video – spotting “giant” swing

I did my first giants at a summer camp over sawdust, not mats. (Yep, we had it tough in the old days.)

At summer camp in Idaho we put as many gymnasts as possible through giants. An important goal of the week was to do new skills.

Check the video clip below to see how carefully coaches John Smith & Peter Soul spotted the kids on their first giants.

Click PLAY on the video below or watch the clip on

FUNtastics Gymnastics, Idaho

Canadians train in Beijing

The Canadian National Men’s Gymnastics Team trained at the Chinese National Training Centre June 30-July 12, 2006. Olympic Floor Champion Kyle Shewfelt sent some photos (posted on Flickr).


The Chinese are psyched for the 2008 Olympics. And the Canadians much enjoyed training with the host team. In fact, a number reported this to be their best ever international training camp.

To top it off, Brandon O’Neill took home 2 silver medals from a World Cup event in Shanghai.

USA Diving Championships 2006


I’ve always admired the precision and excellent body position of divers. Divers are far more artistic than Artistic Gymnasts.

I’ll be representing Cirque du Soleil at the 2006 Kaiser Permanente National Diving Championships in Indianapolis, August 2-5. Cirque has many divers in their spectacular water show in Vegas, “O”. Coach Tom Otjes sent me the dive list of an ideal Cirque artist.


video – wrist strengthening device

I’ve known a lot of gymnasts who left the sport due to wrist injury. The vast majority of high level male gymnasts endure some degree of chronic wrist pain.

As a coach I am hyper-cautious about wrist pain. (I do not like static handstands on floor of long duration, for example. Parallettes are much safer.)

Many coaches include wrist strengthening exercises as part of an injury prevention conditioning program.

Click PLAY on the video below or watch the clip on

Funtastics Gymnastics in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Canadian Gymnastics Club Survey

Daniel Macdonald PhD, one of the builders of Canadian Gymnastics, published a statistical report comparing 83 clubs with annual operating budgets from $10,000 to $1 million dollars.

The majority are not-for-profit organizations, run by volunteer Boards of Directors.

Dan’s report includes an overview chart of membership fee rates. As well, a chart detailing potential club subsidies.

Surprisingly, clubs use a wide variety of voting structures; many allowing Head Coaches and / or Chief Administrators to vote at general meetings.


The most interesting statistics for me were the comparative cost of payroll as a percentage of total expenditures. Though only 12 or 13 clubs were compared, the rate varied from 21% – 88%. (In the old, old days I budgeted 33% of total budget for salaries and wages. In 2006 that number, I suspect, is minimum 50% for larger clubs.)

How clubs communicate with members


Some clubs offer programmes other than the ususal gymnastic disciplines including adult fitness, cross training, conditioning and dry land training, circus Arts, Gymnaestrada, Gym & Jive, cheerleading and Tae Kwon Do.

I found it interesting to compare our club against these norms. But if you are looking for brilliant, innovative new ideas — look to the USA. I feel that change is slow coming in Canada as progress is naturally stifled by the not-for-profit system.

Daniel Macdonald’s NATIONAL GYMNASTICS CLUB SURVEY, SECTION II, ANALYSIS OF CLUB OPERATIONS report PDF is posted on the Gymnastics Alberta website. Thanks for putting it together, Dan!

gymnastics – “form foam”

I cannot coach without small sponges.

The sponge is the best coach.

Normally I ask nicely that gymnasts keep their feet together. If they cannot, I hand them a sponge to hold either between the feet or knees. If the next attempt is successful, they no longer are required to use the sponge.

Christchurch School of Gymnastics

I have coached kids who have never been asked to use a form foam. And kids who need the sponge almost every attempt.

more photos from Woodward West Gymnastics Camp