Category Archives: gymnastics conditioning

Your Gymnast’s Life is in Her Hands, Literally

Your Gymnast’s Life is In Her Hands. Your Gymnast Will Peel Off the Bar if She is Not Prepared.


Web-CassGiantsMay05SideViewI think we will have more gymnasts peeling off the bars in the first month back than ever before. Why? Because many gymnasts have not done any strength for their grip-hands and forearms.

They will likely have only done shaping and core conditioning. How many have actually done conditioning for grip strength? I’d guess almost none of them. It is not something that is stressed once a gymnast has been doing giants on bars for a long time. Hanging on the bar daily builds that strength, but most gymnasts do not have a bar to hang from at home.

Please keep in mind that a gymnast’s life is literally in their hands when swinging on the bars. If they peel off during a giant, or any skill for that matter, they can cause serious injury or even death. The tensile force on the hands, forearms, and the rest of the body during giants could be several times their body weight. Will they come back prepared to withstand that force? If they cannot hold heavy dumbbells without dropping them or hang on the bar for 30 seconds to one minute and have not been doing grip strength exercises or hanging conditioning they should not be doing giants the first week back in the gym.

And be extremely careful in the straps too. Swinging in the straps creates even more tensile force because of the speed of the giants and circle skills. Gymnasts can cause tears in the soft tissue of their shoulders and the rest of their upper body.

Please keep your gymnast’s safety in mind when asking them to perform giants or any of their old skills for the first time in several months. Coaches must take the time to rebuild strength, power, flexibility, and confidence before asking gymnasts to perform familiar skills or learn new skills.

Each gymnast is an individual. Some will take longer to regain what they may have lost and others will come back well-conditioned and ready to perform skills more quickly. Ask your gymnasts what they did at home to stay in shape, watch their energy levels, and evaluate their strength the first week so they progress at a steady and safe pace.

Many will try to do too much too soon and we will see overuse injuries, more than in previous years, if we are not careful with the training.

Good luck with your return to the gym. Stay safe and let me know how I can help you.

Grip Strength Ideas…

  • hang 30-60 seconds
  • pull-ups in varying hand grips and other bar conditioning without coming off bar for 30-60 seconds
  • squeeze tennis or other balls
  • ring towel
  • bicep curl in over and under grip
  • dumbbell wrist twist
  • dumbbell writs curls in every direction
  • grip / squeezing devices
  • fingertip or fist pushups
  • farmers walk or just holding heavy dumbbells for 30-60 seconds

Always keep safety in mind when training. Your safety is your personal responsibility.

Karen Goeller, CSCS, Consultant
www.BestSportsConditioning.com
Gymnastics Drills Book
Handstand Book

 

When Gymnasts Return to Training after the COVID-19 Pandemic

From a sports-science point of view, there are specific training points we must remember when we return to training. I recommend the following for our gymnasts.

We should start slowly. We all want gymnasts to regain all they lost, but it will be a process. The same process as when a gymnast returns from an injury. We must be extremely patient with each gymnast’s limitations and hesitation in performing skills, physically and mentally. Many will have new fears and others will have become very weak. De-training, loss of strength, happens in children pretty rapidly.

As coaches, we must remember that when competitive gymnasts first return to the gym they should not be doing their highest level skills. They must spend time conditioning to regain the strength they lost. That may take six weeks. Most have not been doing effective conditioning at home to maintain or build the strength necessary to perform the skills they competed or were learning.

This really should be an industry-wide recommendation in order to prevent a high rate of overuse injuries within their first six-eight weeks. I recommend assigning conditioning and basic skills on every event in addition to the careful and deliberate warm-up. A rotation of conditioning, flexibility, balance, and visualization may be wise.

And I recommend that every gymnast perform beam complexes, alignment, and balance drills long before asking them to perform flight series, challenging skills, and routines. I would say at least two to three weeks of balance work should be practiced for beam in order to keep the gymnasts safe and comfortable. And then mix in the balance work with skills once the gymnasts look comfortable on the beam again.

Please keep in mind that it may take gymnasts a few weeks just to regain their ability to focus. The last thing we want is an accident, especially due to a lack of focus. The training should be structured, but not intense in the beginning.

Most gymnasts likely lost flexibility during their time off. Performing over-splits or doing manual stretching should be avoided. Allow your gymnasts to regain flexibility with careful stretching. Nerve gliding may be useful for many gymnasts to help ease them back into flexibility. For example, in the pike stretch ask them to point and flex five times then stretch. Allow your gymnasts to repeat the point-flex motion in each exercise.

Coaches, we really should allow our gymnasts to ease back into the sport, mentally and physically. Be patient and remember that progress in this sport is faster when the gymnast is well-conditioned and has a good state of mind. Mr. Wang who worked for me when I had my gymnastics club said, “gymnasts must have good emotions.” He was right.

Best of luck to all of the dedicated coaches and gymnasts when everyone returns to the gym. I hope the sport makes a come-back financially and continues to grow in popularity.

Let me know how I can help you. I am available through email, social media, zoom, phone, and in-person when we open gyms again. There aren’t too many CSCS’s in the USA with 40+ years of experience coaching gymnastics.

By Karen Goeller, CSCS

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What Can Gymnasts Do at Home?

What can a gymnast really do at home?

tn_web-me-bulgsqtWell, every coach will say conditioning and stretching. I agree. Maintaining strength and flexibility is very important. The skills will be there if the gymnast continues to perform general strength and sport-specific conditioning through this difficult time. Nearly all gymnasts remember most of the conditioning they do in the gym, but they all have favorite exercises. It is important to perform a variety of exercises. If they have space, they should perform their entire pre-workout warm-up to help stay in shape. A good warm-up with stretching and shaping is at least 45 minutes.

Many gymnasts will need a higher than the desired volume of hip flexor conditioning. I bet many will grow during this time. The hip flexors play an important role in the gymnast’s training. They not only allow the gymnast to lift her leg very high, but they help with posture. And when the hip flexors are weak or tight, the gymnast may feel low back pain. That is because they basically connect the spine and femur. When the hip flexors are tight they actually pull on the spine into a lordosis position. And when they are weak they become stressed when the gymnast lifts her legs such as in a glide kip, kick, or leap. As a coach, I can tell when a gymnast has tight hip flexors by her posture; there is a slight bend at the hip while standing. A well-conditioned, well-stretched gymnast usually stands with no angle and the front of the hip.

20151129_153808To keep the hip flexors conditioned I recommend the pike-sitting leg lifts. The gymnast will sit in a pike position, place her hands next to her knees on the floor and then lift both legs. And for the stretch, I recommend the quad-psoas stretch. Kneeling lunge with one foot out front and hips pressed forward. The gymnast should also do this with the back leg bent and that foot facing the ceiling.

But there are other things that will be helpful. For example, balance drills and visualization. For balance, the gymnast can do simple exercises such as RDL and slow-motion needle kicks with and without light dumbbells. They can also perform arm routines with their eyes closed. The gymnast would stand in place and perform her beam routine with just her arm and head movements. That is for both visualization and balance. When that becomes simple, the gymnast can perform it in a passé leg position, one foot touching the inner side of the knee. The gymnast should do this drill with each leg because most gymnasts have a sharper sense of balance on one side. When this becomes simple, the gymnast can add very light ankle/writs weights to the wrists or hold 1lb dumbbells in each hand. And to bring it up one step as far as challenge, the gymnast can do this standing on a softer surface such as a Bosu or balance disc.

And finally, for a change maybe they can do the Legs Plus or Swing Set Fitness workouts. Many of the exercises in my swing workouts were actually gymnastics conditioning exercises my gymnasts have done using a barrel mat. The Legs Plus workouts are really good general fitness as well as dismount-landing and bars conditioning. My gymnastics drills and conditioning book is useful to all gymnasts as well.

So gymnasts should try really hard to stay in shape and keep their sanity. Athletes can use this time to get stronger and heal any aches and pains they may have had.

And let me know how I can help your gymnast.

The books and exercises mentioned can be found at http://www.KarenGoeller.com, http://www.GymnasticsDrills.com, http://www.LegsPlus.com, http://www.SwingWorkouts.com.

Karen Goeller, CSCS

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Gymnastics Conditioning at Home

Many competitive gymnasts are looking to stay in shape during gymnastics club closures due to this COVID-19 virus. That’s great! Just be sure the home program has effective and appropriate exercises.

Many of the drills and conditioning exercises in these books can be done at home. They are easy to read and simple illustrations help. The Gymnastics Drills and Conditioning book has exercises for press handstand, dance drills and conditioning, uneven bars drills and conditioning, vaulting drills, and running drills. www.GymnasticsDrills.com

The Handstand Drills and Conditioning Book has core strength as well as upper body strength and handstand shape.  www.HandstandDrills.com

And if the gymnast has a swing set in their backyard Swing Set Fitness would be very effective for core and conditioning specific to uneven bars. There are three books with swing exercises. The Swing Workouts book has over ten effective workouts. www.SwingWorkouts.com

And finally to keep good general strength gymnasts can use the Legs Plus Workouts. The Legs Plus workouts do involve using light weights and a medicine ball.  www.LegsPlus.com

With any home program, the gymnast must be mature enough to focus and follow written instructions. It is preferred the parent read along with the gymnast and be sure the gymnast remains focused during each exercise.

And please remember, with any movement injury is possible. You and your child are responsible for your own personal safety.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

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#gymnastics #gymnasticsdrills #gymnasticsconditioning #gymnasticsathome #gymnasticsstrength #gymnasticstraining

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note to say enjoy I hope your holiday season…

Spend time with friends and family, enjoy the colorful lights and decorations, or just relax with your time off from work. No matter how you choose to spend this time, I hope you enjoy it.

Yes, I do have many products and services that would be nice gifts. Here are some links in case you are looking for gifts.

www.PortersGifts.com (Sports and Fitness gifts and apparel.)

www.GymnasticsTees.com (Gymnastics gifts and apparel)

www.amazon.com/author/karengoeller (Sports, fitness, and inspirational books, journals, and coloring book)

www.GymnasticsBooks.com (Gymnastics books, journal, coloring book)

www.GymnasticsJournals.com (The most useful gymnastics journal)

www.GymnasticsDrills.com (Gymnastics drills and conditioning exercises)

www.HandstandBook.com (Handstand drills and conditioning exercises)

www.LegsPlus.com (legs Plus workouts, exercise every major muscle group within a quick, effective workout.)

www.SwingSetFitness.com (Exercise outdoors with a playground swing. Quick and very effective.)

www.SwingWorkouts.com (Workouts using a playground swing. Have a blastr getting in shape!)

www.LymphedemaBook.com (You’ll be inspired when you see how I went from bed-ridden cancer patient to who I am now. A cancer diagnosis and life afterwards.)

Coaches Over-Stretching Gymnasts

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.

Whole Team with Ankle or Foot Pain? Severs?

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

Cast Handstand Drills and Conditioning

Cast Handstand Drills and Conditioning by Karen Goeller, CSCS.

Originally published in my first book in 2000. If you like these drills visit www.GymnasticsDrills.com and www.HandstandBook.com.

Ballet… Not for Gymnastics

landingBallet… I love ballet. It’s truly a beautiful art.

I studied it 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.

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

Books for young girls…

www.amazon.com/author/karengoeller
Books for young girls… and adults who enjoy exercise…

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