Category Archives: gymnastics

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

business-card-back-blk-2018

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

business-card-back-blk-2018

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.

business-card-back-blk-2018

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

Gymnastics Coach Suspended

Maggie Haney, coach of Olympic and world champions, has been suspended by USA Gymnastics pending the outcome of a hearing into verbal and emotional abuse allegations against her, the Southern California News Group has learned. Read more by clicking on the link,  https://www.ocregister.com/2020/02/03/maggie-haney-suspended-by-usa-gymnastics/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Not every coach is like this! Visit at least three gymnastics programs before you sign your child up in one.  Here are some tips on how to choose a program, https://karengoeller.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/how-to-choose-a-gymnastics-program/

 

Training for a 4 Year Old? Seriously?!?!?

Last night I got a call from a parent looking for private training for a four-year-old. Seriously? Private training for a FOUR-year-old?!?

It’s ridiculous & the EXACT reason for so many overuse injuries in kids. The consequences of overtraining can be devastating. Please look at my previous post, listen to the podcast, and watch the youtube video on the link I provide.

Evidently, she did not see my previous post or my posts on any social media before she called. No, I will NOT do a private training session with a four-year-old child. I train competitive athletes with serious goals.

More info at www.BestSportsConditioning.com  and www.BestGymnasticsTraining.com  

Overuse Injuries on the Rise

Overuse Injuries on the Rise
By Karen Goeller, CSCS

I was watching Real Sports with Bryant Gumbell, https://youtu.be/AGxxBER5xJU  and was not surprised by what I heard from doctors, parents, and child-athletes.

As a coach for over 40 years, I have seen many changes. The problem is fueled a few ways-Governing bodies, parents, coaches, and kids with passion for their sport.

Sometimes the child LOVES the sport and does not know when to modify training. They often hide aches and pains from coaches and parents due to fear or so they can keep training.  It is up to adults who know the consequences of overtraining to modify the training for the child who is injured.

A big part of the problem is also that governing bodies of sports such as USA Gymnastics. USAG encourages very young children, starting at age 5. (My opinion, it is a way too young and USAG has likely been motivated by money in membership fees.)  By the time some children are only 8, they are dealing with overuse injuries.

As an NSCA-CSCS, I have had to fix many injured gymnasts in the past decade. Some coaches and parents choose to treat these 5 years old children like pro athletes. They are children and many adults forget that with their eyes on that college scholarship. It takes many years to develop strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, an appreciation for safety, and maturity. It should be a gradual process. A child should not be training like a pro athlete at such a young age.

I have met many parents who are overboard, insisting their children train at home as well as the 25+ hours in the gym. I have had to remind a parent that an 8 year old that she should not be training at home on top of her 25+ hour schedule.  A few years ago I have several parents of five year olds ask for private training the week before their first competition. I said no to all of them. I’ve had parents discount children’s aches, pains, and fatigue and have seen those kids end up in surgery. There is only so much a coach can do when a parent insists their child train at home or pulls a child from a coach who refuses to have a child reduce training to heal from injury.

Not every coach is aware of injury prevention or rehab. They have spent years mastering the sport, how to teach skills and create routines. Some coaches do not do the math when it comes to training. For example, if a gymnast has 5 jumps in her beam routine and you ask her to do 10 routines a day, that is 50 jumps per day on the hardest surface in the gym. Compare that to a routine with 3 jumps times ten routines to equal 30 jumps per day. That is a difference of 20 jumps in one day. The difference becomes really significant over time. In one week that is 250 jumps vs 150. Over one month that is 1000 jumps compared to 600 jumps, a difference of 400 jumps. Coaches should really do the math and learn the breaking point (when gymnasts start to feel aches, pains, fatigue) so they can keep the number just under that breaking point. You can be demanding without overtraining and produce healthy, strong, and successful gymnasts.

Need help with reducing injuries? There are very few high-level gymnastics coaches who also have the CSCS. It is not an easy-fitness certification. It is based on sports science.  A college degree is required to sit for the exam, you are given 6 months to study, it covers exercise prescription for competitive athletes, exercise technique, injuries, injury prevention, nutrition, and more. Not everyone passes the first time.  And in order to keep the certification, we must continue education by attending events, webinars, self-study, doing presentations, and writing.   https://karengoeller.wordpress.com/gymnastics-consultant-and-strength-coach-cscs/

www.BestSportsConditioning.com

www.BestGymnasticsTraining.com

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.

Sugar Crashes after Halloween Can Lead to Real Crashes

Halloween. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable day. 

Please keep in mind that many gymnasts feel sick or extremely tired the following days. It can be that they eat much more candy and much less healthy food than usual. They could feel sluggish from the sugar overload, lack of nutrients such as B vitamins, or they have become dehydrated.

Be very careful because that sluggishness and fatigue that comes with the fast drop in sugar, lack of needed nutrients, or reduced fluids in the body can also cause lack of focus. Lack of focus causes accidents, including in the gym. It is the same as when an adult is extremely tired, drunk, or texting while driving. Would you take a chance?

Please remind your athletes not to eat so much candy at once, eat healthy foods, and drink enough water, especially if it is the day before training or a meet.

Eating candy does not work the same as eating pasta before a marathon. Believe it or not, some pasta and the sauce may have protein and other nutrients to slow the digestion and reduce the spike and drop effect.

Sugar in candy processes fast and then there is often a crash. Here’s more information on sugar crashes.  https://news.sanfordhealth.org/healthy-living/sugar-crash-effects/

Enjoy your Halloween, but please be smart about the celebration.

Gymnastics Article, Coaches being Investigated

USA Gymnastics interviews noted coach, author about Maggie Haney
https://www.ocregister.com/2019/10/02/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.

%d bloggers like this: