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.
I might have known you for six years, I may have known you for ten minutes. But if you are standing here in my class, thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach you. Thank you for trusting me to guide you through your development, for telling me the skills that you are afraid of, for asking for help when you need it, for listening to me and for letting me help you to learn. Thank you for bringing your unique set of experiences to my classes, for telling me your stories, for allowing me to get to you know during our time together. Sometimes, thank you for challenging me. I may not always have all the answers, but when I don’t, you push me to look for new ways of doing things and push me to be a better coach.
I’m sorry for the times that gymnastics is hard and you’re not achieving the skills that you would like to. I’m sorry when you’re frustrated with your progress, when you don’t feel like you’re learning things as fast as you should be. I’m sorry that sometimes I explain things in a way you don’t understand or when I don’t take the time to listen. I may be your coach but I’m also human and I make mistakes. But mistakes help us learn and ultimately make us both better coaches and better humans. So, forgive me for any mistakes I make and let me learn from them.
I’m proud of you.
No matter what your level of ability, so long as you’re trying, I’m proud of you. For that first time you walked across the beam on your own, I’m proud of you. For that first handstand, first chin-up, first pullover, first rope climb, I’m proud of you. For those times you let me spot you through a skill you were afraid of, I’m proud of you. For those moments when you’re tired and you don’t want to train but you do your best to work hard anyway, I’m proud of you. More importantly, I want you to be proud of yourself. Please take the time to be proud of yourself. Gymnastics may well be fun, but some of the things that we ask you to do are hard, and you might not learn them straight away. So take the time to acknowledge your achievements, both big and small. Holding that handstand for a second longer. Standing up on the high beam by yourself for the first time. Achieving your back flip. Coming back after an injury. Be proud of yourself for your achievements and be proud of yourself for the effort you put into them.
You are unique – and that’s a good thing!
You will not always be the strongest or the fastest, you will not always get new skills first, but you will always be you. Try not to compare yourself to the gymnasts around you. Gymnastics is a unique sport and there are so many different aspects to it, and different people will be good at different things. You will find skills and parts of the sport that are special to you. And if you don’t, that’s okay too – gymnastics can help you prepare for practically any other sport you might like to try! Remember, I am here to guide you and teach you, so if you don’t feel like you’re learning, that’s ok – tell me so we can make a positive change. If you do feel like you’re learning, fantastic – tell me so we can keep going down the same path.
Believe in yourself, because I believe in you.