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

Advertisements
Coaching, Program Development, Skill Development, Training, Tumbling

Basics of Tumbling – From the Beginning

cartwheel on beach

Tumbling is seen and used in many activities in our society. Not only is it a competitive sport on its own but it is required as part of many other sports. It is needed in gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, martial arts, parkour, and others. It is, for most students, the most difficult of all activities to achieve. As with learning any type of activity, it is important to learn from the beginning. In this discussion, I will share my thoughts and experience in training the Basics of Tumbling.

The sport of tumbling is beneficial in many ways for enhancing performance in many activities. Not only is it the foundation in the sport of gymnastics, but it creates over-all physical development that will benefit the athlete in many areas. It teaches the athlete to be flexible, strong in all areas of the body, fast and physically explosive, coordination of motion, and much more. All these attributes are important for the success in most physical activities and sports.

As mentioned earlier, tumbling is one of the most difficult activities to learn. It is very complex and detailed. In addition, there is a certain amount of risks involved that must be acknowledged in skill development. Here, I will discuss the initial steps to consider in tumbling skill development.

As with most sports and activities, tumbling is a progressive sport meaning that each skill learned is a building block to learning the next skill. If the initial skills learned are not learned properly, the student will struggle with learning additional more advanced skills. The 3 major elements of tumbling are learning movements going forward, backward, and twisting. In this discussion, I will focus on the forward and backward tumbling elements. The twisting elements will be discussed in a following post.

Forward Tumbling;

20180716_182549.jpg

It is important to begin the development of tumbling skills from the most basic of elements. In forward tumbling, this starts with the forward roll. This fundamental skill is the beginnings of teaching the student to flip the body in a forward motion. Even this basic skill has a technique value that must be considered for accomplishment and safety. The forward roll may seem very simple and it is for many students. However, I have seen students struggle with this most basic element. Even this skill may need the assistance of a coach to spot the athlete to prevent any stress or injury to the neck or head.

 

straddle forward rolls

A variation of the forward roll is the straddle forward roll. This skill is very similar but more challenging as it entails more flexibility and strength. The bigger the straddle position, the easier it is for the student to push the bottom up for the roll. For this reason, a good stretching program should be the start of each training session. Again, this skill will, for most athletes, require a spot from a qualified coach.

With the successful development of these skills the student should be ready to learn the more aggressive front tumbling skills such as handstand, front limbers, walk-overs, front-handsprings and front flips – in that order. There are many drills in teaching each of these elements which will be discussed in future posts.

Note: The Bridge and Handstand are very important elements for both forward and backward tumbling that must be incorporated in each training session. Before these more advanced skills are trained, the student must have experience in these elements as many tumbling skills have these positions incorporated within the skill.

Backward Tumbling:

20180716_185811.jpg

Backward tumbling is more popular in this sport and one that is used most often in related sports. It also carries a higher risk factor which needs to be recognized. The initial fundamental skill to teach is the backward roll. This skill carries a higher risk factor than the forward roll. The back roll teaches the student the sensation of going backwards which is an unnatural motion in general movement.

20180714_093544.jpg

There are several methods used to teach this skill and both should require the coach to spot initially. Since there is body weight forced on the neck and head in performing this skill, the risk for an injury is common. All students learning this skill for the first time should have a coaches assistance. The coach needs to spot the skill by holding onto the hips and lift up as the student rolls back. This takes pressure off the neck. The two basic tools used to teach this skill is the wedge mat or two panel mats placed in a “V” position (this latter method is great for preschoolers and young ones).

The progressive skills following the backward rolls are generally: Back extension rolls, back limbers and walk-overs, back handsprings, back flips and it’s variations. These more advanced skills may take years for a student to develop. Not only is the technique in these skills more complicated, there is a strong emotional factor to consider. Due to the risk factors involved, students need to acquire a strong sense of confidence and mental strength.

The forward and backward rolls are not only fundamental requirements, but it teaches the student the awareness if flipping forward and backward which they will learn in future development. When the students acquire a strong foundation of basic elements, the time it takes to learn the more advanced skills may be faster than a student who skips these fundamental steps.

 

scott spotting bhsp

It is common to have students who have not learned these basic elements struggle with learning the more advanced skills that their sport requires. Cheerleaders and dancers, for example, reach a level in their sport that require such skills. These may be the back walkovers, round-offs, aerials, and front and back handsprings. Without the development of basic training in tumbling skills, the athlete will more than likely struggle in their tumbling development.

As with any activity that is built upon progressive development, it is important to not skip steps along the way. Just as in our education system, students start off learning the basic methods of math such as adding and subtracting. Once this is understood, the student can progress to algebra, geometry, and more. It would be impossible for most students to be place and succeed in an algebra class without having the knowledge of simple math skills. The same applies to tumbling and other activities.

 

IMG_0913.JPG

Many tumbling coaches, including myself, are happy to assist these programs. I have attended many cheer and dance programs doing clinics and classes for their athletes. I respect the owners and head coaches of these program to seek out experts in this field to help their programs. Those programs who attempt to teach tumbling skills without the proper knowledge and experienced are putting their athletes in danger. The results will more than likely be negative and the program will suffer its consequences.

Program owners and coaches who need to have their athletes trained to perform tumbling skills need to understand the importance of proper development and technique. Especially for those programs where tumbling is not a regular part of their program.  Tumbling can be a fun and exciting part of any activity, but it needs to be introduced and trained in a manner that is positive and safe for the athlete.  Let’s make it a great experience!!

Tumble-Side by Side PNG

I would love to hear your comments on this post and get your thoughts.  Please Like and Share to all you believe will benefit from the information.

For clinics, seminars, or special events, please contact me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com             http://www.scottjohnsonstga.com

_TNG PNG Logo No Border

Program Development

Programs for the Rec Student

two on smarter spotter

There are two types of athletes in the youth sports industry: Recreational and Competitive. Each have their own set of rules and regulations within their program structure and they couldn’t be more different. Both programs work hand-in-hand and one certainly compliments the other. In the gymnastics industry, both programs are important to the success of the gym.  With that said, a successful recreational program is vital to the health and sustainability of the overall business. In this discussion, I will share my thoughts on this subject and how it relates to my own program structure.

Having a large and successful competitive program brings notoriety and awareness to the gym and community. The most successful programs have a great national reputation and draws in athletes from all over the country. Many times it takes just one extremely successful athlete in a program to catapult it to national recognition. But where does this success usually start? In most cases, the gyms recreational program. This program is not just the “bread and butter” financially for the gym because of its large numbers, but it is the feeder program to a successful competitive program.

scott with group

I have worked as a team coach training students from level 4 through Elite for many years and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, I have noticed there was a lack of attention and professionalism in the rec program.  Far too many recreational class instructors lack experience and the technical knowledge necessary to teach skills in a safe progressive manner, and inexperienced instructors are a safety concern.

I decided years ago that I was going to develop a program that focuses on the rec program and develop students from the beginning so they will acquire the necessary skills and technique to carry them to higher levels if they choose.

In developing this special rec program, I recognized that I did not need a large space to run classes. I did not need high balance beams, uneven bars, or even a vaulting table. Most of gymnastics is related to skills learned through beginning tumbling training, so this was my major focus. Along with floor beams, single rails, spring board, and multiple mat shapes, I was able to fulfill the needs for developmental training. In addition, I recognized after a short period of time, that many of my students did not have an initial desire to become a competitive gymnast. Thus, I developed a training program to teach students basic tumbling and gymnastics skills.  I found that this specialized training system develops a well-rounded athlete that is beneficial in any sports environment, including cheerleading, dance, martial arts, parkour, and more.

cheerleader-1581231_1920.jpg

As I discussed in a previous post, Tumbling for Sport, there is a large market in the community that needs a system that professionally and safely trains tumbling skills. Many All-Star cheer gyms have experienced tumbling coaches, however, the community programs like Pop Warner, middle and high schools, do not usually have the capability to train tumbling to their athletes. In addition, the dance and martial arts industries are having an increased need to incorporate tumbling skills. All of these athletes do not need to learn these skills based on the compulsory requirements (for example, a back roll with straight arms) but there is a proper technique aspect in all skill training that needs to be recognized and followed. I have had students grow out of our program and become a strong competitive gymnast. In fact, most of the students who started with my rec program have usually qualified immediately to a gymnastics team because they have developed the proper technique in basic tumbling and gymnastics elements. We teach it correct the first time, so bad habits are not an issue.

In developing a training program, I have always believed in consistency. As mentioned before, gymnastics and tumbling is a very difficult and complex sport. Students must acquire strength, flexibility, speed, full body coordination, and confidence in order to be successful.  Students need to learn and become confident in going upside down and going backwards (which is an unnatural movement). It takes time to learn all the necessary elements, especially if a student only attends a one hour class once a week.  While repetition can be boring, it’s a necessity in tumbling.  Like any motor skill, tumbling skills are all about timing and executing the mechanics of the skill correctly the same way every time. For this specific reason, we follow the same class curriculum for each level every week. We will throw in something different once in a while for the students to explore something new, but we stick to the curriculum as designed. If the curriculum is extensive where all the skills cannot be worked in the class time allowed, the students may only get to work a particular skill once or twice a month, thus extending the amount of time it takes to accomplish the skill.

two handstands in gym

For our beginner students (excluding preschool), we focus on developing floor skills such as forward and backward rolls, straddle rolls, cartwheels, handstands, and bridge kick-overs. We use a variety of basic drills and mat shapes for training all skills. The bars and beam work are also very basic, focusing on strength and balance movements. Most importantly, we are very hands-on and communicate consistently while working with the students (Coaching: The Communication Factor). Sticking with a consistent schedule, the students will be able to understand and accomplish the skill in a shorter period of time. I hear often, parents making the comment “my child has learned more in one class with your staff than they have in 3 months at another gym program”. It’s not that our staff performs magic, they are just well-trained and is a testament to the structure of our program.

 

Christing coaching bars

Our intermediate and more advanced students have a curriculum that can enhance not only those interested in a higher gymnastics but also beneficial for dancers, cheerleaders, and martial arts students. The floor curriculum entails introducing and teaching aerials, front handsprings, and back handsprings. In the dance industry, the students are more focused on learning walk-overs, aerials, and back handsprings. For the cheerleaders, the focus is based mostly on the back handspring and front handspring, although, the aerial is a nice skill to develop and is often seen in cheerleading. As you can see, the structure of our classes at this level is beneficial to students in different sports activities.

Regardless of the level of participation, whether for beginners or advanced students, all of the skills and drills are taught with proper technique. If the students do not learn the skills with proper technique, they will struggle in advancing their skill level (The Technique Controversy). For example, it is so important to learn a great cartwheel before learning a round-off. In my experience, one of the most difficult skills to learn properly, for most students, is the round-off. We spend a lot of time developing this skill and will not introduce the back handspring without having this skill accomplished- among other basic elements. When we see a student perform a round-off back handspring and busts the back handspring, it is typically a problem with the round-off, not the back handspring. This will be a subject of another post and in my future training manuals.

Tumble-Side by Side PNG

The recreational program is such an important part of all gym clubs and requires special attention to ensure its success. Not only is it the largest part of the gym program, but it feeds the team program. The stronger the rec program, the stronger the team program. I had a great deal of satisfaction working with team students and watching them grow into strong athletes. Now, I get as much satisfaction working with rec students and watching their excitement when they accomplish their skills.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to comment or send me a message. Also, if there are any subjects you would like me to cover, let me know and I will do my best to post my thoughts. As always, I would love to hear your comments. Please Like and Share to all you believe will benefit from the information.

For clinics, seminars, or special events, please contact me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com