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March 3, 2021

Getting the Foundations Right!

Did you know gymnastics is built on many foundation skills?

If you think of gymnastics skills as building blocks, the blocks need to be physically sound and stable before building more on top. Our GymKids program is designed to ensure children are gaining all of the essential building blocks, necessary to develop more challenging skills down the track!

At Delta we really care about teaching our GymKids and Aspire gymnasts the correct technique from the beginning!  We want to make sure our blocks are stable, before moving on to tougher and more difficult skills. Because of this, we take lots of things into consideration when looking at moving gymnasts on to a more challenging skill or another class type.

It’s not always just about physical readiness… for confidence and safety we need to also consider children’s emotional readiness. Can they listen to the coaches feedback, follow their instructions and make changes?

All of the children in our GymKids Program  (Prep, Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced classes) follow a fortnightly program from our Steps to Success curriculum which follows Steps 1 through to 10. 

When learning skills, we break our program down into Key Points. Our GymKids need to master the key points of a skill before moving on. We focus on 4 key points for every skill in our Steps to Success Program.

The two most important key points being:

1. Start position; and
2. Finish position.

The 3rd and 4th key points involve ideal technique or safety.

Every six months children receive feedback via a Progress Check. Children generally have the opportunity to progress one step every 6 months. It is important to keep in mind that just like at school, children will progress at different times and speeds with their gymnastics and some children may move through to their next step in between testing. Our GymKids take centre stage twice a year at our Delta GymKids Progress Checks, where they perform their Step Skills for a Judge and receive a medal for their efforts if they pass the Step. If for some reason a child does not pass the step, with our Progress Guarantee, as long as the child has attended 80% of their classes we will arrange extra sessions to help catch them up to speed. 

The four apparatus in gymnastics (vault, bars, beam and floor) are all very different and require different strengths! It is very common for a gymnast to be more physically prepared on 1-2 apparatus than the others.

Balance Beam requires great core stability, balance, posture & focus, which is fantastic for boys as well as girls. Think about how often boys need to balance on one leg to kick a soccer or rugby ball! Beam is wonderful apparatus to assist with developing good core strength, focus and determination.

Bars requires lots of grip strength as well as upper & middle body strength. It is rather difficult to hang, swing, support your own body on top of a bar, and rotate forward and backwards around a bar if we do not have the required strength. So on bars, we work super hard on developing these areas.

In our GymKids program on Floor, we are aiming to develop basic acrobatic skills like handstands, forward rolls, backward rolls, and cartwheels – along with increasing flexibility in our hamstrings and shoulders. These skills often take time to develop the correct technique and often we will be breaking the skill down into smaller bite sized pieces for our gymnasts to accomplish.

On Vault we are developing jumping, landings, rebounds, running techniques and more handstands. We’re focusing on lots of leg control and learning to jump!

To ensure all our gymnasts have the opportunity to be challenged at their own individual pace, our programs include ‘ups and downs’. These are skills or drills which can be chosen by the coach to either help a gymnast who may be struggling with a particular skill; or challenge a gymnast to the next level in their skill development if they have mastered the 4 key points.

For example, in a GymKids Beginner class we may have forward roll as one of the activities in the circuit. One child may be performing the roll downhill (getting used to tucking their head and having a round back). A child who needs further challenging may be asked to stand up out of their forward roll with no hands, or, to try the roll on a flat surface. If a child needs more encouragement and help with the forward roll down hill, the skill may be spotted by the coach or a different drill, like a ‘rock and roll’ might be performed instead.

Sometimes, when you’re watching your child do gymnastics, it may look as though all the children are doing the same thing. Rest assured the coaches are individualising the program just by knowing the key points and ups and downs of each skill in the circuit and helping your child to master the key points of that particular skill.  The feedback given to the gymnast is the important aspect of what they are doing and how the skill or drill will continue to be developed.

For children to learn, we need to saturate their learning with repetitive movements. The better their basics get, the further the skill will be able to be developed down the track!

The goal in our GymKids and Aspire Foundations classes is to help create confident kids. By developing their basic strength, flexibility, coordination, focus and determination we hope they will in turn develop a healthy love of movement for now and the future.

We can’t wait for our GymKids to show us how they have progressed their skills at our Gym Kids Progress Checks throughout the year!

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