Continual professional development is a necessity. I encourage you to honestly answer the following questions to see what path you are on with your professional development.
- Where and how are learning and growing professionally?
- Do you know the classics and know history?
- How influenced are you by fads and instant information?
- Are you addicted to Internet training porn?
- Do you have a mentor who is a guide not a guru, preferably someone who has been there before?
Through this website and through the clinics that I do I spend hours each week researching skills, talking to coaches, developing plans. It has made me a much better coach in the gym.
USA Gymnastics University is a great jumping off point for coaches education. I am sure all professional members have received all the e-mail.
There are a ton of great educational opportunities. Regional and National Congresses, private clinics and training camps. YOU NEED TO GET GOING!
Do you know YOUR history? Are you doomed to repeat it? I start many of my lectures by asking the coaches what their history in gymnastics was.
- What did they like about their coach?
- What did they dislike about their coach?
- What would their gymnasts say they liked about them?
- What would their gymnasts say they didn’t like about them?
How about the history of our sport?
How influenced are you by fads? I remember back in the early 90s a number of gymnastics clubs were not allowing their gymnasts to use grips. I asked why and their response was that it is because the Romanians and Russians didn’t use grips. I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for a competition shortly after this conversation and we were in the same hotel with a team from Russia. So I asked, “Why don’t your gymnasts where grips?” The immediate reply, “Leather shortage made grips too expensive and Chalk was difficult to get.”
Just because someone else is doing it, it may not be the best idea!
Are you addicted to Internet Training Porn? The GYMTERNET has made finding training ideas and models pretty accessible. BUT, who is it that you are watching on YOUTUBE? My first group of elite gymnasts I coached were unbelievably good at BARS and BEAM. Of course, I took all the credit for this. It was because of my program and my “expert” coaching. Since they I have realized they it was THEM not ME that made them good on Bars and Beam. When I go back and look at my training notes and notes on my lectures from that time, I realize that all my drills were really specific to those athletes and probably would not translate to other gymnasts.
I have learned some great things and picked up some good drills from the GYMTERNET but I stay pretty skeptical and so should you.
Do you have a mentor to guide you? Lets face it very few of us are in uncharted territory. Someone else has been here. Learn from what they did right and wrong.
How often do you speak to that person? When I was getting started I spent countless hours visiting other coaches and gyms. Picking out the best of what they were doing and finding things that translated into my program. Frank DeFrancesco from Arena, Kip Reed who was at NEGX at the time, were always helpful. Doc Massimo always had sound advice. Muriel Grossfeld mentored me through that first group and kept me from freaking out.
Find your mentor. Learn from them. Then pass is on.
Read your post today – sounds a little like what I’ve been trying to pass on for years now. Here’s a little out-take from several past articles.
The Physics Problem
It’s always good to have a perfect model of a skill in your mind. It really helps you keep to the physical requirements – both strength and flexibility – as well as stay consistent with your drills and progressions. But there is also a pitfall here.
Think back to when you had physics in high school. Very often you had a problem whose real purpose was to demonstrate a basic law of physics – so, in the instructions for the problem it would state that, “For this problem you may ignore the force of friction and air resistance” or something like that. All well and good to demonstrate the principle, but in the real world, there IS friction; there IS air resistance. It doesn’t always come to down to a nice neat problem, or in our case progression or drill.
I may have the perfect drill to teach a Stalder, but it may only work with kids of a specific body type or flexibility – or strength for that matter. It may not be a “one size fits all” drill. I may need to make changes that fit the individual to whom I am trying to teach the skill. In some cases this could be a positive.
What if I have someone very strong and fast? If you have read Dr. George’s new book, “Championship Gymnastics”, you’ve seen a diagram of a Stalder circle that is a little outside the ability of most every gymnast – it drops almost like a giant and then pulls in at horizontal. It is presented in this fashion to demonstrate a principle; fall as far straight body as you can before you shorten the body to increase angular momentum/speed. But I’ll swear I saw Mustafina start to drop at least a little bit like that before breaking in the shoulders to perform that Stalder and toe shoot Shaposhnikova 1/2 turn to HB in her bar routine.
Most kids aren’t physically capable of performing the skill that way, but she is able to do so. Does that mean we try to teach every kid to do it exactly like that? Or do we adapt and change the timing, even the technique of style in order for them to be successful?
Having that model is important, since I think it keeps us focused on the important details to be successful. We may have to perfect model, but we rarely have the perfect gymnast. To be successful across a large number of gymnasts, we need to be able to:
“Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.”
PS ( I’ll leave this quote as an exercise for the reader to find. Hint: Clint.)
ENA Paramus, NJ