honouring “veterans” in sport

“Veteran” is the right word for athletes and coaches who spend many decades at sport. They’ve been through the wars.

One of my first coaches was honoured at a competition last weekend — the Ed Vincent Classic.

Physical Ed – 69 years young (still training 3 times / week)

More photos of the meet posted by Altadore – Flickr

We took photos with other “veterans” of Altadore Gymnastics, including Jim McLuskey who founded Altadore 40-years-ago (… joking as to why the Jim McLuskey Classic competition had not yet been scheduled.)

Jim had the last laugh. He now owns his own club — Mountain Shadows — and took away the women’s team trophy, besting the host club.

UPDATE – Altadore posted RESULTS from the meet

good coaching philosophy

Rob Brown is an Aussie coach and trampoline competitor.

He started in the sport as an adult, quickly developing a “careful, sensible, and safe approach“.

(There are some advantages in starting at an older age in acrobatic sports.)

Rob mentioned to me an important point that often takes years to realize:

My main motivation in coaching is teaching students to reach goals they never imagined possible. Often the less talented can be the most rewarding as they receive the biggest change for the positive in their personal perspective. Seeing them succeed and win is something special, and their smiles are priceless.

For the more elite, being able to give them challenges that they can’t easily solve is interesting. Watching as they learn to approach with respect, so they can find their own deeply hidden talents is rewarding.

Inside Gymnastics magazine – online

When Inside Gymnastics launched their original website, we were very excited.

It would not be difficult to publish a more interesting site than the badly outdated International Gymnast magazine – online.

Though Inside Gymnastics online started with a bang, it’s been disappointing lately. They initiated new features like iGtv (Inside Gymnastics Television), then did not post new episodes for months. (Finally a new episode has been announced.)

Good news, however, from Inside Gymnastics:

We recently launched an updated website, http://www.insidegymnastics.com, which now contains more promotions, more interactive features as well as expanded news updates, athlete interviews and event coverage. Our website is now updated daily with either news, blog entries or other promotional features! …


Should it be the stylish Shantessa Pama, the elegant Elsa Garcia or shining star Shayla Worley? Or talented trickster Jonathan Horton or rising talent Ivana Hong? Or one of the other international headliners perhaps? Your vote will decide who appears on the cover of our May/June issue! Plus, your vote will help determine which photo of Nastia Liukin will appear on our “50 Most Photogenic” (March/April) issue!

Inside Gymnastics e-Newsletter

It does look a big improvement. (Still no RSS feed.)

Check out the “new look” for yourself — InsideGymnastics.com


video – tumbling with bunjie belt

This is one of the FEW backward handspring drills not included in Rik Feeney’s book.

Coach Anke Moncur uses an overhead bungie belt to teach backward handspring. (This girl had never done handspring before.)

Click PLAY or watch the short video clip on YouTube.

Kingborough Gymnastics, Tasmania, Australia.

The bungie belt is similar to the hand spotted belt (which is in Feeney’s book) used by many coaches.

Both belt spotting systems are time consuming, of course.

do your kids finish what they start?

A gymnastics club is one of the last places remaining in our society where kids learn discipline and persistence.

Tom Burgdorf is concerned that kids “flit” too much and too easily between activities. They sign up for a gymnastics program … then want to drop out the first time something goes wrong at gym.


… Do we want them to flit “colleges?” Flit jobs? Flit marriages? There comes a time when you have to settle down and make something work. There comes a time when you have to “suck it up” and make the best of it.

We see some families start a session or a season and not finish it because the child, athlete, doesn’t want to finish. They have lost interest. It isn’t as much fun. Start it – finish it, is my motto for just about everything. Especially for kids. Start an 8 week session of gymnastics, finish it. Get promoted to team, you finish the season. You owe that to your teammates and the coaches.

What The Kids Learn When:

• They are allowed to quit 1/2 way through – commitment is only good when I like what I am doing.

• They are allowed to quit 1/2 way through – the money their parents paid for the session isn’t important.

• They are allowed to quit 1/2 way through – their teammates and coaches don’t mean much.

FREE – Tom’s excellent Parenting An Athlete Email Newsletter – subscribe

Sports Girls Play – new blog

We’ve just subscribed to a blog posted by a gymnastics coach and Mom.

Welcome to Sports Girls Play! The purpose of this resource site is to share my experiences as a coach, athlete and mother of three, raising healthy athletes.

There is so much more to sports than winning, although that is fun! From finding the right sport to keeping the balance between school, friends and sports, I have plenty to say.

Sports Girls Play | Tips and resources for raising a happy, healthy athlete


International Gymnastics Camp – Pennsylvania

IGC is the summer camp facility against which all others are measured. Recreational activities include wall climbing and trapeze.

Cost is US$760 / session (week) though that may be reduced with one of a number of available discounts.

The brochure (.PDF) is the most inspiring we’ve ever seen.

Gym I – uneven bars

Gym II – balance beam

Gym III – Olympic Gym (all equipment into pit)
* 20 Pommel Horse Stations
* 8 Parallel Bars Stations
* 8 Still Rings Stations
* 4 High Bars
* 2 Vaulting Stations
* Regulation Spring Floor
* Single Rail Pit Bar
* In-Ground Tumble Track
* In-Ground Rod Floor
* In-Ground Trampoline
* Universal & Free Weights

Gym IV – dance

Gym V – vault (and more)

More photos of the astounding facilities.

International Gymnastics offers weekly coaches’ programs for visting coaches. Directors Abie Grossfeld, 3-Time Olympian, 3-Time Olympic Coach and International Judge, and Phil Frank, USA Gymnastics Safety Certifier and club coach, work with coaches in individually tailored sessions.

Coaches Program

International Gymnastics Camp – website

lost and found

Every gymnastics club has a “lost and found” dilemma.

What to do with all the clothing and other items left behind by the kids?

I try to sift through the pile and keep anything particularly good or expensive. The rest goes to charity.

We need to empty our “lost property” box after every recreation session.

If you have any other strategies, leave a COMMENT below.


book – Back Handsprings – Rik Feeney

We frequently link to Rik’s books and articles. He is one of the most prolific writers in our sport.

And we just got our hands on Rik’s new book Back Handsprings – The Secret Techniques (2007).

It is a gold mine of drills. Very comprehensive. Safety is foremost.

We like the “Basic Safety Guidelines for Tumblers”.

The illustrations are lifelike (how did you do those Rik?) and easy to follow.

Back Handsprings: The Secret Techniques

Back Handsprings: The Secret Techniques

Even the elite gymnastics coach will find “secret” drills (never before seen) but the book above is actually very appropriate for Cheer coaches too — though Rik offers another volume specific to Cheerleading.

Of course the fear of all coaches is that insufficiently fit kids will “chuck” backward handsprings without doing the prerequisite conditioning and technical drills.

These books should help “educate” the general public as to how much work is needed before doing your first “backspring”.

CHEERLEADING: Conditioning for Back Handspring & Tumbling Success!

CHEERLEADING: Conditioning for Back Handspring & Tumbling Success! – Rik Feeney

For many, many more books and articles (some of them free), check Rik Feeney’s website — GymnasticsTrainingTips.com

“twisting” category

Brandon-WC-2006.jpgWe’ve added a new Category in the right-hand navigation column: “Twisting

So far 13 posts are available talking about “twist”.

Most gyms still have athletes who tell me, “I have problems twisting.”

Usually those problems start at a young age and stage of development. Usually those kids have developed some bad habits.

The most successful clubs have the Head Coach responsible for a club-wide twisting program.

photo – Brandon O’Neill