Transitioning to another area of the gym can be a tricky time for both gymnasts and new coaches. Of all the times in class, transitions are the most susceptible to unsafe behavior for gymnasts and it’s where lack of class management shows in a lot of new coaches. Here are some guidelines for teaching coaches how to transition with their gymnasts:
1. Be Engaging
“Lining up” is a school-age skill, so preschoolers are very inexperienced in this area. Moving as a group (especially in a line) does not come naturally to them. Make moving around in the gym more engaging by using your creativity to make ‘lining up’ more appealing to a preschool-aged kiddo.
2. Let Gymnasts Maintain Their Personal Space
One way many coaches use to move gymnasts to another space is the ‘train’ method where each child hangs onto the other’s shoulders and they walk as a train to the next rotation. The problem here is that this usually ends up with one gymnast pulling on another’s shoulders and everyone ending up in a messy, grabby walk toward the next rotation area. Not to mention preschoolers trying to navigate uneven surfaces of each mat as they try to move as one class unit.
Young children already have to work at managing uneven surfaces independently, but to do this as part of a group is extremely difficult. This method is also a problem because some kids do not like to be touched, making this an uncomfortable part of class for them. If you choose a transition that involves touching, ask for the gymnast’s permission first.
3. Be Safe & Quick
Gymnasts should be in a line, group or within arm’s reach of their coach. This is the biggest challenge for a lot of new coaches. The longer a transition takes, the more opportunity there is for gymnasts making a run for it and creating an unsafe situation for themselves and other gymnasts. Also, you don’t want to waste your precious gym time walking around, right?
Traveling from one place to another in the gym can be tricky. If you begin to brainstorm ideas on keeping things safe, engaging and maintaining personal space, moving as a group can be a really fun part of class!