Friday, July 22, 2022

Flying Saucers

 It's summertime so let us talk about one of my FAVORITE games that is a quick set up and quick implementation. I call it flying saucers and it works cross age groups and can be adapted easily to give a challenge if needed.  

1) Each athlete gets a frisbee (on a cheap budget? Grab some paper plates instead)

2) Place the frisbee upside down on one hand

3) Keep your frisbee while trying to knock over everyone else's frisbees

4) Once out, they can do 10 jumping jacks and hop back in

END when they start to get tired! 

But for real, super easy! You can easily adapt it to make it more challenging if you need. Instead of just running to knock over, you can make them crawl, jump, skip, hop, etc. Instead of flying saucers, you can change them to fit whatever your theme is too.  Happy playing and good luck!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

10 Reasons Why Your Preschooler Should Do Gymnastics

1) Gymnastics promotes playground readiness in a safe environment. As a preschool mom myself, the ability to trust that my kiddo can climb (and/or fall off safely) the play structure with confidence without me having to be there every step of the way. Gymnastics teaches those fundamental coordination and strength skills to get them ready to play! And as a bonus, my kiddo also has the CONFIDENCE to do those things independently because she has practiced in the safe gymnastics setting.

2) Your preschooler learns focus! Trying to get from one end of a beam to the other without falling off requires focus. Learning to remember stations requires focus. Staying and working on the same thing for more than one turn requires focus. Making even one correction requires focus.

3) Gymnastics leads to reading readiness. Anytime you’re teaching eye tracking skills, it helps develop the skills required to lead to reading!

Crawling, hanging on a bar and scooting your hands, tossing and catching a scarf… even the many many drills your preschool coaches set up where a preschooler is in support on their hands and watching what their hands are doing, all lead to reading readiness.

4) Preschoolers get to learn from someone other than family!
I can't count the number of times I have mentioned to a preschooler to get their shoes on, or make their bed when they get home, or help mom fold laundry, and because I am the gymnastics coach, the kid follows through in a way that they may not normally with their family. I mean, even two weeks ago an adult figure in my kid's life suggested that she do her own laundry for mother's day and what a gift that was to me! It takes a village and a gymnastics class can help provide another adult figure at a young age to your child's life.
In addition, it starts to get them ready to learn from an authority figure in a more classroom setting. It can help prepare their minds for their future learning environments of school. Learning to listen to instructions, follow the leader, receive corrections and compliments all can be learned in a gymnastics class.

5) Preschool gymnastics helps provide social readiness. So often, lesson plans require teamwork, partner stations, taking turns, etc. that help teach those necessary social skills for kindergarten. Kids learn conflict resolution, kindness, patience and more through preschool gymnastics programs. WHICH IS ESSENTIAL IN THIS COVID WORLD. These kids need the interactions, the time with peers and the instruction from an outside adult to help prepare them for life.

6) Gymnastics teaches resilience. Kids will fall. Kids will not be able to do the station on their first try. They will learn to get back up, to try again, and to ask for help. It teaches a tenacity and grit in a relatively safe setting where they CAN fail.
I mean, the movie Stick It says it best:
"Gymnastics tells you 'no' all day long. It mocks you over and over again, telling you that you're an idiot. That you're crazy... If you like falling, then gymnastics is the sport for you! You get to fall on your face, your butt, your back, your knees and your pride! Good thing I didn't like falling. I *loved* it".

7) Preschool gymnastics leads to sports readiness. Footwork, Hand eye coordination, flexibility, strength and conditioning, etc. all lead to eventual sport prowess. I had teammates to go on to compete gymnastics, but also pole vault, diving, soccer, crossfit, kickline and more in college. It lays a foundation for sport movement that provides them the opportunity to excel down the line.
What are some sports that you have seen gymnastics lay a foundation for?

8) Gymnastics enhances proprioception, sometimes referred to as the 6th sense. Athletes are able to more fully develop a sense of where their body is and how their body is in relation to things around it.
Got a kip tripping all over the place? Put them in gymnastics. Got a kid who confuses left and right? Put them in gymnastics. Got a kid who has trouble skipping/jumping rope? Put them in gymnastics. Even if it's due to developmental delays, gymnastics acts hand in hand with occupational therapy to help develop proprioception (Fun fact! Several of my former teammates have gone on to study and become occupational therapists themselves).

9) Preschool Gymnastics creates health readiness. What do I mean by that? It creates a love for being active, for exercising, for setting goals and striving to achieve them. The foundation that gymnastics builds helps to create more healthy kids and adults!

10) Last one and best one. GYMNASTICS IS FUN!!! Preschoolers love to make new friends, see the colorful set ups and move their whole bodies in the gym. Playing games, accomplishing new skills, learning and so much more lead preschoolers to ask each morning..."Is it gymnastics day?"


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Stall Bars

These things are so underrated for use in recreational and preschool gymnastics!  So many great things and skills can be learned in such a small space.

For example, it makes a fantastic parent tot station teaching climbing up, and down.  You can also adjust and use mats to prop up at an angle as a slide down option.  These normally cost like a thousand bucks with shipping from gymnastics equipment companies.  Amazon has them here for $179.97 with PRIME!  What a steal!  Not only does it work grip strength, but also works on conquering fears and coordination.  It can also work as monkey bar prep ;)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The First Follower

How to run a preschool class:

Love love love this.  You can be the lone nut preschool teacher (which I have seen my fair share of).  But the BEST teachers, are really the first followers.  The ones who beckon their friends to join.  Who find a way to include everyone.  Make your classes into preschoolers full of first followers.  That first follower will save your class :)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Don'ts (per USAG)

Hi Ya'll!  Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

I have been to quite a few trainings through USA Gymnastics (which I highly recommend!).  In these courses, they would go over skills and drills, in addition to certain skills to avoid.  They were super enlightening as many of the skills to avoid are things you often see in classes, including PE classes at schools!

Here are a few of the things I have learned:

1)  I did a blog post a while ago covering the forward roll and tonic neck syndrome.  You can see that post HERE!  

2)  Frog jumps are a negative!!  Especially for preschoolers!  Especially because they can't do them correctly.  Here is a correct video for older gymnasts...but most youngers when they copy will have their booty either up high in the air, or it will be close to the ground with their knees over bent.

3)  Along with the frog jumps...please watch out for W sitting children!  Super bad for knees!

4)  Back bend/bridges.  These used to be an absolute NO-NO in USA Gymnastics.  More recently, it's been clarified to be a "be careful and don't overdo it."  I maybe do bridges with my 3-4 year old class once or twice a month.  And with those, they are always unassisted (so only as far up as they can go on their own).  This is fairly typical.

5) Hyper extending the back is a NOOOOOO.  Now, you may think that this is the same as a bridge, but there are two main ways to avoid for hyper extension of a preschoolers back.  First, is the fancy rhythmic looking move that I don't know the name for.
And one that is less known as being bad is what is typically known as a pike stretch.  The way to fix this for younger ones is to not force pikes for one, and for two, try to teach it with a flat back where they stretch up tall first and then keep as flat a back as possible as they go down.

6) And last but not least is for the little ones.  When I was growing up, I remember seeing pictures on the TV of Dominique Moceanu as a baby hanging on a clothesline.  Something like this:

This one is good though, cause he has the parents supporting him under his arms.  Children under the age of 18 months are not supposed to hang unassisted from their hands.  Whether off a bar, clothesline or rings, Doctors have clarified for USA Gymnastics that children's shoulders at that age are not developed enough to do that safely.  

Those are the main ones that I make sure to teach my new preschool staff and new parent-tot parents.  Let me know if you have any questions about it!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tumble Trak

There are several ways to run a preschool tumble trak rotation!  One is with stations like this video.  Now, I have a couple issues with this , and I will be going over further explanations in future blogs.  

First, I ALWAYS teach preschoolers and beginners to jump with their arms down instead of up by their ears.  Yes, eventually they will need to learn arms up, but as you notice here, this child is above average in ability for preschool, yet she still cannot keep her tummy tight and her head neutral when jumping, which can be super dangerous!

Second, NO SEAT DROPS!  It's bad for a preschooler's back and the chance of them learning correctly and putting their arms by their knees every time instead of behind them is very slim!  :)

I also like to use the edges for teaching my classes.  Stand on red and balance on one foot, then hop to to feet on the trampoline and rebound stick.  (teaches hurdles)

I still do some passes down the entire tramp with my classes!  (even my parent-tot classes).  For long tumble traks, I always cut it much shorter though.  Have a specific place where the kids wait for their turn to go so that there is never more than one at a time traveling down the trampoline.  Then, when doing traveling, always make sure there are appropriate stations on the way back.  Make it an obstacle course! 

For example, if I have 12 kids in my parent and tot class, I make sure that there are 10 additional obstacle stations on the way back to the waiting station.  (and I have heard many an argument against waiting stations but I think they are SUPER helpful).  Not for five kids to be sitting at.  If you have more than one kid sitting then something is wrong with your obstacle course.  I think it is important for students (even toddlers) learn the importance of waiting for their turn and listening for their coach to say their name for their turn (for safety and for the coach/toddler interaction)

Make it a different jump every time around the obstacle course for ages 3+.  For those toddlers, make it a different jump every week.  I also include running as a travel type.  I also will draw (or have one of my more artistic coaches draw) stations that the kids will do a certain kind of jump at.  Example:  for frozen week, we drew 3 snowflakes on the tumble trak.  They would straight jump down to the snowflake, and then get stuck in a blizzard and try a jump spin stick to get out, then onto the next snowflake.  

Hopefully these ideas are being helpful!  I have had a couple other request for topics that I am slowly trying to get through.  Please let me know if you can think of anything else :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Trampolines Galore!

Hi all!

One of the things that make parents most nervous about the sport of gymnastics is the dreaded Trampoline.  However, one of the things that make kids most excited about gymnastics is the funtastic TRAMPOLINE!

Now, what to do with a trampoline.  The first and most important part of teaching trampoline is how to land safely!!!  One person at a time on a trampoline.  I start with most of my kids on mini trampolines and make sure they know how to control their bodies on there before I take them to our larger above ground web-based trampoline.  

Starting with teaching different types of jumps, straight, tuck, straddle, pike, split, jump 1/2 turn.  Personally, I don't move past those 6 skills for a LONG time.  Maybe one day I will introduce a seat drop on a large resi mat.  But even that I don't introduce until I have already got them on the large trampoline mastering the first 6 skills.

Once they get to the large trampoline, I set up side stations for my class to do while I am working with one student at a time on the trampoline.  Ideally, your gym will have an in ground trampoline like the one below.  

Mine unfortunately, has an above ground trampoline at this time.  

A sample first class set of stations for a beginners class- (our beginner classes are capped at 8 kids)
Station 1: One partner on trampoline with coach, one partner practicing the sitting position of whatever kind of jump you are working on.
Station 2: Safety falls!  If you have those mini cheeses, set up two, one for each partner.  If you only have a larger cheese, then make sure to set up a spot in front of each side for each partner to start on (we use carpet squares)
Station 3: Stick positions!  Set up a larger block (relative to kid size-no higher than waist height with a soft landing mat).  Jump to stick position and hold 3 seconds.
Station 4: Handstand work on the wall.  I set up a variety of different kinds of handstand work and drills for against the wall.  If you don't have that kind of space near the tramp, I would suggest basic skill work they can work on perfecting (ie. forward roll with a bean bag in between knees)  If you are extra limited on space, make this station a conditioning or stretching station depending on what your students need.

Sidewalk chalk works great on trampolines!  Use it to mark starting spots.  

The next blog I do will be on Tumbl Traks and how to adapt our lessons for the longer trampoline.  Keep your eyes out!