“You’ll never be the best at anything. The world is a big place with millions of people; it’s impossible to be the best. Just do your best, and you’ll be fine.”
We often get encouraged not to compare ourselves to others, or to compare someone to somebody else. We understand that individuals are exactly that... individual. Yet something in our make-up as humans always brings as back to this critical thinking.
As Gymnastic Coaches we all too often see children in our classes compare themselves to other gymnasts in their group. Before even trying an activity, they have already made a judgement of their own ability and their skill expectations... set entirely around another class mate's skill attempt.
As Coaches it is our job to set an environment that encourages safe risk taking and nurtures ALL attempts. Regardless of the outcome, technique, form or ability level. Every achievement... is a GREAT achievement no matter how small! The trouble is getting our young gymnast to understand this.
From the perspective of a child it can be extremely frustrating when you are not as "capable" as another student. As adults we can understand there are other determining factors that may determine why an individual might be progressing at a faster rate. They could be involved in a multitude of sports and after school activities. They might train more than once in a week. They may of been training for years before you even started! As a child none of this information is relevant or even thought about. All they can understand is what they are witnessing right in front of them. Someone is "better" than them, and it's not fair.
As adults its our role to help model a healthy way to deal with self criticism, comparison and critique. If around the home you are comparing things or people, they will take on this behavior as well. If you vocalize how one footy player for example is better than another due to X,Y,Z. Then there is a good chance that your little "information sponge", by that I mean your child, will notice that the better performing sportsman gets the higher praise while the other gets critiqued.
I know there are going to be times when comparison is going to be helpful and help keep a gymnast motivated and goal orientated! The issue there, is finding the line between inspired & obsessive. I have witnessed gymnasts who are brand new to the sport and have this ultimate will power to keep pushing themselves until they are impressive little tumbling machines. I have also seen older gymnast who see a brand new gymnast with all this motivation, and get disheartened because this new athlete is somehow gaining up to their ability level uncomfortably quick.
My point being comparison is not inherently evil or bad. It is the behaviors following the comparison that will determine if this mind set is healthy or not. As adults we need to be aware of what these behaviors look like and how we can prevent them from becoming destructive.
Signing off for now,
Humans are social creatures and require face-to-face interactions to develop, thrive and be happy. The relationships you form through out your life will directly nourish your developmental progress. These relationships are critical to the development of life skills such as empathy, communication, self behavioral management, emotional control, impulse control, body language, perception of non-verbal communication.
Facial expressions, gestures and body language make up a huge portion of communication that is non-verbal. If you remove these aspects from a conversation, it is very easy to be misdirected or have a miscommunication.
It takes years of interaction experiences for a child to grasp this concept. They need opportunities and exposure for them to master this skill! Your child will rely heavily on you, siblings and friends as a means of practice.
Have you been out and about and noticed an adult who may be sitting using their phone while a child in their care is off exploring, playing or trying to get their attention? From the outside looking in it is a lot easier to notice these things. Self reflection is a good first step to identifying what can be improved. Being able to identify how much time is being given to a child is a great asset to posses. There is nothing wrong with using technology in our day to day lives - in moderation of course!
Alternatively it might not be technology at all that is distracting. It could be your energy levels, your mood or having a long list of tasks that need to be completed in a short period of time.
Self awareness in this regard will not only benefit yourself, it will also benefit those around you - including that little human desperately begging you to watch them.
During a child's gymnastics class it is incredibly tempting to utilize that time to get work done or have personal time. Especially if they are in an 60+ minute long class. What a beautifully productive time slot that can be! However it can also be a very disengaging time, if you aren't making the effort to be apart of the spectating experience. I'm not saying you should sit with your nose pressed up against the window for a full 2 hours. If you usually drop your child off, and return at the end of class and rarely step foot inside of the building... maybe walking in with them for time to time will strengthen that relationship. If you pick them up from gymnastics, but usually sit in the car... maybe consider watching the last 15 - 5 minutes of their class. Making that little bit of extra effort to watch sections of the class from time to time will make for the perfect post class discussion with your child - they will be more likely to be engaged with the conversation as well as it is personal to them.
The more interaction you have with a little one, the more they will benefit! The more they will learn and have the chance to grow into a self reliant human being. So get out there, be present and enjoy the day with a little human!
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,
In recent times we have observed an influx of recreational fitness programs marketed and programmed directly for the senior citizens of the world. In the global sporting world, we are noticing that more fitness centers are considering the importance of supporting and nurturing our elders.
"This Program has boosted their confidence and they now believe they can do activities they never thought they could do before."
- Chanelle Gunderson, Recreation Coordinator for Waterford. Delta Gymnastics
As children, we are often told "respect your elders". Yet it seems as soon as we become adults ourselves, we seem to forget this a bit. It is no longer a larger priority of ours as we become consumed with the personal matters in our own lives.
"Aging isn't just a biological process - it's also very much a cultural one."
In an article by huffpost they mention their observations of cultural constructs regarding the elderly from Eastern and European, compared to Western countries. "While many cultures celebrate the aging process and venerate their elders, in Western Cultures - where youth is [idolized] and the elderly are commonly removed from the community - to hospitals and nursing homes -- aging has become a shameful experience." The article goes on state that "People themselves, when they're aging feel that there's something wrong with them and they're losing value."
This is why it is so fantastic to see programs and companies showing their support in changing these ideas!
In the past year a gymnastics club, Delta Gymnastics, has launched a program by the name of "Seniors Can Move". The program was a pet project of sorts for Chanelle Gunderson who envisioned the program as a game changer. Chanelle notes each week her gymnasts making progress with their confidence, balance and flexibility.
In a previous blog post, I discussed how movement is crucial for the health and well being of our older citizens. It greatly reduces risk of falling, broken bones and mentally stimulates those who lack the social opportunities in their communities. Movement programs also reduce the chances of developing Dementia. You can read that blog post here.
Chanelle also notes how her senior gymnasts met the program with reservation and a little fear initially. However, Coach Chanelle invited anyone who fit the bill to check out the facility and the program, even walk on the sprung floor before joining the program. "They took a leap of faith and decided it was good for them."
At FCGC we wholeheartedly support the rise of senior gymnastics programs. Alongside our own Fitter For Life Program, we hope to transform the day to day lives of all those who participate. We intend to strengthen our gymnasts so they can be independent and function well into their later years.
Do you know of anyone that could benefit from such a program? We would LOVE to have them be involved in one of our classes!
Signing off for now,
I would like to touch on a topic that should be held highly in the hearts of all parents/carers/teachers etc. It's the importance of idols and leaders that our youths look up to. Those who inspire, teach and help our children grow into focused and driven adults.
Our children are going to admire several people of importance through out their childhood. Each member of their inspirational chart will be selected for a specific reason, that is instrumental to a chapter of their growth.
I would like to mention an article from August 19th of 2016, from ABC News.
The article is about a 6 year old gymnast named Nyla Miller, who had only been partaking in Gymnastics classes for a year at this point; who dreamed of being just like Simone Biles & Gabby Douglas. Young Nyla first witnessed the strength and grace of both Olympic Athletes during a live broadcast of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Nyla saw herself in these elite gymnasts and aspired to be just like them. They represented something for Nyla, which is irreplaceable in a child's life. Nyla's dad Miller was quoted reporting on the importance of these idols for his daughter.
"She's been able to look at them and see that anything is possible. I am possible."
A photo of Nyla sporting a Blue, Red & White leotard similar to Simone Bile's leotard was posted on her dad's social media. When unsuspectingly Simone Biles saw the photo she had been "tagged" in and shared it to her own personal social media for all her fans to see. Nyla's family was so surprised to see their daughters idol had shared her appreciation for Nyla on her social media to her 3.3million followers.
This story is just one story out of millions. Each person, each child will have somebody they once or still do look up to. As adult's it can sometimes be difficult for us to relate to those our children look up to. We may not see what they see. However there is something in them, that they can connect with.
It seems quite common for young children to idolize their Primary School teachers for example. This maybe for a variety reasons. It may be the case that they are consistently exposed to a familiar leader in their day to day life. It may be that they see their teacher as confident & kind and they wish to be like this also. It might even be that they see their teacher as an intellectual representation of themselves.
It is fair to say that young people will after a period of time come to realize that their idols are just "ordinary people" just like they are. Flaws & faults included!
Listen as best you can to the children in your life. Help them find people to support them, to inspire them, to build them up.
We won't all have our idols reply to us on twitter or Instagram, as lovely as that would be. However helping to expose our children to positive representations will only help to encourage our kids to reach their full potential.
Do your children have somebody they idolize? Are you unsure? Now is the perfect time to ask them!
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
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
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,