vault runway problems

Setting up for the Canadian Gymnastics Championships competition, my first question was:

Why is the Double Mini runway so much thicker and better than the Vault runway?

(I want the thick one for gymnasts.)

Next: Does anyone recall the vault runway that was attached to a wooden base attached to the vault horse? (Spieth sold such a configuration years ago. Everything hooked together. Nice.)

It’s 2007 and the runways at a competition are still moving around. This seems like an easy-to-solve problem without using endless rolls of expensive duct tape.

no way to attach runway to horse

We put concrete blocks on the end of our runways to help stabilize them.


Trampoline and Tumbling folks actually lashed (yellow strap) the Double Mini to weights to help stop it from moving around.


This is nonsense. There must be a better way.

Please leave a comment if you’ve seen a better solution in competition.

vaulting beatboard springs – hassle

Words to live by:

“The fewer restrictions, the better.”

It’s a slight problem changing the number and configuration of springs in a beatboard during a gymnastics competition. No doubt.

FIG — for the Athens 2004 Olympics — finally established that only 3 different beatboards would be available. And that the springs would NOT be adjustable.

That was a change. But reasonable, perhaps, for the very best athletes in the world.

(I just learned that one of the main reasons for that rule was that too many springs had been stolen from international competitions.)


To my shock, when I arrived at the Canadian National Championships 2007, the 3-beatboard-only rule had been applied to EVERY gymnast at Nationals. Even tiny 60lb girls were not allowed to change the springs. Even on Bars. Even on Beam. (Swapping over the boards was a nightmare for the equipment crew.)

This rule is a mistake. And a classic case of imposing regulations that might be reasonable at the Elite level on developing age group athletes. We’ve seen this same wrong thinking dozens of times in the past.


In the US Jr. Olympic program coaches change springs and even the height of the vault horse without restriction. There is plenty of time on Vault to do so, even in a fast competition.

To their credit, the Men at Canadian Nationals decided not to enforce the rule. For Women it was enforced, despite the fact that it is nearly impossible to police. I noticed in one occasion that Women’s coaches warmed up in the training gym on one fixed set of boards, then competed on a different set. It was very confusing to be sure which fixed set of boards was allowed at each level.

Obviously the correct beatboard regulation is that which optimizes the safety of the developing gymnast. Let the coach change the springs as needed.

one of 3 spring configurations for the National Novice division

I’ll send this recommendation to the Technical Committees of Gymnastics Canada.

Do you have dumb rules appropriate to international athletes imposed on your kids?

If so, leave a comment.


Here are some facts that you may want to add to your blog to ensure that your readers have complete information.

Novices have the option to vault at 120 cm or 125 cm.

The Novices have different board configurations than the Open, Junior and Senior categories. On Vault only, the Novices have the choice of 4 configurations specifically set for them. They also have two specific configurations for Bars and Beam.

We offered to the coaches, during the coaches debriefing at Canadians, to return to an optional spring configuration. The answer was NO. Not one coach expressed a desire to return to the “old” rules. I can assure you that the safety of their gymnasts is of the utmost importance for these coaches. The same comment applies to GCG personnel.

The configuration of the boards in effect for each apparatus / category is stated in a document that is circulated to all HP clubs and P/T Associations and is posted on the GCG website.

There is a spring configuration monitoring process in place for the competition gym that works rather well after only 1.5 years of implementation. During the coaches debriefing session, we even discovered who was the coach who changed the configuration of one board in the training gym!

Finally, the international rule regarding boards is two boards per apparatus, not three.

Thanks Lise.

Retton, Roethlisberger, Karolyi – video

“USA Gymnastics: Behind the Team” follows the path of the nation’s top gymnasts as they prepare to represent the U.S. on the world stage in 2008.

During the next 15 months, the “Behind the Team” online series will feature interviews with current and former athletes and coaches, behind-the- scenes looks at training camps and competitions and will give a glimpse of the life of an elite U.S. gymnast.

“This is the story of some of the most talented gymnasts in the world and their journey to capture their sport’s highest accomplishments, essentially told in the first person,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “It is a look at USA Gymnastics that hasn’t before been available, including intimate conversations with athletes and coaches, inside-the-gym access to training regimes, and behind the scenes previews of make-or-break competition.” …

1984 Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton, three-time Olympian John Roethlisberger and legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, who has coached numerous Olympic and world champions, are among those featured in the first webisode …

Gymbrooke Sports News » USA Gymnastics: Behind the Team

It’s very well done. Check out the inspiring new video linked from the AT & T Blueroom.

Woodward East offers summer snowboarding

Camp staff hinted at this when I visited in April. Looks like it’s a go for 2007.


The Woodward Skate and BMX Camp in Pennsylvania is adding a synthetic snow surface for snowboarders. The site is set to open in the second weekend of June and will have a rail setup and a kicker that launches your body scarred with rug burns from previous falls onto an airbag.

They’re charging $650 for a week of instruction.


Woodward Skate and BMX Camp Adds Summer Snowboarding

More information on Snowboard-mag or contact Woodward East directly.

save NCAA gymnastics at JMU

Both Mens and Womens Gymnastics Teams are to be cut for 2008.

A law suit is in progress contesting that decision. It could be 2 or 3 years in court.

To deflect criticism, the athletic director claims JMU is cutting sports in compliance with Title IX. The gymnasts and coaches disagree. Jenn Chapmann, Student Athlete Advisory Committee President, disagrees in this video on YouTube.

John Roethlisberger wrote a great article for Inside Gymnastics magazine: title IX – where’s the logic?. It’s in the Jan / Feb 2007 edition.

By his math, the JMU action resulted in zero increase in athletic opportunities for women at the school.

Does it make sense to cut 24-girls on the Women’s gymnastics team if gender equity is the real issue? Or is this decision more about JMU Men’s Football than anything else?

More details:

Sign an online petition. Listen to gymnasts on-the-chopping-block interviewed.

You can even buy a t-shirt to support the cause.


Leave a response below if you have any other ideas on how to save the teams.

Good luck with the law suit.

College Scholarship videos

I talked to a number of coaches recently about the best way to apply for NCAA scholarships for their athletes.

Many athletes do not put together very good recruiting videos when applying to US schools. (Especially non-American gymnasts.)

College_Scholarship_Dan.Connelly.jpgIt would be a good US$30 investment to purchase this GymSmarts video:

Be Seen…Making your College Recruiting Tape by College coach Dan Connelly.

Dan explains simply, clearly and effectively what college coaches look for in a college recruiting video/DVD. It includes basic recruiting information, construction of video, and sample recruiting videos.

They have another older DVD — Planning Ahead for a College Scholarship — by Sam Sandmire which covers what to consider when looking at colleges: “academics, gymnastics, education, video/DVD resume, and recruiting.”

Find these DVDs and many, many more on GymSmarts.

A more expensive ($300) alternative is to have Springboard Video put together your recruiting tape.

best video – Yurchenko vault

Several people have asked of late, so I am reposting this recommendation.

YURCHENKO VAULTING ($30) is the best Yurchenko coaching video I have seen. (I’ve bought two, so far.)

This DVD covers drills, conditioning, idle time stations, and technique.

Coach John Geddert of TwiStars USA admits he was slow getting a handle on this vault. He has it completely mastered now!

The best way to order a copy is to phone the club and leave a message for John.

The Summit at Capital Centre
9410 Davis Hwy
Lansing, MI 48821 (I-96 and Lansing Rd.)
(517) 322-0360 phone
(517) 322-0436 fax


video – core body conditioning machine

At an advanced Level 4 coaches course hosted at his gym, QCK in Regina, Marcel Dubois explains a machine he uses to condition the entire body at one time.

It’s good.

A suspended athlete must show body flexion / extension. This movement pattern (sometimes called the “curvilinear action”) is used over and over again in gymnastics and tumbling.

Marcel designed his machine after those he saw in the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

At the end of the video, the same action is demonstrated without the machine, requiring a lot more spotting by the coach. The demonstrator had never used the machine before filming.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Level 4 Canadian coach education curriculum

In Canada we have a mandatory 4 stage coach education system imposed by the Coaching Association of Canada:

1050.gifLevel 1 = Recreational
Level 2 = Competitive Basics
Level 3 = National Competitive
Level 4 = International Competitive

The Level 4 in Artistic Gymnastics is a 4-week program running over 2-years. Coaches must qualify to be invited. It costs money and time out of the gym.

Despite minor flaws, I much prefer what we have in Canada as compared with the hodge-podge of coaching education options in the USA.

Here’s the basic curriculum:

Required Courses:

Diploma Practicum
NCI coaches work within the high performance stream with athletes on a regular basis.

Energy Systems

Physical Preparation


Recovery and Regeneration

Mental Preparation for Coaches

Mental Preparation for Athletes

Program Design
The systematic integration and sequencing of training and competition activities within a comprehensive sport program; planning and periodization models; major and minor peaks to produce optimal athletic performance; volume and intensity of training; recovery.

Athlete Long-Term Development

Leadership and Ethics

Course work is also required in the following areas:

* Coach Effectiveness
* Coaching Philosophy
* New Technologies

Optional Courses

Sport-Specific Performance Factors

Environmental Factors and Performance

Biomechanical Analysis of Advanced Skills

The Business of Coaching

Canadian Sport System
Develop an understanding of the Canadian sport system and the role of the coach within that system.

Coaching Association of Canada