Today I’d like to talk about the importance of side stations. All too often we see one of two things, gymnasts lined up waiting to take their turn, or the same couple side stations being used for months. These situations are not ideal.
Side stations are wonderful for so many reason, they add extra opportunities to drill proper shape, they keep the gymnasts warm and moving, they do not have to be difficult to bring results, they can certainly be fun, they are easy to change or progress, and much more.
Here are a few of our favorite versatile side stations for each event. These can each be adjusted via weight, height, speed, or reps to better suit skill level of the group you’re working with. I will use these for a few weeks, then switch it up. Then a few months later bring them back with a change that makes it more challenging than before.
The first thing I drill like crazy for vault is running. I always tell my gymnasts, “If the run isn’t right, the vault won’t be.” A simple station that is great for all levels is a resistance band secured around a pole (or something of the like). Have the girls do a 5-10 second sprint. This is excellent for developing some explosive power and movement.
This is a fantastic one to help develop fast feet. some gymnasts are just naturally made up of slow twitch muscles. This will definitely help.
This next drill is incredibly versatile and so simple to set up. If you don’t have a ladder, use some sports tape! Ladder drills will improve foot coordination, speed, and agility. You can change the foot patterns to add more difficulty to the drill. One foot per square, two per square, going backwards, stepping in and out, going sideways, hopping on just one leg in any pattern, the possibilities are endless. Here’s two videos with some examples.
There are so many great shaping drills for bars. The key here is to make sure you’re switching it up every few weeks. Two of the best tools to have with you on bars are a floor bar and an exercise ball. Dozens of drills can be set up using just one or both. Here are a few of our favorites.
You can make this one harder by raising the feet higher. Grab a couple stack mats or a block to elevate the feet little by little.
We like this one for cast to handstand control. And the gymnasts find it fun as well.
We like to drill casts to handstand from the knees. From this position they are forced to learn to use their hips, if you have the gymnast take off from her feet, chances are she’ll just end up jumping into the handstand. With the kneeling position, some might still use their toes to get some extra power, but it isn’t’ nearly as easy as taking off from their feet. Start pirouetting once a progression is needed.
This is a strength side station we do every bar day. If you want improved shoulder control on bars, especially casts, consider adding this drill in. We have done them using beams as shown in the video, and also with the girls in a wall sit against a wall. When doing them against a wall, we emphasize flattening the lower back and pushing into the wall. Have the girls go fast up, slow down. Add more weight to increase difficulty. Drill is demonstrated in the first minute of this video.
This one is great for activating the core to stay on the beam. It’s amazing how fewer wobbles you will see from your gymnasts after working this one in.
I love this core strength complex. This is a perfect way to add a challenge to your warm up for optional level girls. They can easily do this off to the side while waiting to take their turn.
Side stations that get gymnasts upside down are a good one to add in. Get creative, have girls partner up and work handstand holds (beam hands for those who are training acro), push-up pops or blocks, bridge kick overs, etc., the possibilities are endless.
I like to add stations in that align with what our focus is for the day. Here are some of my favorites for learning to push through your toes and activating your core while tumbling. These all take up little space which make them great side stations. I’m a big fan of the first one, push aways, young gymnasts have a blast with it!
Pull out a stack mat to work some switch leaps. This makes the leap easier so the girls can do more reps without burning out.
Here’s another great drill to develop power on leaps. Really emphasize landing with that bottom leg locked and popping into releve.
Remember, if you’re unable to think of a side station that aligns with your complex for the day, a great fall back is to SHAPE SHAPE SHAPE. Side stations may be slow and steady, but they will help you win the race!
Find it here!
The full 45 minute lecture of Bars Shaping from Pre-Team Up is now available for download, along with the full powerpoint and all of the videos!