It is me “ya boy” Gymnastics Dad back again for another round of blogging. Before I get started, I want to apologize currently and in advance for the delay in my blogs. As a track coach for a summer track team the summer is my busiest part of the year, so my blogging will slow down over the summer as I gather more material from dealing with parents and athletes on the track circuit. Over the years, I have realized that parents and athletes regardless of the sport, are similar, so a lot of the things I experience as a coach in track is also applicable in gymnastics. Before we get started with this blog, I want to send a big shout out to all my readers. I have reached over four hundred “organic” subscribers to my blog as well as people who follow me on FB, Twitter, and IG. For those who may not understand, getting over 400 organic followers is a big deal! First having organic traffic means that people see your site or FB page and like you because they like your content not because they are your friends, cousins, aunties, uncles or that crazy woman down the street that keeps taking photos of me getting into my car(I see you). Organic followers are the best type of followers to have, so I thank you. For those who have not signed up for my newsletter, all I can say is that Whateverrrr Man! Seriously, I have some big things planned for the GD nation, and I want to make sure you all are kept in the loop. If you are interested in signing up for my newsletter, hit the refresh button but this time don’t just close the newsletter popup please FILL IT OUT. On to the blog. In this blog, I am going to talk about the offseason and why the offseason is one of the most critical times of the year. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is not understanding the value of the offseason. Most people don’t understand the importance of the offseason because they don’t know how athletic training and development work.
Let me guess, school is out and you are using the last remaining PTO days you have to take the family on a well-deserved vacation. First of all, I don’t know how you do it. This gymnastics season had my wallet like, “GOD if you are listening, helppppp!!!” but for those folks amongst us taking a sabbatical from life then enjoy yourself, and I am so jealous right now. Any-who, on with the blog. While you take this vacation, you promise your coach, yourself, and your gymnast that you are going to make sure your athlete does some exercise while on vacation. Literally, this is a text message I received today (06/21/2019) from a parent. Notice my response of “Okay.” For parents who don’t know “Okay” from a coach with no follow-up is equivalent to saying “child please, I am not about to waste my time.” My parents always try to sell me on this same tired song and dance. “Coach Mike, I am going to have <insert name here> running while we are on vacation. We have a track right down the street”…they are going on a cruise. Most people look at the offseason as a time to chill and relax from stressful season and to some extent it is, but the offseason is also a time a lot of good work is taking place in regards to training.
-The closet is full-
Ever been trying to solve a problem, concentrating, focusing only on not to come close to solving the problem. Finally, you give up, throw your hands and say, “fudge it, I’m out.” Only to wake up and solve the problem in a few minutes. Well, that is what I call the “closet is full” effect. Imagine the mind as a closet, as long as you keep stuffing clothes(knowledge) in the closet eventually the closet will get cluttered and you won’t be able to find(process) anything. For you to find something efficiently, you have to organize, which requires time. Athletic training works that same way. When athletes are taught new skills, the mind and body must take time to process that new information. I believe, the more stuff an athlete has on their mind at any given time, the longer it takes to process new incoming data. Ever heard or used the phrase “oh, I forgot because I have so much on my mind,” exactly, now you are starting to get my point(aha moment). When a gymnast spends all day at school, only to go to practice for 4 hours the mind hasn’t finished processing all the drama their teachers just dropped on them (BTW, we have a quiz on this tomorrow even though I just introduced it today, WTH..teach!) much less practice. While on summer break, a gymnast mind frees up about 2GB of RAM that was used in school can now be used to process new skills. You all like how I incorporated some geek talk didn’t you, it’s sexy! A Gymnast can work skills during the offseason without the pressure of competition, school, homework, etc. The offseason allows their mind and body the time to process the information being fed to them without much interruption.
-Work weakness during the offseason and strengths in competition season-
As a coach, I have a simple philosophy, during the offseason work on the athlete’s weaknesses. During the season, especially the latter part, I focus on an athlete’s strength and hope their strengths can compensate enough for the weaknesses. Currently, it is June, and my track team is knee deep in qualifiers. Next week we have the national qualifier, and the top 6 advance to the big dance, the Junior Olympics. At this point in the season, my view for an athlete is “hell if you haven’t gotten it by now you are not gonna get it in two weeks.” Using that philosophy, we begin to work on the areas of strength, hoping that those areas will compensate for weak areas. In regards to gymnastics, I can’t tell you how many times my daughter’s coach changed her leap series as we inched closer to the state qualifier. Coaches hate to gamble, so once competition season starts they will go with what the athlete can do best. The offseason is the perfect time to drill down and focus on weaknesses, and too many extended breaks prevent that from happening.
-The body can repair itself-
Believe it or not, most athletes end the season weaker than they were at the beginning of the season. Science tells us that people don’t get stronger during work they get stronger during rest(after strenuous work). A high-level explanation is that the body gets stressed out and over time, evolves to handle the stress better by getting stronger. If the body never gets rest, it technically never gets a chance to repair itself. What this means is that during competition season the body is continuously being broken down but never really getting a chance to rebuild itself therefore never getting stronger. Also, given the fact that most athletes have pretty crappy diets, which just compounds the problem. Man cannot live on fast food alone! At the peak of my daughter’s competition, she practices five days a week and then competes on the weekend. She gets Sunday off to rest, but that isn’t nearly enough time for the body to repair itself. On the offseason, my daughter also grinds just about every day, but the difference is she practices in the morning and when she comes home, outside of doing a little homework and bothering me her lazy tail is slumming watching some chick repair squishies on Youtube. When she is laying around doing nothing, the body is repairing itself, which although immensely frustrating for parents to have to look at couch potatoes all day, it is good for the athlete’s body.
Moral of the story, enjoy vacations and time off but don’t go overboard. When you do go on vacation get ya boy a souvenir, I wear an XL.
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Until next time, peace and soul….