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Ian Hogg

Getting children to do conditioning

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Ian Hogg

Hi, this is probably a question for Coach Sommer, Blairbob or one of the other gymnastics coaches on the forum or possibly an elementary school teacher. But any ideas from anyone are more than welcome.

 

I'm a volunteer Men's gymnastics coach (to give an idea of level I can teach r'off, backflip, back tuck and various apparatus skills about that level). My problem is motivating the boys I teach to do the conditioning they need to do to be able to perform properly.

 

It is mainly a recreational class so I can't just lay down the law and tell them to do it or else as it would just drive them away. I want to find a way to make the conditioning enjoyable enough that they'll stick with it and get fit without realising they're working hard. Trying to do static holds and things with them is a waste of time as they just come down as soon as they get the slightest bit tired and because of the age and ability range it's hard to gauge what they should be able to do.

 

Does anyone know of any good websites or book resources that cover gymnastics based conditioning games, etc or has any ideas themselves?

 

I don't have a lot of room to do conditioning in because the gym is really busy at the time they are in, only maybe a half or sometimes quarter floor area for around 8 gymnasts aged between 5 and 10 years old. 

 

Many Thanks for any help!

 

PS. I know this isn't really the usual GB question but if they stick in maybe they'll be on here one day :)

 

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Josh Schmitter

I believe Blairbob recommended this a while back. Could have been someone else...have had it on my wishlist for a while but it's out of print and cost has always been $50+.

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Jonathan Pettit

Here are three ideas I've used in my martial arts practice to get kids into conditioning exercises.

 

1. Show the benefit.  Kids love breaking boards, and we have plastic re-breakable boards of varying intensities.  It's a sense of accomplishment to go up to a harder board.  I told them doing more push-ups would help them.  A couple started doing push-ups right then and there, and that enthusiasm caught on.  Whenever board breaking is part of the lesson plan, I make sure to properly pre-frame the push-ups and the like.

 

2.  Use it like currency.  We have a drill where you punch or kick a target across the floor, and everyone competes to see who can get it further.  The first try is free, but any additional attempts cost X number of a certain exercise.  I've had kids willingly do 50 burpees in a short amount of time, completely voluntary, just so they could get 5 extra turns.  Best used at the end of class.

 

3. Bribe them.  Offer rewards or praise or something for jobs well done.  I praised a five-year-old girl's pushups in front of the entire class, and she swelled with pride, but she also has a reputation now.  She willingly volunteers to demonstrate proper form.  She always tries hard, because she wants that continuing praise, and I keep using her in a pseudo-leadership role ("everyone look at her!  she's great!"), which kids love.

 

Also, every few months we have an exercise challenge.  So February is Plank Month, where we try to hold a plank as long as possible.  There are different tiers for different age and ability groups, and you encourage people to try for the top tier.  We often give certificates, ribbons and even medals for such performances.  Also, as the exercises cycle, we can track improvement over time and use that as further praise and motivation.

 

Hope some of that is useful.  I teach a lot of kids in the 4-6 range, and conditioning exercises are definitely a hard topic.  Make it as fun as you can, look like you're enjoying the exercises, offer lots of praise, cheer on small victories.  Eventually it will add up. :D

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Blairbob

I don't think I recommended this as I don't remember this book but maybe I'm just getting senile. It's probably a good book but those kids that don't just don't make the cut IMO. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

I started out as a rec coach so I feel ya. When I'm unlucky, I still get pulled to coach rec boys or competition boys. What really works well with them is games. I recommend the following book because it was created by my boss at Trick's Gymnastics, where I coached from 2001-2003. I have it around somewhere. I'm not sure if the book is still in print, but if it's not, you can probably figure out the games. Matthew was also into NLP, so a lot of coaching under him was using the appropriate words to stimulate the kids.

"Who can do this?" "Eccentuate the positive" and all that. It was a very positive, rec gym.

http://www.gymnasticsman.com/

What I found really well for boys besides games was a huge skill chart I made for all the boys. I would list one for skills progressions and another for physical skills (pullups, rope climb, pushups, etc) Pass a test, get a star to put on the chart.

Another game I made is "Torture the teacher." Of course, this would probably kill me now but basically I would take one strength skill, be it  hold or reps. The kids vs me. Be sensible about this because I did it with squat jumps with my pre-team girls and crippled my legs for about 2 weeks. Sometimes I would count all their reps and have to match them and other times, I'd go 1 on 1 (this is a good idea to break it up and get rest).

If I won, well I won. If they won, they'd get a prize. Going to a fun event (trampoline/pit/open time/etc) Mostly they liked to see me struggle and really try to beat me.

I also set up most of my conditioning as circuits for them. Over here, do these. Then go to this or done on a rotated circuit following a time interval. A lot of times I might insert trampoline or a mini tramp station in these circuits.

 

We also do conditioning circles with the girls a lot though I've never really used these with the boys.

Mostly I just set up conditioning stations on events in circuits.

So say we are on PB.

We' have one set of PB, that I would be spotting swings or swings to HS and press to HS.

Another station would be parallettes and L-sit.

Rope might be another.

Setting up a jr bar for them to practice candlesticks on. Or L-hang.

Another set of parallettes and an 8" for HS flatbacks.

A spot on the wall or portable block for HS hold, kick to HS, press to HeS/HS, etc.


Team kids just would have to deal with minutes of plank positions, hollow/arch, L, etc and that's life that come to deal with.


 

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Ian Hogg

Thank you very much for all the suggestions that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. I've tried to use competitions with the boys whenever possible and it definitely does work.

Will definitely have a think about getting that book Blairbob looks very good, it's about $41, know they do downloads but would quite like physical copy.

Tanstaafl the book you recommended seems a bit cheaper than you quoted certainly in US unfortunately still quite dear for me as I'd have to get it shipped to UK as not available over here.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0940149036/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&sr=1-1&qid=1414269285

This book looks good but very oddly is about a quarter of the price on amazon.com than on amazon.co.uk even though it's shipped from UK!!!!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0736033947/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1414277262&sr=8-1&keywords=kidnastics&condition=used
Thanks again for all your help I really appreciate it, as will the boys  ;)

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Blairbob

 Boys to love to compete against each other but I'm not a huge proponent of having them do it against each other at the recreational level. Kids pretty much know the pecking order in their groups. Who is strong, who is smart, who is funny, who is good looking/pretty, who is flexible, etc.

 Another game we often do with kids/boys is the "Stick game" usually with dismounts but can be done with any skill attempt. We often use color cubes so say there is a red team and a blue team (or whatever your color of cubes are) but the kids will actually alternate which line they are in after every attempt. The same can be done with repetitions or holds. Thus, their is a push to compete against themselves but I don't have to deal with the fact that Jimmy can do every skill perfectly every time and can do 15 pullups and climb the rope every time while Joey is still working on a lot of skills and can do 1-2 pullups and maybe get up 1/2 the rope...maybe.

Once they are in a competitive team mindset, well different story.

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Coach Sommer

... Boys to love to compete against each other but I'm not a huge proponent of having them do it against each other at the recreational level ...

I disagree.

I always have all my young students, regardless of whether they are recreational or team members, compete against each other within their respective groups. Boys are 'hardwired' to compete with one another; and, unlike most adults, are able to do so joyfully and happily.

In addition, it is important that they begin to appreciate the effort behind achieving excellence at a young age. As instructors it is important to understand that children, and most adults for that matter, will either live up to, or live down to the standards expected of them.

However I also stack the deck in their favor by combining the pursuit of excellence with public positive recognition of their putting forth 'best effort'.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Blairbob

 My main focus for a beginner's boys class/Level A is to teach how to learn and listen and not be such space cadets. When I worked for recreational gyms, obviously their target focus of the class was to have fun and retention besides learning basic skills and how to listen and get along and not do stupid things (such as run across landing mats, stand on landing mats, turn gym equipment into make believe Iron Man gauntlets, etc).

 At the same time, I might be looking for other boys to bring out of these beginner classes into the team track instead of the recreational track. I consider these basic classes as recruit training

 But these days I only have to coach said boys when their coach is late or not available and I get pulled from coaching my girl's teams groups to fill that function for the day so parents don't complain and some female coach isn't stuck with young boys they can't handle.

 I miss it on one hand but on the other hand, I'd rather not lose the time with my classes/groups I would normally be with.

 Quite often the boys we get in (recreational) gymnastics are the boys not interested in group sports or sometimes too small for said group sports or sick of being benchwarmers. I have gotten a lot of boys (and girls) who were physically weak, out of shape, uncoordinated (inflexible) and as such were lacking in confidence in themselves and thus it was my job and opportunity to change that.

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Ian Hogg

Thanks Blairbob as you say it is sometimes difficult to foster competition, I have a couple of 10 year old Jimmy's but an awful lot of 5 year old Joeys :)

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