building a floor bar

floor-bar-long.jpgAltadore Gymnastics has the best home-made floor bars I’ve seen.

Simply drop an old rail into “slots” on wooden block supports. Leave enough space to slide under a mat.

When I coach bars, every circuit includes a floor bar. Within a couple of months any girl can do at least 3 forward pirouettes in series. Some even do “giant full” (reverse pirouette to direct forward pirouette).

Personal pirouette “records” are posted on the gym wall.

Time spent on multiple pirouettes on low bar greatly improves handstand work on floor, beam and bars. It requires no spotting.

Caution — though handstand drills are quite safe — sooner or later one of the kids will hit the block supports. Make them responsible to cover supports with mats.

The longer the floor bar, the better. “Short” floor bars are much less useful.


Tammy Biggs – gymnastics clinician

One of the best clinicians in the world is Tammy Biggs.

biggs.jpgTammy calls West Texas home, but spends much of her time traveling across the United States helping to develop future Olympians.

She works with clubs to develop entire programs from preschool through elite.

Tammy has spent 17 years on the USA National Coaching staff. She also coached 1988 Olympian Melissa Marlowe. Tammy was a member of the 1996 Olympic Team coaching staff.

She was awarded 1992 Choreographer of the Year. Tammy has produced 25 educational videos in the sport of gymnastics and is a Brevet judge. She’s also a consultant on the Junior Olympic Compulsory Exercises. Tammy is also involved with the development of the USA Gymnastics Fitnastics program.

Useful Links – USA Gymnastics

For a sample of Tammy’s approach, check this article she co-wrote with Judy Wills Cline: Basic Trampoline – The Beginning Steps (USA Technique magazine)

It emphasizes conditioning and correct body position.


spotting “Stutz” on P Bars

The Canadian National Coach Edouard Iarov spots Stutz with the gymnast twisting away. I first felt this was less safe than the conventional approach — the gymnast twisting towards you.

Eventually I was convinced. There are real advantages in Iarov’s method (as usual).

I still spot beginners turning towards me. Then switch to the other side once they have a good feel for the skill.


another gymnast makes the leap to aerial skiing

Watch for up-and-coming aerial skiers from Canada in anticipation of the Winter Olympics 2010 to be held in Vancouver.


The 5-foot-5 Rochon finished fifth with a score of 159.88 while receiving sensational scores from the judges on his second jump. The former member of the national gymnastics team scored a perfect 7.0 for air and form from four of five judges, and nearly perfect scores from the two landing judges.

“Today was pretty well a new experience,” said Rochon after competing at night for the first time and against much more experienced jumpers.

“It’s my first year in aerials and my first competition, so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure. Finishing fifth was pretty much a surprise.”

Olivier Rochon finishes 5th; Five Canadians in the top 10

This sport is big time crazy. But flipping into the pool looks like a lot of fun.


More photos from

FIG Academy – Level 3 “Special Brevet”

Keith Russell filled me in on the recent FIG Academy coach education course hosted at the Karoli ranch in Texas. (That’s where Bela keeps his camels!)

Seventeen coaches from five countries attended this Academy and an additional 15 USA High Performances coaches were permitted to observe all of the sessions. …


Valeri Liukin taught tumbling and uneven bars, Tammy Biggs taught balance beam, Stephen Rybacki taught vault and sport theory, Antonia Markova taught choreography and artistic preparation, Dr. Bill Sands taught biomechanics …

Artistic Academy in Houston – FIG

The FIG Academy is the arm of the International Gymnastics Federation which provides coach education.

Some terrific courses have been held in developing countries. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this new initiative where coaching “brevets” are being offered to the top coaches in the world who attend a course.

From the L3 course held in Japan:

FIG Office / Tokyo, June 13, 2006: The Academy held in early June in Japan was originally scheduled for October 2003 to be the first of the “special brevet” Academies, where coaches from the world’s most successful gymnastics nations would immediately receive an FIG Coaching Brevet on the successful completion of the course. For a number of reasons the Academy was postponed until this year and was now the last of the three “special brevet” Academies. …

A disappointing total of only 14 coaches from four countries attended this Academy. There were 9 MAG coaches from Japan, Korea, USA and Canada and only five WAG coaches from Japan and Canada. Considering the signifigance of the FIG Coaching Brevet and the long time that invited nations had known about this Academy, the low turn out was a big surprise. …

Nevertheless, the combination of the top coaches from the participating nations and the services of nine of the world’s top experts in the technical and scientific aspects of gymnastics made the Academy a big success. The first time attendance of Japan and Korea brings to 59 the number of federations that have attended an FIG Academy. The course was conducted in English.

The course leader was Hardy Fink the Director of FIG Education and Academy Programs. Octavia Bellu taught the women’s apparatus and Edouard Iarov the men’s. Special presentations were made by Corina Morosan for choreography and by Japanese gold medal Olympic team coach Minoru Kano on rings. Dr. Peter Brüggemann made two biomechanics presentations; Dr. John Salmela taught Psychology; Dr. John Atkinson taught Sport Theory and Dr. Keith Russell taught Medical Issues.

FIG РF̩d̩ration Internationale de Gymnastique

(photo) Minoru KANO, Octavian BELLU, Hardy FINK, Edouard IAROV and Keith RUSSELL

FIG seems somewhat confused on the purpose of the coaching “brevet”.

But anything which furthers coach education is a good thing.

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