Conditioning

I am a strong believer that as coaches, we should spend a lot of time  in class on conditioning and basics. With my current group of gymnasts, I have spent a huge amount of time on handstands and the all important core conditioning rather than trying to learn new moves. The latest competition has just proved how far my gymnasts have come.When I began to coach them they were beginners, they had each spent 9 months or so in the Recreation class until they were invited to join the Competitive class.  They then spent a few months with another coach until we had a shift in training groups.

Over the last while, I’ve watched the mistakes that other coaches have made, pushing the gymnasts to achieve moves when they are not physically prepared enough to do so. While the gymnasts are achieving the move, they’re performing it in sloppy and untidy way, such as an upstart with bent arms and doing that “wiggle” to get themselves up on the bar. Other coaches are allowing it and accepting that doing this is enough. I’ve seen them  move on and not correct the very obvious errors. It’s a matter of “you’ve got the move – great” or “great, you managed to get over the vault” and not concentrating enough on getting the technique correct everytime, when you, as the coach are well aware that the gymnast can perform the move better. I’ve seen these coaches just settling for satisfactory and not perfect (or at least one small error away from perfect). I don’t see myself as tough coach, I am fair and am well aware of what my gymnasts capabilities are individually so I would never push them and allow them to do something they are not capable of doing correctly and risk damaging them emotionally and physically.

My main concern that the gymnasts will cause serious harm to themselves. There is so much at risk if we are careless and let a gymnast “throw” herself through a move just to achieve it so that she can compete at a particular level for example.  She can become seriously injured. For these reasons and more for I have reviewed my own coaching style and have become a lot more particular on how moves are performed. In recent months, as a result of a lot more conditioning (often specific to each gymnast) the girls are finding it easier to perform new moves and achieving them quicker because they are physically conditioned. They are  able to put themselves into the correct shapes as opposed to flinging themselves into a “straight back” which looks like a long and awkward arched whip flip with bent legs.

As I said, we have spent lots of time on handstands and conditioning but also we’ve spent a lot of time explaning to the girls why they’re doing this conditioning and explaining the benefits to them. I’ve also spoken to their parents about this too and we’re all on the same page – the girls love gym and want to do well, I think they’re brilliant,want them to do well and want to do everything I can to help them and their parents want to support and encourage the girls in anyway they can so they do all they can to ensure the girls are putting some extra work in at home too.

The most recent competition the girls entered was based on set moves. The moves involved are really to show who is the strongest and most flexible (bridge, splits etc). The girls really excelled when compared to their club mates who would have competed at the same level a year or 2 ago. Yes, each gymnast is unique but the girls performances were definitely stronger than those of gymnasts from our club in previous years.  Physically, the girls look strong and it showed in their performances and results.

I’m really proud of the girls for the work they’ve put in. They really did excellent in their competition and since then they’ve not rested, it has only spurred them on to achieve bigger and better moves. I’m also very impressed with their attitude towards conditioning, for them it’s not a task.  Sure, it’s not their favourite thing about coming to gym class (nor mine to teach!) but they don’t moan and groan about having to do their planks or handstands because they know that it’s all part of progressing in the sport.

2 Comments

  1. CONGRATS. Good work, coach.

  2. Admin says:

    Thanks so much Rick – it’s always great to see the results of the hard work that both gymnast and coach have put in. Especially great to see the girls so delighted when they achieve new moves 🙂

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