Athletes, Child Behavior, Coaching, Communication, Program Development, Training

How Do You Treat Your Students?

I believe the most difficult and challenging job a person can have is coaching and teaching children. It takes a certain type of individual to deal with children in a way that is productive, positive, and enthusiastic. The larger the group, the more challenging it becomes. Children are our best assets and it is the teachers and coaches responsibility to educate them in a highly controlled environment. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task.

Parents know how challenging it can be just to raise a family of several young children. Just think of the teacher and coach who has a group of 10 to 20 children. We often here the teaches say “they don’t listen” – “they don’t follow directions” – “they are out of control “.

This is a problem that is not uncommon in youth sports programs. It is how the coaches deal with this issue that needs to be addressed. Of course, bad behavior and uncontrolled environments should not be tolerated in order to operate a productive program.

Coaches need to take and maintain control of their classes – and in many cases, it can become a huge challenge. So how is this done? In my opinion, never by yelling at the students!! Coaching: The Communication Factor  This should never take place in any program. There are numerous ways to take control of a class that is productive and not demeaning to the students.

One way is to simply stop the class and sit the children down with no activity. Have a talk with them to explain why this is happening. Let them know that their behavior must improve before resuming activities. Another strategy is playing games to convince the students to behave. All children loves games. One popular game is “the quiet game”. Funny how it works.

Much of the means of gaining control in an out-of-control class depends on the dynamics of the class. Is it a competitive team that has a particular amount of discipline and commitment required by the participants? Are the students young or older? These factors play a large part in how to gain control.

In some cases, it may be just “one bad egg in the basket”. One disruptive child can destroy an entire class program. In this case, it is necessary to take that child out of the class. This needs to be done in a very sensitive manner. A parent conference needs to be held and options discussed. This is a sensitive issue and needs to be constructed in a manner that does not imply any discrimination.

Although most coaches do not have a degree or education in child psychology ( I certainly do not), but through many years of coaching, they should qualify for the diploma.  It takes patience, understanding, and structure to develop a program that is positive and productive for students in any program.  We cherish our children and students – let’s create and maintain the best possible environment where they can grow and achieve their own hopes and dreams.

I am in the process of publishing my first training manual: “Beginner Tumbling Training” .  This will be a useful tool in training for all and any needing to learn proper technique and safety. I will keep you posted on that progress. In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

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Athletes, Communication, Parent, Sports, Stress, Success

Parent and Coach Influence on an Athlete's Success: To Push or Not Push

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It is always great to see parents involved with their children’s activities. Not only do the children (younger children) love it when their parents watch and support their activities, many depend on it. However, there may come a time in an athlete’s development when the parent should take a step back and allow their child to develop more freely.

One challenge the parent may have in the development of their child’s sports activity, is not understanding the true emotional desires or feelings of the child. There are many cases where the child may not have the desire to participate in the activity. It is important that parents attempt to introduce several different activities, throughout the early years, to allow the child to determine what they like best.

As an athlete becomes more serious and involved with their sport, training will become more consistent and serious. They will learn many things that are important and pertinent to that sport which will allow them to grow both physically and emotionally. They will learn the specifics of every aspect of the sport – things that the parent may not be aware of or have knowledge of since they are not actively involved with the day to day training atmosphere.

There are many aspects of development in an athlete’s pursuit to succeed. The physical aspect is only one part of development. The emotional aspect is another part of development and can be considered the most important and sensitive. As an athlete grows in their sport and begins to participate in competitions, the emotional aspect intensifies. For many athletes, the competitive arena can be a scary one and it may take time for the athlete to understand how to deal with and control the stress in those environments.

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I have many conversations with parents regarding their child’s development. One of the most common question and concern is the issue of ” to push or not to push”. This issue is different for every athlete but most common for athletes in early development. The parent should be able to recognize if their child is serious about the sport or activity and this will help guide whether to push the athlete for greater achievement.

I truly believe that a person will only be successful at something they love and desire. This comes from the heart, which is internal motivation The Motivation Factor. Athletes that have this type of attitude will usually have the motivation to push themselves without much outside influence. Throughout an athlete’s career, there will be ups and downs – there will be success and failure. There will be injuries and burn-out. All of which are factors that can influence an athletes drive to succeed. Patience is important to allow the athlete to work through all challenges. Achievement is a process that takes time, experience, and consistency.

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When an athlete is pushed hard to train for success, it may result in the athlete having a negative attitude. Especially if there has been a series of failures. This could result in continued failure and eventually and end to a career. As an athlete grows in their sport and reaches higher levels of competition, pushing the athlete can be beneficial. All great athletes need a good push periodically. It is the younger, more inexperienced athlete that may be more sensitive to being “pushed” to succeed.

However, not pushing your athlete may result in a lack of motivation or cause a lack of interest. Younger students do not understand the process of commitment and sacrifice, so they must be guided through the process. It can be a sensitive issue and one that must be properly determined by the parent.

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I believe that athletes should be pushed and encouraged in their pursuit of success. But how hard to push and when to push is the issue. Every child is different and what may be beneficial to one may not work for another. The parents and coaches need to recognize this in their children and students in order to positively affect the pursuit of their goals. We want the best for all children. Some will become Champions, and many will not, but every one of them are Stars!!

I am in the process of developing manuals and videos on tumbling skill development that will be useful in training. I will keep you posted on that progress. In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

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Athletes, Coaching, Communication, Evaluation, Skill Development, Training

Problem Solver vs Text Book Instruction

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It is great and rewarding to be a coach and know that I can have a positive impact on a person’s life. I had a passion for the sport of gymnastics as a competitor and now the same passion as a gymnastics and tumbling coach. Where does this passion come from? I honestly believe it is due to the challenges of succeeding in this sport – and I have always thrived on accomplishing challenges.

Learning new skills was always a thrill and even more so when they are accomplished successfully. Now, as a coach, I understand what the athletes go through as they work through their training sessions. I also get the same thrill when I see the excitement of my students when they accomplish their skills successfully.

coach spotting dancer    When introducing and training skills, there are typically a series of progressions and drills that are useful in skill development. However, the challenge for the athlete and coach is finding the proper methods for fixing problems and/or bad habits the student has created.

Problem solving for skills gone bad is not a text book fix. Since every athlete is different in so many ways, what may work to help one student may not work for another student. Many times, the coach may need to try many methods to find what works best for the specific element needing fixed.

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Fixing bad habits not only takes physical effort but it is a psychological game as well. You may have heard that great coaches are great psychologists as well (Confidence and the Mental Block). This is certainly true!! Especially in sports like gymnastics, tumbling, and cheer that carries with them a high degree of difficulty and risk.

When I get a new student, who has not learned proper technique in their skills, it can be frustrating for the student to focus and work on elements they do not think is important. Some students respond well to this change,especially if they see quick results, but others do not adjust well to this new focus.

For example, if a student enrolls specifically for the purpose of learning a back handspring, but do not have a strong foundation to build upon, it is imperative the student learn and accomplish the prerequisites first. This may include bridge kick-overs, handstands, round-off, etc.

It is this scenario that reinforces the fact that the student and parent become educated on how these skills are developed and learned (Coaching the Parents). Not only for the skill to be learned with good technique but more importantly, safely!!

It takes a lot of time and consistency to develop new skills and the same goes for fixing bad habits on already developed skills. If the student is serious about their development, then a strong effort to fix their problems will be taken. One-on-one lessons (private lessons) is a great way to isolate and train only on the problem areas. These lessons will certainly shorten the time it takes to fix the habit(s). Most importantly, however, for bad habits to be fixed, the coach needs to have the knowledge and experience in all issues of skill development and technique to find the best method of training for each individual.

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I am in the process of developing videos on skill development that will be useful in training. I will keep you posted on that progress. In addition, if you would like a personal training session with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

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Athletes, Coaching, Communication, Competition, Evaluation, Parent, Skill Development, Training

A Parents Guide for Youth Sports : To Compete or Not Compete

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When a young student begins an activity, it is usually because they have a desire to do so. They may have friends that are doing the activity or seen it on television that sparks their interest. Whatever the reason, participation starts out at the beginning stages and the athlete will quickly decide if it is something they enjoy and want to pursue to higher levels.

Many sports are automatically competitive and is a major focus even for beginning students. Sports such as football, baseball, basketball, and soccer all have competitive games that are part of the participation. When a child participates in one of these types of sports, they become a competitor.

Some athletes thrive in this environment and love the competition. However, there are others who like the activity but not the competition. So, the question to consider is: “to compete or not compete?” This question is usually answered by the parent. Parents who enroll their child in a competitive sport should be aware of how the child reacts to this environment. Of course, competition is scary at first for a young athlete, so encouragement and patience may be necessary. Many parents will wait for a season to end before determining if that sport was the right decision.

CartwheelThere are other sports that have a recreational only side of the sport where the students are not trained to compete. These include sports like gymnastics, dance, and golf to name only a few. Many children who participate in these types of sports do so for fun and enjoyment. The time commitment is typically less than in a competitive sport and there is little stress involved in participation.

It is typically the passion and desires of those athletes who choose to pursue the competitive side of sports. These athletes may have a natural competitive attitude. This drives them to stay motivated, train hard, and want to win. They are excited about spending as much time as they can practicing their sport. As with most competitive athletes, the objective is to train to win. There are many factors at play with competitive sports. These include learning great sportsmanship, learning how to lose gracefully, and more importantly, how to remain humble when success is achieved (Win or Lose: Sports Learning Curve).

The biggest difference between the athlete who enjoys the recreational side vs the competitive side of sport is the effort and dedication factors. Athletes who participate as a recreational activity will usually spend much less time at the activity. Training these athletes is also much different. Although, the students should still learn the skills correctly, effectively, and safely, there is no pressure to perform at any level. In this environment, training may not be focused on skill development detail as training with a competitive athlete.

The programs I operate are strictly recreational and the focus of our curriculum is centered mostly on tumbling elements – which is the foundation of all gymnastics. In addition, tumbling is an important part of cheerleading, dance, and martial arts. Thus, our programs draw in athletes from several different sports disciplines (Programs for the Rec Student).
Since our programs are strictly recreational and incorporates athletes from different disciplines, we have scenario’s where the students grow out of our program to pursue higher levels of sport. This is the dynamic of not offering a competitive program, however, we pride ourselves in developing students to the point where they can be accepted and take the sport to higher levels.

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Parents Need to be Educated

When a student is ready for this transition or the parent is interested in taking their child to the next level, it is important to explain the differences in the style of programs. Especially if the recreational program is not located in a gym that also has competitive program running simultaneously. When an experienced student makes the transition from a recreational program to pursue a competitive program, the training commitment and schedule will usually become much more demanding. In addition, there may also be a difference in skill development.

There are students who leave the recreational program to join a competitive program where they have thrived and become successful competitors. However, there are others who return or quit altogether because it wasn’t what they expected. There are several factors to consider when making this adjustment. Age is a big factor when considering this transition. Many students may be just too young to handle the structure and demand required in a competitive program. Another factor may be the sacrifice in the time commitment.

I always discuss with the parent when they ask about this transition the factors to consider (Coaching the Parents). Most importantly, if a student wants to give competition a try, I think they should experience the atmosphere. Most gyms will allow a trial period before a commitment is made. They will never know unless they try!!

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I hope this article is helpful for those seeking information for youth sports development.  I will soon be releasing a series of manuals and video’s that will be beneficial for many.  These will include skill development, safety and spotting, program development, training atmospheres, and many more subjects to enhance the development of coaches and athletes.

If you have concerns or need assistance with your training program, do not hesitate to contact me.  If you would like an on-line training session via Skype, please contact me for scheduling.

Email:   scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

Benefits, Coaching, Communication, Evaluation, Skill Development, Training

A Coaches Guide to Seeking Help on Skill Development: How Do I Fix That?

 

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There are many articles, videos, pics and more that are designed to help athletes in skill development. The “how to’s” are posted everywhere on social media and other publications. These methods of training can be effective and is useful for many. However, what is needed more in training that is difficult to publish and define, is fixing the problem areas that athletes are challenged with.

The objective of the coach is to train the athlete in all areas of skill development. This starts with training each student from the ground up, so they can develop a strong foundation of basic elements to build upon. We see, in many cases, athletes who have missed learning the basics which results in many challenges in developing more advanced elements.  Without a strong foundation of basic elements, the student will have challenges learning more advanced skills.

A common problem we see in many gyms is that there may be several members of the coaching staff that do not have the experience and knowledge to teach skills with proper technique or fix a problem area that a student is struggling with.  We see this most in recreational programs where competitive gymnastics is not the major focus of the program.  However, many of the students who participate in these types of programs may have a desire to move up in the sport and try a competitive program.  When this occurs, the student will have challenges if they have not learned the proper basics with good technique.

I have seen many video clips posted to social media networks where coaches are requesting help in fixing a technical issue a student may be having.  I have seen clips of round-offs, back handsprings, front handsprings, and many more in tumbling.  There are also many clips requesting help for skills on the bars and balance beams.  These video clips are a great tool to assist the coach in fixing problem areas.

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I have found that on-line training is becoming more and more popular.  I have begun doing lessons via Skype and they have been extremely successful.  However, it does have limitations.  Although Skyping a training session is beneficial in helping with teaching proper technique, it will never be as good as the “hands-on” approach.  Especially if the student needs spotting to help improve the skill.

One of the biggest issues I have seen with posting video for corrective comments on group posts, is that the recipient may receive many comments from many different coaches.  Although it is great that so many are responding and attempting to assist with the problem, it can be somewhat overwhelming for the coach posting the video.  For example, if there are 30 responding comments on how to fix the problem, there may be 20 comments that have different views on how to fix the problem (i.e.: “too many chefs in the kitchen”).

Another concern is that many coaches have different opinions on how skills should be learned.  It’s not that different opinions are wrong, but what may work for one athlete may not work for another athlete (The Technique Controversy).  It is good to have several opinions to work with, but not to get overloaded.

An alternative to consider when looking for help with teaching or correcting a skill is to post and send to only a select few that you may have collaborated with previously or know has the knowledge you are seeking.  There are many experts out there that can be of great assistance.  Much depends on the skill you are needing help with.  Is it a tumbling skill?  Or a bars or beam skill?  You may even want to ask for referrals.

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The ultimate fix is for the coaches to become knowledgeable in the skills they are teaching.  For those programs that are lacking in this knowledge, it is beneficial to participate in local clinics and seminars.  If these are difficult to locate or not available in your area, you may consider bringing in a professional to run a coach’s clinic at your facility or program.

When coaches have the proper knowledge of skill development, not only will their athletes be more productive and successful, the entire program will benefit and be successful.

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I hope this article is helpful for those seeking training information.  I will soon be releasing a series of manuals and video’s that will be beneficial for many.  These will include skill development, safety and spotting, program development, training atmospheres, and many more subjects to enhance the development of coaches and athletes.

If you have concerns or need assistance with your training program, do not hesitate to contact me.  If you would like an on-line training session via Skype, please contact me for scheduling.

Email:   scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com