stations for beginner/intermediate

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Aug 7, 2011
Our gym is quickly growing and the class sizes are getting bigger. I am needing ideas for stations on floor, vault and beam for both a rec beginner and intermediate class. The kids just don't seem self motivated. I worry that putting stations up with result in a lot of lazy, half work. But I also don't like them standing in line waiting for their turn. I am coming up blank on ideas for new stations to keep the kids moving.
I can't give you specific drills (I have no idea what your set-up is, what mats and space you have available, etc...) But I can hopefully guide you towards fixing both of your problems.If you see lack of motivation, then you are probably getting to the point where there is not enough 'success' in the current activity, and it's stagnating.In that light, think about what your ultimate goal for them is. For rec kids, it's cartwheels or handstands, or any number of spacial awareness skills without any real need for a salto. That said, all of your skills can be broken up and progressed to work towards the goal you have for that class. If the end of the class is about a cartwheel, break the individual classes into components - kicking, inversion, handstand, turning, lunnge, etc.. - and make your own simple drills to promote mastery and progression.Strength is also a necessary component - you can always add a conditioning station, and you can always add a handstand station.Note, this just for floor ex, as an example. You can do this for pretty much any event, with most skills. If you can, you will not only become a better coach, you will also get a better understanding of motion and energy, and probably find a deeper appreciation for the sport.Hope that helps!Ryan
Vault stations can be kind of tricky with beginners, especially those who need lots of hands on help with the basics like handstands, hurdles, etc. So I know where you're coming from! Here are some things I've found to be pretty successful, I'm not the best at describing in words, so let me know if you have any questions.
1. Set up rubber footprints, small flat foam blocks (like those foam puzzle pieces), or small hula hoops on the floor in a hurdle pattern- 1 foot, 1 foot, 2 feet and have them step through the pattern. You can add an arm circle if they catch on.
2. Run, hurdle, jump off two feet onto a mat. Start with an 8" and you can move up to bigger stacks as they get better and more consistent with the correct hurdle.
3. Handstand flatback, make sure they stay tight. Might need to be a spotted station depending on their skill level.
4. Donkey kicks- really enforcing heel drive and good body shapes. We would sometimes have them stand on the edge of the in-ground tramp with their hands on an 8" and do tight donkey kicks up to a handstand flat back. That would only work with the right set-up and kids with good base handstands.
5. Squat on vaults
6. Stand in front of fat end of a cheese mat and jump off 2-feet to a forward roll down the cheese mat
7. Jump stick

I wouldn't usually use all of these stations at once and try to stick to just a few for vault so I can keep a close eye on all of them and so the kids aren't doing anything beyond what they're capable of by themselves. So if there are lots of kids I'll stick in a few conditioning stations- handstands against their wall with their stomach against the wall, hollow holds, supermans, pretty basic stuff.
For vault, If you have 2 spring boards, use one as a ramp. I.e. run up one board to hurdle onto the other one. I stole this from a Canadian gym that did it with a spring board and a mini tramp. A lot of running on their toes. Handstand flatbacks to a mat. I personally don't use donkey kicks for vault but that's just my preference. I basically try to stay away from anything that makes you pike or reach down. I've seen a lot of folks do bounders as a vault drill and to me they are completely different skills. I catch beginners a lot. If they are tight (I move them around and try to make it fun while I have them in the air) they get to do a flatback over me onto the mat with me being the one putting them in the handstand and letting them fall to their backs.
Any arm circle drills. The arm circle punch drills as well as the arm circle into a handspring flat back on to mats. It's a little more advanced but I like it.

For floor, any drill you can use to get them to practice a good handstand since nearly every skill they will do will need a handstand.
I understand the concern with donkey kicks, they're not my favorite. I didn't do them for quite a while with my kids for the same reasons you listed. However, because of very limited gym resources I started using tiny donkey kicks for beginners as a means to practice really punching the board rather than an exercise in heel drive or with handstands the end result just because the kids tend to enjoy them and it's something they can do themselves. If I have them going "bigger", I'm always there to spot to try to limit the piking action.
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