Monday, April 27, 2015

Little Einsteins

I overheard a child the other day asking a question about a quote that they didn't get.  The adult the proceeded to ask how old the child was, and then said, oh don't worry about it, forget it (as in you are too young to understand so I am not going to bother to explain it to you).  I HATE THAT.  

As a coach, or parent, or adult in general, we have a responsibility to answer questions.  I know sometimes the questions seem pointless, or that they are too young to understand, but I have found that most of the time, if you take the time to make an effort to answer, they get it.

Take for example teaching a child how to climb.  You would think it would be natural instinct, right?  Just hop on up there kiddo.  Come sit by me on the couch, climb up on my bed, get into the car, etc.  But, as I'm sure you have seen, the kid takes too long and we get impatient and just say, oh they are too little, I will do it for them.  

But, if we take the minute to break it down....

Here is where it is easier to get on.  It is easiest if you roll sideways and get one leg up and use the side of the block to hold onto.  Then use your other arm to pull your other leg up with your strong muscles.  (It's the same thing for rock climbers/boulderers as they talk each other through tricky routes).  Why should we teach kids any different?

Here's to my next couple segments:  Breaking down skills so even a TWO year old can understand :)
Let me know if there is a specific skill you have troubles with!


Thursday, April 23, 2015


One thing I absolutely love about coaching parent tot classes is the hard work that those athletes do without anyone realizing it.  I think we see things like this video and just think about how crazy those kids are.

I mean, seriously. Crazy.  But then I think.  How many times have I seen my athletes do things like that?  Granted, the distraction factor is always there for that age, but sometimes we don't give them credit for how much they do learn and how much they stick with it.

For my parent-tot classes, we do pretty much the exact same set-up for a month.  By week three, the kids get it.  They are mastering it, and they can try harder skills.  They stick with it, even more than I think older athletes do sometimes.  And I love them for it.  

We should all learn a little work ethic from a toddler trying to get out of their crib :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

6 Tips for Managing the CRAZIES!

We've all had those kids.  Or the good kids with those days.  Here are 6 tips for helping THAT class or lesson or day go smoothly and leaving you and them still happy.

1.  Know your students names!  How can you expect a kid to listen to you if you don't even know who they are?  They can tell when you care, and caring enough to know their name is just a start.

2.  Get your teacher voice on.  Or teacher look.  If you don't know how to do it, watch shows or examples in your life.  Learn how to say "cut it out" in a nice way that lets kids know that you are serious.  Personally, I have a look that I give.  Don't just laugh it off, but don't be mean about it!  There is a balance and it takes practice.  But practice works.

3.  Use all learning types to affirm correct behavior.  Tell them when they are doing the right thing, listen to them if they have a problem with what they are trying to do (they may be afraid, bored, tired, etc.), have them watch you or a friend do the station, or my favorite, walk them through the station!  The owner of the gym I grew up at taught me when I first started junior coaching how important it is to put your hand on a kids upper back to guide them.  Athletes tend to react better when they are placed in correct positions as opposed to being told what to do.  

4.  Always have a plan.  A well thought out and planned lesson (with back-up ideas!) goes a long way to helping class management.  Crazies can tell when you don't have a plan and they will come up with their own plot if they sense a faltering leader. 

5.  If something isn't working in the plan, change it!  Don't stay on that station if it is making you and the kids frustrated.  Try a different skill set, or an obstacle course to redirect the energy to a positive one.

6.  End on a high note.  No matter how frustrated you may be, make sure the kid still knows you care.  Express concerns if there was lack of listening and why it is important to listen in class (safety first!), but then say something along the lines of "I am so excited to do gymnastics again with you next week with your listening ears!  Can we turn them on right now for mom/dad? (go through motions of turning them on and high fives for that kinesthetic affirmation)

Have some favorite tips you like to use?  Send me an email or video at

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Animal Action

I remember growing up in my gym and having the preschool teachers play this song on the stereo.  

It's fun for warm-ups or ending time...but I personally think it drags on and gets boring doing the same animals if teachers use it all the time!  

Animals are a great teaching tool though and here are a couple of my favorites to use and teach!

First we have our snake.  I always make sure the snake HAS to stay on a line and always has an end goal.  (those gyms that have a floor beam, the scooters fit perfectly over one of those).  In this video, we just use a regular velcro line on our floor (you can use masking tape at home!).  You also don't have to have a scooter.  Kids are just as happy to be a snake on the ground.

Then, we have our sloth!  Sloths are great gymnasts.  We do sloth holds on the bars and on the balance beams, and eventually as they get stronger, they can do sloth walks under the bars and beams.  Be careful when they are hanging upside down!  Always make sure you have a hand under the kids (especially around their heads!) to make sure they don't fall.  Watch the trainers with the sloths!

Try and get creative with the types of animals you use!  Be flamingos, crocodiles, bears, lions, cheetahs, penguins, rabbits, etc.  It makes stations easier to remember for kids and keeps their attention much better!

Friday, April 3, 2015

We love our friends

Happy Friday!

One of my favorite themes that I do is our Stuffed Animal theme.  We bring our friends with us to class and introduce them during warm-ups (always have a couple extra for athletes who forget them!).  

For younger kids, our friends like to watch us go upside down.  I set up a specific place where our friend can sit and watch as I do cartwheels, etc.   

Our friend also loves going really fast and jumping with us!  He also loves to hang out upside down in a handstands and pull-overs with us (I have the kids show bear how to do it and then the kids help the bear do it)

Bear sometimes just needs some big hugs while we balance.

For older kids, I use the bear more as a prop with skills.  I have them do skills where they are giving the bear a ride (giants, glides, bounders/flysprings, rolls, etc).  Bears also love conditioning with athletes (leg lifts, v-ups, arch ups, tight body rolls, etc.)