gymnastics – I made my kip

kip.jpgThis past weekend at a coaching clinic I was surprised to hear that one of demonstrators could not do kip on bars. Well … she had done it a few times in the past.

Yet she could do 7 good chin-ups and hold V-hang on a bar for 15 seconds. That’s more strength than is needed for kip.

Happily she made several good kips in series at the clinic. One of the best days in the career of any gymnast.

Back in the day we had a box of kip t-shirts at the gym. Whenever one of the kids learned kip they got one as a prize.

“gymnastics” Design on Products : – t-shirts


Animation from Drills and Skills.

Jake Brown CRASH – X Games Big Air Skateboard

Follow-up …

Did you see the horrific fall at X Games 13 this past summer?

I deliberately did not link to that video. (Or any crash videos, for that matter. There’s far too much of that on YouTube already.)

Jake Brown actually walked away from a 50ft fall on to a material called “Skatelite”.

I only mention it on this site because I wondered how Jake was doing today.

Final diagnosis: minor concussion, broken wrist, bruised lungs.

Very, very lucky.

coaching clinic – Dynamyx Gym Club, Canada

Rick McCharles

This post is for the 14 coaches who spent a weekend with me at Dynamyx in St. Albert at a Level 2 Technical Women’s Artistic coaching course. Here are links to some of the many things we covered:


  • Fun, Fitness, Fundamentals – but FUN is most important
  • have more FUN at Gymnastics – powerpoint video
  • Fun competition – Mountain Shadows video
  • We want to keep girls participating in our sport through high school
  • Gymnastics is the best, easiest way to improve fitness
  • Gymnastics is not complex
  • Safety

  • We spend as much time, money and energy keeping kids SAFE as any sport
  • Avoid dumb “traumatic” injuries
  • Be alert to potential “overuse” injuries
  • Australia 2007 – avoiding overuse injuries (video)
  • Progressions

  • There are many ways to learn any skill
  • We want to use the safest, most enjoyable drills
  • Use mats and trampoline devices to train “high reps, less stress”
  • For example, TumblTrak tumbling “Air Floor”
  • Understand -> Teach model

  • A recommended approach to teaching every skill
  • Ideal models
  • Simplified biomechanics (DMPs)
  • Look at needed body actions when assigning specific conditioning
  • G.S. George: Amplitude, Segmentation, Closure, Peaking
  • Physical preparation

  • Most important are Strength and Flexibility improvement
  • Use the most effective safe conditioning drills
  • Overload
  • Progressive Resistance
  • Specificity
  • Recovery
  • Isometrically train important body “shapes” (i.e. handstand variations)
  • Most coaches spend too little time on “planche
  • Important is “half press”
  • Keep strength training as FUN as possible
  • Cross training is great for the psychology of your program
  • Strength training

  • Lower body, Core body, Upper body
  • Individual and Partner conditioning
  • Personalize the program as much as possible
  • Change about half the drills each month
  • Progressively increase resistance
  • Schedule “Hard” days and “Medium” days
  • Best are exercises to the point where the muscles are “shaking” (near failure)
  • Monitor progress closely
  • Physical Ability testing programs (e.g. LEAP) are excellent, but don’t discourage children with too much emphasis on the results
  • Plyometric training is excellent
  • Flexibility training

  • The two Olympians from Alberta were very inflexible
  • Flexibility is trainable, but not as easily as strength
  • Passive and Active exercises
  • PNF works — but the improvement is short lived
  • Dynamic stretching is excellent, but be safe
  • Serious stretching for flexibility improvement is done at the end of the workout
  • Monitor progress closely (photos are good)
  • Tumbling

  • Good handstand is prerequiste
  • Physical preparation
  • Basics: Handsprings (fwd & bwd), Round-off, Somersaults (fwd & bwd)
  • Focus on excellent handsprings and round-off, advanced skills will come easily
  • Teach forward skills before backward skills
  • Teach flyspring before handspring
  • Headspring and Dive roll are good, often neglected drills
  • By far the most important phase of backward handspring is the “trust fall” before bending the knees
  • Evaluate backward handspring by looking at the position of the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders on takeoff
  • Teach backward handspring on a downhill slope
  • Use a sponge between the feet
  • Train on trampoline or “springy” mats
  • Bars

  • Use many drills not requiring spotting
  • Use many drills “easy” on the hands (minimize rips)
  • Use many drills on the floor bar
  • An excellent set-up is a mini-tramp under a low bar
  • Beware the most dangerous skill in gymnastics – Squat on jump to high bar
  • Teach “regrasp” on a bar
  • Teach kids how to “fall” safely from a bar through games & contests
  • Two kids of bar skills: 1) swings, 2) releasing the bar from swing
  • Be very cautious teaching backward flyaway. Minimize the chance of hitting feet on the bars
  • More information on flyaways
  • Safety straps are faster, safer and easier for introducing new skills
  • More information on safety straps
  • Kip is more difficult than giant, be very patient
  • Free hip is easy to introduce out of double back hip circle
  • Sole circle skills are easier than free hip, and have good potential for the future
  • Straddle up handstand is far easier than straight body
  • That is just a starting point coaches. Click on the CATEGORY topics in the right hand navigation for more information on Tumbling, or Bars, or Physical Preparation, or Biomechanics ….

    OK, you may not want to click on Biomechanics.

    : )

    Email me via the EMAIL US link the top of any page if you have questions.

    TV – Nadia on Celebrity Apprentice


    When I read on Gymblog that the most famous gymnast of all time, Nadia Comaneci, was going to be facing off against Donald Trump … I couldn’t believe it.

    True. The show debuts Jan. 3, 2008.

    Cast members for this rejiggered “Apprentice” — which in the past relied on scrappy, ambitious star-wannabes — were selected from a field of some 125 celebrity applicants, Trump told reporters.

    “They were all begging to be on the show,” he said. “The hardest thing was breaking it down to these 14.”

    One deciding factor: Each of the chosen has had experience in business, Trump said. “These people have all done something very dramatic with money.”

    A few recognizable names among NBC’s ’Celebrity Apprentice’ cast –

    Others include actor Stephen Baldwin, Gene Simmons of Kiss, actor Marilu Henner from TV’s “Taxi”.

    The 14 celebrities won’t be vying for a job with Donald Trump, as in the previous six “Apprentice” seasons, but instead will compete in business-oriented tasks around New York City to raise money for their favorite charities. The official “Celebrity Apprentice” will win a $250,000 bonus to donate.

    Nadia handled Bela Karoli. She can deal with Donald Trump.

    Daddy Bart Conner may be getting more time with their son Dylan while Mom is taping the show.


    Photo – – fan website

    coach Rhonda Faehn to be a Mom

    I finally met NCAA coach Rhonda Faehn this past summer. And gushed over how much I appreciated the quality and difficulty of the routines her young ladies competed. Florida was my favourite team last year.

    But the big news is that she is having a baby. Mid-season.

    That will be interesting …

    … Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn addressed the media Monday morning as part of the Gators’ All Sport Media Day.

    Coach Faehn discussed the Gator’s talented signing class of three that will join the team for the 2009 season. This class includes Kailey Tissue, a senior international elite gymnast, Elizabeth Mahlich, the 2006 Junior Olympics Level 10 national balance beam champion and Nicole Ellis, vault runner-up at 2007 JO Level 10 national championships.

    She also talked about and fielded questions on the addition to family that is expected in a couple months

    Gator Gymnastics News @


    Recall that Rhonda was alternate on the 1988 US Olympic Team. In fact, she got caught up in one of the most disgraceful incidents in Olympic history — where the Americans were robbed of the team bronze medal, losing to East Germans by 0.3.

    The chair of the Women’s Technical Committee was Ellen Berger, from East Germany. An old school criminal.

    Details on Gymnastics Greats.

    Cirque goes to Hollywood

    Yet another new show announcement.

    Cirque-Hollywood.jpgLOS ANGELES (AFP) — Cirque de Soleil is to bring a new cinema-inspired show to Los Angeles from 2010, the Montreal-based circus and entertainment giant announced here Monday.

    Under a 10-year-deal between the circus company and the owners of the Kodak Theatre in the heart of Hollywood — which hosts the Oscars — the troupe will perform 368 times a year at the 3,400-seat venue.

    Although few details of the production were revealed, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte said the show would reflect Hollywood’s prominent place in the history of cinema.

    “(Hollywood films) changed the way we think and the way we live, and they’ve certainly had a positive influence on Cirque du Soleil,” Laliberte said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have found such a spectacular home in LA.”

    The company now has close to 1,000 artists performing in 15 shows on tour or in residence around the world.

    AFP: Cirque du Soleil announces Hollywood-themed show

    Hollywood Aerial Arts – Los Angeles

    Hollywood Aerial Arts bills themselves the “The only Flying Trapeze school of its kind in Los Angeles and the largest supplier of aerial talent on the west coast!”

    Classes are available for children and adults. Workouts cost $20-$30 for a 2 hour class to start.

    Outside High Flying Trapeze:

    Big Rig Web.jpg

    Inside Low Flying Trapeze, Tissu, Static Trapeze, Hoop, & Web:

    HAA Inside Web.jpg

    Hollywood Aerial Arts

    NCAA Championships 2008, Athens, Georgia

    I’m certain the 2008 Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships will be the best and most exciting to date. The atmosphere will be electric.

    Teams competing:

    ath_logo_ncaa.gif1. Georgia
    2. Louisiana State
    3. Stanford
    4. Florida
    5. Alabama
    6. Oregon State
    7. Utah
    8. UCLA
    9. Michigan
    10. Arkansas
    11. Oklahoma
    12. Denver

    Thursday, April 24, 2008. Time TBD NCAA Gymnastics Team Preliminaries

    Friday, April 25, 2008. 7:00pm NCAA Gymnastics Super-Six Team Finals

    Saturday, April 26, 2008. 7:00pm NCAA Gymnastics Individual Championships

    Official Championships home page

    gymnast stunt double for Russell Crowe

    Aaron Vexler plays Russell Crowe’s stunt double in the current film “American Gangster“.

    How did he get work as a stunt performer for movies and television?

    From International Gymnast:

    Vexler.jpg… My “transition” into stunt work was basically this: retired from gymnastics; worked on the Celebrity Galaxy Cruise ship as an acrobat/circus performer; finished my degree at Temple University; moved to New York and joined the circus performance troupe, Antigravity; went on tour with a live stunt show called Spider-Man Live! A Family Stunt Spectacular; started my own circus company with (former Temple gymnast) Mike Moran, called Axiom Entertainment Inc.; performed in Batman Vs. Catwoman at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey; and finally on to television and film as a stuntman.

    IG: What did your roles in “American Gangster,” “I Am Legend” and “Indiana Jones” actually entail?

    AV: In “American Gangster,” I was Russell Crowe’s stunt double. I worked out a lot of the stunts, and then showed him what the shot and stunt required. Russell is a very good “action actor” so almost all of what you see in the movie is actually him. I was mainly there to ensure his safety, help him with any problems, and make sure he had the right pads. However, I did most of his driving for him. I did all of the driving for the scenes in the movie where he is driving and you can’t see his face.

    In “I Am Legend,” I worked on a big riot scene where all of the people in Manhattan are being evacuated from the island. There is a panic, where everyone rushes to the boats and helicopters, while knocking down fences and each other. This is called ND or nondescript stunts. We used a lot of stunt people for the riot because it was very dangerous. It was very cold and slippery, there were people and fences falling down and helicopters taking off, and we did a lot of it on a barge in the East River in New York. Falling into the river in January would not be good.

    In “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” I did some of the stunt driving in a car-and-motorcycle chase that was shot at Yale. I was also a pedestrian in the same car chase. I did a lot of diving out of the way of cars and motorcycles. It was really a great experience, because of the caliber of stunt performers on this movie. They really brought in some of the best stuntmen and stuntwomen in the business. This movie is going to be awesome!

    IG: What was it like working with Russell Crowe, on a personal level?

    AV: Russell Crowe is a super great guy. He is always looking out for the crew and is very gracious to everyone on set that he is working with. One night he bought the whole crew — at least 100 people — Australian steak dinners. However, he has been doing action movies so long that it is also a bit intimidating, because he is such a good stuntman himself. …

    IG Online Interview

    Blythe likes his hair.

    (via tsuks on Gym Chat)

    coach Mikhail KLIMENKO dead at 65

    Yelena Mukhina died last year at 46. Now her coach is gone too.

    Klimenko_Mikhail_died07.jpg… Mikhall KLIMENKO was once National juniors’ champion of the USSR, but turned to the profession of coach quite early due to an injury and once took care of the gravely injured wheelchair-bound Elena Mukhina. The brother of the sixfold European Champion Victor Klimenko, who lives in Germany now, was known as one of the most creative coaches in womens’ artistic gymnastics.

    … during the 1980ies, Mikhail Klimenko left the Soviet Union and found a second home in Italy, where he worked as coach in womens’ artistic gymnastics in Milan till the end.


    video – goodbye Yelena Mukhina