gymnastics – “form foam”

I cannot coach without small sponges.

The sponge is the best coach.

Normally I ask nicely that gymnasts keep their feet together. If they cannot, I hand them a sponge to hold either between the feet or knees. If the next attempt is successful, they no longer are required to use the sponge.

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Christchurch School of Gymnastics

I have coached kids who have never been asked to use a form foam. And kids who need the sponge almost every attempt.

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more photos from Woodward West Gymnastics Camp

trampolinists can vault

lange, jamie.jpgI walked into the gym during Adult Recreation class and saw one of the men doing a layout Tsukahara into the pit on vault!

I ran over to find out what visiting gymnast had dropped by.

It was Jamie Lange, one of Canada’s National Team members — in trampoline, tumbling and double mini-tramp.

This was only the second day he had ever tried vault in his life.

I am always giving examples of gymnasts who go on to excel in other sports. Here is a tumbler so talented he could learn to vault in 2 days.

When I was a trampolinist we did not train anywhere near as hard as gymnasts. But in 2006 Jamie’s coach Brett McAulay at Calgary Gymnastics Centre tells me his conditioning and training is just as demanding. CGC is the top trampoline & tumbling club in the country.

conditioning – vertimax

Jeremy Mosier, Altadore Gymnastics, tipped me off to a highly touted conditioning device.

It is called vertimax, being used by many top athletes to improve leg power.

The top 6 women’s gymnastics teams in the NCAA have one, it is claimed. Looks great to me — though I rarely use bunjie cord for strength / power training.

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It reminded us of a much simpler, far less expensive, apparatus I first saw being used by Dave Holmes. The gymnast wears a spotting belt which is tied down to the ground by bunjie cord. The gymnast then jumps against the resistance. Stronger athletes stand on a beat board — or two — to increase resistance.

video – shoulder stretching device

Peter Soul from Integrity Gymnastics in Ohio makes many training aids including a shoulder stretching device. (We could not come up with a catchy name for it.)

Click PLAY on the video below or watch the clip on YouTube.com

It worked best, I thought, when training handstands and pirouettes. But kids tried it on bars and tumbling, as well.

“aging” coaches need to replace themselves

peter.jpgRick McCharles

Photo is super coach Peter Soul, Integrity Gymnastics, Ohio. His excellent fitness helped him recover from chemotherapy over the past year.

At Funtastics Gymnastics camp in Idaho I noted my coaching contemporaries are aging.

At 48-years-old, I’ve never been a better coach. My mind is strong but the body starting to fail.

At camp I had never been so disabled: broken hand, sore back and laryngitis. Most of the other “older” coaches were hobbled in one way or another.

One has pain in his shoulder even putting on a t-shirt. Another was limping from a running injury. Many of us were avoiding spotting if we could.

A friend retired from coaching last year after 31-years. Another is scheduling a double hip replacement.

Thank God for 21-year-old Rachael Tart (Funtastics) who already spots Yurchenko and Tkachev!

Older coaches need spend more time providing opportunities for new coaches. Our days are numbered.

gymnast age 94

Norway.jpgThis is Trondheims Turnforening — a gymnastics club in Norway.

Average age of these fine athletes is 75yrs, the eldest 94!

They work-out twice a week, the seniors group operating since 1958.

Hardy Fink and Keith Russell visited the gym while in Norway for the “FIG Academy” (a coach education program). The FIG is serious about their Academy program.

By the way, 346 coaches have now completed a FIG Academy level 1, 2 or 3 course from over 60 different countries.

More details on the FIG website.

“spring free” trampolines

Friends just bought a backyard trampoline.

Straight off, as a gymnastics professional, I advise everyone against backyard trampolines. I am surprised they are still legal in Canada.

Kids should do trampoline only under the supervision of trained coaches on properly maintained equipment.

If you insist on putting a dangerous trampoline in your yard, consider a trampoline without springs. For example, the Spring Free SF90E.

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As backyard tramps go, I am impressed. This company is focused on safety.

Eliminating the springs is a great innovation!

But I dispute the company’s claim that “SpringFree is the Safe Trampoline!”.

It’s a safer trampoline. But the reaction force from the elastic bed can still injure children.

UPDATE: Check the comments below:

“in two weeks my son severely fractured his ankle”.

video – spotting the “Pak”

One of the most challenging skills to “spot” as a gymnastics coach is the somersault from high bar to low bar. It helps to be tall and strong.

Click PLAY on the video below or watch the clip on YouTube.com

I love this skill. It is much safer than it looks. Swinging the kip without hitting your feet on the floor is the most difficult part.

Dennis Swenson recommends spotting Pak to free hip on the low bar so the girls learn to get weight on their hands before pushing away to the kip.