Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Little Advice from your elders.....

Ever want to teach gymnastics? People have been writing about how to teach gymnastics for the last century, at least. My university happens to have a bunch a manuals on how to train gymnasts from the sixties and seventies and most of them are pretty priceless. Until now, I always thought training gymnasts was all about great coaching techniques and sports psychology, little did i know it was about good grooming, taming the youth of today and discouraging acts of strength. here's some of it's choice pieces of advice on how to teach the young 'uns.

"The price to be paid for perfection is very high. There is no short-cut to the top. Indeed there is a great upsurge in the sport. This is mainly due to the influence of the television, but also due, I feel, to the realization that gymnastics could and does provide a healthy and morally acceptable outlet for our overly-exuberant youth of today."

"It is our privilege, indeed our duty, to ensure that every child has the opportunity to experience the fun of gymnastics."

"Try to know your gymnast and estimate her capacity for hard work; a lazy person will not succeed. Study her attitude of mind regarding her willingness to accept greater disciplines."
Pauline Prestidge, 1972.

"Remember the following fundamentals, a balance of ballet and difficulty, along with good grooming and a small sense of theater, and you are on your way!"

"For the teacher too, their are new horizons. She can 'observe' the results of her teaching in a concrete performance by her student. She can see her students, from the especially gifted, to the mentally retarded learn, progress and create."
Ernestine Carter, 1969.

"developing female gymnasts of an Olympic caliber is not an important objective of a competitive gymnastics program in our schools, but it is an objective that should be given some thought."
Eric Hughes, 1963.

"It is best if the spotter has a positive attitude and a sense of direction (!)"

"The student or athlete's abilities should be examined"
William Boone, 1944

"Because of their histories most sports have placed an enormous premium on strength, and they still do. The top shot-putters and discus throwers are extremely powerful men. Girls can enjoy these events, and should if they wish, but they ought to realize that they are in events designed for males.
But during the last generation gymnastics has broken away from trying to imitate the activities of men. No longer is there a premium on great physical strength. Instead, a show of of strength is discouraged. Emphasis is now on graceful, feminine activity.
So the great appeal of gymnastics for girls results from its history- the deliberate and intelligent effort to modify it. For this reason gymnastics has become the most appropriate sport for girls."

Frank Ryan, 1976.

No, it's not about strength at all...


  1. So how many one-armed handstands was Frank Ryan watching in 1976?

  2. your blog is absolutely the best in all www!!!
    i check about 2-3 times to day to see if your almost daily post is out... i'm kinda addicted i know :)
    keep up your good work

  3. Well, true, probably not that many. But he was saying that the way forward for gymnastics was the shift away from strength moves. How many years later did Shaposhnikova come along?

  4. And thanks, Giraffe. it's really nice to get comments like yours. It's great to know people are into it!

  5. "But he was saying that the way forward for gymnastics was the shift away from strength moves."

    And it was. I think I've seen only a handful of gymnasts do a 1 armed hand stand. Straddle press mounts on balance beam you see a lot but for the most part, strength moves aren't popular at all on the women's side. If they were required, it would be another story of course. As it is, once in a blue moon a gymnast comes along showcasing a strength element.