Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Got What it Takes?

Hello! Wow, its been a long time since I wrote anything! I'm back again!

The other day I had a thought about what it takes to be a great athlete/coach. It was much more consideration into my coaching career and a former athlete.  This is my philosophy of being the best athlete/coach you can be using my 5 P's.

1. Purpose- When you walk into the gym, you should have a purpose. Everyone has a purpose, otherwise you wouldn't come to practice. Your purpose shouldn't be "because I have to come to practice". If you had to come then you hinder your productivity of your practice. Make sure that every time you walk through those doors, have a purpose. Your purpose is that you want to! You purpose should be your expectation and goals on what you like to achieve. Coming to practice without a purpose is like coming in with a bad attitude that will hinder your success. So come to practice with an awesome attitude and have a purpose.

"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing."
                                                                                                          - Thomas A. Edison

2. Passion- Passion is about for the love of it. I love tumbling and I love it with a passion. Everyday I breathe, I sweat, I dream, and I bleed tumbling. I love the aggressiveness and the challenges that tumbling offers me. No one can't take that away from me. I would expect my athletes to have that same passion as me. I want them to love it as much as I do. As a coach, I put in just as much more passion into coaching as much as I put in as an athlete.

"Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don't let anyone limit your dreams." - Donovan Bailey

3. Prepare: Nothing is more important than preparing. Preparing comes in many factors. You can prepare physically and mentally. When I'm talking physical preparation, I'm talking warming up, stretching, strength and conditioning, and drills for skills. This physical preparation is also knowing the 7 body shapes that I talked about earlier in the blog. Mentally preparing is focusing on the task and being mentally strong. You need to be mentally tough knowing you got this. I'm not going to pretend to be a sport psychologist but my friend Dr. Allison Arnold is a great person to talk about mental toughness. You can learn more about her at  http://www.docaliarnold.com/. 

                          "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail"
                                                                                   - Benjamin Franklin

4. Practice-  Practice is everything including your fundamental drills, skills, and routines. Your practice should meet the same standards as your purpose. Remember you are the result of what you do. If you practice going through movements rather than making the effort to do it, you may want to reevaluate your purpose.
   The amount and type of practice leading to expertise requires not only the time in which the person spent in the gym but most importantly is how they spent their time in the gym. According to extensive study of experts, the specific type of intense practice a person needs to achieve expertise in any field is deliberate practice. This type of practice requires the person to receive optimal instruction, as well as engages in intense work like practice. As the person reaches expertise, he or she begins to need personalize training or supervision of the practice regime. It's important to make sure that we have good quality program protocols to learn things correctly otherwise, according to hundreds of studies among Basketball players, it takes about and average of 3,000- 5,000 reps to break a bad habit. However, I would expect the numbers to go higher has the complexity of the movement in tumbling is more complex.

I say this from time and time again. You don't deserve what you want. You don't deserve what you desire. You only deserve what you do.

"You need to put what you learn into practice and do it over and over again until it's a habit. I always say, 'Seeing is not believing. Doing is believing.' There is a lot to learn about fitness, nutrition and emotions, but once you do, you can master them instead of them mastering you." -Brett Hoebel

5. Progress- Practice to progress not for perfection. You may ask why not perfection.  I always believe that perfectionist are very dangerous. Perfectionist get hard on themselves and they lack self confidence that can lead into much frustration later down the road. I have experience working with a few perfectionist. Perfectionist have a hard time believing that if they focus on process, they will have the outcome they desire. They think that they must strive for perfection in order to achieve. Anything less is failure. It become very difficult to get them to "buy in" to focus on the process. I want mastery and excellence, not perfection. Besides what is perfection? no one really have an answer, not for performance.  Perfection is an abstract thought. There's really no guide to know if you ever received perfection.

Don't push so hard trying to be perfect. Progress for excellence on your own terms by evauluating your purpose and your practice. Progress shows improvement, growth, and learning. This way you only get the outcome you desire. Practice to progress for mastery!

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Francis of Assisi

Monday, March 20, 2017

Learning Body Shapes is ABC's for Learning Tumbling Skills

When it comes to quality tumbling, it starts with understand the types of body shapes and how you apply them into the tumbling skills you are learning. Body shapes are the basic ABC's of every tumbling skill imagine. After learning the body shapes, its much easier to progress to new skills if progression protocol are followed. Before I continue, ask yourself what is a shape. According to the Webster Dictionary, a shape is to form or create; especially, to mold or make into a particular form; to give proper form or figure to.  However Gymnastics skills is what I called a structures. Structure is the manner of construction of something and the arrangement of its shape. Example: A handstand is a structure that has a straight body shape. A handstand can also be in other form of shapes in which we will go over the seven shapes. A bridge is a structure that has a shape of an arch.

There are 7 body shapes you'll need to know and how they are implied with the skills you are learning.
1. Straight- In the straight body position every joint is straight and showing no flexion, arching, or hollow. The straight body is commonly used when we do straight jumps, jump 1/2 turn, jump 1/1 turn, handstands, setting for a skill, front drop, back drop, front layout, and back layout, etc....

2. Tuck/ Puck- In the tuck position, both hips and knees are flexed and the body resembles a ball. I put puck in because its relevantly the same shape except the hips are less flexed than the tuck as if you would say a tuck candle stick or a hollowed tuck. The Puck is commonly used when an athlete is attempting a multiple flip with a twist. Tuck is more closed in at the hips. Tuck is can be used during a tuck jump,  forward roll, backward roll, handstand, tuck support, tuck to seat drop on trampoline, front tuck, back tuck, etc...

3. Pike- In the pike position only the hips are flexed and the knees are straight. Pike can be used during a forward roll, backward rolls, handstand, pike, jump, seat drop, L-seat hold, front pike, back pike, pullover pike (trampoline), etc....

4. Straddle- In the straddle position the hips are flexed while the legs are straight and separated. A straddle can also be applied to a star jump where the legs are separated but the hips are not flexed. Star jumps are commonly used in youth cheerleading and lower level gymnastics. Straddle can also be applied to forward rolls, backward rolls, cartwheel, straddle jump, Straddle L-seat hold (bars), handstand, etc...

5. Hollow- In the hollow shape many coaches see the hollow as straight body. The hollow body is where the athlete lays down on their back while their shoulders are off the ground and feet off the ground where they show very little hip flexion but not piked or their back arched. In the hollow position, the body is in a crescent position where the stomach area seemed empty as nothing is there being hollow. The hollow body hold allows you to properly transfer force from upper body to your lower body without any energy leaks. This is an example of doing multiple BHS and Whips. Hollow body position can be applied to handstands, strength elements such as front levers, double layout, back layout, and front layout, etc.

6. Bow- The bow shape is a tight arch as if you are doing a superman hold. The bow shape is applied to back handspring, front handspring, whips, front layout, double layout, etc...


7. Arch- The arch shape is more extreme arch than the bow. The arch shape is applied to handstands (acrobatics), limbers and walkovers.

These are the seven body shapes and many of them can be combined and work together to make the tumbling skill more complete and mastered. Teaching tumbling is like learning the read. You can't read if you don't understand the letters and the sound they make. Learning the body shapes is learning your ABC's, Learning the skill is learning what the letter sound like, learning a tumbling pass is learning to read.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What makes a great athlete?

There was once an old saying, 10 % physical; 90 % mental. This was a saying about sports performance that we all heard once in our lives as athletes and coaches. This old saying is debatable depends how you are comprehending it. Well I'm going to move this over with a new saying about enhancing athletic performances. 10 % Talent; 90 % Coachability. 

Talent- 10%:
   Talent is a given! We all have some sort of talent. If we didn't have talent we wouldn't make the team. No matter what level you are in your sport, you have talent! 
    Because talent is only 10% of what make your performance, it can only take you so far in your career. Talent is good but I wouldn't take it into full account depending on it to go far. 
So what is it with the other 90 percent? 

Coachability- 90%: 
 This allows us to look to see of the athlete is coachable. The Coachability has three major components that is easily interchangeable with each other to allow to make the athlete more unique with their performance. This allows maximum performance at is best! The three components includes mental toughness (mental game), character, and physical. Each components must work together to find that balance so therefore each of these components are 30 percent.

 1. Mental toughness-30%: Mental toughness is most important factor to help us over come obstacle such as distractions (environment) and fear. 
     There are times we feel being distracted but allowing it to get the best of you. It is best to block those distractions out mentally to focus on your performance. You should always stay focus on your mental game on what you know to do. After all, you are in control so be your own boss! 
       Fear is normal. We all have fear in us. However being mentally tough is all about overcoming fear. Most fear comes from the athlete that may not feel comfortable about the skill or not sure how to do the skill. In this situation it is best to break the skill apart into its components and gradually build up to the  finish skill as they become more confidence. 
     Mental toughness is all about attitude. The attitude of "I can and I will". This is about believing and trusting in yourself of your performance your are attempting. Bad attitude hinders your performance in which leads to poorer performance. Saying "I can't" should be changed to "I can't yet". I can't yet means your don't have it now but you are willing to work towards it. Setting goals can go along ways! So have goals set for short term and long term. Goals should be realistic and easily manageable so the expectation is not set too high. Setting expectation to high leads to failure and leads to other issues that will hinder your mental toughness. You lose your mental game! 

2. Character- 30%: Character is about commitment, dedication, attitude, honesty, and being responsible. 

   Commitment is a major factor when it's comes to being on the team. Most kids seem to be more committed to be with heir friends and not have respect for the program the team coach has to offer. Being with friends is great but you need to be committed and follow through with the expectation of the team's program. Being on a team is a privilege and an honor. You should be committed to the program and treat it with such pride and honor. There are time for friends outside the gym. When I'm at the gym I'm a competitor not your friend because I'm committed to train and do my best. 

    Most kids like to do more than one sport (which isn't a problem) but all far too common, parents ask coaches to see if they can change the workout time because the soccer, wrestling, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse schedule interfe. What message do you send about being committed? 

     In some cases kids just choose not to come to practice just because they don't want to come. The question to ask is, how bad do you want it? If you want it bad enough, follow your heart and make that commitment that you are obligated to. 

   Dedication is the will power that you want to improve your performance. I have encourage kids to come in a few minutes early do some extra stretching or working on skills they are having the most trouble on before practice time starts. Coming to practice on time and using the valuable time to deliberately practice to be productive is certainly being dedicated  in the sport. 

   Attitude is everything. Bad attitude such as I can but I don't want to changes everything on your performance. Bad attitude hinders your commitment and dedication that can results in poorer performance. A few of my favorite quotes I remind people about. First, bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can't go anywhere unless you change it first. Secondly, the only disability in life is a bad attitude. So before you walk through the door or on the field, ask yourself how s my attitude toward practice today? What are my goals in practice? Positive attitude can go along ways!
  Honesty is another character trait that is important as well. Are you honest with yourself or are you cheating your way through the workout? Cheating your way through the workout is certainly not productive and only hindering your performance. Be honest with yourself if you want to get better. Skipping through assignment by making an excuses to find an out is certainly not being honest with yourself. Overtime you start to lose trust with yourself and starting to get doubts (jeez, can I really do it?) running through your head. 

  Responsibility is a big one! This is a trait every athletes needs to work on. Responsibility is everywhere from school, work, home, and the gym. This is also time management. Are you being responsible for your workout or are you being irresponsible hanging out in the back of the gym playing with your cell phone? Are you responsible to have the necessary equipment to practice with. Be responsible to be committed and dedicated, after all you want it and you want it bad. Be responsible to be hold accountable for your goals on what you want to achieve on the team. Coaches have responsibility as well to help you. Coaches study and always trying to find answers to best suits your needs of improving your performance. Athletes should be responsible as well.  

3. Physical Traits-30%: Physical traits are what makes you body strong to enhance athletic performances. Theses traits includes, strength, power, speed, agility, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. No one likes to do conditioning but it is the most important part of the workout to help improve your performance and help avoid major injuries from happening. 

While talent is good to have, but it's only so much you can do on how far you can go just relying on talent alone. All three components of Coachability work together as a whole. I believe we need to have balance in all three to make it worthwhile to be coachable if you want to go as far you like to go. Example: An Athlete who is dedicated (character) to get stronger, spent time doing conditioning (physical) can help builds his/her confidence (mental toughness) in his/her performance. 

Good luck! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stick it and Stick it good!

Stick It is a classic game that is played in all gyms across the country. While there are many ways to play Stick It with different versions of the rules, this past weekend I came up with my own new version of Stick It on the Double-mini Trampoline (DMT)

Set up:

1. A Double-mini Trampoline or Mini Trampoline.

2. You will need five poly dots with numbers on them (4, 3, 2, 1, and 0). Place the numbers along the side of the landing zone. Place the number four closet to the DMT. Approximately 2.5 feet away from the end of the DMT. Place each number along the side approximately 1.5 or 2 feet apart. You can use odd number (7, 5, 3, 1, 0) or even numbers (8, 6, 4, 2, 0) as well. See the picture below.

3. If the player lands between the two numbers the player will receive the lower score. Example if the player lands between 4 and 3, the player will receive 3 points.

4. Make a score sheet using Excel. The names along the sides and the numbers of rounds along the top (10 rounds) with each round being different skills or passes. Make sure the skills are level appropriate for your group.


1. The score is determined where the athletes land on the landing zone. If the player lands on the landing zone next to the number 3, the player will receive 3 points.

2. The player must land with control. If the player cannot land with control, take the appropriate deduction in tenths from their score. Example,  if the player landed on 4 and took 3 steps on the landing. The player get .3 deduction from his/her score from 4. The player will receive 3.7 points. See deduction below.

3. If the player land outside the zone close to the DMT, you will deduct 1 from the highest number. Example, if the player land outside the landing zone his/her score will be out of 3 (4-1). Take any additional deductions from the score of 3.

Landing Deductions:
1. There is no cap deductions.

2. Each step is -.1( one tenth)

3. Falls such as hands and knees, knees, or whole body on floor or on apparatus is -1 (one point)

4. Fall such as hand down on floor or on apparatus is -.5 ( five tenths).

5. Deductions is taken from the score the player receive.

Have fun! Stick it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fun Games in Practice

Practices at times should be serious when getting ready to prep for a big meet. However kids are working hard and doing the assignement that the coaches gives them. In most cases these hard working kids should be awarded for it. In most studies, kids stay in sports becuase it is fun. Fun should always be part of the equation in youth sports. Fun also keeps their minds off of those hard practices.
My team kids are always working hard and its important to me that the kids know that I do appreciate their hard work. On occasions we play a few games. Games are often played during the off season, pre-season, holiday season, and after championships.

Here are some games ideas:
1. Candy Land: Candy Land is a classic childhood game of learning colors. I bring this game to life. Each color represent either an event, conditioning, skills, or drills. The activity should be ability and age appropriate.  So for example, if you land on red they do 5 backward rolls. If they land on green, they do 5 forward rolls, etc. If they land on the cupcake, lollipop, cinnamon bun, ice cream, gummy candy, ice pop, and the gingerbread man they choose what they like to do. If they land on the licorice, then it's the coaches choice (yes, coaches have fun too).

2. Chutes and Ladders: Chutes and Ladders is another childhood classic game. This game is about numbers. Numbers can represent an activity they have to do. You can break the numbers down between odd and even numbers or you can split the numbers 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, etc. Make sure the activity is age and ability appropriate. I made conditioning cards using index cards. If they slide down the slide they pick a conditioning card from the pile.

3. Gym Pong: Ok, its like beer pong but this version appropriate for kids. This game is set up the same way as beer pong. You can use plastic cups or brown paper bags. Take each index cards and cut in half. Write an activity (age and ability appropriate) on each of the index cards and place them in the cup or bag. The opposing team will try to get the ping pong ball into the cup or bag. If the ball lands inside, then the other team must to the activity.

4. Stick it: Stick it is a fun game and its played in so many ways. My favorite one doesn't require elimination. I make a list of skills (age and ability appropriate) and they have to go through the list. If they stick it then they can move to the next skill.  I usually have 10 skills list. You keep playing until you get through the entire list. If you don't stick it then you stay at that skill until you stick it. If you fall down on any part of your body, you must start all over again at the top of the list.

5. Trampoline add on: Add on is one of our favorite game. To play add on, the first person does a trick. The second person does the first person's trick and add on of their own trick. Its best to play with at least 3-5 students. This is a great game and practice to pay attention and remembering the order. Each students will have three tries. If they used all three tries then they are out.

6. Doing the trampoline routine backwards: This is my personal favorite. The students will do their routine backwards. It's great to learn how to work into and out of skills by doing the routine backwards. Make sure they go back and do their normal routine so they don't get confused. I haven't had that happened yet. The students have a blast trying their routine backwards. The level 6 trampoline routine is quite challenging doing it backwards!

Have fun!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trampoline- Getting Your Bounces in Control.

The trampolines in your gym is by far the most popular equipment in the gym. Not to mention the most dangerous piece of equipment than any other equipment in your gym. Kids get on the trampoline and the first thing they attempt to do is to try to bounce really high. Not to mention that they don't realize how much core strength and balance it takes to bounce high. Without proper training and instruction serious injury can occur. It is more important to bounce with control rather than how high they jump. Today I will be sharing my workout that I do with my class and team kids to learn body control on the trampoline.

Drill #1: Knee bounces:
    The knee bounces are great to work on proper body alignment when bouncing on the trampoline. It really target the core muscles, lower back muscles, and the glutes muscles. This drill also serve another purpose on working the quads muscles for kicking the feet through when doing front drop to seat drop, back drop, or doing a cody.
    I have my kids set up a throw mat on the trampoline and they get on their knees with arms up by their ears (hiding their ears) and glutes tuck under. They attempt to start bouncing by pushing down with their legs by slightly extending the legs (kicking). Bounce 10-20 times.

Drill #2: Bounce with arms down:
     Bouncing with arms down focus on good body position and alignment. Most important body control. The kids will attempt to bounce with good control while maintaining a strong body while their arms are pressed against their sides (hand in pockets). The goal is to keep their core area strong and not allowing the shoulders to move forward or backwards. Everything should be in a straight line in which they stack the bones. Again bounce with control. If they start to bobble and wobble then they need to lower their bounces. 10 bounces

Drill #3: Bounce with arms up:
   Bouncing with arms up is very challenging due to changing their level of center of gravity. Therefore making it more challenging to balance themselves when they bounce. The kids will attempt to bounce with the arms up, hiding their ears while maintaining good stability and control. 10 bounces.

Drill #4: 4 count arm swings
    This drill allows the kids to learn the proper arm swing when bouncing n the trampoline. It has been common for kids to do full arms circles creating unnecessary shoulder movement that causes imbalance while bouncing. I have created the 4 count arm swing to help solve this issue. The goal is to be able to swing the arms while maintaining good body alignment and control.
    The kids will start off by bouncing with control starting with the arms down to the sides. When you the coach will start the four count arm swing. ONE- arms extended in the front. TWO- arms extended up above the head with arms hiding the ears. THREE- arms out to the side creating a letter "T". FOUR- arms press down to the side (back to the starting position). One and two should be moving on the way up and three and four is on the way down. You can count on every three jumps, every other, jump, or every jump. I would recommend to count on every three jumps so they can learn the arm count and body control. Once they can do it will with body control then they can bounce with the arm swing on consecutive bounces.

Again nothing is more important to bounce with control and quality body movement then how high you bounce. At a developmental stand point it is not how high you go its how well you can control your body. Once they get to the higher developmental level then height start to become important as well because you need more air time to complete the skills. To develop good height is good body control. Having good body control is having good focus.

"I figure in practice you put your brains in your muscles" - Sam Snead

Best of luck with the new TnT routines in the upcoming season.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Drill of the Day- Back Tuck

The drill of the day is the back tuck going down the wedge. This drill is most popular with the kids I work with. Not only it is fun for them but also learning the proper back tuck at the same time. Who says you can't have fun while learning?

Set up: You will need one wedge mat and one spotting block or panel mat. Stand up the wedge with a block or panel mat behind the wedge. The block or panel mat should be at least 12 inches high. In the first video below notice the wedge is on a panel mat because the block I was using was 24 inches high. Having the block to high will make it difficult for the athlete to push it back unless they are tall. So I made the wedge taller by putting it on a panel mat. At times you may need to set up panel mat in front of the wedge for smaller kids to help them be taller.

This set up can also be used on the Double-mini Tramp (second video). Yes you can do it on the end of the tumble track!

The task: The idea is to have the athlete jump up against the wedge causing the wedge to tilt back. Once the wedge tilt back then the athlete will begin to pull their knees up and rolling their hips over their head doing a backward roll. The athlete should be able to jump at least half way up to the wedge in order to tilt the wedge over.

 The purpose: What makes this drill so great it really help avoid a lot of mistakes such as throwing the head back, arching their back, not setting up,  pulling the knees up to soon, and throwing the shoulder back during take off.  You will see this mistake toward the end of the second video. All these mistakes are quite common when they first learn the back tuck. This drill really fix it all in one!

Coach's notes: If you have a folding wedge it can work as well. Having a folding wedge can be beneficial because if you don't jump high enough or pulling the knees to soon, you may find yourself being eaten by the wedge (wedge being folded)...he he. If you don't like it being folded then you can turn the wedge around using the back of the wedge.