For Coaches how do you conduct rec classes?

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jes.the.gymnast

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hey guys i just wanted to get you veiws on how rec classes should be gone about. i work at two diffrent clubs both of them are pretty relaxed about rec classes. at one club it is very structured and strick while still being very fun at the other the basics are tought quickley so the kids can have fun doing harder skills (this club is mainly a rec club).
so yeah how do you conduct rec classes
fun?
stricked?
do you push the kids to have perfect skills?
take time to teach basic skills?
thanks.
 
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gymdog

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I think it depends, would we be talking about rec classes where the kids have an opportunity to progress to team, or classes that are strictly recreational and the kids are not going to progress to team? I have worked with both, and the focus is different. In a 4-6 yr old rec class, because of the limitations on both the developing body, focus, coordination, and the general idea that some will probably progress to the beginning levels of competition at least, it is important to work on basic positions and go slowly through the technique of the "base" skill. With older rec classes (like 12+), there needs to be enough of a base to build on, but if they can start learning a front tuck on trampoline safely, then it's okay to work on that rather than seat drops. Whereas with a 5 yr old, no matter how good their seat drop is, we are more likely to give them a sequence of skills and see if they can master the sequence smoothly, than to move them to a skill like a front tuck. Most of them won't have the coordination, and even those that would (it would be easy to spot) have work to do on smoothly connecting and remembering sequencing.

You have to strike a careful balance between fun and progression so it isn't dull, but there are age, skill, and potential considerations as well.
 
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jes.the.gymnast

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all the kids have the chance of moving on to teams if they show talent. at one club its like if they have the skills the move up, at the other it is like if they have the correct attitdue and show talent they do a testing session to see if they are ready to move or not. i think the later works alot better.
 

gymdog

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In that case I would be more concerned about following the skill progressions for the beginning competitive level until it became apparent they weren't on that track. That would require that more time be devoted to achieving profieciency in more basic drills and skills, i.e. I would be less likely to work on front tucks on tramp (as a general rule) if the gymnast cannot perform a back walkover by themselves. Now I have seen older girls do safe, if not technically perfect, front tucks off track or trampoline without having a perfect back walkover. But (and I am in the US so this is specific to our system) the USAG level 4 routine will require a proficient back walkover type skill (it's actually a HS, bridge, kickover), but since there is also a RO BHS we would need to do progressions leading up to that anyway.

Of course you have to mix it up and keep interest, and plan for a variety of drills and skills keeping in mind the need to follow proper progressions. The issue of form isn't really an issue of being "strict" for me, but correct body shaping is important for preventing injuries, and the gymnast with competitive or advanced performance aspirations needs a range of correct basic shapes to work on. Employing a variety of drills and exercises for these shapes is a way to emphasize basics without being too dull. They don't have to do the same exercise over and over. In my experience, you can definitely see where basics have been emphasized early when you watch the beginning competitive levels. The routines have a better quality of gymnastics which just looks less "awkward." Small details such as pretty fingers and correct turnout of the feet when entering and exiting each skill are apparent. It is important to work on a variety of skill sequences so the gymnast gets a feel for the concept of a routine and completing each segment of a sequence with precision and rhythm.
 

Aussie_coach

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You should aim for a good combination of both.

It is important to remember that most rec kids are trying gymnastics out, they don't love the sport and want to do it every hour of every day like many of your team gymnasts. If rec gymnasts are being yelled at, asked to do things beyond their capability, being asked to do things that are exsessively painful or scary, or being physically streched you are going to lose them from the gym. Your team gymnasts will put up with some discomfort for the sport they love but most rec gymnasts are not at that stage yet.

Rec gymnasts also want to feel like they are achieving, if they do nothing but forward rolls and walk across the beam every week you will lose them. They need to experience new things and work towards harder skills not spend all their time on repitition. Again your older gymnasts will put up with more drills and repitition because they so strongly desire to do the harder skills.

It is also important to remember that these kids are your future team and some of the most unlikely ones may end up your best gymnasts one day and good training early on will make teaching them later on much easier.
 
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KBT

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It really depends on the goal of the rec program. I coached rec for years. We were only a rec program run by the high school. It was designed as a feeder program for our high school team, but it was very community-oriented so not many of our kids would end up competing high school. I loosely based my classes on the USAG competitive levels since the progressions are pretty good. I did skip some things or only work on them occasionally for fun, like mill circles on bars and sometimes things like back extension rolls since none of these kids will ever compete a freehip on bars. I did a lot more "fun" activities like tumble track than I would have liked, but the program was all about fun and having a good time. If doing jumps on TT means that a kid is going to be a week behind on her backwalkover, it's just not a big deal. I did try to make sure a kid could do the preceding skill well enough and could do the drills before moving on - something that other coaches didn't always do. Form didn't have to be perfect, but they shouldn't need a spotter. Kids coming out of this program who started around age 6-8 would start high school being able to tumble a back tuck, do kips, cartwheels or BWO on beam, handspring vault.

That said, I also coached the high school and middle school teams who had come out of this program and the lack of basics drove me nuts! If you have kids who can do kips but don't have a good tap swing, then it makes flyaways really hard. I had so many early-releasers; I was constantly catching kids from crashing. Just know where these kids are probably going. For my program, tap swings should have been taught whereas free hips could be skipped. On floor, a kid *might* get as far as a layout full, but will never do a double back. You might want to talk to the coaches who will get these kids in a few years and ask what skills/basic they need to have for the next level.
 
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hammy

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The gym I coach at now has a rec program that feeds the team program, so it is highly structured but it is also fun. We progress through the USAG levels (1-4), and we follow the skills required for each level before advancing to the next one. We ensure that a student can complete the skill successfully and correctly before advancing them to the next level so that frustration does not set in. I generally teach the level 3's and 4's, so I try to keep it more like a team workout, however not quite as demanding. I also talk to the parents of each child and I talk with the child; if team is something they are interested in I will push them a little harder so that they can get a feeling of what team will be like.

Our rec classes meet one day a week for one hour (Levels 1 and 2) and one day a week for 2 hours (level 3 and 4); however, the gymnasts are permited to come more than one day a week if they choose. We begin with a 15 minute group warm up in which all of the rec kids warm up at the same time, being led by one coach while the other coaches correct stretches and what not. Then, the kids divide up into their individual groups and go through three 15 minute event rotations. Being that we don't get to one event during the class--we have two schedules of events and rotate through each week so that the gymnast gets all four events between two weeks.
 
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