Have you seen this glide kip on uneven bars article? It was published in Technique Magazine in 2004, but is still relevant today.
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.
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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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.
Athlete ankle/foot pain? A whole team with Sever’s? Something must change. My suggestion to the coaches with this issue… Don’t make them tumble or land on hard surfaces for a month. I bet half the issues will resolve themselves.
Athletes should dip their feet in a bucket of ice water for ten minutes then warm/hot water for ten minutes with epsom salt in the warm/hot every night for at least a week. With the ice-they may need to remove their foot often then put back in because it is intense.
Make sure they are properly stretching and conditioning their feet and lower legs. Shown here is an Achilles and calf stretch. And check out the Ankle Drills and Conditioning Poster here, https://www.cafepress.com/gymnasticsstuff/680849
And proper landing mechanics are a must. Look at the USAG Safety Manual for proper landing, they finally got it right. landing from a jump is different than landing from a tumbling pass or dismount.
And here’s a great landing mechanics article from the NSCA. http://myweb.facstaff.wwu.edu/chalmers/PDFs/Landing%20mechanics.pdf
Listen to Karen Goeller’s podcast on this topic anywhere you get podcasts!
USA Gymnastics interviews noted coach, author about Maggie Haney
Not all coaches are like this. There are many that are very demanding yet also very positive. You may have to drive further than you want for your child to train with the best coach for them, but good coaches exist. Visit at least three gymnastics facilities before you make a decision on where your child will train. Talk to other parents, look at the body language of the kids walking into the gym and leaving. None should look stressed out on their way into a gym. Ask about injuries. It should be under ten percent of the team. Watch the coaches body language and expressions as they arrive. They also should not look stressed walking into the gym. Google and youtube coach, gym owner, and gymnastics facility names to see if anything negative comes up or to (hopefully) read nice reviews or news. Check the state and regional meet results. It’s a tough decision that will change your life for better or worse so be careful with the decision.
Let me know how I can help… Check out my consulting and training pages along with my testimonials.
Gymnastics meet season is almost here and some coaches are scrambling to get everything done that THEY did not do during the summer, including helping their athlete’s condition and stretch properly.
Some coaches are carelessly or recklessly stretching their gymnasts in an effort to make their leaps and jumps bigger to avoid deductions in scores at meets. Stretching an athlete to the point of upsetting and injuring them is not the answer. It is actually abusive, especially if it is painful to the athlete.
It is very possible to manually stretch an athlete without upsetting or injuring them, but most coaches do not know how to do this safely. Sorry, it’s the truth. I have had many athletes come to me for help with injuries as a result of overstretching and/or overtraining then stretching the injured area.
An athlete only needs flexibility slightly beyond what their skills require. Most gymnasts need more speed and strength to perform many skills rather than more flexibility. Many gymnasts are more than flexible enough to split to 180, but their hip flexor, glute, and low back muscles are too slow and/or weak to lift their legs to the 180 degree split required for a good leap. They need more active flexibility, conditioning, specific for leaps as well as drills for technique. These athletes must perform drills and condoning rather than to be forced into an over-split or stretched by a coach with no knowledge of sports science. Being overly flexible at the joint can lead to joint laxity/ligamentous laxity, that’s an unstable joint. An unstable joint can lead to bigger problems such as pain, numbness, tingling, arthritis, joint dislocation, and accidents which can lead to additional injuries.
I am a CSCS, it’s what we do. We base our training on science and experience and that is why we get results without harming athletes. Hire a CSCS or physical therapist to consult with and your athletes will thank you.
Conditioning for Jumps and Leaps, It’s Not just Squats May/June 2016 https://issuu.com/usagymnastics/docs/2016_03mayjune/10
Training with Karen Goeller, www.BestGymnasticsTraining.com.
The podcasts are some of Karen Goeller’s thoughts. Most are quick podcasts, under two minutes, but may be helpful to you… These are mostly health, nutrition, and sports related, but there are other topics that are covered on occasion.
How did this start? Karen Goeller, CSCS, was concerned after hearing a medical doctor on tv give advice. He left out the most simple solutions to the problem. She thought her voice needed to be heard. Karen will continue to give her thoughts on topics that come up with her clients, friends, and on the news.
You can also listen to her podcasts nearly anywhere you get your podcasts including iheart radio, itunes, and spreaker.