double-twisting double layout. The hardest category rating of "I" was created by FIG (Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique) especially for this skill. This skill is so challenging because the gymnast is landing completely blind.
Olga Korbut: Balance Beam
In the 1972 Olympics Soviet Gymnast Olga Korbut first performed her signature beam skill. It involved a backward somersault that ends with her straddling the beam. It was the first time this skill was performed and it changed the way competing gymnasts flowed on the beam.
The skill can be seen at 0:40 seconds.
Eberhard Gienger: Bars
A Gienger is a backflip into a half turn - where a gymnast begins their swing facing outwards and ends with them facing inwards. This skill was first performed by German gymnast Eberhard Gienger. This skill can be competed in a piked position or in a layout position.
It was a challange to find a video of him competing this skill from the 1970's. Here is a video of gymnast demonstrating the skill and a video of Gienger competing in the 1972 Olympics.
Elena Shushunova: Floor
Soviet gymnast Elena Shushunova first competed this skill in the 1986 World Cup. It is now a skill that is competed by numerous gymnasts due to its versatility to connect it to other skills. Lisa Skinner is an Australian gymnast who competed the shushunova skill 3 times in her routine in the 2000 Olympics routine.
Skill can be seen at 1:30 min of the video.
What did you think about all these elite gymnast and their trademark skills?
It would be great to do some more blog posts like this in the future. So we can learn a little bit of history behind some gymnastic skills.
Signing off for now,
The press to handstand is one of the most difficult skills to achieve as well as
one of the most important in the higher levels of gymnastics. The ‘press’, as
it is affectionately known, has a number of different components which can
take years to perfect and ultimately result in it’s mastery. The process of
learning a press to handstand also develops and teaches valuable skills for
life surrounding perseverance, determination and how to trust the process.
So, without further ado, lets look at some tips to help you achieve your press
Like it’s name sake suggests the handstand is all about balancing...upside
down! It takes a lot of practice to balance using our hands as though they
are our feet. In order to best prepare our bodies to balance upside down we
must undertake a lot of wrist conditioning. In our classes at FCGC we utilize
the array of equipment on offer to help our gymnast’s develop strength in
their wrists. Most of the time these activities are lots of fun for the gymnasts,
but really there is purpose to our play. Compressing foam blocks from the
foam pit or scrunching scarves with our hands all help to develop our wrist
and hand strength. The second vital shape for the handstand which we
practice from Geckos and Grown Ups through to Level 10 is our rocket or tall
shape. This shape is the most important for a lot of skills, but none more so
than the handstand. The gymnast practices standing in a straight line;
extending upwards through their shoulders, pressing their ribs ‘inwards’ and
pulling their hips ‘under’ to create a perfectly aligned and straight body.
When inverted, this shape becomes a perfectly straight handstand which is
easy to control and balance in.
The next component for a perfect press is core strength. In order to perform
a press to handstand it is essential for a gymnast to develop their core
stability through a range of exercises. As well as the general gymnastics core
conditioning activities including the likes of ‘dish hold’ and leg lifts, there are
many exercises which develop core strength in parallel with the press to
Stalder leg lifts are one such strengthening activity; the
gymnast starts hanging on the bar and lifts their legs into an inverted
straddle position. When rotated upside down the gymnast looks as though
they are starting in a handstand and lowering down to a straddle support
position; one of the many ways to start a press to handstand!
Another similar drill is a lying press to handstand on a trapezoid shape.
This drill not only works the gymnast’s core strength, but also their muscle memory for the skill. In this drill the gymnast begins lying on their back in a stretched position, their hands touching the wall as though in a handstand. Lifting through their hips, the gymnast rolls backwards into a straddle position with their hands still touching the wall. The gymnast then slowly lowers back to
their lying stretched handstand position – talk about that for an abdominal
As a coach the part I most often see gymnasts struggling with is the all
important ‘planche action’ with their shoulders. In order to perform a
consistent and technically correct press to handstand a gymnast must lean
forwards over their hands through a planche position. The easiest way to
think about a planche is like a seesaw; we are trying to counterbalance our
bodies through our shoulders. This leaning action is common place
throughout gymnastics skills including a ‘cast’ on the Uneven and High Bars,
swing to handstand on Parallel Bars and front support on floor.
At FCGC we encourage this important progression as early as possible with our gymnasts in order to make these harder skills much easier long-term for our athletes.
One shape which can be practiced at home as well as in class is a front
support position. In a front support the gymnast should have an ‘angry cat’
rounded chest and lean forward over their hands with their shoulders – this
will translate to a comfort of leaning forwards, assist the gymnast with the
skills mentioned previously, and their press to handstand!
Other exercises which work both the planche action required for the press and core strengthening include;
Pike Drag Ups:
The gymnast begins in a support shape on a bar or edge of a box and,
lifting through their hips whilst leaning forwards, drag their toes up the
bar/box to a standing position
The gymnast begins in a frog position on the floor (squatting with
hands in between feet) and rests the inside of their leg on their straight
arms. The gymnast then leans forward with a rounded chest and
balances for as long as possible
Straddle Press Walks:
The gymnast begins sitting in a straddle position and lifts their hips up
whilst leaning forward over their hands. From the inverted position the
gymnast lowers back down through an L-sit and into a straddle and
places their hands in front of them ready to go again!
Now that we have looked at the different components of the press, its time to
put it all together! The gymnast should start in a straddle stand with their
back facing a wall, wedge or beat board (leaning against something of
course!) placing hands just in front of the vertical surface. From the straddle
stand the shoulders should lean forward through the planche phase whilst
lifting the toes into the air. Just before vertical the gymnast should
dynamically ‘open’ their shoulders to finish in a perfect handstand!
Remember that a press to handstand can take many years to achieve, so
don’t be pressed with time and start practicing today!
See you in the gym – Coach Toby
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!
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,
"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,