Raekwon Baptiste – Mining for Gold

A Momentous 18 Months

Raekwon Baptiste

There’s nothing more exciting in sport than the emergence of a future Olympic Champion, and this is where gymnastics really can capture the imagination. In the case of Raekwon Baptiste, this brilliant exponent of his art has captured the attention of coaches and talent spotters alike. Recently named the overall winner of The 2017 OCS Young Sportsperson of the Year, the Birmingham and Nottingham based athlete has already been tipped for future medal glory.

A Momentous 18 Months

The award was the icing on the cake for Raekwon, who last year became the under 14 British Champion, before lifting the English Championship just two weeks later. An important part of his gymnastics education was his involvement in Budapest in his first international, finishing an impressive second. He’s made two more international appearances to rubber stamp his potential as a genuine star on the circuit, but being modest as ever he commented; “I’ve done three internationals and at all of them I’ve come in the top three which I’m quite proud of. I think I’ve come first, second and third so I think that contributed a bit.”

Gymnastics World Cup 2018 – World Cup Wonders

Birmingham to become gymnastics heaven next Spring

Gymnastics World Cup

A host of elite gymnasts from the best-ranked nations in the world will be heading to Birmingham next March as part of the 2018 Gymnastics World Cup event. Not only is this putting England’s second city firmly on the gymnastics map, it’s also set to renew electric rivalries from Rio 2016. The Olympic stars will be shining brightly, as fans settle down for a feast of enthralling springtime drama and entertainment.

A Showcase for Brilliance

The Arena Birmingham will become the perfect ostensory to display the incredible talents of some truly gifted athletes from this exciting sport. All teams from Russia, Japan, Germany, USA, Brazil, The Netherlands and China will be lining up against Great Britain in the women’s event, with Ukraine joining up against the men. On both March 21st and 22nd new landmarks will be set as reputations are further enhanced. The gymnasts chosen from each country will be announced early in the new year – keep your eyes peeled!

Top UK Gymnast Kristian Thomas Retires

A career built on turning Gymnastics into an art form

Kristian Thomas
As captain of the British Olympic Team in Rio, Kristian Thomas knows a thing or two about gymnastics at the highest level. Now, having won multiple honours in the sport at World Championships, European Championships and both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, the Wolverhampton born athlete has announced his retirement.

King of Clubs

A graduate of the Earls Gymnastics Club, Kristian is clear proof club owners and organisers can also bask in the glory of success for years to come if they manage young talent correctly. In fact, Kristian led the men’s artistic British team for more than a decade, playing a role in many defining moments in the history of men’s artistic gymnastics in this country.

Gymnastics for Fun Seminar a Huge Success

Loughborough - sharing a global love of gymnastics

Gymnastics for Fun

Loughborough is very much the place to be if you love sport. A leisurely drive through this picturesque place will reveal some of the world’s best sporting facilities, as well as the infamous sport-inclined University. In fact, it’s very difficult not to become inspired by everything this Leicestershire hub has to offer. This point was proven during the recent European Union of Gymnastics’ 2nd ‘Gymnastics for Fun Seminar’. Visitors from across the globe enjoyed three days of lively discussion, socialising and fun. In every sense, this was the perfect venue for great gymnastic minds to come together in such a positive atmosphere.

The New Hardship Grants Ambassador – Beth Tweddle MBE

Helping ensure gymnastics remains open to all

Beth Tweddle

Beth Tweddle MBE was the sort of dedicated gymnast any club owner would have been proud to be associated with. In this sense, it came as no surprise when The British Gymnastics Foundation recently announced the three-time world champion would become an ambassador of their Hardship Grants programme.

Everyday Problems

It was deemed an excellent choice primarily because of her genuine belief that sport is for all. Unfortunately, however, this mantra is easier said than done for a great many people of all ages. Why? The answer to the question lies within two fundamental areas – namely, a personal crisis, or more often than not, financial hardship. You see, even at a basic level, participating in any sport can carry some unavoidable expense for which no-one is directly accountable.

Search for Talent

It’s crucial for coaches to match high-performance aspirations with athletes of the right nature to help those dreams come into being, according to professional gymnastics coach and consultant Nick Ruddock.

search for talent

 

Talent is in abundance, states Nick– you just need to search for it. He is often told that there’s no talent in a particular area, something he views as an excuse for not being proactive enough to seek it out. Talent doesn’t always walk through the gym doors, after all.

Far too many clubs rely on their existing membership base and the athletes that are in the recreational and pre-school performance. They concentrate on those populations when looking for high-performing talent potential. No doubt, such programmes do provide their fair share, but coaches and clubs shouldn’t miss the opportunity to search for talent within these programmes.

Updates to our Membership Software, October 2017

Improvements and Optimisation

Whilst you have been working hard to maintain your organisation run’s smoothly, we have been doing the same behind the scenes at Gymnastics Club Manager to add some new swanky features to our membership software (many of which were requested by you and we have delivered!) Here’s what we have added;

Mobile responsive member login pages

You asked for it – you got it!  The members’ online account is now mobile ‘responsive’, making navigation when accessed via a mobile phone more user-friendly.  Here’s how it looks:

Members detail page (this is where they keep their info up-to-date)

 

 

Tracy Whittaker-Smith Heading for Glory

New National Coach and the Challenges Ahead

Tracy Whittaker-Smith

 

October 2017 has delivered a double celebration for Tracy Whittaker-Smith. This most charismatic of coaches not only begins her new role as Head National Coach for Trampolining but also begins working with Britain’s recently announced World Championship Team.

The 52-year-old from Northampton has already helped turn her hometown academy into a beacon of excellence, highly regarded across the world. Now, her vast experience of 24 years will add some wisdom to the squad charged with landing more British medals in the months to come. Despite this, there’s much more to this inspirational lady than meets the eye.

Tracy is extremely well known on the elite trampoline circuit, having previously worked as the Great Britain National Support Coach which led to becoming Men and Women’s National Coach too. As a major part of our own World Class Programme, Tracy has already contributed a vast amount to the ongoing British success story as the Technical Consultant to British Gymnastics. It’s no secret how much the athletes enjoy working with her, and as a people person, her coaching style is admired by many people within the gymnastics circle.

“This appointment now enables her to really drive forward the ambitions of our trampoline programme towards Tokyo and then Paris 2024,” said British Gymnastics Performance Director, James Thomas. “Tracy has a fantastic working relationship with our gymnasts and is passionate about continuing to push on from the historic successes in Rio. Her experience within the sport at all levels means she has a great understanding of the challenges we face and the opportunities we have to make improvements. We are confident she will be a fantastic leader for trampoline gymnastics.” Let’s be honest, anyone who has coached at no less than four Olympic Games and a number of World and European Championships must command great respect from both athletes and fans alike.

Ever modest, however, Tracy is just happy to continue her involvement in the sport she loves so much. She told us: “Following the history-making achievements at the Rio Olympic Games, it is a great honour to be appointed as the Head National Coach and I relish the challenge to build upon this success in Tokyo and beyond. I look forward to working with the gymnasts, coaches, support team and everyone involved in the trampolining programme”.

The Northampton Trampoline Centre, Tracy’s great passion and a world-class facility (purpose-built for trampolining and used every day by the community and high-performance gymnasts) became the proud host of pre-Olympic training camps for Australian and Japanese gymnasts prior to the London Olympic Games in 2012. In fact, the British team has a great relationship with their Japanese counterparts because of this.

Having been named Outstanding Coach of The Year in 2014, it comes as no surprise to see how much her abilities are admired in the sport. Tracy was honoured for her work with the Great Britain Senior Ladies Trampoline Team, though she has an outstanding reputation in sport more generally.

Coaches, just like the athletes they help, can continue to improve with the knowledge acquired over many big events and competitions. Nothing can ever be guaranteed, but given this recent high profile appointment, it would seem success in Sofia is extremely likely. It’s another major step forward for a lady who fully deserves the plaudits coming her way. Tracy Whittaker-Smith is surely destined for further honours in the future and we wish her every success along with those she trains.

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Here at Pay Subs Online, just like the gymnasts Tracy trains, we wish you every success. Part of being successful will include the smooth administration of your club – something more easily said than done. In order to help you with this, we’ve compiled a document of Admin Tasks Which can be Done Quicker and Easier Online which you can download for free here.

Currency of Coaching

We’re all familiar with the business saying, ‘time is money’, but what is the equivalent for a coach – time is medals?

Currency of Coaching

When we talk about the currency of coaching, according to professional gymnastics coach and consultant Nick Ruddock, if time is money OR medals, how do coaches use theirs? Is the time they spend with their athletes valuable?

He uses the following business analogy; If you wanted to start up a business and you were lucky enough to have a full team of investors to support you, you’d have definite advantages over an individual who had little capital.

As a coach who has a talented athlete to train, you hold the advantage over a coach training someone less talented. But advantages do not always correlate with success – or winning, come to mention it.

Productivity – whether it’s business or coaching – will always trump activity. No matter how talented, an athlete and coach who train unproductively will not match the optimised training programme of an athlete who has a fervent work ethic – even if that athlete isn’t as talented.

Productive training is defined as making excellent use of time to get closer to your goals. Busy and productive are two different things – after all, a rocking chair keeps moving but makes no progress.

There is a straightforward formula – time + beneficial activity = progress.

Sounds commonsensical, yes? But what you will often see in practice is time + non-beneficial activity = stagnation.

When it comes to training, there are many things athletes can do in a session, but at any one time, there are only a few things an athlete SHOULD do if he or she is to improve their performance. The rest are time-filling activities – enjoyable perhaps, but fluffy rather than necessary.

When it comes to business, the best use of money is an investment that will create more wealth. When it comes to coaching, the best use of time is to invest in the kind of activities that increase the probability of an athlete increasing his or her long-term potential. This might mean sacrificing the ‘fun stuff’, the same way that a businessman or woman splashing out on a Porsche limits his or her potential for business growth by wasting money on something that doesn’t help with an end goal.

To be successful in business, you need to convert every pound to £10 – by either selling or reselling a product worth XX to make YY, or by placing the money in a long-term investment, such as property or stocks.

This is a long-term strategy – not as fun as the Porsche perhaps, but more conducive to success in the long run.

Teaching your athletes fundamental skills and movement isn’t much fun either – but it works. It’s your long-term investment strategy. If a coach can see beyond the boredom of repetitive, core competencies – this will pay off. Basic skills are a brilliant investment of time, and they prolong an athlete’s career, as well as increasing his or her chances of fulfilling their potential.

Think about it – would you say yes to £50,000 this week, instead of £100,000 in ten years’ time? Funnily enough, the human brain is set up for instant gratification, so statistics show that most people would take the £50k. The same applies to the choice of taking a holiday versus sticking money in a savings accounts. Patience is difficult when we are presented with something fun and exciting.

But while it might be more fun to teach exciting release and catches on bars to 11-year-olds, what about their handstand shapes or kip cast to handstands?

Think long-term.

What gets measured, gets mastered (as the saying goes). 

Your successful business person will know how every penny of their pound is spent – and what they intend to get from it. Having worked out the strategy they need to ensure their plan works. They keep a watchful eye on spending to make sure they stick to the budget and do not overspend on areas of their business that aren’t as important. They look at 10p spent on something unnecessary as costing the business £10 in another field.

As a coach, do you know how much time you’re spending on physical preparation of your athletes? Are they doing their vault drills and their routines? In addition to the actual time spent training, do you know what is being achieved in that time?

Most people check their online banking at least once a week to make sure their accounts are in the black and that they stay that way.

But what about those training programmes? Are they subjected to the same scrutiny? Time isn’t a renewable resource (unlike money), and it, therefore, needs to be taken far more seriously when it comes to coaching.

The collective sum of small amounts of daily time adds up to significance – what Nick terms the accumulation effect. It’s the same kind of thing as the saying, ‘Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves’.

If every day, an athlete spends five minutes refining a handstand, this accumulates to about 20 hours of handstand work over a year (based on an athlete training five times a week). You read that right. Twenty hours! Accumulation is powerful.

Imagine increasing your physical preparation from 20 minutes a day to 40… That adds up another 80 hours a year. Coaches who value time spent on physical development have higher-performing athletes, and that is why.

Shave off the ‘fluffy’ time and prioritise critical activities. Scrutinise and deconstruct your programme so that you know every minute is being spent wisely. Remember, you don’t get time back.

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Nick Ruddock is a coach, consultant, clinician and speaker. He has been the junior national coach for British Gymnastics, and his GBR junior team made history in 2014 with the first-ever junior team medal at the European Championships. He formed Nick Ruddock Gymnastics in 2015 and has consulted for more than a dozen international gymnastics federations including Australia, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, and provided services to professional sports teams such as Manchester United and Manchester City Football Clubs. You can connect with Nick through his Facebook page or email him at nick@nickruddock.com

The Why of Gymnastics Coaching

'Why' – one of the most powerful words in the English language, according to professional gymnastics coach and consultant, Nick Ruddock.

The Why of Coaching

He has plenty of great advice about how to use the word correctly and efficiently when it comes to gymnastics coaching. Asking why can give you the answers to questions you think you don’t want the answer to – the reason it’s so powerful – but it’s also a confrontational, aggressive word. Something that isn’t useful in relation to coaching.

Nick runs through the occasions where ‘why’ is used poorly. If you’re a gymnastics coach and you use it when giving feedback or questioning one of your athletes, it can come across as particularly threatening.

Take questions such as ‘why are you bending your legs?’, or, worse, ‘why are you doing it like that?’. ‘Why aren’t you concentrating?’ is another poor example of its use.

You’ll want to know why it’s so threatening. Such blunt questions mean that anyone responding can immediately come across as argumentative. ‘Why are you doing it like that’ is something of a rhetorical question, and rhetorical questions do not belong in gymnastics coaching.

An exchange where a gymnastics coach asks, ‘Why are you bending your legs’ and the athlete replies, ‘Because I wasn’t tight enough on the springboard’ might lead to a confrontational situation where the coach thinks the athlete is answering back or regards him or herself as smarter than the coach.

There are better ways to phrase a question – ways that engage and empower the person, you coach. Instead of saying, ‘Why did you land on your back?’, ask instead ‘Any idea what made you fall on your back there?’

This is a much more encouraging question. Small tweaks to language help build the rapport between coach and athlete, helping you to get more from people. It also makes it more likely for the athlete to become independently aware of their mistakes, and understand the corrections needed.

Where can ‘Why?’ be used to good effect, however?

Children are avid fans of the question ‘Why?’ as anyone who’s ever had or looked after a toddler will agree. It’s part of the who, what, where, when, how philosophy we pick up at a young age – giving us the framework for asking questions and gaining an understanding of the world around us. It’s a strategy that works well going forward – if you want to succeed in anything in life, always ask lots of questions. The qualifier to that being, the better your question, the better the answer.

So, what counts as a good why question – especially when it comes to life and our path through it? These examples are ones that you should ask yourself regularly, no matter where you are.

  • Why do I deserve success?
  • Why do I coach people?
  • Why did my athletes not perform as well as usual today?
  • Why were my team so successful (or unsuccessful) this season?
  • Why is that coach repeatedly producing fantastic results?
  • Why am I not achieving my goals?
  • Why am I not making healthy food choices?
  • Why should an athlete want to work with me?

Another useful way to use the question ‘why?’ is to ask it repeatedly, as this will help you get to the root of the problem. How does this work? Take this example.

Why am I not making healthy food choices?

Because I can’t find time to shop and prepare my meals.

Why?

Because I’m so busy with training and doing other things.

Why?

Because the training takes up so much of my time and I need to relax.

Why?

I’m tired and lacking energy, so I put my feet up and watch television.

Doesn’t it sound to you as if more sleep is needed, and that by prioritising a healthy diet and food prep that you might give yourself energy?

As coaches, we need to think carefully about how we use the word ‘why’ and make sure we optimise this to get the responses and engagement we want.

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Nick Ruddock is a coach, consultant, clinician and speaker. He has been the junior national coach for British Gymnastics, and his GBR junior team made history in 2014 with the first-ever junior team medal at the European Championships. He formed Nick Ruddock Gymnastics in 2015 and has consulted for more than a dozen international gymnastics federations including Australia, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, and provided services to professional sports teams such as Manchester United and Manchester City Football Clubs. You can connect with Nick through his Facebook page.