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Making straight jumps exciting

Discussion in 'Coach Forum' started by azara, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    Hi all,

    I've just been rostered to coach a group of young rec gymnasts by myself (I'm pretty excited, feel like I've graduated a little haha). It's a very basic group, so two out of the three vault skills are straight jumps: straight jump off a 40cm box, and up onto a 20cm box. There are going to be quite a lot of straight jumps done over the next term...

    Do you have any suggestions for different or interesting straight jump drills? Kids are going to get bored doing doing the same things over and over, so I'm looking to expand my arsenal. I already have (other than on the ground, onto the box, and off the box):

    - jumping in and out of a hoop / forward and back behind a line, emphasising a straight, upright body shape
    - lying down, back to the ground, legs bent, and pushing a box (sort of like the takeoff of a lying-down straight jump)
    - flat plank between two small boxes
    - rebound jumps on floor
    - straight jumps up and down over low boxes
    - straight jump off a springboard (to practise shape in the air and landing)

    They're mostly variations on the same theme. Do you have any other suggestions?

    ETA: I'd be especially appreciative for anything with an element of fun. This is a rec group, not really pre-team, so although drills are important, I would like them to find what they're doing entertaining.
     

  2. Jard.the.gymnast

    Jard.the.gymnast Coach Coach Gymnast

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    When it says jumps, read straight jump
    -jumps in a row
    -3 jumps forward, jump 1/2 turn, 3 jumps backward ,jump 1/2 turn etc.
    -3 jumps, jump 1/1 turn, 3 jumps etc.
    - this can be done on the floor, trampoline or tumble trak
    -maybe on a low beam?
    -touch the ceiling etc, have them touch something high and encourage them to jump very high
    -into the pit

    Good luck!
     
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  3. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    I particularly like this suggestion, thank you! A full turn and on the beam is probably beyond expectations, but they should be able to do a half. I can set up dots along the floor and include it in the floor circuit.

    I also like the reaching for something high. I don't have anything to get them to reach up high (as the only coach, I'd prefer to be spotting/correcting rather than holding up a noodle), but I could stick something for them to reach at against a crash mat on the wall.
     
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  4. Jard.the.gymnast

    Jard.the.gymnast Coach Coach Gymnast

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    A drill we do on beam is to start arms up, squat a bit with arms down. In a normal jump you would get off the ground, but in the beginning we just rise tot releve. Then come down, arms go down to the side, stick it. You could try that. If you don't get it, pm me and I can send you a video if you want to
     
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  5. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    I'm familiar with that one, it's like doing a jump without jumping. I'll probably get them to do that later in the term!

    I'm not entirely sure what their skill level is yet, so I can make the exercises easier/harder once I know. The last group I took, similar to this one, probably would have struggled a little (their releves weren't particularly strong).
     
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  6. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    You can spend some time working on their landing position for the jumps off the box. Show them a proper landing and as they get better at showing it you can challenge them to "freeze" in the landing position for 3-5 counts without moving their feet. You can turn it into a game too with various little challenges- see who can stick the most turns in a row, see if you can get through the whole line with no steps/wiggles (can turn this into 2-3 times through the line as they get better).
    Do you have access to a trampoline or tumble trak? You can have them work 5-10 straight jumps in a row staying in one spot, little ones have a tendency to be very wiggly in their core and tend to bounce all over the place which makes straight jumps hard. This gives them a visual of staying in one spot and they have to figure out how to squeeze their body to accomplish it. You can also do it on a springboard or trampoline board/mini tramp.
     
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  7. Aussie_coach

    Aussie_coach Moderator/Coach Staff Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Gymnast Club Owner

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    Little ones should be working on the different aspects of the vault, not just the straight jump vault.

    Your drill should include work on leg speed and power, running technique, rebound off feet, board entry, handstand work, rebound off hands, aerial awareness, landing work etc.
     
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  8. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    I thought about suggesting that, but then I thought maybe at the lowest levels in Aus they are just working on static jumping.
    If you can do other activities with the kids, I do lots of work with little ones on 1 foot-2 foot hurdles (on the floor and later onto the board) and handstands.
     
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  9. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    Thanks Aussie_coach. I don't get to set the "curriculum" and the skills which should be taught. The other activities are a springboard entry, planks/shaping, and progressions to a handstand, so it's not just the jumps!

    Yes, I'm going to do a lot with the springboard entry because I found that many of the gymnasts in the last group (where I assisted) struggled. I would like to give it more attention. Most could do the moves, but it wasn't mechanically useful. My plan is to start with three dots and a hoop on the floor, then progress to springboard and arm circles, then work on the punch. I'll have drills for those later aspects separate to working on the coordination, for the time being. Does this sound reasonable?
     
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  10. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    That all sounds great! I also usually start with dots on the floor (or foot prints, or whatever other teaching aides I have handy) to work on 1 foot to 2 foot jumps. Then I can work on adding additional steps, arm movements, etc. as they get better. Some kids pick it up much quicker than others, so I find it's good to have a few progressions that can be worked with the same set-up (Kid 1 can just be working 1 to 2 foot jumps while Kids 2 & 3 are working on adding a few extra steps, while kid 4 is working on arms). Even my more advanced class kids are in wildly different places on vault, so I try to set up stations that can meet multiple needs.
     
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  11. ayyyrial

    ayyyrial Coach Coach Gymnast Former Gymnast

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    Play STICK! Everyone gets a turn to do a straight jump off a beam or a small block and tries to stick it. The first time you stick, you get an S. The second time, you get a T. Etc., until you spell STICK (it's like horse). This only works if they are old enough to spell and remember how many letters they have. You can go over what "sticking" means - legs shoulder width apart, bent knees, arms out straight in front, no foot movement or wiggling. It's more fun if you do different jumps every time (tuck jump, straddle jump, jump half turn) which they can attempt even if they are total beginners.
     
  12. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    Thanks for your help, Molly and ayyyrial! I appreciate both of your input. Kids especially love Stick It, so we'll probably play it a couple of times over the term.

    Had the first class today, and as it transpires, the real problem is not going to be correcting form, but keeping them in line... I was so disheartened at their behaviour (it was my first time taking a group alone, I thought I'd done a terribly and was just really bad at my job) that I mentioned it to a senior coach afterwards. She gave me some useful advice for next week, but I felt a lot better when she revealed the coach who had them last term also struggled very hard, and never made much headway.

    The gym mostly runs circuits for each different event, which is great when the gymnasts are well-behaved, but a nightmare when you have 8 which don't pay attention. I want to work with them, so next week, I've decided they'll go one at a time. The rest can learn how to wait a minute for their turn (they're short circuits). I did this on tramp, to more successful results. I feel bad for the few who were well-behaved and worked hard, but I can't let the others run wild. It's not safe for them or other groups, and it's certainly frustrating for me. If their behaviour improves, we can go back to circuits, and they won't have to waste time. This will be explained.

    If you have better suggestions, please let me know, but I really can't control 8 kids who just don't listen. It's not safe for anybody. And it makes me feel like a terrible coach - and I don't think I am.

    It's just frustrating when you're trying to coach and help kids with their gymnastics, but you have to spend all your time making them pay attention and not do things they're not supposed to. Even more so when it was time for the next group (I assisted). They were great, and I realised why I enjoy coaching again.

    /rant
     
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  13. Jard.the.gymnast

    Jard.the.gymnast Coach Coach Gymnast

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    Do the parents stay? How old are the kids? I would probably try to talk to the parents. Are they like that at home etc... And if the parents stay you can sent the kids to them when they have maybe 3 warnings. Of course you know them better than I do, so take everything with a grain of salt
     
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  14. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    I'd say about half the parents stay? The kids are between 5 and 7. I don't really want to take it to the parents yet because it's only been one lesson, and I want to try my best without resorting to that. I'm definitely still learning, and I'm sure I could do better. I don't want to place all the blame on the kids. If there's no improvement, then I'll try and get in contact with parents, after speaking with the HC.

    I meant to edit my response to say "two at a time" because I don't want them to feel like they're in the spotlight or uncomfortable. I just can't have all 8 at once.
     
  15. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    Sometimes with that age I make additional stations a privilege to be earned. So I open with "I have some really fun stations planned, but we only get to do them if we are good listeners and try our best!" Then I let them know that if they choose not to listen they just have to stand in line instead of doing the other stations.
    Give a few of your most basic ground rules , be firm, and follow through!
     
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  16. Zayna

    Zayna Coach Coach Gymnast Judge

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    Working with two gymnasts at a time sounds good, especially when you want to work on details. Just make sure to keep an eye on the rest of the group. I got the impression that they probably do not sit still or are used to wait in a line. You could either put some dots or hoops on the floor, so that every child has its "personal spot" to wait or make sure they are busy with tiny side stations (jump rope, balance on a rope, do some hula hoop, hold the basic shapes).
    Another thing that worked quite well with rec gymnasts aged 9-14 when they absolutely did not want to stretch and warm up was, that I only went on to the next stretch when everyone had properly done the previous one.
    As coachmolly said, be clear and consequent with your actions. And remember you are not a terrible coach. A terrible coach does not care for her gymnasts, but you do and try to improve and give your best!
     
  17. Tumbellina82

    Tumbellina82 Coach Coach Gymnast

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    Try to keep them busy and in eyeline. You can have them taking turns to do a main supervised activity like running and jumping onto and off of a box, then something simple that you don't need to spot or correct like hopscotch back to the starting point, or jump back on dots or in hoops etc. It helps to have some apparatus or chalk marks to remind them where to go. So they can go one at a time, which is easier to watch, but they don't get back in line too fast and spend a lot of time waiting and getting bored.

    Be clear about expectations. Get them to repeat back to you what they are going to be doing. If they mess around be straight on it to redirect.
     
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  18. ayyyrial

    ayyyrial Coach Coach Gymnast Former Gymnast

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    One of the things I struggled with when I first started coaching was giving individual attention while also keeping an eye on the group. At first, I'd set it up so I don't have to stay at one station, but I can just move around and give corrections to everyone and keep people on task. Then as I got to know the group more I might have a station where I had to stay (e.g. something that everyone will need spotted), but make sure to set it up so that I can see the rest of the circuit.

    Something that I found helped was trying to keep the group very engaged at the beginning of the circuit, when you're explaining the stations. I'd have the kids go through some motions with me (e.g. for a handstand station I'd have them show me their lunge with arms by the ears for the beginning/end of the handstand). Or I'd ask them to tell me what to do (e.g. I'm going to do a backward roll...where do I put my hands?) and then I'd demonstrate however they told me. Also demonstrating the "bad" version and then the "good" version gets some laughs. Or asking them to shout out the name of a skill. Just anything to get them to participate while you're explaining the stations.

    My first day coaching solo was super hard! It'll get easier. It sounds like this group is more challenging than others, too.
     
  19. Tumbellina82

    Tumbellina82 Coach Coach Gymnast

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    I think Ayyyrial's point about engaging their attention when you explain the circuit is very important and I totally agree that getting them to repeat things back and do actions is a great way to do that. Another thing to bear in mind is that kids that age can't handle a lot of information at once or too much in the way of multi-stage instructions, so try to keep it simple. Again this is also an argument against having a lot of different side stations that they need to move between.

    It occurs to me that part of the reason for the difference with this group to the one you assisted with is that that group has an established relationship with their coach, whereas these kids don't know you so they are testing the boundaries. It might be worthwhile reminding them of gym rules at the beginning of the session, and maybe at other points, like when you move to different apparatus which might have particular rules, if needed. Again, getting them to repeat back is a good strategy to ensure they do listen. Set out what will happen if they break gym rules, eg. verbal warning, then being sat out for a few minutes, and enforce that. Again, sit them in your eyeline. I would not send them over to sit with parents myself, because there is too much potential for distraction. I want them to sit quietly, watching and feeling bored for a couple of minutes. Remember that doesn't take long for kids this age, especially when they are watching others having fun. I would only send them to sit with parents if they'd already been sat out for a short period at least once and were still persistently misbehaving. Then they wouldn't be coming back til the end of the apparatus rotation, or would be sitting out the next rotation if nearing the end of the current one so I wouldn't want to have to watch them for that period. When you bring them back you can ask them the gym rules to remind them and also if they are ready to join back in with everyone else following those rules.

    Obviously if the gym has a page with a load of policies and procedures you can't get them to recite that but you can give then a few key rules like: Always listen to the coach; Keep off equipment except when it is your turn on it; We don't shout in the gym or distract other gymnasts; Never go across the path of other gymnasts.

    You can take misbehaviour as a chance to remind them all of the rules by stopping the class and asking the misbehaving kid what the rule is about whatever they are doing. It isn't something I'd do every time I need to shush a couple, but if it seems in danger of getting out of hand, or it is what I regard as a key safety rule, like being on equipment that they shouldn't or crossing in front of another gymnast.

    I guess I sound like a bit of a hard arse from that, but I'm really quite relaxed and tolerant as a coach most of the time. Having set limits which are well understood and enforced actually enables you to keep a much lighter atmosphere all the rest of the time, because it cuts the chaos you tend to get otherwise so that you're not stressed and can have a friendlier relationship with the kids instead of always being yelling for attention which can easily become antagonistic.
     
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  20. azara

    azara Coach Coach Gymnast

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    Thank you so, so much for all of your wonderful responses and advice. I employed some of it yesterday (same level, different group, same number of kids) and it definitely made a difference. I was clearer about the ground rules from the outset. As was pointed out, I don't have a rapport with the gymnasts yet and my expectations needed to be better established. My other major strategy with the group was having them all start at one point in the circuit. I could control how fast the group moved and ensure there wasn't a pile-up or collection being silly at one activity, but it wasn't a "punitive" measure, if that makes any sense. It was just more organised. I was more confident and in control, which in turn helped the kids do what they were supposed to. So I would consider it much more successful!

    I was surprised (but gratified) when I spoke to the HC and told her I had difficulty the day before m. She looked confused and said the supervisor told her I was doing a great job - so perhaps I felt more out of my depth than I looked, haha.

    I really appreciate you all taking the time to write out such long and thoughtful posts, you really did have an effect!
     
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