Today I’m going to talk a little bit about fear. Well, mostly about fear coming from never “felt” something before. Have you ever had a kid say “that feels weird!” to you? Or been afraid of something because it feels a little too different? My general philosophy is to get kids used to the way TONS of different things feel. That way it may not totally eliminate the fear factor, but it definitely helps mitigate it.
This first video is of jump 1/4 turns on beam. I love this skill. And 1/2 turns and 1/1 turns. I know several gyms who make their gymnasts do all of these during warm-up both ways (sometimes on low beam). But I think its fantastic. You don’t have the pressure of adding a shape to the jump. But you are getting your gymnasts used to landing a bunch of different ways from two different directions. It builds their confidence and their awareness. Even though it “feels weird” it will be good for them in the long run.
This second video is of a lovely pirouette drill. I find that a lot of gymnasts feel that pirouettes especially coming from giants feel weird even more so when you take away the spot. This drill may feel weird at first but it helps your kids 1) fix their shapes and 2) know that they are really doing the majority of the skill.
Today I’m going to talk a little about flyaways. And I will tell you there is one specific drill I really dislike seeing as a flyaway drill. And that is having kids tap swing let go of the bar and land flat on their back. Now, let me explain this. There are variations of this drill that I really like. Ie. Spotted tap swing to candle stick, let go and the coach makes sure they land back on their back on the mat and not their neck. There is a reason I really dislike the first one, and that is, if they can do that first drill it basically means they have killed their flyaway already. If letting go doesn’t result in rotation it either means they killed their swing, or they let go too early. Either way you are going to end up with a flyaway that goes down instead of up. Because of how strongly I feel about this, I’m actually going to post three example videos today.
This first video is the version of the drill I’m talking about that I really like. See how when they let go their swing has actually initiated the rotation and they end up pretty much upside down without much effort? That’s what it should look like. Granted these are little ones and the technique isn’t perfect yet, but you get the idea.
This is what that drill results in when kids have a good swing and have done it time and time and time again. It’s all about creating lift in the flyaway.
And finally this video is from Justin Laury. This is one I’ve posted before but it’s worth watching again. Watch the flyaways in the first minute. If you create flyaways that actually have lift to them by using different drills you end up with kids who can double back (and more) well. If you don’t, when its time for kids to double you end up with all sorts of scary things. Please don’t do that.
YAYY for Fun Friday this week! I found one of these videos earlier this week and really wanted to share it, but I decided to wait until today. I hope you all enjoy these.
This first video is a montage. And normally I dont post many montages, but this one is just SO GOOD. As you can probably imagine I spend a lot of my life watching drills, making lists, thinking of progressions etc. But its so good to take a step back sometimes and just look at the bigger picture, remember the process, remember the emotions that go along with this sport and the dreams our gymnasts have. Dream big!
This second video is a super cool routine out of Wildfire Gymnastics. Alright, 1) people take note, THIS is how double fulls should look 2) the ending is just so super cool!
Today I’m going to talk a little about back handsprings. Specifically…frog legged back handsprings. Half the time at the end of level 3 routines I swear I avert my eyes. The epidemic of frog leg back handsprings is just…too much for me. Back handsprings are one of those things that I would rather spend some time on and not allow children to throw them even if they can in some ways “do” them. It’s so incredibly hard to fix frog legged back handsprings once a child does them like that.
This is pretty much my most used back handspring drill (back handspring to fall flat). I start out with HS flat falls to stomach before adding in the back handspring. But I don’t think I have ever let a gymnast back handspring to their feet without doing this drill. And I often pull gymnasts back to it if I need to fix a technical issue. This drill is great for a couple reasons. 1) they can’t look like a frog, well they can, but it’s going to hurt so they generally don’t 2) I can stop them in the middle really easily and fix that handstand shape that I want 3) I can fix shoulder angles really easily.
This second drill I have to say I haven’t used. I generally stay away from back handspring trainers. It’s nothing against them, they have their place, but I just tend to like other drills better. That being said, for body tension and other reasons I think this is a great drill. Have you guys used this? Anything you can do in the beginning for body tension is good. I generally have kids do slow motion back handsprings for WEEKS before eventually letting them speed up (they also don’t get to full speed for weeks).
Today I’m going to talk a little about aerials, specifically on beam. This is one of those skills where I actually think earlier is better. Both with front aerials and side. As long as your kids are flexible (read: have a good needle) and have a decent strength level I think these are things you can honestly start in level 3. There are a couple reasons I like starting these early and the biggest one is confidence. This gives kids 6 levels to get comfortable with them on beam. It won’t take them that long, and hopefully the longer they have had a skill the more consistent it will be.
This first video is a quick note about cartwheels. 1) your kids should be able to do this 2) wall space in your gym is SO important.
This second video is of a nice front aerial drill. The hips staying is open is so, so, so important. This helps kids maintain that correct position through the very end of the skill. When teaching front aerials you can throw an 8″ in the pit and start with something like this (spotted).
Today I am going to talk about something that I see in gyms A LOT. This is gymnasts jumping up on the bar, performing one or two skills (alright, maybe like 3 or 4) and coming down and chalking up again. Granted I understand that this is necessary sometimes, when learning new releases etc. But in general I really think that if athletes are only doing 3-4 skills in a turn then they only need to be chalking up every three to four turns. Some gyms have rules about this (ex: do around 15 skills before chalking up again). If your gym doesn’t have something like this, I would highly advise it.
This first video is from level 10 nationals. If I counted correctly this routine has 14 skills in it. In order to be able to do to this kind of routine gymnasts need to be USED to doing 14 skills in a row and not feeling like they’re slipping off the bar or too weak to continue.
This second video is of the elite compulsory bar routine. This routine also has about 14 skills. It’s long, it takes strength, stamina, precision and requires a decent variety of skills. If you are looking for a “core” stamina routine for your 9s and 10s, especially in the off season this is a good place to look. Those first two circles on low bar I believe are changeable (stalders, clearhips etc). The big thing is whatever you are doing your kids need to be able to do more than 3 or 4 skills without chalking up.
Today I’m going to share a couple ideas of working on bars skills when you aren’t actually on the bar. With only so many sets of bars in a gym it’s important that we keep our kids productive and working even when all of the sets are taken.
This first video is a great geinger drill by Al Fong. The shaping is nice, the late twist is lovely. And best of all athletes can built muscle memory by doing dozens of these on tramp when they could only get a couple turns in on the bar.
This second is a video with a bunch of demonstrations of the Forster bar. It’s incredibly hard to simulate the feeling of a bar. But I think the Forster bar does a better job of it than anything I’ve seen. When they say it’s a lot more difficult they mean it. It also means there is a lot more potential for things to get ugly, because of that I would make sure your kids are really competent in their shapes before starting to use it. But it’s a PHENOMENAL tool.
Today I’m going to talk a little about teaching your little ones how to vault. I have to say I work on slightly different things when they are really little. Since they are usually too little to get much out of the board I generally focus a lot on shapes and muscle memory, and then on developing a good run.
This first video is actually a drill I only discovered about a year ago, and I have NO IDEA why I hadn’t seen it before. I have to say it’s amazing. I like to do it starting with arms down because I think it better resembles what happens on the vault. Note: the first few times your kids try this they may not make it over, and it may be a little ugly. But stick with it, it helps TREMENDOUSLY.
This second drill is very, very common. That being said, I don’t think it is drilled enough with little ones, and I often dont think people put enough emphasis on the shapes. I know, teaching little ones little drills like this can seem tedious and time consuming at best, and be down right frustrating at worst but I PROMISE this will pay off.
Since it is the season of giving I’ve decided to put up 3 videos this Fun Friday. I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine was and that you are getting to spend time with your loved ones this year.
This first video is a beautiful triple full from Maile O’keefe who is just 11 years old.
This second video is of Maile’s skills as a 10 year old. Pretty impressive.
I posted a video of this little munchkin on beam earlier this year. But here is this little 8 year olds double back.
Today I am sharing a quick video a made a few months ago with some quick ways to improve your flexibility and presentation on beam. These things are super easy to add into your beam warm-up/complex. Fair warning the may not look great a first, but after a few days your kids will get the hang of them.
Also a big thank you to Empire Gymnastics for helping with this video.