Sports are no different than life in terms of it’s a constant evolution and growth. The sport of gymnastics is no different and why strength training for the sport could add massive growth and value. Not only the sport but more importantly to the athletes. Obviously as a strength coach and mentor I might be a little biased but I genuinely see the value here.
Let’s take a look at some of the other sports where this evolution has taken place. For instance look at football. Around a decade ago the sport was centered around having several really good running backs plus a tough defense. Look at it today and it’s tons of offense and lots of points…
Even Coach Nick Saban was recently outspoken about this. He said that, “football has officially become an offensive game”. Later Coach Saban followed up with talking about how great defense used to beat great offense but now in 2020 great offense wins championships!
This is one of many reasons why he is such a great coach. He is not too stubborn or stuck in his own ways in order to continue to win national championships year in and year out!
Next take a look at the sport of wrestling. You know I had to throw some wrestling in here! But over the years the sport has continued to evolve into a more “funky” and offensive sport. You have to prepare differently than you might’ve years before. Now in both cases here your foundation and fundamentals of the sport are most important.
Yet over the years coaches have had to adapt within their training systems.
That brings the last example in the evolution of coaching. There are tons of examples that could be discussed here but I want to focus on the evolution of coaching personalities…
The “old school” coaching personality has taken a backseat to the players coach today. That does not mean coaches are “soft” or let their athletes dictate the training. It simply means that they adapted to get the best out of their athletes. High performance is a key ingredient to success and if you stay stuck in your own methods at some point you will get passed!
You Better Get On Board
We won’t completely go down the rabbit hole about the education system. But I was recently listening to several experts within their fields of study plus college professors have a discussion about this..
They were talking about why much of what they are not teaching kids in school is out of date because it would be too expensive to rewrite textbooks and materials!
When I attended Tony Robbins Business Mastery Event he spent half a day talking and teaching about this concept in business. Tony talked about how in today’s world most things have a shelf life of about 6 months and then it becomes outdated. He quoted the famous Peter Drucker saying, “The 2 most important things in business are marketing and innovation”
Innovation! Boy how true this is if you are not constantly and consistently innovating within your field then you quickly get passed along…
So this leads me to question as to why so many coaches and mentors within sports, sports performance and gymnastics are not always innovating?
Strength Training For Gymnasts
I have had the opportunity to work with several gymnasts on an individual basis as well as an entire team. I say that because what I am about to share with you is not just a guess but rather things I have witnessed among gymnasts adding some strength training into their routine…
Let’s start with my goals gymnasts and gymnastics that train with me in general that come train, the goal is not to condition them. It’s not about running them into the ground. It is centered around building them true strength. Literally if we ever condition it’s very short. It might consist of a few top speed sprints to get a feel for running with newly developed strength and explosiveness.
So let’s dive in…
#1 Reason: Reduce Injuries
In a sport that seems to be plagued with injuries on all ends of the spectrum. From serious injuries to those ones that seem to just keep nagging for months or even years. It’s time to limit and even put an end to them.
The sport of gymnastics right now forces you to train over 20 hours a week just inside the gym. It makes sense why there are so many aches and pains. Athletes are constantly putting an extreme amount of miles on their bodies. At the same time these young athletes’ bodies are trying to grow and mature.
It’s a rare sport where you are constantly jumping and landing. A young athlete needs a healthy set of knees and strong back in order to withstand the constant pounding. Let’s not forget the wear and tear on their wrists, shoulders and ankles.
I like to think I am pretty tough having wrestled my entire life but I do not believe that all my wrestling would amount to the pounding these athletes in gymnastics take on their bodies…
It makes sense with growth and maturing of the body means you are getting taller and bigger. It’s a natural piece of human development. This would also mean you would need a stronger body to withstand the training…
Combining this growth with higher level skills means you are jumping a little higher so when you land putting more force on those body parts like your back, ankles, wrists, knees etc.
Now your body is probably screaming at you because you need stronger muscles to withstand the pounding. Those same high skills require a different type of balance, core strength and body awareness. It takes one awkward landing for your knee to buckle to the side…
Even worse if you are asking your body to prevent your knees from buckling with relatively the same strength that you had a year or two ago it’s no wonder your body is mad at you. It was not built to take that level of pounding without an increase in your overall strength.
This is where a proper and true strength program would benefit so many of these young athletes.
In other sports many injuries happen due to lack of flexibility. Obviously with gymnastics they do not lack that. Many football players have tons of strength but lack the flexibility and that’s where many injuries happen…
It’s the exact opposite within their sport. They have tons of flexibility but lack the strength to withstand the hours of training and competition. That’s why you have seen lots of football programs start adding things like yoga into their training programs.
If these athletes added a couple days of strength training to their routine it would put a dent into so many of these nagging injuries!
I am not here to say this put an end to injuries because we all know crazy things happen especially in their sport. It’s why you will never see my running down a vault runway or flipping on a beam. I have ALL the respect in the world for these athletes!
This would be a huge evolution and growth for the sport! I have witnessed kids coming through the gym and head back to college gymnastics and talk about how much better their bodies are feeling. It’s time for a little evolution!
#2 Reason: Confidence
In a sport that demands “perfection” and getting “judged” at every practice and/or competition these kids need a boost. It does not matter what sport you participate in confidence is key!
You have to believe in yourself first! It goes much deeper than that too. That’s the greatest gift you can give yourself in life. The ability to truly and genuinely love yourself. Not because of what someone else thinks but because you love the person you have created…
That’s what a strength program continues to do for these athletes.
When they feel strong in their minds they feel strong in their lives!
What better gift to give your child than a feeling of strength, confidence and self-love. When you are plagued with nagging injuries it becomes more of a mental hurdle than a physical one. You start to question yourself. Questions begin flooding your mind about if you are good enough or cut out for the sport…
It also ties back into reason one about reducing the number of injuries. Isn’t that a time when injuries happen when you become overwhelmed with self-doubt? That same self-doubt leads you towards trying to constantly impress coaches. Not only your coaches but the same ones that come to watch you for recruiting…
It sounds crazy but you know you perform at the highest level when you stop caring what the hell other people think. That’s what self-love is the ability to know deep within yourself that you are lovable.
It’s time these athletes stop trying to “impress” these coaches and walk tall in their own skin. Because when I talk to athletes that become frustrated about recruiting and schools do not give them the attention they want. It’s simple…
You don’t want me on your team? Well then I am going to be the one that beats your team.
That’s why we strength train. To give them that confidence about themselves. That type of confidence is what leads to high performance and a happy, healthy life!
Evolving The Sport Of Gymnastics
Everything that we desire lives within the unknown. Right? If we knew the answers to everything then it would be within the known.
This is one of those unknowns or uncharted waters for the sport of gymnastics. There would be so many wonderful benefits for these athletes. More so it would give them a new face and new voice within their training.
It’s the same reason many parents have their kids come train with me. Many parents know how to teach their kids a squat or clean. It’s that they understand it’s important for it to come from someone on the outside.
It helps them understand and progress faster. If a football team loses it’s offensive coordinator they don’t ask the defensive coordinator to start calling the plays. They go out and find a trusted expert to replace that person.
These athletes need and deserve a new voice in their corner to achieve the life they dream of and deserve!