Tag Archive | training session

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


Hopes, dreams and goals

Having dreams, turning them into goals and how I am achieving them.

I’m in a pretty good place right now… I started this blog with some vague notion that maybe blogging about something I was really passionate about, not just stuff I enjoy doing would help me not to lose momentum. And I’ve gotta say, so far it really have helped- not just with writing about Trampoline but it’s also kick started other baby steps.

I’ve come across stuff like this and had the kick start and motivation to give it a try, rather than putting it off. You always achieve more when you’re headed toward something and I think that as other areas of my life aren’t going forward pursuing this means I’m more focused on making it happen and helps keep me positive.

Walt Disney quote dreams

I didn’t really have any fixed goals when I left university a few years ago. To be honest I’m still not sure now and that’s even further down the line of adulthood – I’ve entered the big bad world as an independent woman! There was this one goal though and it was something that I kick started 2 years ago. Trust me – if someone had told me it was going to take this long over a year ago, I’d have looked on my dream as too high a mountain to climb right now and put it off.

Incidentally taking the time on this one has put me right where I needed to be I’d say. But enough about the waffling- I’ll bet by now you’re dying to know what this insurmountable Pipe-dream was? It sounds stupid and really not that difficult but I guess the fact that it’s taken two years puts it into perspective right? Well, that’s because it started out as a dream. Maybe if I’d started focusing on it more, earlier I might’ve got there quicker. I guess I’ll never know- until I re-achieve my goal that is..! (You have no idea how excited that thought makes me!)

My dream was to take a kid through all of the somersault progressions, from scratch, all by myself.

Here’s why:

As a coach with experience on a recreational and club level for pretty big clubs in the past, I was in two totally different positions that blocked me from achieving this one in either case. In the big club environment I started out as a Level 1 Assistant Coach. This meant that I had a small group of kids I worked with every week and whose progress I could nurture and follow all the way – until the club recognised children in my group with somersault potential… Then they got moved up the hierarchy of coaches to someone more qualified than I to nurture the seed of talent. It’s quite a common trend in clubs to do this and I’d say there are numerous benefits to the performer, but I can’t help wondering if there are potential flaws… Is it fair that all your hard work isn’t rewarded in seeing the full potential realised? I think it’s good to see the fruits of ones labour and to have it recognised but perhaps keeping it for yourself is selfish. Top level coaches (Head Coaches) also have the huge advantage of picking le creme de la creme – so some kids you might’ve nurtured and seen something in fall to the wayside, out shine by better peers.

Here clearly was an opportunity lost. I was not to remain frustrated by this for long though, as I then qualified at Level 2. Bingo. I now get some potentials – I’m a part of the talent spotting and development chain now, surely? Well that’s when moving clubs lost that one – I joined a new smaller club as coach no.3 where the children all already could somersault! You see the policy here was not to accept members until they could somersault already. So that was scuppered. Perhaps I would have more potential opportunities at this dream of mine if I was more in control of my destiny? So take control I did! Grabbing the bull by the horns, I jumped in with both feet!

I was self employed at the time and working exhausting hours, halting all social activities and I sorely missed what I realised had become a passion. I quit work every Thursday completely, making this my new weekend and pursued a new opportunity on a recreational level. It was probably the best thing I did and I was far more enthused about the day job having this passion return to my life.

As time went on I was asked to cover more recreational classes, and the day job became a chore, meaning sales dropped and I was no longer successful at it. I realised I loved coaching far more and wanted a better home work social life balance – I was ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’ all the time, so I folded the business and went looking at last for something that would fit round more trampoline. Exciting times!

I was able to say ‘yes’ to far more cover-coaching opportunities, and with more kids progressing in the sport perhaps now I could finally get that somersault achievement? It wasn’t to be. The very nature of cover coaching means that you’re there when the regular coach is not, and I encountered two situations that challenged me – one was that as I was temporary cover, I was rarely privy to a progress report on where these children were at, and had to be careful about how much progress I could safely make in one session, and come to terms with the fact that any progress I made would be subsequently lost when I was no longer there the following week to reinforce and develop the next stage.

The second issue was more frustrating. For me, any kid making progress is great, and I get s real buzz from it, so I didn’t mind the dream being on hold if the children I saw infrequently we’re learning new things and having fun. I think I made a real impact on some of them.

No the most frustrating thing I found was getting there and having a child who is really keen to take their trampolining to the next level, but having to go backwards because somewhere along the line they’ve learnt a bad technique. I know I’m only the cover coach, but I have high expectations of even a seat drop before I allow progress, and the quality for some children just wasn’t there. I think one of the kids resented that she was in a group of three girls learning ‘turn-overs’ and starting to do double hand supported somersaults, when I halted her progress individually and took her back to front landings on the mat! Poor kid. I’d like to hope that I made a difference to her understanding of rotation that day, but I think I’d be lying to myself if I believed that stuck without further reinforcement the following sessions she attended.

That’s why I wanted my own group. I didn’t care how small, but I was growing tired of fixing other people’s mistakes and, honestly? Frustrated at how little progress children made between my cover sessions – if I’d managed to get a push and go front landing off the mat, I’d return weeks later to find it either still on the mat, or the technique gone to pot and take it back to the mat myself.

I realise this is a very negative view of cover coaching and I can assure you that there were also many high points during this time. But I wanted that little group and my own trampoline to nurture a group of children week to week and share their progress and successes – to be a part of them even. I wanted to be able to plan sessions and work towards something longer term and bigger than an hour here or there. Even if I was inspiring these guys just a little bit.

Achieve dream goals

So I started my Thursday sessions. In an area with a dubious reputation, which completely changed my perceptions, outlook and rekindled the dream – it became a goal now, because here I could see this dream as happening one day in the future if I kept at it. And I have. Here I was nurturing every week and celebrating at even the smallest results. I’ve had ups and downs, I’ve got close with kids who then left, I restarted from scratch with total beginners and I’ve been a part of some children’s journeys, only for their journey to continue elsewhere. But there’s always a few that stay and I have their parents to thank for this blessing. For bringing their kids to be taught by me every week.

Last Thursday I made a significant step towards my goal. Little Petal is now doing somersaults.

Granted, they’re hand supported and it’s only a front somersault… but they’re also the way I taught them with all of the progressions in between and as a coach the step from a 3/4 turnover to a full somersault hand supported wasn’t nearly such a big leap as it felt, and a big part of that goes to Petal who many a time has probably found the progress slow and frustrating, but I hope that we will now soon be at the fully unsupported stage! And I didn’t need the double hand support after all because she was just so ready it felt a natural step for us both this week. And I’m a seriously proud coach and happy as a kid at Christmas now that I’ve achieved that goal (at last).

Watch this space for more progress, ’cause it’s onwards and upwards baby! And now, I can plan ahead with my group. 😊

Happy bouncing!

– Bella 😉

New Skills

Consolidating new skills and keeping confidence levels high when learning new skills.

Learning any new skill in trampoline takes time, patience and often requires a “two steps forward, one step backwards” approach between sessions. What do I mean? Well, in a nut shell if you take two steps forward in a training session, you will need to take one step backwards in the following training session in order to consolidate the skill just learned.

Top It Up or Turn It Over - Jack Kelly

Image courtesy of Jack Kelly

For example, we recently had a competitor learning a tuck back somersault. Two steps forward would be when we went from a coach on the side to spot it; to a mat coming in for the landing (one step forward) followed by landing the skill on the trampoline (second step forward). The competitor finished the session feeling buoyant and very confident in the skill. We had worked on it for several turns on the trampoline and by the end it was being performed with a very consistent somersault and good height and awareness. With any two steps forward for a new skill learned though, you have to remember at least one step back is required to build on that confidence in the next session. The last thing you want is hesitation because they’ve had a few days off and now just ‘going for it’ is a little bit more scary than when you’d learnt them and the method was fresh in your mind.

So our step back was to reintroduce the tuck back somersault into the next session with confidence from the coach and a mat. The competitor was obviously keen to do more, as it’s a new skill, but it was important to ensure it was spotted on a mat. I must also add at this point that the mat coming in should be by the coach, to give further confidence – the competitor was keen enough to do it with a fellow participant matting on another trampoline, but we would rather it was under the full supervision of the coach first. Incidentally this ensures they’re not beginning any new bad habits that they weren’t doing before, such as keeping the head in line with the shoulders (which can be lost after a day or two of not thinking about it).

Our competitor was then able to continue her somersaults with or without a mat 🙂

Happy bouncing!