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 —

“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

new – pommel mushroom by EGE

Everytime I think there is no way to invent another pommel training device — a new one comes along.

Showed to many top coaches at USA Men’s Winter Cup, check out the EGE mushrooms:


Here’s a floor horse version with easily removable pommels:


We know that 70% or more of top male gymnasts suffer chronic wrist pain. It’s one of our biggest overuse injuries in the sport.

The EGE equipment is designed to:

1) create a surface upon which gymnasts of all ages and levels can train without causing severe wrist damage, 2) establish a standard piece of equipment that can support the skill development of the gymnast, and 3) add a colorful, lightweight and portable pommel horse station that can bridge the gap between traditional mushrooms and pommel horse.

No additional (expensive) matting is required.

There are 2 more variations.

Prices, more photos, video and equipment specifications are posted on

Gymnastics Avatars

An avatar (buddy icon) is an Internet user’s representation of himself or herself on-line. It can be a 3 dimensional cartoon figure. Or a badge like the one below. offers free (100 x 100 pixels) avatars of hundreds of international gymnasts … including Shaposhnikova.

Many use badge avatars to represent them in on-line forums.

video – day in the life of Nastia

nastia-liukin.jpgNastia Liukin is a media superstar.

Not just in the gymnastics community, but worldwide.

The most recent evidence of this is her video profile on the AT&T program called “Home Turf Online” which interviews top American athletes. The host is former baseball and football great Deion “Primetime” Sanders.

To watch the streamed video you need a fast computer and fast internet connection.

It’s entertaining. A glimpse into the WOGA gym and home life with Papa coach Valeri Liukin.

See How They Live – Nastia Liukin – video

surprise – Americans win American Cup

Some years just an excuse of a meet to highlight American gymnastics on TV, this competition had some great stories in 2007.

It was the Senior breakout of wondergirl winner Shawn Johnson who is a treat to watch. Not that #2 Natasha Kelley is not a wonder herself. And fantastic Shayla Worley could not even get to the finals as only two Americans could quality.

Potential Olympic champion for 2008 Fabian Hambüchen of Germany was the favourite in the men’s competition. But instead crowd pleaser Jonathan Horton took the all-around title, his second in two years.

photo – interview with Jonathan Horton – Inside Gymnastics

details on American Cup 2007 –