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How To Coach

I’m undertaking a L1 qualification in a new discipline, so I’m going back over the tips on how to be a good coach. Here’s a few of the tips and pointers I’ve come across in part one of the course.

Communication

To be a good coach, you need to be an effective communicator. It’s not just a one way street though, you need to be able to send and receive a message successfully. This includes being aware of potential communication barriers that could prevent your message getting across. To ensure communication is effective, you’ll be wanting to check with questioning and feedback if your communication was effective.

Are you able to get your message across without misunderstanding in a simple, succinct way? Are you able to vary the types of communication you use in order to increase effectiveness and engagement?

There are 3 types of communication: Verbal, Non-verbal and Questions. Some examples of each which you might use in your coaching include:

Verbal- Giving an instruction of what you would like the gymnast to do.

Non-Verbal – Show gymnasts a video demonstration of the skill or technique you are looking for, or employ a ‘Bendy Wendy doll’ (below) to assist!

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Questions – after a demonstration by one performer, question others for feedback and greater understanding of the skill executed.

Communication Barriers

Reasons your communication could be misunderstood or misheard include the environment, a disability, expectations of what is being communicated, attention and the language used to communicate in the first place.

In working with preschoolers I’d assume lack of attention is a significant barrier in a child knowing what you want them to do. It’s too easy to be distracted in a big hall with lots of interesting things to do and play with!

Someone with a disability such as sight loss isn’t going to be able to learn through a demonstration or video, so that’s disabilities should form a key part of your session planning – have you thought of an alternative way form that person to learn?

Using Instructions Effectively

Stop and gain everyone’s attention, outline your Aims, explain What you will be doing, give a reason Why we’re doing it, explain How and Who will be doing it, define When or for how long and Check everyone understood.
Good coaches are good listeners! Don’t just use instructions, define and explain the relevance of an activity – when was the last time your gymnasts were reminded why they warm up?

Don’t make assumptions
Be clear and specific
Give examples and alternatives
Set Boundaries
Combine instructions with different coaching styles

The three main coaching styles utilised in gymnastics are:

  1. Show and tell – ideal when a skill is new or more risky
  2. Set up and stand back – Great for experiementation and gives gymnasts some freedom/ control
  3. Question and involve – A great motivator and encourages thinking and self-development  NB. Open questions are often more useful as coaching tools

Coaching Styles work hand in hand with different Learning Styles. These include: Visual – learning through watching a demonstration. Kinaesthetic – learning through physical practice or experience. Auditory – listening to instructions. Adapt your style to meet not only the needs of the participants but also the requirement of the activity. Most coaches will develop a general style that works in certain situations, but try to vary it a little to keep everyone engaged.

Below are some really good examples about how the language and types of questions we use as coaches can help to better the types of responses we are looking for from an athlete. Examples of Open versus Closed Questions:

Closed: Are you happy with…

Open: How could you have improved…

… your performance today?

Open: What did you enjoy about…

Closed: Did you enjoy…

… today’s session?

Closed: Please can you…

Open: Why do you think we…

… do it this way?

There are times when open questions can be less helpful due to their less specific, abstract nature. If you’ve noticed a specific part of a skill that you would like the participant to think about, you may need to be more specific when referring to it to get the desired response. Specific questions or feedback are best for encouraging thought and encouraging motivation for a positive change. Questions which cater for preschool aged children and individuals with a learning difficulty would be different to those for older children or adults.

Try to include all participants, especially those who are quieter or easily distracted

Take time to practice good listening behaviours

Make a note in your session plan of relevant open questions you might ask participants

If feedback is always positive or always negative the participant can become demotivated

Good feedback should help to reinforce or change what we do – it is most useful with both positives and negatives as well as reflection and planning for next time.

Look for positive outcomes when presented with negative feedback. Give your own feedback in a sandwich- positive, negative, positive.

In the next post: Session Planning and Safety! I hope you’ve found this insightful, and if nothing else, it’ll make a great revision aid for me.

In the meantime, keep bouncing! Bella ~ 😉

 

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Competition Ettiquette

On the evening or Supporting Sunday and ahead of one of the busiest competitive couple of months I thought I’d lay out a few suggestions about how Coaches, Parents and Athletes can set a good example at competitions!

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Athletes: Do

  • Applaud teammates and other athletes who do well.
  • Respect other teams and individuals.
  • Respect the judges’ decisions.
  • Applaud other team’s successes

Athletes: Don’t

  • Be aggressive or abuse the opposition.
  • Vocalise negativity or disappointment.
  • Question the judges marks or decisions.

Coaches: Do

  • Applaud a good performance, whether it’s your athlete or not.
  • Give encouragement and positive feedback on the competition floor, especially between routines.
  • Manage team and individual expectations.
  • Manage your own club’s parents and athletes!

Coaches: Don’t

  • Shout instructions during a performance, practice or warm up.
  • Instruct athletes how to do their routine.
  • Give negative reactions to a judge’s decision or mark.

Parents: Do

  • Applaud for all athletes, especially the ones who step back up after a fall- they’re the ones that need the most encouragement of all.
  • Applaud all the team placings, not just your own teams success.
  • Encourage your athletes to be pleased, whatever the result.

Parents: Don’t

  • Shout loudly and interfere with athletes’ performances.
  • Instruct coaches, athletes or officials on what they should be doing – it’s not your job!
  • Give negative reactions to the judges scores, accept their decision.
  • Speak badly of other athletes regardless of your thoughts on their performance, if you’re supporting someone else, your opinion is biased and unwarranted.

#SupportingSunday

Happy competing everyone! ~Bella 😉

The Difference between ‘Trampoline’ and ‘Gymnastics’

Below are a few of the stark differences between trampoline and gymnastics… 

When you say ‘Gymnastics’ to people, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is traditional artistic apparatus – floor, bars, beam and vault. You might even think there’s that balance one, and the one with the ribbons and stuff… For most people, including Trampoline gymnasts, the first thought wouldn’t be ‘Trampoline’ – and that’s due in part because trampoline used to be a different ‘sport’ in it’s own right, with the British Trampoline Association (BTA) as it’s governing body from as early as  1963, that is until the BTA and the ‘British Gymnastics Association’ as it was then, merged. It’s a gymnastic discipline, sure, but not only was it separate to British Gymnastics for many years, but it’s still also the lesser-known (but growing!) little-sister of the sport.

Trampoline is a discipline, Gymnastics is not

What do I mean? Well ‘gymnastics’ is the generic word for all of the disciplines, including trampoline but it is so frequently used to refer to artistic, that people don’t recognise just how broad gymnastics has become… e.g. the “Glasgow World Cup Gymnastics” event, which is all about artistic.

“Trampoline is too easy” – Jack Kelly

In gymnastics, not only are you expected to start young, you’ll also be doing a lot of body preparation and conditioning before you’re doing those cool “flips” you want to show off with in the school yard. This is because a basic skill like as an upstart on A-bars requires a lot of core strength, not just technique and practice.

Jack Kelly often says that anyone can do a somersault on the trampoline, and he’s right, with the invention of these trampoline parks, most kids are having a go and the technique might leave a lot to be desired, but a basic somersault on the trampoline is achievable by the average Joe. Thats a stark different to a kid saying “I want to do a flip on beam” only to realise that it’s going to take years to get there.

In gymnastics your career is pretty much over by the time you’re off to Uni…

Trampoline on the other hand, because of the lesser strain on your body, one of GB’s best female competitors has just turned 30 with a Bronze Medal at world championship level! (Happy Birthday Kat Driscoll!) A brilliant result, and it just goes to show that trampoline can be a later specialism.

Artistic Gymnastics is subjective

In gymnastics athletes create their routines and performances and are marked on performance and musicality as well as the skills that are included in the routine. In trampoline marks are awarded for the execution (neatness) and difficulty of a skill based on the amount of rotation and twist.

That’s a few of the differences I think parents and participants should be aware of – comment below if you know of any other differences. ~ Bella 😉

Leotard Suppliers

Last updated: March 2017
For anything and everything you need to know about leotards, companies and some stuff you didn’t think you needed to know. I hope this will soon become the best resource for locating leotards out there!

I don’t know about you but one of the most exciting aspects of our sport (probably more so for the girls than the boys) is the fact that we all wear leotards. Leotard (window) shopping is one of my favourite pastimes and so every time I come across a new website selling leotards or a new supplier, naturally I’m on it browsing for the prettiest leotards and latest leotards trends (TrendTip: Netting is so in this season, and so is aqua blue-green colouring!)

I thought I’d help us all out by collecting up all those wonderful links to the websites and Facebook pages etc. Of suppliers, starting with some of the big most common big brands/ suppliers and including some of the smaller single-man (or woman) companies that are producing beautiful well-made leotards.

If I’ve missed one off the list, let me know and I’ll be sure to add it!

Aspire

Possibly a new favourite of mine, Aspire have some great designs and an excellent care label for their leotards! Created in 2012, Aspire researched what gymnasts want from a leotard, the fabrics, manufactured technology and quality and I certainly agree! They also have the cheapest recreational leotard I’ve ever seen, as well as reductions on some trendy designs making these guys affordable for everyone.

http://aspire-leotards.co.uk

A-star

The custom kings of leotards, A star specialise in custom fabric and design combinations at reasonable prices. Based in Devon these guys are proud to be 100% British.

https://www.astar.uk.com

BK’s Gymnastics Wear

They don’t have a swanky expensive website that walks, talks and flies but they do have a selection of lovely girly leotards and some cutting edge designs. They also have the opportunity to model for them so go check that out!

https://www.bks-gymnastics-wear.com

Gees Active

With leotards for practice and competition wear, this company supply attire for gymnastics, dance, ice skating and more. Could this mean they are a jack of all trade but a master of none? I don’t think so, but the verdict’s out, have you bought or owned one of these leotards? Let me know how you would rate them in the comments below.

https://geesactive.co.uk

Elite Gymwear- GK & Christian Moreau

Well known American brand GK are a popular leotard for their comfortable fabrics and fit. Cut a bit wider in the body these leotards are great for training and performance wear.
Elite are also supplies of Christian Moreau leotards and have a range of beautiful designs for girls and some cutting edge leotards for boys. These American apparel leotards both come with a matching price tag; though many can be found for a bargain in sales or second hand and make long lasting leotards.
The UK supplier for GK, Adidas and Christian Moreau is below.

https://www.elitegymwear.co.uk

Milano image

Probably one of the most well known leotard brands out there, Milano has been producing leotards for any years. They were also the headline sponsor for Great Britain and the Home Nations supplying the iconic ‘Britannia’ back design that we’ve seen in many of the 2015/16 designs.

https://www.milano-pro-sport.com

Quattro

A relative newcomer to the stage, Quattro have just announced they are the new leotard supplier for Team GB. With comfort and cutting edge fabric and designs their ethos these guys are a definitely one not to miss!

http://www.quatrogymnastics.com/home

Shape Gymwear

A brand new boutique leotard company hailing from Cardiff, Wales this is an exciting newcomer. Aimee is hand making leotards for considerably less than the big retailers and many of the designs on Shape’s Facebook shop are custom yet affordable.

https://facebook.com/SHAPEgymwear/

https://www.shapegym.co.uk

Stretchy Saturdays

Billed for recreational use, Stretchy Saturdays have a large number of brightly coloured short sleeved leotards idea for any gymnastics class.

http://www.stretchysaturdays.co.uk/

The Zone

Often seen as the more affordable option for leotards, The Zone have over the years branched out to using more creative fabrics and designs. For recreational leotards on a sensible budget, this is the place to go.

http://www.the-zone.co.uk

Happy shopping everyone! Hopefully this’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for! ~Bella

Stretching: Help or Harm?

I’ve recently been taking a good look at stretching, specifically the benefits and when during a training session you should or shouldn’t be stretching. Some of my findings were new to me, so I thought I’d share a general overview and some of what I learned.

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What is stretching?

The movement of your muscles through their complete range of motion. There are two types of stretches: Dynamic and Static. Dynamic is the continuous movement of a muscle smoothly through its complete range of motion, for example leg swings. Static stretching is placing a muscle in a stretch and holding it in that position, for example if you were to raise your leg at a height and fold your body over it, holding the stretch for a fixed amount of time.

Dynamic Stretching is great at the beginning of a session because it helps to improve metabolic activity and blood flow to the muscle. This in turn helps with the muscles range of motion and power output, as well as preventing injury.

Static Stretches initially cause muscles to contract, and are proven to decrease the power available in the muscle for a short period – not what you want before a training session requiring maximum power. However when held for around 20 seconds post-workout, static stretches are effective at helping muscles to recover and heal, gently increase your flexibility and relax your muscles.

When is it best to stretch?

Based on my research, Dynamic activation stretches are great to include in your warm up. Static stretching in a fixed position for 20 seconds are most effective after exercise, during your cool down.

For a brief dynamic warm up, check out the video below from 13’07”. This video also really makes you think about the best use of a training session, especially when as Nath discusses (11′ in) the most ‘efficient use of time for optimal training’ doesn’t include static stretching, which can be done anywhere at any time, instead of getting onto the equipment you’re there to work on. He also makes a good point when it comes to young kids and the lack of ‘fun’ in stretching as opposed to using the equipment in the gym.

I hope you found this interesting and informative. I know it’s helped to inform what stretches I use in my training and coaching sessions. I’d really appreciate your thoughts below. On a side note, I was taught a warm up is for both the body and mind, do you think shortening the warm up could pose a risk to a athlete being less mentally prepared? Comment below with your opinion, I’d love to hear it!

~ Bella

Freedom and Responsibility

Happy 4th of July to any American out there and anyone else who celebrates Freedom & Independence!

JAG GYM Blog

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With freedom, comes responsibility–the responsibility to exercise the power that your freedom brings you in a way that makes you worthy of your autonomy and demonstrates the value you place on having liberty.

Coaches, each time you have a group of children who you are instructing you have the freedom to create a lesson that matches the goals you have for the group. You also have the responsibility to create a lesson that builds your athletes in a healthy manner, both physically and psychologically.

Gymnasts each time you are given autonomy to monitor your own conditioning or complete you assignment without a coach standing over you, you have the opportunity to show that you are trustworthy by doing what was asked of you.

Freedom may mean the right to so as one pleases, but there is two very important caveats: your freedom does not give you the right to impinge…

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#RoadToRio Series: Gymnasts who made it!

The Olympic draws in Gymnastics were released on the 5th May 2016. To find out which athletes or nations will complete, check out the info below. The draws for Artistic Gymnastics, Trampoline and Rhythmic Gymnastics were held during the FIG Council meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

Rio Olympics 2016 Gymnast by bubble-emporium

Rio Olympics 2016 Gymnast by bubble-emporium. Click the picture to purchase

Artistic

A total of 98 gymnasts (12 teams of five gymnasts and 38 individuals) will compete in the qualification round in both Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics in Rio.

Find out more about the Men’s Artistic here.

Trampoline

Sixteen men and sixteen women will take part in the qualification round in Trampoline.
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UPDATE: Great Britain have secured 2 places in the Women’s Trampoline competition and 1 Men’s place to compete in the Olympics – Go team GB! Once the team members have been confirmed, I’ll let you know with a further update. ~ Bella

Rhythmic

In Rhythmic Gymnastics, 26 gymnasts will take part in the individual competition, while 14 nations have qualified for the Group competition.

 

Do you have a favourite gymnast hoping to gain one of those precious olympic spots? Let me know in the comments below! ~ Bella 😉