Category Archives: podcast

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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Not Everyone Does the Keto Diet

Not everyone follows the keto diet.

oatmealSomeone asked what I eat for breakfast. I responded honestly, “oatmeal with blueberries, or honey & flax, or gogi berries, or banana…”

Her response, “oats and honey are not good for keto.”

Ummm, not everyone follows that extreme and dangerous diet. I told her it is not a good idea and found her some info on the DANGERS of KETO.

My exact response was, “Keto is not good. Anything extreme is NOT GOOD!!! Just eat HEALTHY FOODS and stop the extreme stuff.”

The keto diet could cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease. Strict diets like keto could also cause eating disorders. Keto is not safe for people with any conditions involving their pancreas, liver, thyroid or gallbladder.

With such a low carbohydrate keto diet, you likely restricting grains, beans, dairy, fruit, and vegetables, If you eliminate entire groups of food you could end up with a nutritional deficiency. You may end up being low on B-vitamins, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

And yes, I also let her know that I’ve been teaching people about health and fitness since the 1980’s.

Here are a few articles on the dangers of the keto diet…

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/ketogenic-diet-what-are-the-risks

https://www.thedailymeal.com/healthy-eating/hidden-dangers-keto-diet/slide-11

https://www.moms.com/turns-out-the-keto-diet-is-seriously-unhealthy/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/ketogenic-diet/diet/keto-diet-dangers-you-need-know/

Just eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, some carbs, and some protein. That means, buy most of your food from the produce department including the potatoes,  as well as some foods from the meat department.

 

 

Missys Voice, a Book about Bullying

web-missys-voice-coverMissy’s Voice is a children’s book about a young singer who is tormented daily by bullies. The torment stems from jealousy. from kids at school. Missy reaches her breaking point, but eventually learns that everyone is likable and valuable. The bullies in this book learn that bad behavior is not rewarded.

Author: Karen Goeller
Illustrator: Andrew J Rodney
Pages: 56
ISBN: 9781708526627

Buy Missy’s Voice…
Amazon, https://amzn.to/37OAepR
Barnes & Noble, https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/missys-voice-andrew-j-rodney/1136118736?ean=9781708526627

Click here to read an interview with author, Karen Goeller

Be kind. You do not know what else is happening in someone’s life. What you think is a little stress or no big deal may actually be someone’s breaking point.

To see all of Karen’s published books go to www.amazon.com/author/karengoeller. She has over 20 published books and countless articles and training programs in circulation. To read her full bio go to www.KarenGoeller.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

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.

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

Stay Focused in the Gym

Focus in gymnastics, It’s a Safety Issue  

Article, https://karengoeller.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/focus-in-gymnastics-its-a-safety-issue/

It’s that time of year… Gymnasts are returning to school and have much more difficult schedules. They may be getting less sleep and have much more on their minds. It’s now that we must remind them to stay focused in the gym. Accidents happen when focus is lost. Please be sure your child is getting plenty of sleep, fluids, and food. Please remind them to stay focused in the gym. It’s their safety and life that they are controlling each time they perform a skill or routine. Some are doing very difficult skills that involve great height, speed, and power. That adds to the risk. So again, please remind your child to stay focused, no matter what is going on around them and no matter what else is on their mind.It’s just that time of year when gymnasts adjust to new schedules and are very tired or overwhelmed. 

By Karen Goeller, CSCS

www.BestGymnasticsTraining.com

The Box Jump, NOT for Gymnastics

The Box Jump… Not for Gymnastics
By Karen Goeller, CSCS

So as a gymnastics coach of 40 years and a CSCS, I’ve spent a lot of time studying injury prevention and sports science. I really specialize in conditioning gymnasts. It’s what I love to do.

Anyway, there are a few useless fitness exercises that I am seeing gymnastics coaches assign to their gymnasts. These exercises bother me because they are not sport-specific, so the gymnast could be spending their time more wisely in order to help their gymnastics performance. The other thing is, many times, they are not being performed with the correct technique. That can cause injury over time.

One of the exercises that really bothers me when I see a gymnast doing it is the box jump. A box placed at hip or chest height and asking the gymnast to jump up to the box. It bothers me because gymnasts do not have to jump that high. For a split jump or straddle jump, they really only need to jump 8-12 inches off the floor. That’s not difficult for most gymnasts.

The other reason I do not like the box jump for gymnasts is because when they land on the box or mat stack they are landing with improper mechanics, poor technique. Many are landing with their buttocks touching their heels. And many are landing with their knees falling in towards one another. Both can cause a good amount of damage over time to the knees, hips, and ankles. We all know that the proper landing technique is with the knees in line with the middle two toes and hip, not swaying in towards one another. A proper dismount landing is with this alignment and no lower than a squat. Why would you train a deep squat? Landing technique is now in the safety certification, finally!

You can do many more sport-specific drills and leg conditioning exercises such as the step-up-knee-lift, the step-down, and lunge walks. The step-up-knee-lift is a running drill as well as a strength exercise.  The step-down is great for the quadriceps and the push for a back handspring. The lunge walks are very specific for gymnasts too. The forward is specific to the push for a round-off or front handspring. The backward lunge walk is specific to the take-off or jump for a back handspring. Again, it is imperative that the athlete keeps the knee in line with the middle toes and hips.

The other reason I do not like the box jump is because it is not at all sport-specific. Gymnasts do not have to jump up to chest height for any skill. They do not have to jump that high for their dance jumps such as split jumps or straddle jumps. And when they are tumbling, doing something such as a double-back, they are not actually jumping as they would for a box jump. They are actually rebounding. There is a big difference between jumping and rebounding. Coming out of a back-handspring and going into a double back there is no actual jump. The set/lift requires the gymnast to stay tight, not jump. That is very different from a jump and that requires very specific conditioning.  So, if a gymnast needs more height for tumbling, they must train body-tightness, rebounding, and better tumbling technique, NOT the box jump. Plyometrics should also be done once a week for rebounding technique and lower leg speed.

I hope this helped.

Karen Goeller, CSCS
www.KarenGoeller.com
www.GymnasticsDrills.com


Tips for Brand New Actors

I am a Script Supervisor and Actor. I am not an acting coach, but I wish I had these tips when I first started as an actor. After watching many new actors this weekend I decided I should share.

Here are a few tips…

Do not look at the camera. It’s hard to do in the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it.

Do not call cut. That is the director’s job. The director calls the shots. And do not try to explain what the director is telling other actors. Do not tell the rest of the crew how to do their jobs either.

Do not sit in crew chairs or crowd the village. The director, script supervisor, producer, and many other crew member must be in there and must be able to concentrate on their jobs.

Do not take photos or videos on set and post them online. Many productions warn that you may be fired or even sued for doing this. You cannot give spoilers!

Listen to the wardrobe rules, usually no logos! So bring what the wardrobe department asks you to bring. And bring a pair of comfortable flats or slides for walking to set or in between shots. Who wants to wear high heels for 15 hours?!?!? Bring a comfy hoodie during cold months while waiting to go to set. And bring hand warmers and adhesive body warmers to put inside your coat for exterior scenes during winter.

Be on time and ready to work. Do not disappear right before you are needed on set. And expect to be there ALL day, even 15 hours if necessary. Filming often takes longer than expected.

Be prepared. KNOW your lines and your body language. Do not show up to set after having a script for three months without knowing what to expect or your lines! And do not try to change lines or improv if you have been given a script.

There is often plenty of time during camera changes. bring something to read to keep yourself occupied during down-time.

Bring water and a snack. You never know when you are going to eat, especially if you are non-union. It’s worth carrying the extra weight in your bag!

Bring toiletries that you may need. With wardrobe changes you will need to refresh the deodorant. And maybe some mints!

Again, I am not an acting coach. This is just a list that I wish I read when I first started, especially the one about shoes. I see alot watching a monitor all day long as a script supervisor. I hear the director and see the actor’s behavior all the time. I figured those just starting may appreciate a few tips.

Listen to all of Karen’s quick podcasts here, https://karengoeller.wordpress.com/karen-goeller-podcasts/

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