Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Poll: Name One Skill You're Working on Now

Name ONE skill you're working on right now in the gym, and I will in turn provide you with ONE tip for successfully learning that skill. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dominique Moceanu Biography

I thought it would be fun to do a Gymnast of the Month, based on birth month :) Born in September is the lovely and talented...

Dominique Moceanu!

Bio -

DOB: September 30, 1981
Country Represented: America, but is of Romanian descent
Coaches: Marta and Bela Karolyi
Best Event: This is debatable, but I always loved to watch her on beam. She had a pretty cool mount and her routines were chalk-full of difficult skills (Get it? CHALK-full? Eh? Changed the spelling for a little gymnastic humor there :P Lol)
Best Known For: Her position on the 1996 Women's Olympic team - the Magnificent Seven, who brought home the American team gold.
Currently: Retired from gymnastics, she is married and a mother of two kids, Carmen and Vincent.
Interesting Fact: With the money she earned from her career as a gymnast, she helped build a gym called Moceanu Gymnastics, Incorporated. It opened in 1997.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the information!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September Questions and Comments: Please Post Here :)

Any questions, comments, updates, personal gym news, etc. for the month should be posted here and I will respond to them, either in a comment or a separate blog post, as soon as I can! Thanks. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meet Tips for Gymnasts and Gym Parents

With the competitive season coming up, I thought it might be helpful to give first-time competitors and first-time gym parents a general overview of your basic gymnastics meet, along with some tips and tricks to make everything run as smoothly as possible. This might be a little lengthy, so bear with me! I'll try to make it as precise as I can, though there's quite a bit to say. (Girls, tell your parents to read, too, if they're interested!)

Basic Meet Schedule:
Your average USAG meet will last about four hours and will follow a standard schedule. There might be a few exceptions to this rule (ex: Capital Cup or Chicago-style meet), but most meets will follow the exact same format, and you will soon know it by heart. It usually goes like this...

Check in (get your designated number)
Warm up/stretch
Timed warm ups
March in
Awards ceremony

You'll want to arrive about twenty minutes before the scheduled warm up time so the gymnasts can get situated with their teammates and consult with their coach.

Random Things You Should Know (gymnasts):

1) When you have downtime at a meet, it might help you to visualize your routines. See yourself acing the move that you're getting a little nervous about. Watch yourself sticking the landing. Thinking positively is enormously beneficial. If you think you can, you can. The Olympians will tell you that.

2) Prepare your gym bag the night before. It's nice to know that you're all ready to go and you have nothing to worry about except your routines. Throw some things in your gym bag ahead of time. Your bag should be labeled with your name on it. Items you might want to bring include your leos (warm-up and competitive) and warm ups, a hairbrush, hairspray, extra hair ties, a water bottle, your grips, icy hot for sore muscles, ibuprofen, healthy snacks to eat between events (such as a few granola bars, trail mix, etc.), wrist/ankle/knee braces if you need them, athletic tape, and, if you're like me, a good luck charm. I brought my green teddy bear to every meet, even when I was a teenager :P

3) You are not allowed to wear nail polish to a meet. You should remove it the night before. Take off all your jewelry before the meet as well.

4) Get enough to eat! Stomach aches at meets are no good. The night before a meet, carbs are always a good dinner option for a boost of energy. In the morning, have a bowl of cereal, a waffle (whole wheat would be best), toast, a banana, a bagel, or something similar. Make sure you're staying hydrated.

5) Go out to eat or do something fun with your teammates after the meet!! After all that, you deserve it. At travel meets, especially, you'll want to have some fun with your friends.

Random Things You Should Know (parents):

1) Get ready early. Obviously you'll want your daughter to get all the sleep she can get, but sleeping in and then rushing to get to a meet adds unnecessary nerves and pressure. Plan ahead for the time it will take to fix up your daughter's hair on the morning of a meet. Sometimes it takes longer than you think it will, especially if you're planning on an intricate braid. Allow extra time in case you get a little lost on the way, and of course take note of the weather (I can't even count the number of times my parents and I got lost, or got stuck behind a snow plow the whole way there, etc. etc.) Unforeseen problems do tend to arise, and it's best to just be prepared no matter what.

2) If you are at a travel meet, you may find it helpful to make a test drive from the hotel to the site of the meet the night before. That way you can watch out for unexpected road closings and detours, and it will just takes a lot of stress off your shoulders.

3) Focus on your daughter making her best effort and having a good time, rather than on winning. My father used to grill me in the car on the way to meets about pointing my toes in my beam routine and getting a higher cast on bars, and, though I know now that it was coming from a place of concern and wanting me to be happy with my own performance, it made me very nervous then. I felt pressured, and I also felt a little annoyed, because I knew he had no idea about the mechanics behind the moves I would be performing. I felt like, "Hey, I already have a coach. I don't need another one." Trust me, the coaches put enough pressure on as it is. Your job is simply to be supportive. :)

4) Bring cash with you to meets. There are entrance fees, and there will typically be concessions as well as other merchandise related to the meet (like cool t-shirts, grip bags, leotards, stuff like that). Some meets also provide a professional photographer, and you will have the option of purchasing photos of your daughter after the meet. Also, bring a book or an ipod or something else to entertain yourself or your other kids. Your daughter will actually only compete for a total of about four minutes, so there will be a lot of idle time in between.

5) I said this in the section for gymnasts, but staying hydrated and eating enough is obviously important for your daughter. Carbs are recommended for the night before, and non-acidic foods (cereal or bagels are always good) in the morning.

6) As you probably know, flash photography will not be allowed for safety reasons, so if you're planning on taking photos, turn your flash off right away.

Good luck to everybody and enjoy your season! Again, if you have questions pertaining to this particular post, please feel free to comment and I'll get your question answered as soon as possible. If you have a question that does NOT relate to this post, please ask it in the post below this one, until I can get a "Questions and Comments" post up for the month. Thanks!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Poll: When is your first meet this season?

I know the competitive season is coming up fairly soon. For some reason I was thinking it began in October, but I'm not quite sure. Again, please forgive my fuzzy memory. It's been way too many years since I've competed. So what is the date of your first meet this year? I want to make sure that I can be thinking of you all and wishing you luck on that day! Though I'm sure you don't need the luck, because you're all so fantastic. :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tip #5: Being a great gymnast.

Tip #5: Watch your routines on tape. Ask your coach if he/she would be willing to videotape your routines during practice, or have a parent videotape you at a meet. If you're like me, you'll realize that you're making errors you never knew you were making, but you'll also realize that certain skills or elements of your routines look so much nicer than you thought they did. This is not only a confidence booster, but it is also a good way to critique yourself and figure out where improvements need to be made. It's the easiest way to learn exactly what you need to keep doing and what you need to change in your routines. Playing the video back in slow motion can also be helpful... Slow motion is a particularly helpful tool when it comes to vault, where even the best coaches can miss errors every now and then, since it is so fast-moving.

Anyway, the whole taping and critiquing thing is supposed to be a very positive experience, so I would warn gymnasts (many of whom are too hard on themselves) to be forgiving of their own mistakes and to notice both the good and the not-so-good in their routines. Watch the video with a coach, a teammate, a parent, or a friend who knows at least a little bit about the sport; they will be able to provide you with constructive criticism and support. :)