Welcome to our Gymnastics Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

How to introduce the concept and benefits of drills to gymnasts (and reluctant coaches)

Sari

Verified Coach
Verified Coach
Coach
Gymnast
Former Gymnast
Judge
May 31, 2014
414
25
Country
Germany
I've recently started coaching a group of team gymnasts with ages ranging from 6-16 years old. The other coaches barely use drills. They're more the type to say "Well of course her roundoff is still crooked but let's just let her try to connect a back handspring to it" or "Why do you need to have a plan before coming to the gym? We've done just fine without it or do you think our girls suck?"
Drives me crazy.


My question is: How do I introduce drills to these gymnasts who only ever do them "for fun" four times a year? I am likely going to take over the group in February when the head coach moves away so I want to start implementing them as soon as possible.


The younger gymnasts have transitioned okay but I'm having trouble getting the 11-16 age range to understand the purpose of drills and continuing to work basic skills. In their heads, I'm punishing them by drilling roundoffs instead of immediately letting them work on their tumbling passes at the beginning of a floor rotation. They are also used to not having a coach (group was pretty understaffed earlier in the year) so on top of grumbling that I want them to practice "boring baby skills" they will also sometimes just ignore what I say and do their thing and see how I react.
What do I do to win them over? Or it it just too late?
Current head coach lets me do what I want but thinks there's nothing wrong with how they've been running practices.
 

Aussie_coach

Moderator/Coach
Staff member
Verified Coach
Coach
Proud Relative
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Former Gymnast
Judge
Club Owner
Fan
Jan 4, 2008
3,094
Country
Australia
I don’t think it has to be a problem, once you take over you run the training sessions your way.

Make sure you always explain what each drill is for, why they are doing it, how it will benefit them. This is really important of course so that they actually understand how and where to apply when they learn in their drills. But when you explain focus on where the drill is going.

Rather than saying “we are doing this drill to fix your round off”. It can be “This drill is to give your round off more power so we can do round off flic saltos or twists or double backs or whatever”. Instead of “This drill is to improve our casts”, the drill is to help them work towards their cast handstand etc. You will help them change their mindset from the idea that drills are for working their basics, and help the, to see that they are preparing them to learn new and exciting skills.

Drills can and should be a lot of fun, use equipment, foam, mini tramps, mats what ever you have. Kids work twice as hard when the movement of the drill is lots of fun. This will also help change their mindset, from “drills are boring”.
 

coachmolly

Verified Coach
Verified Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 18, 2009
2,951
VA
Country
USA
I currently work with a group of slightly older kids who have been resistant to drills so I understand your frustration. I try to sneak them in as side stations so they do them without really knowing what they're doing- so on bars we'll do a routine bar, a cast bar, and a kip drill bar. But I also haven't really pushed it because it's primarily a recreational team and I'm not too worried about it. They also have the do what they want mentality and me jumping in as a coach has been a hard sell. I just focus on the kids who are receptive and try to do my best with those who aren't. I've tried lecturing them, reasoning with them, explaining that I'm trying to help them improve, that their effort in the gym is directly related to their scores at meets, but none of it has worked. But that has resulted in the kids who don't want to listen to my corrections claiming I don't like them. It's been rough to say the least. So I hope your transition goes much more smoothly!
 

JBS

Administrator
Staff member
Verified Coach
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
Sep 3, 2005
5,533
Wisconsin
Country
USA
My question is: How do I introduce drills to these gymnasts who only ever do them "for fun" four times a year? I am likely going to take over the group in February when the head coach moves away so I want to start implementing them as soon as possible.
It's an ongoing battle... here is what I do...
  1. Mr. Miyagi them. In other words say... just do this for 3 months and give them no reasons behind it but guarantee results... at the end of the three months you must be able to show them noticeable results and explain how it happen. "Show me sand the floor." This video will explain (there is a bit of bad language in the video)...
  2. Show them instant results with explanations. In other words... don't do any drills at first that won't immediately work and amaze them. Win them over... then you can go to town and do your thing.
I used method #1 at our club. The handstand is primarily a "core" strength skill. When I took over the Xcel program... I cut their strength down to 4 things... one for each event.
  1. Vault was leg strength... whatever the coaches wanted... but we would only be testing each athletes standing vertical.
  2. Bars was a straight leg pull up... then pull over to support on a high bar.
  3. Beam was planking... that's it... that's all the direction I gave them... do planks.
  4. Floor was press handstands.
Vault was fine... the kids did leg strength. Bars the coaches all thought that they needed to do a whole bunch of other strength... but they didn't... once they started focusing on getting each and every kid a perfect pull up to pull over... things started to change. The hideous rotations of bent leg lifts and half pull ups stopped and the kids just tried to get that one skill. Beam was the most creative thing that I have ever seen... they have been planking different ways every week for months now. And presses where simply something that they could not do so they did not work them. Now they have different press drills that they do every workout... even the kids that can't press are getting a beneficial strength workout from the drills.

Our team is now noticeably stronger by doing only 4 things... but the biggest improvement has been their handstands. By doing planks... and press headstands (which they can do) to hold... they have all been forced to stabilize their core.

And of course no one realized any of this until 3 months in when I sat down the entire team and gave them a Mr. Miyagi speech. Now they are all on board... forever.
 
Last edited:

Tumbellina82

Coach
Coach
Gymnast
Dec 9, 2013
101
36
Country
Australia
If you are getting somewhere with the younger gymnasts give them plenty of positive reinforcement. Make it very specific and make sure the older girls hear it. So if they improve a skill praise their effort and attention on whichever drills you've been doing that related to that. You can also praise improvement on the drills themselves and relate that to the skill in a specific way. Much as Aussie_coach suggests for explaining the drills in the first place. Repetition does wonders for reinforcement mentally and verbally as well as physically.
 

Sari

Verified Coach
Verified Coach
Coach
Gymnast
Former Gymnast
Judge
May 31, 2014
414
25
Country
Germany
Oh how I love this board. Thank you everyone!
You've given me hope.

The Mr. Miyagi idea is great, I obviously needed to rewatch Karate Kid. I'll try that in February!
Until then, I'm going to try to explain the drills in more detail. Maybe that will yield enough results within the next two months to win one of the other coaches over (there is really only one coach who isn't leaving and is definitely going to need that "wow" effect).
 

Tumbellina82

Coach
Coach
Gymnast
Dec 9, 2013
101
36
Country
Australia
Best of luck Sari.

Just be careful when giving more detail not to get too bogged down in it and end up overly wordy, or you'll lose them. You are going for specific, but also very focused. It's basically coming up with with a mantra for each drill of few focus points which you repeat.
 

JBS

Administrator
Staff member
Verified Coach
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
Sep 3, 2005
5,533
Wisconsin
Country
USA
Just be careful when giving more detail not to get too bogged down in it and end up overly wordy, or you'll lose them.
Yes... just like Mr. Miyagi. You can't teach more than one thing at a time. Also... notice how the movements changed in the movie once Daniel understood what was going on... sharper... more effort. This will also happen in gymnastics... if they believe and understand what you are selling... they will work much harder at it.

Just take one drill and sell it at every workout in a different way until you get them to understand it. Once you have it figured out... sell the drill in only the one way that worked for the rest of your life. Now you have one drill that works... time to move onto a second.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aero and John

eucoach

Coach
Coach
Judge
Jun 9, 2013
99
Been there, faultered. ;-)

Don't get your hopes up for all of the older girls to eventually like doing drills or even understand why they need to do them.
I had to take over a group like that once. The younger ones (about 12-13 at that time) eventually took to doing drills. The older ones (around 15-16 at that time) never really bought into it. Sometimes they were more willing but other times they refused by doing everything incorrectly.

It is extremely difficult to change someone's way of learning. If the gymnasts have been learning skills by repeating the full skill until they were able to complete it successfully, it's almost impossible to change that mindset post puberty. They (like their coaches) will never understand why their roundoff is "bad" - after all it's good enough to add a "bad" back handspring after it, right?

So - my recommendation. Do not try to force your way onto this group. Only make the changes the gymnasts are able to accept. Give them a choice and be very positive about your new way of coaching. F. ex. "I know you don't like doing these drills but from my experience, you will be able to get your ro-bhs-bt much quicker this way."
 

gymisforeveryone

Verified Coach
Verified Coach
Proud Relative
Former Gymnast
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
779
I've kind of been there too. Some of my older gymnasts are not used to doing many drills. And because they are teens, they are very doubtful about everything new.

I've tried to kind of sneak in some drills by putting them into conditioning that they have to do before going to the events. For example, if I want them to be doing a drill for clear hip circle on bars, I put it into their conditioning and ask them to do it 10 times. They don't question it because it's conditioning and they are used to doing conditioning well and not whining about it. When we start to actually "do" bars they don't do the drill anymore, they just keep doing their clear hips on the bar. I don't know your gymnasts' attitude towards conditioning but if they are like mine it's worth trying.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kecks and John

coachp

Verified Coach
Verified Coach
Proud Parent
Apr 5, 2013
3,571
SOCAL
Country
USA
Unless you are in charge you are going to have to just show them the results. Sooner or later they will catch on.
 

Similar threads