Children’s Gymnastics Coaching Introduction
Gymnastics is a fantastic sport for young athletes to develop flexibility, balance and body tension. These skills are key to helping your child to becoming fit and healthy adults and are also highly transferable to almost every other sporting discipline. This article aims to breaks the complex sport of gymnastics into the key building blocks with a variety of exercises, most of which can be carried out at home without the requirement for a large amount of equipment. In addition to this we will look at the main disciplines of gymnastics to educate you as a parent on the different techniques that your child is ultimately trying to accomplish.
The Three Types Of Kids Gymnastics Academy
There are three types of gymnastics competed in the Olympic Games:
- Artistic Gymnastics- the most well known form of gymnastics competing on equipment like uneven bars, rings and floor exercises.
- Rhythmic Gymnastics- utilizing hoops ribbon as part of floor based routines
- Trampoline-on a trampoline involving predominantly tumbling based exercises.
This article will focus primarily on Artistic gymnastics and the skills needed to become successful in this discipline.
This article is broken down into two main parts:
Part #1- The 9 Basic Gymnastics Techniques- in this section we will look at the main movements that form the building block for all gymnastic disciplines
Part #2- The Disciplines Of Artistic Gymnastics- here we will look at the complex movements involved in competitive gymnastics so that you can see where your child is headed and help them to understand the big picture of the sport.
Lets get straight into it!
Part #1- The 9 Basic Gymnastics Techniques
Theses 9 exercises form the cornerstone of gymnastics technique upon which more advance skills can be layered upon allowing gymnasts to perform well according to Gymastics HQ
Hollow Body Position
The hollow body position is an essential part of gymnastics moves which constitutes an active shoulder position and also a rounded lower back with the pelvis tucked under This position can be developed through at home with a simple hollow rocks exercises. The key point that our gymnastics coaches emphasis in our kids gymnastics classes is to press the lower back into the floor maintaining a tight core position and activated shoulders throughout the movement.
The handstand is a movement that is used in all disciplines of gymnastics and should be developed early on in children’s gymnastics classes. A great way of doing this that can also be developed at home through this simple three step progression, note that throughout all of the progressions here the tight hollow body position should be maintained throughout to avoid strain on the lower back:
Start with a spiderman against the wall exercise, this involves the gymnast placing their hands on the floor and then walking the feet up the wall until the arms are fully outstretched.
As a progression to this exercise you can also have your child kick up into a handstand whilst supported by the wall.
Finally when your child is comfortable kicking up against the wall you can progress to kicking up to an outstretched arm, you can then support them allowing them to build confidence in a free standing handstand.
A great gymnastics coaching point for this activity is to use the hands for balance, pushing off our palms if our feet are falling back to the ground the way that they came (under balancing) or pushing through the fingers if the feet are tipping over too far towards the head (overbalancing).
Learning the middle and front splits on the ground is the first step before children can apply this in a move for example in a floor routine. The splits is a movement that demands a large amount of flexibility and like the handstand should be developed through progressive exercises of increasing difficulty. The video below offers a none step series of progressive movements that develop flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors required. When doing this exercise take this one step at a time and if you can see that a certain stage of the exercise is pushing your child to the limits of their current flexibility then have them hold this pose. Next time they come back to this there should be an incremental improvement that you can celebrate together as parent and child!
The aim of the split leap is to perform a perfect splits position as high in the air as possible. A great way to develop this movement with good form that we use in our gymnastic coaching sessions is to practice on a trampoline which gives your little gymnast enough time to get raise the legs upwards and then snap back down before returning to the ground. Here’s a video tutorial of the key gymnastics coaching points here, if you don’t have a large trampoline a small circular one can also do the trick!
Turn On 1 Foot
The turn on one foot is used on every floor routine and is a staple for young gymnasts to learn. This movement involves the child turning 360 degrees on one foot whilst in Releve position with the ankle extended. Here we will look at a series of videos to develop this essential movement:
First you should be able to stay in a tight body high releve position for 8 seconds.
Next it is encouraged for the gymnast to perfect the turning movement from the knee in under to build confidence and learn how to control the movement:
Your child will then be ready to put this into practice with a full turn. This should start from the floor before progressing to a low beam before finally graduating to a high beam as seen in the below video.
Tap Swing On Bars
This movement involves developing the hollow body position with the main aim of developing awareness of an active shoulder position and also a strong core. The below video gives a series of bar based exercises that can be used to develop these core areas of strength that are central to kids gymnastics.
The roundoff is a great way to integrate the skills learnt in the static handstand position into a more dynamic movement through the round off. Here we will look at seven of the main movements to develop good roundoff technique:
- Help your child to fin their dominant foot- have them lean forward until they are about to fall, which ever foot they instinctively step forward with is their dominant foot- if you child players Football it will normally be the same foot as their kicking leg.
- Perfect the quarter turn action- bend your dominant leg and put the weight through this leg. Reach your trail leg out behind you until your torso is parallel with the ground. The hands should form a diamond shape with the thumbs and index fingers. The dominant arm should reach down the the ground with the trail leg coming up high
- Learn to run into your round off- the young gymnast should learn to approach the round off movement with speed as this will give momentum helping the legs to swing over.
- Step into the roundoff- this step provides force through the dominant leg and allows the back leg to fire upwards
- Bring The Legs Up- the legs should be raised smoothly forming a T position at the top of the round off before pulling the legs together
- Rotate The Hips- after bringing the legs together rotate the hips about 90 degrees at which points your arms will come off the ground
- Landing- The roundoff is completed by snapping the legs down landing with both feet at the same time.
As your child develops these 7 basic movements you can use raised mats to help your child to put all components of the movement together.
Handspring On Vault
Helping your child develop a hand spring on a vault is the stepping stone to all other vaulting exercises. Note that this is a more advanced moved and should only be performed if your child is of an appropriate developmental and skill level to execute the movement. This movement can be broken down into three main phases.
- Run up- the run up should be fast and aggressive with the gymnast reaching full speed when arriving at the vault
- Jump- the jump should be punchy and aggressive propelling the young athlete onto the spring board
- Handstand- the gymnast should then move through the air hitting a perfect handstand in the mid point of the vault, then block using the shoulders to propel off the vault
- Landing- the landing should be balanced with the feet finishing together, the legs slightly bent and body alignment centred.
Here’s a great video from Cheernastics 2 that breaks down the handspring on a vault further with some great tips.
If you would like to get a vaulting box to practice on the best place to do this in Dubai is to head over to the Dawson Sports website, where you can find a host of gymnastics equipment as well as a raft of equipment for other sports as well!
A backhand spring is a key move in kids gymnastics for both floor and beam exercises, forming the foundation for full-twists, layouts double backs and back tucks. A fundamentally sound Back Spring can be broken down into five essential parts:
- The first part of the movement involves flexing the legs to sit downwards, leaning backwards before pushing off the ground sending the torso upwards and backwards.
- The body should then come into a tight arch position, the reverse of the hollow rock position that we looked at earlier.
- A right arch handstand position should then be reached with the arms fully locked out and the back extended
- The tight arch position should then be followed by a hollow body handstand
- Lastly the gymnast should land with the legs slightly bent and the body balanced.
Here you can see a visual demonstration of this core gymnastics movement:
Part #2- The Disciplines Of Artistic Gymnastics
As your children develops the skills discussed above they will be guided by their gymnastics coach in a step by step process with the view to being confident in all of the main disciplines of gymnastics. Here we will look at the different equipment, technique used and the goals and key elements of high performance in the disciplines. Some of the activities that you see below will look advanced but don’t worry. These moves were built up over years of experience and will be techniques that your children progress to over time layering more and more complex movements on top of each other. For each there is a short description and then a video of an olympian performing each gymnastics discipline:
In men’s floor exercises there is a greater emphasis and acrobatics whereas in women’s floor exercises more emphasis is placed on style, flexibility and balance.
The beam is an exclusively female discipline where gymnasts have to perform a variety of twist, jumps, flips and turns on a bar that is just 10cm in width. This activity requires great balance as well as mental strength.
Men work on parallel and high bars whilst women’s bar based events are held on uneven bars. Exercises involve swings and flight with the most complex exercises involving full body twists and flips where the gymnast loses site of the bar for a split second.
This exciting event involves running at speed towards a vault before using leverage from a spring board to propel the gymnast upwards, the hands are then placed onto the vaulting table before the athlete springs into the air performing a series of flips and turns and then executing a balanced landing.
This event is for men only and focusses on upper body strength and general body tension.
The pommel horse is historically a difficult technique to master. This male only event involves swinging the legs around the horse whilst supporting all of the bodies weight with the upper body.
One For Your Child To Copy In Their Children’s Gymnastics Classes
Simon Biles is widely regarded as the best female gymnast of all time. Here is a video taken from some of her best routines from the Rio olympic games to help your child to get inspired and learn from her flawless technique.
How To Find Gymnastics Classes Near Me?
We hope that you have found this article useful in giving you an understanding of gymnastics and also equipping you with knowledge and actionable exercises to help your child to become successful in the sport. If you would like to get your child involved in gymnastics coaching then why not try out our gymnastics classes as part of the Kidster program. With this unique program you can get a 30 Day Free Trial of unlimited sports coaching in gymnastics as well as 8 other sports as well. If your child enjoys the sport or shows a particular talent for gymnastics our fully qualified gymnastics coaches will be on hand to deliver private coaching for your child to further accelerate their progress.