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Concepts of  
Gymnastics Training*

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Concepts of Gymnastics Training*
by Gerald S. George, Ph.D.
Dr. Gerald George

All the biomechanical techniques in the world

render themselves useless

in the absence of physical readiness.


Physical readiness to perform a given task is a fundamental prerequisite to success. Yet many coaches fail to recognize precisely what constitutes readiness! One often observes coaches and gymnasts alike resorting to mimicry, conjecture, and relentless trial-and-error in an effort to accomplish what appears to be--but in reality isn't--a difficult learning task. The typical training session is fraught with more failed attempts than successful executions. Failure becomes routine, success becomes the exception. But even failure can be our teacher. For if we stop for a moment and truly analyze this scenario, it becomes obvious that matching the physical readiness of the performer to the proper skill progression is the hidden component to ease of learning.


In fact, correctly matching the readiness of the performer to the difficulty of the task is perhaps the single most important factor in successful learning. And this is best accomplished through proper progressions, sufficient repetitions at every stage in the progression cycle, and insisting that mastery of technique be demonstrated at each level over an extended period of time.


Repeated failures indicate the skill being attempted

is too difficult for the performer's ability level

and implies the necessity of progressions! 


  The Gymnast's Physical Readiness

Ensuring the gymnast's physical readiness for the intended task also holds critical safety implications. A review of the safety literature specific to injuries in gymnastics reveals lack of performer readiness, more than any other variable, is the single most common cause of gymnastics injury.


A seemingly endless number of physical variables contribute to successful learning and performance in gymnastics. For example, physical size and weight play a significant role in the gymnast's ability to perform effectively. Generally speaking, smaller, lighter performers enjoy a movement advantage over larger, heavier performers simply because they possess less inertia.


Additional factors such as muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility, reaction time, and kinesthetic awareness are also very important and can be developed through a carefully planned yearly training program. However, none are more fundamental to ultimate gymnastics success than flexibility (joint range of motion) and internal power (power-to-weight ratio). Without the ranges of motion required to assume the desired shapes as well as the muscular power to move these shapes quickly and forcefully, the aspiring gymnast will do just that-aspire-but never achieve true excellence!


Although the demands of gymnastics are common to all participants, the needs specific to each performer are unique. Consequently,the wise coach carefully evaluates the individual performer's readiness profile and then employs this information to develop a training program that directly reflects the unique needs of that person.


Rather than recommending a rigid set of protocols, the underlying purpose of this chapter is to offer an organized system of principles and concepts that can be universally applied to all gymnastics training programs. The primary objective is to provide coaches and performers alike an improved set of tools with which to work, so that aspiring gymnasts might be blessed with positive rather than negative learning experiences. Remember:


Good coaching implies that success becomes a learned trait

initially, rather than finally.



*Excerpted from Championship Gymnastics: Biomechanical Techniques for Shaping Winners. For additional information, see Chapter 8, "Concepts of Training," pages 167-192. Also covered are: 

  • Flexibility - Constraints on Joint Flexibility, Range of Motion in the More Critical Joint Areas, Flexibility Training Protocols, Specificity for Flexibility Training, Flexibility Training Intensity 
  • Power - Specificity for Power Training, Resistance Techniques, Core Power Training Examples, Power Training Intensity
  • The Training Pyramid - Relationship between Flexibility Training, Power Training, and Actual Skills     

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Champ Gym IllustrationChamp Gym  Illustration140 Illustrations Show You the Exact Positions and Movements for Achieving Success and Shaping Championship Winners.

Rather than laboring on complex physics formulas, fundamental principles of biomechanics are clearly explained and presented in layman's terms.

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