Level 4 Charlottetown 2011

by site editor Rick McCharles (RickMcCharles@gmail.com)

These are notes, videos and links for coaches who attended the Level 4 National Coaching Certification course hosted by Island Gymnastics Academy in PEI. Attendance by invitation only.

It was held in conjunction with the 2011 National Championships.

Rick McCharles – Internet for ADVANCED Coaches

Rick updated and expanded his presentation from 2010. Most important topic – acquiring coaching videos.

Click PLAY or watch a video of his short presentation on YouTube. It includes the excellent new Jason Burnett Demo Reel 2011.


BEST sources of coaching videos for Artistic Gymnastics coaches:

• American Gymnast Gymnastics on Demand videos (now FREE)
GymSmarts videos ($30/DVD)
Gymnastics Minute YouTube channel (FREE)
Geddert DVDs ($30/DVD)

Canadian videos:

• Oakville – Sabrina Gill’s YouTube channel
• CGC TV – Brett MacAuley’s TrampolineCoach YouTube channel
I’ll Go Again (1976 Olympics documentary featuring Phillippe Delasalle.


• We can teach the science of coaching, but not the art. Dave Ross has some sort of “magic” happening. He’s had medalists in all 3 Olympics that have included the discipline.


• Opened the first full-time trampoline facility in 1990, 10 years before the first Trampoline Olympics. He had an 8 year head start on most nations. It was a gamble. He paid the landlord $100 / day over those 10 years, whether any kids were paying fees, or not.

• Dave asked the coaches:

What can you bring to the table in terms of bringing athletes to the highest levels of the sport.

• As a young coach, Dave looked for talent. Now he looks for kids who have similar goals to his own.

Athletes are limited: physically, technically, psychologically. Coaching is finding ways around those limits. Karen Cockburn has limitations. Yet she won 3 Olympic medals.

One of Dave’s secrets is keeping his athletes for a long time. Finding ways they can continue in the sport.

• He cautioned not to use too many extrinsic rewards, citing a study where monkeys could be trained NOT to play a game, … unless they were rewarded with a banana.

“It’s important that people know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.”

~ Mary H. Waldrip

• In general, more training makes for better results.

• In general, the smarter you train, the better your results.

• For young gymnasts, fear is normally a barrier.

• … to develop a “star” athlete requires they become “self-confident”.

• On risk management … Dave said that the risk of a skill or sequence is, on average, dependent on the last stable progression. Train more difficulty than you compete. Kelly Manjak agreed.

Kelly Manjak – Physical Preparation

Kelly detailed his expectations for elite gymnastics, a minimum of 10 presses in series, for example.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

He’ll spend up to 50% of training time on physical prep, some phases of the year. More of that is done in morning training, than afternoon work-out. Galperin wanted even more – 60%.

Kelly Manjak – Tumbling

Kelly spent most of the day discussing his system of tumbling. Basics are most important: handstand, round-off, handspring / flyspring series, backward handspring series, whip series, whip forward layout series.

He spends more time on wrist conditioning than any other coach I know, discouraging his girls from getting dependent tape or wrist braces.

Kelly also spends a LOT of time on handstand with young gymnasts. He’s very patient on that basic, feeling it will save him a lot of time later.

The BIG skills are learned on trampoline devices.

He finished the day with our demonstrators doing some BIG and NEW tumbling skills into the pit.

Click PLAY or watch Scott on YouTube.

Scott was second at Nationals with that routine.


Nick brought us this video … Tsuk double layout, Tsuk full-out on YouTube.

We had a long discussion on extreme hurdles, comparing (Nick’s) Dragalescu on Vault …


… with world class Double-mini competitors:

Triffus mounts - 4 critical frames compared by Angelo Despotas

Look at the nearly L-sit position in the bottom sequence. … Now that’s a “BLOCK”.

Most of the day, however, we talked about Basics: sprint, hurdle, preflight arm action, “support” phase, etc.

Keith frequently brought the discussion back to Biomechanics, especially “Ground Reaction Forces” and indirect GRFs.

NOW I get it, Keith !!

There was much discussion on the “flyspring technique” for Handspring vaults. (Hollow on, Arch off) Keith and Kelly like the technique, as does Edouard Iarov. (But I feel the majority of coaches will stick with the traditional ‘heel drive’ approach.)

Kelly likes Tsukahara with double twist vault for girls, especially Kas + 1/1 technique. There are too many Yurchenkos right now.

Click PLAY or watch Vault and more on YouTube.


Release moves …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Again, for the 3rd day in a row, Kelly emphasized that coaches need not teach ‘TRICKS’, but should instead be setting up a ‘system’ for their gym: School, Gym, Food, Sleep, Medical.

In the gym, set up a PLAN of prerequisites for each step of advancement towards the goal. Work systematically and patiently on those few key (profile) skills and drills.

With little girls, he often asks for 30 repetitions. With profile skills like free hips, flysprings, etc. … he asks for 10 repetitions. (Some coaches found these numbers high. Reduce the reps if your goals are not High Performance, or if you have not as many training hours.)

One excellent example is Cast to Handstand on Bars. Kelly will not spot any gymnast on that skill until they are physically ‘ready’ to do it. That takes a long time.

He spots as little as possible, especially in competition. At Nationals he hand spotted only 1 girl once, over many, many session. (He does slide in a mat for release on Bars, however.)


These sketchy notes posted by Rick McCharles, editor of GymnasticsCoaching.com.


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