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
"So can you do the splits?" - This is one of the most commonly asked questions when gymnastics is brought up in a conversation.
Flexibility is not just a fundamental part of gymnastics, it is actually very important in nearly every sport - although it
may not be as obvious.
Playing soccer, rugby or footy the athletes need hamstring
flexibility for their kicks. Rowing needs good hip flexibility to get the most out of
each stroke. Swimmers shoulders need a good range of movement to increase
their speed. I could carry on but you get the point... flexibility is important!
So how do we help our children increase their flexibility? Try these top tips!
If gymnasts are only stretching once or twice a week in class, it is unlikely they
will see a lot of improvement. To increase flexibility, it is important to create a
stretching routine to do either every night or every second night. It doesn't have
to be long 10-15 minutes a day is plenty of time to start seeing some great
results. This could be incorporated before or after (for an extra challenge try
during) homework, while watching tv or even just before going to bed.
Progress photos are a great tool to help motivate both children and adults. When stretching, it may feel like there are no changes being made as it can take a few months of consistent stretching to really see some big results. Taking a photo of your child (or yourself) while they are stretching every couple of weeks will help them see the differences and help keep them motivated to keep going!
Use a mixture of active and passive stretches.
It is important that both active and passive flexibility are practiced. Active
stretching incorporates flexibility through movement, this kind of stretching
requires strength through the muscles to help achieve the stretch which is done without the use of gravity, or a hand - think all kinds of kicks (its harder to hold your leg in the air if you don’t have a hand helping pull it up).
Passive stretching relies on body weight and gravity and requires good joint mobility. Both kinds of stretches are very important for example – you need to be able to do the splits on the floor to do them in the air however; just because you have them on the floor doesn’t necessarily mean you have the active flexibility and strength to be able to do them in the air.
The information to take away from this is incorporate
both kinds of flexibility into your stretching routine!
Get some inspiration!
There are so many videos of amazing gymnasts, dancers and contortionists on
YouTube. Try watching some videos with your child and you both might be
inspired to stick to that stretching routine. When I first started stretching I kept a photo of a skill I wanted to be able to do as my phone background – it may have taken a year but when I finally managed to do it I was so proud! So find some inspo and have your gymnast set themselves a challenge.
You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved!
Be careful not to over stretch!
Yes I know this sounds slightly crazy considering I have been going on about how great stretching is, however we need to make sure our gymnasts/children/selves are not stretching to the point of injury.
When stretching it is important not to feel pain. Discomfort yes but pain, no!
If it is too painful for the gymnast to sit in the stretch for more than a few seconds they are stretching too far and need
something simpler to start with.
The ideal length of time to hold a stretch is between
20-30 seconds. It is also important to note we never want gymnasts ‘bouncing’ in their stretch to try get further as this too can cause unwanted damage.
Hopefully you can enjoy the process and learn to love stretching as much as I have!
Thanks for reading today's blog.
Did you find any of it helpful with your own personal stretching goals?
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,
Hi everyone, It's Coach Beth here today!
I'm taking over this weeks blog post to talk about something super fun and seriously educational. Let’s talk about our Holiday Program!
Finding Confidence & Growing Character follows through to all of our programs, INCLUDING the Holiday Program. The program is based around our four corner stones :
Holiday Program provides opportunities for children to make friends, explore,
play, create, develop social skills and team work skills as well as an opportunity to build on life long fundamental skills. Such as coordination, fine motor skills and problem solving skills just to name a few!
How do we do all this at holiday program you might ask? FCGC does this in a
number of ways!
Let's see how you can help develop all these skills, no matter if you are with us for a half day or full day program.
8:00am – 9:00am: Drop off time!
During this hour, as children arrive, our coaches have some quiet activities
(coloring, drawing, board games to name a few) that allow children to quietly
settle in and get to know the coaches for the AM session. This time also allows
children to meet new friends and become familiar with the environment,
especially if they haven’t been to our club before!
9:00am – 10:00am: Ice Breakers and Game time!
Before we get started with the activities for the day, all children go through some ice breaker games and some general fun games! During these ice breaker games, children get to communicate and meet new people in a relaxed and friendly manner. Once children have made some new friends and become relaxed and settled in, the coaches then play some team work games (partner hide and seek for example) as well as some competition type games such as Fruit Salad.
10:00am – 12:00pm: Rotations time!
During this 2 hour block all children are split into groups but DON’T WORRY! They are allowed to be with their friends and for some sessions, the coaches will assist in the group making process, allowing the children to form the groups (problem solving skills!).
All groups will go through 4 different rotations, an activity, snack time and 2x
free time in the gym rotations. What fun!
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Skills Session or Lunch!
Those who are joining holiday program for the PM session as well as the AM
session will more than likely have lunch in this time slot.
Those in the AM only session, will go through some sort of skill session, this may include a Gymnastics session, sometimes an X-Gym session or it could be
something else entirely! At the end of this hour, AM only children go home BUT DON’T FORGET if you made a take-home activity in the morning session, you can take it with you as you leave.
The Afternoon sessions run in a similar way.
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Skills Session & Lunch!
Those who had lunch in the group before, will now do the skills session that took place earlier. Those who are staying all day who haven’t had lunch will have lunch during this time!
2:00pm – 3:30/4pm: Rotation time!
Similar to earlier in the day, the PM children will split into groups but again
DON’T WORRY! They are allowed to be with their friends and some sessions, the coaches will assist in the group making process, allowing the children to form the groups (problem solving skills!).
All groups will go through 4 different rotations, an activity (different to AM), snack time and 2x free time in the gym rotations.
3:30/4pm – 6pm: Quiet Time and pick up time!
After the rotations we all head upstairs to watch a G rated movie, read books or during this time is when, if children bring electronics, they can use those!
All Activities have a focus. These focuses could be any of the following:
And so much more!
We have developed activities to assist in focusing on these skills via cooking, craft, science and even building using gym equipment (in the gym area downstairs)
Birthday Parties and Open Gym still run in the school holidays! Jump onto the
Customer Portal to have a look at Availability and times!
FCGC Gymnastics hopes to see you at a Holiday Program Session soon!
- COACH BETH
As responsible adults we have taken it upon ourselves to help raise the next generation of people. We do our best to raise compassionate and resilient humans. We send our children to school, encourage them to study and join extracurricular activities. Hoping that a good education will lead to a happy successful adult life.
What if I told you that a UK based study in 2015, by Harvard School of Education, found that in more than 4,000 young adults that the most important characteristic to predict a child's success is GRIT.
The study found that certain life skills such as teamwork, patience, psychological toughness, social skills and determination could all be found being taught in gymnastics classes. The findings supported the idea that life skills and a 'growth mindset' had more significance on a child's future success than a traditional educational intelligence test or exam result.
In recent years more schools around the globe have been adapting and changing the way they "test" their students. We have seen a shift away from pen and paper examination. Instead we are seeing 'real world' skills being put to the test.
To further support this claim, "in the US an NCAA study found more than 90% of college students who were involved in NCAA gymnastics graduated at a significantly higher rate than those who didn't participate in gymnastics".
Have that being said, let's name just a few of the leadership and life skills these students would have learnt through their time in gymnastics.
Work Ethic & Time Management
As adults we often find ourselves juggling our jobs, chores, schooling, social activities, raising our children, cooking, exercise, family time and so much more! Do you ever wish you had more time in a day or better organisational skills so you had enough time for each daily task? Luckily for those young children involved in gymnastics they are starting early. They are already learning how to prioritize tasks and learning to understand the benefits of planning and working smart.
Discipline & Determination
Being a gymnast can be demanding. You are spending long hours in the gym, with your body & mind being pushed to perform at their highest level every day. On top of that your muscles will be aching, your hands will be sore, you might be tired from a bad nights rest... but you have a competition coming up and you can't afford to not use your time wisely. Gymnasts around the world have incredible mental resilience to get themselves through what many of us, would likely walk away from.
We all have the memory of someone we always thought was good at ANYTHING they ever did, be it sports, art, maths or making friends. But im here to tell you something... they would of failed at things as well. Shocking, i know! We all will fail at things in our life time. Some of us will be more comfortable with this than others. The difference is, those who understand that failure leads to success are the individuals who will succeed the most. Having the ability to understand and acknowledge that failure is part of the process, is what will help mold a strong and capable adult.
There are limitless ways that being a gymnast can aid a child's growth into a resourceful and kind adult. The only thing left to do is allow them to be a part of the process.
If you are interested in reading more about this you can find more information here:
Signing off for now,
"The fear of facing fears is harder to overcome than the fear itself." - Anonymous
Previously we have discussed the power of "Yet" and how language can effect our actions. This time, I would like to discuss how our thoughts can effect our actions in the Gym.
Recently I found myself being encouraged to discuss this topic to a wider audience, and I couldn't agree more with how beneficial it could be. Yet it is such a vast topic, where would I possibly start? In that question I had found my answer. Uncertainty.
The words "I can't" are heard all too often in the gym, but they do not mean what you think. The words "I can't" are being spoken from a place of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. The words represent the self doubt we face when we are confronted with something new.
To dive into the unknown when there is a risk is a daunting task, no matter the age of the individual. The added threat of injury at any given attempt only makes it all the more challenging.
So how can we approach something that we cannot touch or see?
I believe understanding and acceptance are where a gymnast will make their largest strides to success. Fear is natural, and has been evident in nature for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no getting rid of fear. It is here to stay!
However, Fear is not bad. In fact it is incredibly useful. It will keep a gymnast concentrating on their technique. It will aid a coach in making sure a gymnast is ready for a skill before they attempt it. It will encourage precaution and sensibility in the most outgoing of gymnasts.
Forcing a gymnast through a skill might seem like the appropriate thing to do, either as a parent or as a coach. We might see it as a simple task, and we can see they are capable. Which in turn might get some of us a little frustrated, which means we can rush things. This can lead to "mental blocks" or "skill blocks". There is a big difference between encouragement and pressuring.
If you force a gymnast to attempt a skill there is a very strong chance they are going to bail. They are not going to commit to the skill, they are going to get half way through and then they are going to panic, and do anything they can to get out of the skill. The problem is, we aren't quite as effective as cats... so when a gymnast is high in the air and decides they don't like it, they aren't able to twist their bodies and land back casually on their feet. They are almost certainly going to land on the heaviest and most vital part of their bodies. Yep, you guessed it. Their heads.
This will only prove to the gymnast that their fears where in fact correct, the worst could possibly happen and they will get hurt.
It is important to remember that a child or teenager is not as skilled at identifying emotional challenges like adults are. They need guidance until they can find themselves at a resolution.
Here are some ways we can handle fear:
1. Identifying the source of the fear. For this you will need to communicate, unless you are in fact a mind-reader and in which case may i strongly suggest a career change! Is your gymnast afraid of the fall? The height? Have they previously attempted this skill and it didn't go to plan? Are they not strong enough yet? Are they worried about looking silly?
2. Game, set and match! You need to approach it in small portions. If they are afraid of being on a high bar, change the bar or raise the crash mats so it doesn't seem as high. If they are afraid of looking silly in front of their class mates, offer private lessons until they feel more confident.
3.Mental Strength & Focus. They are always numerous aspects to a skill, and you are expected to execute all of them... at the same time.. but don't over think it... and don't forget to set up the skill properly... oh and definitely don't forget to present at the end. That's a lot to take in right? Helping your gymnast focus on one thing at a time will allow them to truly be present, and focused. This also goes for life outside of the gym. They might have maths' homework, an art project due, a family dinner and an exam coming up they need to study for!
Help them to breathe, pick one to focus on for now, and feel confident in their capabilities.
4. Remind them how brave they are for even trying! Even basic gymnastics skills are not simple, and attempting them in the first place requires bravery & gumption.
There is a lot that go wrong due to fear, but also a lot that can go right!
Do not give up! It may take you longer than you expected but you can and you will get there if you keep fighting for it.
Who do you think should read this blog post? Tag them and let's start the conversation about "I can't".
Signing off for now,
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,
-Yes, you did read that correctly. It’s also entirely accurate.
However, we don’t sit your little gymnasts down in the gym with a large text book on The Laws of Physics and ask them to “turn to page 203”.
Instead we are using Physical Sciences and Bio-mechanics to help teach your gymnast every time they do a roll, tumble, cartwheel, somersault or bar skill. Or maybe I should say, they are teaching themselves to be Physicists.
This is likely something that has never crossed your mind before, so let’s break it all down so we can understand together how and why Gymnastics is teaching your gymnasts Physics.
Let’s introduce you to some very close friends of a Gymnast: Velocity, Rotation, Momentum and Mass. These aspects of Physics are the driving forces behind everything you see in Gymnastics.
Expecting a gymnast to remember all the technical terms or being able to explain them isn’t crucial. However, without their knowing, they are learning to understand how they are applied to their actions and motion any time they do literally anything.
Every time they walk, they are learning how to adjust their Center of Mass. Whenever they run and must suddenly stop, they are making tiny corrections from their heads down to their toes that will affect their Center of Mass and Velocity.
In Gymnastics it is the same techniques but applied on a much bigger scale. As we all are aware, there are many apparatus’s and skills involved in Gymnastics and they all require a particular formula to be applied to get the desired result.
For example, when a Gymnast leaves the mat they have applied an angular momentum from their push-off. Once they have left the mat, the momentum cannot be changed. However, the Gymnast may be required to change the speed of their rotation while moving through the air.
Ok sounds simple enough, right? But how can they alter the speed of their rotation without pushing off an object? Simple. They can achieve this by changing their Centre of Mass from the axis of rotation. The Angular Momentum can be increased or decreased by compressing or expanding the distance between the Mass and the Axis of Rotation.
What I am REALLY saying is, the tighter the gymnast tucks… the faster they will rotate.
It might all seem a bit much and daunting, but that's ok! Our bodies are wonderful machines that can learn, adapt and apply these physics almost instantaneously.
Here is an informative video by Stephanie McGregor who is a Bio-engineering Major as well as a College Gymnast.
It is a fun video to watch, that will help to explain things a little further while demonstrating some very impressive Gymnastics Skills:
What did you think of today’s blog? Did you learn anything new?