SOME PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF THEORETICAL BIOMECHANICS IN GYMNASTICS Dr. Gerald F. Calkin Associate Professor Eastern Kentucky University
Mernber of the U.S.G.F. Biomechanical Task Force
Continued from Mar.-Apr. Issue TRAINING FOR FLEXIBILITY What implications does thi s have for our trammg program. First, when we stretch out we become more fl exible and when we stop stretching we start to lose o ur fl exibility so that in about 24 h o urs we a re back to where we sta rted. Therefore, if we stretch o ut once a day we are a lways ge tting back to where we were yesterday. If we want to make a n y gains we must stretch everyday a t least twice a day. In our program we stretch before a nd after workout a nd again a t night. For th ose who are below a certain " level" there is a special 7:00 a.m. stretching session. Secondly, we never want to use the ballistic (bouncing into a flexibility postion) method of stretching because while this does improve range of motion it also ca uses a build-up of scar tissue in the muscle. Finall y, what we want to do is to stretch to our maximum position and then a little farther and to stay there and try to relax. STRENGTH The grea test lie ever perpetrated in gym nastics is that it is balance and timing not strength tha t ge ts the job done . Once you have the strength it seems like strength is not needed but it sure is. Last year in a freshman PE class a young lady asked me to look a t her back handspring to see what was wrong with it. After viewing it several times I could come to no other conclusion than that there was no thing wrong with h er backhandspring except that she was just not strong enough to do it any better. TRAINING FOR STRENGTH Like flexibility, strength is specific to the movement involved. Therefore, our stren gth training program needs to be aimed at specific movements and or body positions. Not only do we not want to was te o ur time developing any muscle tissue we are not going to use, but that ex tra muscle tissu es is excess baggage in the same sense that fat is excess baggage. It then becomes very clear that we want to desig n strength exercises (for the gym or weight room) with specific goals in mind. Nex t we must keep the overload principle in mind . We will not make significant stren g th gains unless we work the muscle to fatigue. Finally, we don't get stronger by working. We get stronger by resting-after we have worked. These last two principl es (the overload principle and the res t principle) bring us back to another dilemma. To make our best strength gains we should work really hard on Monday and then rest until abou t Wednesday or even Thursday, work hard aga in a nd rest for another day or two, etc. Obviously, we ca n ' t do tha t so our strength program must become sOft of compro mise.
I know of no good compromise. In our program the gymnas ts work out a tota l of 22-23 hours a week. In our pre-season and post season program we do some (very limited) strength work o n Monday and/ or Tuesday, none o n Wednesday, h eavy strength work on Thursday and Friday with complete rest on Sa turday and Sunday. As we approach the season we taper the strength work down to about once a week. We do strength exercises in the gym (crosses, levers, body lifts, presses, etc.) and in the weight room. In the weight room (universal machines) we do exercises that are similar movements in th e gym. SP ACIAL AWARENESS Spacial Awareness (the abi lity to locate a nd relocate) is the esse nce of gymnastics. We are not born with this " sense" but learn itas we grow. In a sense a ll of gymnastics is training in spacia l awaren ess. Even if we have th ~ endurance, fl exibility a nd strength to do a movement or sequence, we will no t be ab le to do it consistantly unl ess we have a sense of where we are in the air. TRAINING FOR SPACIAL AWARENESS To develop this area we h ave a group of basic swing movements etc. which we spend 20-30 minutes o n in the beginning of our work unit. During this time the gymnasts are individua ll y ca lled to the trampo line for front, back and twisting work. Everything we do on the trampoline is done in the belt. Some of o ur trampoline work is done with the gymnast blindfolded. Also, we have tumbling drill which we work on Frida ys . DISCIPLINE I consider that endura nce, fl exibility, strength , a nd spacial awareness is a bo ut ha lf of what it takes to be a gym nas t a nd discipline is the other h a lf. I feel very uneasy ta lking about that area of discipline beca use it is ou t of my field and I must yield to Millman, Massimo a nd o thers who ha ve written so extensive ly in this area. I do fee l safe h owever in emphasizing the importance of discipline a nd m ore importantl y se lf-di scipline. TRAINING FOR DISCIPLINE I would like to commen t briefly on a subject on which I ha ve seen little written the coach as an example. I feel that in this area our exa mple speaks much louder than o ur words and if our life style is si ngularl y undisciplined it is unlikely that the you ngster we coach will acq uire the selfdiscipline needed for top performance. I do not mean to imply that we must be perfect. If that were true we wo uld a llf ai l. I do mean to imply that in the area of discipline our example is a n importan t factor. Not only that, 路b ut when we ask just wh a t it is that a you ngster carries away from a gym nastics program tha t wi ll be of value to him a fter he n o longer competes, the one factor that stands ou t is discipline. If we help a youngste r acquire self-discipline then we ca n res t assured tha t we have succeeded as a coach.
Gymnastics News/ May-June, 1979