unfair competitions

clip_image002_000.gif Unfair competitions are entrenched.

For example, the Olympics. I am always irked looking at the table of medals published in every newspaper.

A far more just comparison is medal tally by population. For Athens 2004 the winners were:


Even more impressive, perhaps, are the winners of the medal tally by gross domestic product (GDP):


Recently I was working with athletes training for a competition called Canada Winter Games. The tiny Province of PEI (pop. 140,000) must field a team to compete against Ontario (pop. 12,800,000). Ontario has 90 times more people to draw from.

Is that fair? Is it smart athlete development? Is money being spent wisely?

Obviously not.

The only argument for a competition this unfair is that it somehow encourages the regions of the country with less population to develop their gymnastics program. I don’t buy that argument.

Needless to say the competitive rules for this competition are entirely wrong for PEI. Those kids are forced to compete above their ability level.

(I should mention that in Canada we also have fair competitions where all eligible competitors have an equal chance. The first I would name is called Elite Canada, the National Team Selection meet.)

What about your region? Do you attend unfair competitions?

(Leave a comment below.)

video – David Elsewhere – dance

You’ve probably seen David “Elsewhere” Bernal — perhaps in a Volkswagon commercial where he dances Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly’s face.

David’s 2001 performance at the Korean-American talent show Kollaboration was one of the first big viral videos to sweep the internet.

The video features dance styles called popping and liquiding. Many assume that this clip has been digitally enhanced. No way. This is for real.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

books – Roland Carrasco

I was reminded of the wonderful Roland Carrasco books published long ago in French by Vigot Editions, Paris. (Their website no longer lists Carrasco’s titles.)

I have Gymnastique aux agrès, still listed but not available from Amazon France. It is great and still useful if you cannot read French. The best bits are excellent diagrams.


I have not seen a second Carrasco book listed: Gymnastique des 3 à 7 ans : Une approche nouvelle pour des apprentissages illimités.

Do you know where to get your hands on used copies of these two and his other publications? If so, leave a comment below.

I could write a “handstand” book

handstand.jpgBut Karen Goeller has already done so.

Coach Mel Gabor ordered several of Goeller’s books (more self-published booklets) and has been pleased with them.

I was impressed too. The gymnastics content is good though the very simplistic drawings are less descriptive than I would like. An on-line edition with video clips of the drills would be perfect for me.

Goeller has a wealth of articles and other booklets on the GymStuff site. For example:

  • Back Handspring and Walkover Drills
  • Gymnastics Drills & Conditioning Exercises
  • Gymnastics Journal: Scores, Goals, Dreams
  • GymStuff.com is cluttered and slow loading. The graphics are distracting. But if you dig in, you will find some great content.

    why so few good gymnastics books?

    On this site I’ve linked only 4 posts referencing books and manuals. But 60 references to video clips and DVD.

    Gymnastics coaching is so complex it is difficult to explain on paper. A few great books and manuals have been written. But most of those sit on the shelf getting dusty.

    It’s easier and faster to access digital content like a video clip on YouTube, a web page, or this blog, for example.

    The once excellent Gymnastics Canada competitive coaching manuals (one published 22-years-ago) still have some good content. But at a recent coaching course nearly every coach attending found them outdated, questioning why they were mandatory.

    Jeff Thomson in New Zealand found a solution to the dilemma of outdated curriculum texts. He put together binders of up-to-date articles and book excerpts. This is legal, cost effective and the resource was far more useful to coaches than any text.

    questionmarksmall.gifAre there any excellent, up-to-date coaching manuals available in 2006?

    I help promote the Up Down All Around gymnastics lesson plans. No coach or teacher wants to take a laptop into the recreational program — hard copy lesson plans are best.

    Other lesson plans are good value too. Gymnastics Canada’s CanGym program I recommend to all recreation coaches and leaders. It is currently under revision, by the way.

    Please leave a REPLY below if you have any other books and manuals to recommend. We will post them on the blog.

    best internet search engine?

    I track search terms like “gymnastics coaching” in order to post the best links on this blog.

    For years Google has been the best search engine. The biggest competitors (Yahoo and Microsoft) produce far inferior results and a lot more advertising links.

    Imagine my surprise when GymnasticsCoaching.com came up #1 on Microsoft today:


    On Google we are only #10.

    The higher the ranking, the more coaches will find this site.

    Words I never expected to utter in the same breath: “Congratulations Microsoft.”

    video – Nemov – Olympics

    Lets look again at the controversial finals Horizontal Bar routine of Alexi Nemov from Athens 2004.

    Click PLAY or watch the video on YouTube.

    I spoke to one of the judges who felt strongly this routine could not have finished higher than 5th no matter how many times you watch the replay. There are definite deductions.

    Nemov is a crowd favourite with fantastic style, amplitude and artistry. Everyone wanted him to finish with a medal — but he made errors.

    This type of routine with multiple connected release parts is what should be winning the 2006 World Championships. I look forward to seeing what happens with the new code.

    Nemov is a class guy who handled Athens with aplomb. Certainly one of my favourite gymnasts of all time.

    UPDATE – some good comments on the Yin blog

    Shewfelt to the Toronto Film Festival

    Olympic Floor Champion Kyle Shewfelt is training for his third Olympics.

    But it’s not easy when you are a National hero. As a popular motivational speaker, Kyle has no end of engagements and celebrity appearances around which to juggle training.

    This time he’s off to the world’s most important Film Festival, a star in the critically acclaimed White Palms — a Hungarian film where Kyle plays a talented but problematic Olympic hopeful. (A scenario entirely fictional he’ll be quick to tell you.)

    Around promotional appearances for the film, Kyle will be training with former coach Kelly Manjak.

    cover boy Kyle Shewfelt – most influential Calgarians under 40

    understanding and teaching skills

    Rick McCharles

    Gymnastics Canada recommends coaches use the “Understand – Teach” model.

    This is a simplified representation of the process that every coach uses when teaching gymnastics skills.

    The fill-in-the-blank form below is the one I use in Canadian coach education workshops to:

  • describe an ideal model of a skill
  • identify important biomechanical “movement patterns”
  • list prerequiste physical qualities necessary
  • list important progressions
  • list common errors seen in the skill, usual causes and possible corrections.
  • It’s a useful tool for coaches.

    larger version (.pdf format)

    If this form is of interest to you, you can get a detailed 8-page description of how it works. Below is sample content.

    entire document (.pdf format)