new invention – “Flipping Wings”

Former Canadian Olympic gymnast Phillipe Chartrand has a great new invention to show you.

He calls it “Flipping Wings“. A training device to practice multiple somersaulting.

Click PLAY or watch Flipping Wings demonstrated on YouTube.

After retiring, Phillipe went on to perform in Cirque du Soleil as an aerialist. And his two sons, both gymnasts, currently perform in Cirque’s newest show Love.

Flipping Wings is not yet available for sale through retail distributors. If interested in putting one in your gym, contact Phillipe directly through the official website:

I’ve linked to FlippingWings from the right hand navigation of this blog under Circus for future reference. It is going to be popular.

Phillipe’s device is similar to the bunjie twist belt set-up built by Ed Vincent at Altadore.

On a personal note, one of the most electrifying moments in sport for me personally was judging the 1983 WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES at Edmonton, Canada when Phillipe won the gold medal on Horizontal Bar. The crowd went nuts. And Spieth awarded Phillipe the bar!

video – suspended “twisting belt”

Coach Ed Vincent at Altadore Gymnastics built (and tweaked) his own twist belt based on those he saw in old Russian training videotapes.

Suspended on bunjie, it works surprisingly well.

Click PLAY or watch Ed demonstrate how it works on YouTube.

(via Altadore Weightlifting and Fitness Club)

more videos

2007 Canadian Championships

Despite their low population, Saskatchewan is the best host for Nationals in Canada, in my experience. And I have great confidence they will do a wonderful job this time. The venue is the huge new Credit Union EventPlex in Regina. Dates are May 21-26th.

Again Championships for Artistic, Rhythmic, Trampoline and Tumbling will be combined.

Regina will welcome over 1100 gymnasts, coaches and officials to the 2007 Canadian Gymnastics Championships where four disciplines will hold their championships together for the first time in history. We are looking forward to hosting Canada for this celebration of gymnastics!

… Participants will be fed and housed at the University of Regina.

Over 800 volunteers will be needed to make this event a success.

2007 Canadian Gymnastics Championships – General Info


great website – Gymnastics Unlimited

banquet061.jpgThis is Heather from Memphis, TN, the young editor of the astonishing Gymnastics Unlimited website.

At first glance Gymnastics Unlimited looks like many other “fan” sites. (Heather is ShanFan and also edits Shannon Shines, the web’s biggest Shannon Miller photo gallery.)

When you dig a little deeper into Gymnastics Unlimited you find a sprawling wealth of coaching resources and information. I will be linking to it frequently in future.

At first I could not believe Heather could have put together so much content herself. But it turned out she has been posting to the internet since age 14 — long before me.

Where to start?

03pcub1.gifThe most unique and valuable resource for coaches, I think, is her huge skills video clip archive. These are available from many places on the site — start with her Gym Glossary page. Then browse the Cool Skills page. Or her Perfection page.

Heather has edited many terrific videos. Start from her video Montages page.

This just scatches the surface. It would take days to browse the sounds, music, coaches, birthdays, tributes, trivia, biographies and everything else Heather has assembled.


Heather competed at a high level into her 20s. Right now she is the head coach of a level 4 and level 5 competitive team, and also coaches classes of level 1s, 2s, and 3s.

I really hope she keeps up her work on the internet. And starts a blog. She has a unique knowledge set after studying so much video.

Check out Gymnastics Unlimited for yourself.


NCAA – Georgia Gym Dogs the team to beat

The performance of that team in last year’s finals victory was unbelievable. Coach Suzanne Yoculan is earning her salary.

Looks like this year the Dogs are even better.


Georgia snagged two of the three eligible Olympians from the 2004 U.S. women’s team that captured the silver medal.

Sophomore Courtney Kupets, who won a bronze on uneven bars, and freshman Courtney McCool will compete for the No. 1 Gym Dogs in the season opener today against Stanford.

ATHENS, Ga. – The top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Gym Dogs opened their 2007 slate in impressive fashion, cruising past No. 8 Stanford, 197.375-194.600, Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum in front of a crowd of 9,002.

The score of 197.375 topped last year’s opening mark of 195.700 and is the highest total of any Gym Dog team in history in a season-opening meet.

The other Olympian, Terin Humphrey, who won the silver on uneven bars, is a junior at Alabama.

Gymbrooke Sports News

Gym Dogs Open 2007 with Win – photo

Men’s Gymnastics Study Guide 2006-2008

NOTE: Judge Doug Hills has updated his excellent CD-ROM for the men’s code.

Updates, available on Doug’s web site, are made three or four times a year. These are free including rule changes, new videos, new features and corrections.

It covers all skills in the new code of points; 500 video illustrations, 1200 skill displays and over 750 questions & answers. The CD is a great resource for coaches, judges, athletes and fans. It includes two kinds of shorthand symbols: FIG and a better one created by Mike Cook.

The video player has slow motion and will play full screen.

There is a second player to show side-by-side video comparisons. You can play your own video and compare against his library of videos. Now that’s cool!

More details on Doug’s Sports Training Systems website.

Doug is working on German, Chinese and Japanese versions. And looking for a good French translator who knows gymnastics. You can email him directly at douglashills @

Cost — US$95.00 from Amazon.

The women’s version should be ready soon.


“National Survey of Judges Fees” – USA 2005

Men’s Gymnastics Judge Tom Varner collected a good deal of data on 2004-05 season rates, publishing his report May 2005.

He compared remuneration of 20 Men’s National Gymnastics Judges Association (NGJA) members.

  • not a single association reported using the USAG Rules and Policies fee schedule
  • 1/3 of the associations paid / routine. (between $1 and $1.35 each)
  • 2/3 of the associations paid based on the time duration of the session (90 – 150min scheduled / session)
  • 22-37 routines / hour is typical
  • mileage payment varied a great deal
  • Download the entire report: Judging fee analysis – Tom Varner 2005.pdf


    National Gymnastics Judges Association USA (Men)

    We would be happy to post more data on judging remuneration on this blog. Leave a comment below.

    Men’s judging reimbursement in Oregon

    The new Artistic code of points was put in place largely as a reaction to the judging fiasco of the Men’s competition at the 2004 Olympics.

    The previous rules were blamed for that debacle — though personally I point at incompetence and corruption from the FIG Men’s Technical committee on down.

    What we really need is not endless revision of the technical regulations. We need better judges.

    But how to improve judging?

    A start would be to remunerate judges “fairly”.

    In Canada in 2006 almost every coach at our competitions is paid. Yet many of our judges take days away from work in order to participate. It costs many of our judges cash every time they agree to “volunteer” to judge a competition. This is a problem in Canada. I’ve spoken with the Executive Directors of Gymnastics Canada and Gymnastics Alberta.

    Compare what the judges in your region are paid against what they would get if they relocate to Oregon:


    NATIONAL CERTIFIED – US$75 / session

    FIG CERTIFIED – US$90 / session

    Oregon Gymnastics Judges Association 2007
    Judge Reimbursement Schedule

    Per Diem: Breakfast $10, Lunch $15, Dinner $20 for judges from out-of-town.

    Doug Hills from Oregon explained that this gives just a simple overview of approximate rates. The details are more complicated.

    In fact, $10 from each session goes back to the Judges Association which uses those funds for administration and judge development. Over the course of a season most judges collect about $1000. A few as much as $2000. There has never been a cheque for more than $2500.


    Leave a comment below if you wish to compare what judges at your competitions are paid.

    teach athletes to “make good decisions”

    Most of the top coaches I know do not allow athletes enough input into their own training. Elite coaches are “controlling” by nature.

    This is short-term gain for long-term pain in many cases.

    decisions.gifThe best case scenario is an athlete who feels ownership of their own career — with the coach as their most important adviser. Certainly by age 16 the athlete should be making most of the decisions.

    You know coaches like this. Fantastic with up-and-coming gymnasts. But who cannot work with successfully with young adults.

    Coaches must realize that children need to learn how to make good decisions as they learn how to do a Tsukahara. It takes many years of progressions. Many small steps.

    Problem is … it’s easier to teach a Tsuk than how to make “good decisions”.

    I subscribe to Tom Burgdorf’s Parenting An Athlete Newsletter. Good advice, delivered by email.

    Decision Making

    Do we want our children, athletes, to learn to make good decisions? Then we need to allow them to practice in a controlled situation. I believe that the more decision making situations they are put in the better. Small decisions but definitely decisions. They will eventually be 12 years old with more decisions out of our control than we would like. Better to train them now.

    They will be asked:

    Want to pass a note in class?
    Want to take a puff on a cigarette?
    Want to take a sip of beer?
    Want to skip class?
    Want to waste time in practice?
    Want to sneak out of the hotel room after everyone is asleep?

    We won’t always be there. Scary thought? Life. We prepare them to make their own decisions which we hope will be reasonable decisions that they can live with. Can we keep them under our wing, under our control, forever? Not likely. Prepare them now so we can sleep later.

    Whoops, Wrong Decision

    Just because we put them in a situation where they can make a decision doesn’t mean we have to abide by their decision. We let them make a choice but we don’t let them have the final word. We guide them. And no, it isn’t hurtful for them to be told that they didn’t make the right decision. That is part of our job. Let them make the decision in minor situations and let them “practice” making a decision in a bigger situation.

    We are still the adults. We are still the people who know what is best for these “children.” Practicing decision making is a lot better than allowing them the ultimate control over the decision. So let them practice and learn from their correct choices and their not so correct choices.

    Tom Burgdorf

    You can sign up to get Tom’s Parenting Newsletter by email from the Gymnastics Business Newsletter page. It’s free.