About Gymnastics Stuff™

Karen Goeller, CSCS, has educated thousands of coaches, teachers, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts with her books, articles, and in person. She has been training athletes since 1978 and adults since 1986. Her education includes training in emergency medicine, physical therapy, and nutrition. She has held the NSCA-CSCS, Fitness Trainer, EMT-D, Nutrition, and many gymnastics certifications. Karen Goeller is the author of the Swing Set Fitness books, the Gymnastics Drills and Conditioning books, numerous training programs, and countless articles. Karen Goeller has written more gymnastics books than anyone in the USA. She worked for world-famous gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, owned a gymnastics club for ten years, and has been featured in newspapers, magazines, and on radio and television for many years.

Gymnastics Podcast, Ballet Not for Gymnastics

I studied ballet for years as a child then again as an adult in the city. I even searched for adult ballet classes in NJ, but could not find one. That’s how I ended up in ballroom dance.

Anyway, my reason for mentioning ballet is because I recently heard of some gymnasts doing ballet with the intent to help their gymnastics. Unfortunately, that is ineffective. With ballet, most leg positions, leaps, jumps, landings, and turns are done in a turn-out position. And the crown arm position is not a stable position for balance beam. With gymnastics, especially on balance beam and dismount landings the gymnast’s feet and legs must be in parallel, not turn-out. Parallel landings are more mechanically safe for the body, especially when the gymnast is landing with a force of 10-13 times her body weight. A ballet dancer might only land with twice her bodyweight. If the knee is not in line with the middle toes, severe damage to the knees can occur. Most knee pain is from the knee not being in line with the middle toes and hip upon landings or take-offs. More specifically, if a gymnast lands with her feet turned out on balance beam and her knees move forward due to momentum, she will cause damage, and may actually roll her ankle, fall, and get seriously injured.

Again, I love ballet, but not with the intent to compliment gymnastics. So when you are looking for cross training to help your gymnasts, try to align the movements with the sport you are trying to improve. Ballet, as wonderful as it is, does not do that.

I have seen the effects of it and also seen the knee pain after years of trying to perform gymnastics skills in turn-out, specifically landing, beam work, and rake-offs on roundoffs. Most gymnasts cannot detrain the turn-out easily to suit their gymnastics skills easily. So, from a sports-science point of view it is correct. And yes, sports science is what I do. I am a CSCS. The body will perform what it has been trained to do and in that case, it’s turn-out. And I studied ballet for about 7 years. Everything is turnout.Turning out in the compulsories is a mistake. It causes bad habits and potential damage to the patella tendon because the hip-knee-foot alignment on landings and take-offs. http://www.maximumtrainingsolutions.com/landing-mechanics-what-why-and-when/

Please keep in mind that ballet dancers land with a fraction of the force a gymnast lands. The more force on the landing, the more important it is to use proper mechanics. A ballet dancer lands with up to 2x their body-weight, that’s if they are getting 2-feet off the floor. A gymnast lands an average of 4x-13x times their body weight for tumbling, beam & bars dismounts, and vaults.I see the turn-out often and it is difficult to fix. And I see it with kids who take ballet as part of their gymnastics as well as those who take ballet before they enter the sport. It happens very often going into back handspring, lunging into roundoffs, and even stepping out of skills on beam.

I saw one gymnast today reach back, go into a bridge during her warm up with her feet turned out. The stress on the knees over time does become an issue. I agree with you that it is up to the coaches to try to correct it, but it is difficult to get a kid to adjust foot alignment. I have been hired by gyms to do stuff just like that in order to reduce injuries, knee pain, ankle pain, etc.

Some knee articles…

https://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/STOP/STOP/Prevent_Injuries/Knee_Injury_Prevention.aspx

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321294.php

https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/knee-pain

Hear more of Karen Goeller podcasts here, https://karengoeller.wordpress.com/karen-goeller-podcasts/

How to Improve Athlete Confidence

How to Improve Athlete Confidence…
By Karen Goeller, CSCS

Someone asked how to build a gymnast’s confidence… The most common thing parents tell me after I work with their daughter is that their confidence has greatly increased.

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Here’s my advice…
Confidence takes time to build. It happens after a series of successes and good days in the gym, school, or work. Confidence in an athlete/child is greatly affected by a coach, parent, or teacher. It is the adults along with those small successes often that help a child become more confident.

In sports lack of confidence can actually be a safety risk. lack of confidence can lead to worry, lack of focus, and even an accident. We should help our athletes build skills progressively and remind them of each success along the way. For the safest training possible, teach drills, build strength, teach skill progressions with perfect technique, then introduce the skill and build on that. Eventually the skill may be used in competition. Remind your athlete that they went through a long process to learnt hat skill and that is a great success. With each small feeling of success comes more confidence.

Remind your athlete often, possibly even daily, of all the progress she has made, the adjustments/corrections to skill technique she made, and how far she has come since she started the sport. We all started at the beginning, even coaches.

Give her a physical challenge (not extreme) daily and ask her if it was difficult. If she says yes, tell that she should feel good about getting through a difficult challenge and completing all the work. Remind her that many people cannot do all the work she has done that day and she should feel a real sense of accomplishment. Send her home with positive thoughts on her accomplishments and successes.

Increasing confidence is a process, but daily reminders of how hard she has worked, small successes often, and a reminders of her success work to improve an athlete’s confidence. As a coach it is important to help an athlete see how great they are. be the coach that boosts your athletes confidence. They will go through life happier, healthier, and remember your training forever.

Click here to read testimonials from my athletes parents.

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Box Jump Not for Gymnasts

So as a gymnastics coach of 40 years and a CSCS, I’ve spent a lot of time studying injury prevention and sports science. I really specialize in conditioning gymnasts. It’s what I love to do.

Anyway, there are a few useless fitness exercises that I am seeing gymnastics coaches assign to their gymnasts. These exercises bother me because they are not sport-specific, so the gymnast could be spending their time more wisely in order to help their gymnastics performance. The other thing is, many times, they are not being performed with the correct technique. That can cause injury over time.

One of the exercises that really bothers me when I see a gymnast doing it is the box jump. A box placed at hip or chest height and asking the gymnast to jump up to the box. It bothers me because gymnasts do not have to jump that high. For a split jump or straddle jump, they really only need to jump 8-12 inches off the floor. That’s not difficult for most gymnasts.

The other reason I do not like the box jump for gymnasts is because when they land on the box or mat stack they are landing with improper mechanics, poor technique. Many are landing with their buttocks touching their heels. And many are landing with their knees falling in towards one another. Both can cause a good amount of damage over time to the knees, hips, and ankles. We all know that the proper landing technique is with the knees in line with the middle two toes and hip, not swaying in towards one another. A proper dismount landing is with this alignment and no lower than a squat. Why would you train a deep squat? Landing technique is now in the safety certification, finally!

You can do many more sport-specific drills and leg conditioning exercises such as the step-up-knee-lift, the step-down, and lunge walks. The step-up-knee-lift is a running drill as well as a strength exercise.  The step-down is great for the quadriceps and the push for a back handspring. The lunge walks are very specific for gymnasts too. The forward is specific to the push for a round-off or front handspring. The backward lunge walk is specific to the take-off or jump for a back handspring. Again, it is imperative that the athlete keeps the knee in line with the middle toes and hips.

The other reason I do not like the box jump is because it is not at all sport-specific. Gymnasts do not have to jump up to chest height for any skill. They do not have to jump that high for their dance jumps such as split jumps or straddle jumps. And when they are tumbling, doing something such as a double-back, they are not actually jumping as they would for a box jump. They are actually rebounding. There is a big difference between jumping and rebounding. Coming out of a back-handspring and going into a double back there is no actual jump. The set/lift requires the gymnast to stay tight, not jump. That is very different from a jump and that requires very specific conditioning.  So, if a gymnast needs more height for tumbling, they must train body-tightness, rebounding, and better tumbling technique, NOT the box jump. Plyometrics should also be done once a week for rebounding technique and lower leg speed.

I hope this helped. Listen to the podcast anywhere you get podcasts.

Karen Goeller, CSCS
www.KarenGoeller.com
www.GymnasticsDrills.com