Raise The Bar

Sometimes not knowing where the bar is can help your performer reach it…

qgwaczuzsmui569xpz0h_gymnastics_barsSounds mad right? I’ll explain. I recently attended a coaches development workshop with a few coaches all working towards the level 3 qualification(s) in Trampoline. If you don’t already know; there are four modules with different skills and you can work on up to two at a time. In order to ‘pass’ competency must be shown of the taught skill and your ability to catch it. The workshop was set up by myself and group of coaches predominantly from the same club, but we work with different performers at different venues and so some of the kids we were working with we knew of but either hadn’t worked with before or it had been a long time since we’d worked with them.

The conclusion I came to was that one of the coaches was surprised by her athlete’s willingness to complete a prep skill without the mat. Now I’d worked with the performer one or two summers ago and remembered her having done this skill (a 3/4 back SS* *somersault to front landing) directly to the trampoline and having been competent then, so felt not qualms about asking her to perform the skill without the mat. Her main coach stepped in and clarified to her athlete that she knew she didn’t like doing these and we weren’t going to force her to do anything she didn’t want to do… Can you imagine the response from the performer?

Much to her coach’s surprise, she replied that no, it was fine, she’d be comfortable doing it without the mat. (My reasoning behind asking her in the first place was to work the cody progression 3/4 back SS, back pullover; my theory being if she’s not progressed a year later, she needs to work this little step for about as long as the 3/4 back before maybe even considering she might be capable of taking it any further.)

I saw the surprise on her coach’s face and it got me thinking… If you know, or think you know exactly how far you can push your performer, perhaps as coaches we could be preventing or slowing down a gymnast from reaching their full potential – by not pushing them that little bit further. I’m hoping to ask the coach what she’ll be expecting from the athlete at the next session/ in the future with regards to this skill, so will keep you posted!

‘Ten years of coaching without reflection is one year of coaching repeated ten times.’ Nick Ruddock

Here’s another example; we’ve recently had a performer (lets call her Hettie) learning a ‘full’ (Full twisting back SS), but it’s frequently short of twist, despite also making it 3/4 of the way around on most occasions. We put her in our new twisting rig to see if we could aid the twist without the fear of flying off the trampoline, and again the same result. After much analysis and giving the gymnast all the tools the coach could think of, Hettie was still coming up short. But I didn’t think it was because she didn’t have all the skills and knowledge she needed and how they needed to be applied… I wondered to myself if perhaps the gymnast indeed had all the skills and the know how she needed, but was simply over thinking the technique and analysis of the skill and not giving it all she got.

I was spotting and briefly discussed with the gymnast the benefits of the rig and how she could leave all inhibitions aside, not think about all the skills’ steps and techniques we’d given her and just trust that her body knew what to do and how so all she had to do was “allow herself” to do it (try her best to get round to where we wanted her. Aided with that, and a call of ‘twist’ just after last contact to ensure this was initiated early enough, Hettie made it the full 360 on the very next attempt; and the one after that. She was beaming. I can now confirm that a few weeks later Hettie now has the skill nailed!

Sometimes a different expectation of the gymnast and a pep talk from someone else can be just what’s needed for a gymnast to take that leap of faith. The overall lesson learned here I’d say is that there is huge benefit to a second pair of eyes.

I think I now see the purpose in a summer camp away from your usual coaches where you can go work with other coaches and performers on skills in a different environment where the usual bar isn’t there. I know on the rare occasion I visit my old club in the South that I do sometimes get the opportunity to try stuff I usually wouldn’t do here. (Incidentally they are often incredulous I’ve not yet tried some skills, but that’s a discussion for another day!)

How could you Raise the bar in your club?



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!


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.


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!


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.


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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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!

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.

Stretchy Saturdays

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

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.

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.


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

#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


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.


Sixteen men and sixteen women will take part in the qualification round in Trampoline.
Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 17.26.37Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 17.26.56

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


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 😉

#RoadToRio Series: Gymnastics at the Olympics

So ages ago on twitter I said I was thinking of doing a ‘road to rio’ series, and since there are now less that 100 Days ’til the games, I think now is clearly the time to get started on that!

Gymnastics became an Olympic sport in 1896 with the modern gymnastics movement, but for the first 32 years, only men were allowed!


In the 1928 games in Amsterdam, women competed for the first time in Artistic Gymnastics. Artistic gymnastics is usually divided into Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics. Men compete on six events: Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and High Bar, while women compete on four: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.

Fun Fact: Saudi Arabia proposed a bid for a men-only olympics in 2016!

Countries like Saudi Arabia must really work to allow female athletes to ‘freely participate’.
– IOC President Thomas Bach

Only women compete in rhythmic gymnastics, which was introduced into the Olympics in 1984’s Los Angeles games. Rhythmic involves the performance of separate routines with the use of five apparatus (ball, ribbon, hoop, clubs and rope) on a floor area.


Trampoline is a relatively new discipline for both men and women, which was only introduced 3 cycles ago at the 2000 Sydney games.

So that’s a brief introduction to each of the disciplines, in the next post, we’ll take a look at Great Britain’s prospects this year which have been looking better and better!

Speak soon! ~ Bella 😉