As a coach you are teaching clients to achieve new skills, helping them improve strength and performance. On a daily basis you are being asked for your professional expertise and guidance on learning, correcting or progressing to pull ups, handstand and ring skills.
What does your client need from you in order to achieve a gymnastics skill specific goal?
You may think the answer is more progressions, coaches eyes, different cues. At one point, I thought so too.
Have you ever provided a client with cues and progressions, you turn your back and realise they revert back to their old ways. Seeming to disregard your expertise. Why is this happening? In my quest to understand the learning process better I read Josh Kaufman’s book “The First 20 Hours.” The thing that struck a chord was that learning and skill acquisition are very different things. I started applying this to coaching.
LET’S TAKE THIS COMMON SCENARIO:
Sally kicks up to quite aggressively to a handstand, back to wall, feet touching, back in a slight arch with head sticking out, she fatigues quickly. Sally has been doing this for 12 months and asks for a progressions to a freestanding handstand.
You watch and realise there are number of things going wrong, she doesn’t have the correct body position, body awareness is lacking, timing is off and needs to improve her strength.
If you are adequately prepared to help her the goal, you need to set her on the right path or send her to someone that can.
You (the coach) need to teach the client about the Why, How, Help them Identify Mistakes and finally Practice.
Learning and Practicing
Why- Why is this important? Why must it be done this way? First comes learning, this includes an understanding of why it is important for a skill to be done a particular way. If the client doesn’t understand why, they will find little motivation take on your advice. Why are you asking the client to move in a particular way? Is it to progress them onto a higher level skill? Safety?
How- How are they going to change what they are currently doing. What are they missing, strength, mobility, body awareness? All of the above? Provide them with positional drills, mobility, strength and always link it back to the reason why. This will emphasise the importance.
Identifying their own mistakes- Can they feel when they have performed a drill correctly or incorrectly. Now that the client is starting to get a better understanding of what is required. Ask them question, “can you feel what happened there, what could you have done better?”
Practice, practice, practice- Repeating the set drills, progressions, mobility, strength. This is only complete once the steps above have been thoroughly understood.
If you’re a Coach or PT and are guessing your way through gymnastics coaching join our Coaches Gymnastics Classes at Bondi Junction and Marrickville. You will learn new skills yourself and become a better coach to your clients.