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Archive for the ‘Gymnastics’ Category

This week in The Cave

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Amanda_BillPlease note that The Cave will be CLOSED on FRIDAY, JULY 4TH. All classes (*EXCEPT CrossFit at 9am and 10am) are cancelled for that day. The Cave will be OPEN for all regularly scheduled classes (in all disciplines) on Thursday, 7/3,  Saturday, 7/5, and Sunday, 7/6. If you have any questions regarding holiday hours, please contact Amy at amy.d@inthecave.com.

Changes to CrossFit programming:
Bo recently announced some exciting changes to our CrossFit programming!  We now offer 2 parallel tracks during classes: Fitness and Performance.  Read all about it here!
Help send Bill and Amanda to the Games!
We’ve started  a crowdfunding campaign to help send Bill and his coach Amanda to the CrossFit Games in July. Please donate by going here: http://www.gofundme.com/aau608 Thank you so much!

Summer Camps

Have you made summer plans for your kids yet?  The Cave’s summer camps are perfect for any age and any level!  Our coaches will challenge your child at her level while making sure they are safe and having fun.

summer-parkour-campsfinal-1

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW as these classes fill up FAST!
Gymnastics:  July 28- August 1
Youth Camp:  August 4-8
Gymnastics:  August 11-15
Parkour:  August 18-22

REGISTER ON-LINE OR CALL (415)927-1630.

CrossFit Trainer’s Gymnastics Seminar

amanda_muSpend 3 hours with Roger Harrell, founder of the CrossFit Gymnastics Certification program, learning how to properly teach gymnastics fundamentals in a CrossFit program. Detailed progressions will be covered. Key safety concerns will be addressed specifically geared toward teaching gymnastics movements to adults.

August 9, 2014 01:00PM to 4:00PM

Member cost: $70.00
Non-member cost: $75.00

To register, use the “Register” link to sign up for just this seminar.  This seminar is limited to 20 participants, so sign up early to ensure a spot. The price listed above will hold up until 10 days prior to the event (July 31) at which time the event cost will increase to $90.

This seminar is coupled with the Athlete’s Gymnastics Seminar. Member’s cost for both Trainer’s and Athlete’s seminars is $90, non-member cost is $100.  Call (415) 250-9710 to sign up for BOTH seminars and receive the special pricing.

CrossFit Athlete’s Gymnastics Seminar
Spend 3 hours with Roger Harrell, founder of the CrossFit Gymnastics Certification program, learning gymnastics movements. This seminar is focused on proper and efficient execution of key gymnastics elements.  Get started or improve your technique on a variety of movements. Learn how these skills truly break down to work toward mastery. Floor, rings and parallettes will be covered in detail with an introduction to other gymnastics apparatus.  Learn some key techniques to dramatically improve your efficiency and enable performance of skills you thought unattainable.

August 9, 2014 04:30PM - 7:30 PM

Member cost: $70.00

Non-member cost: $75.00

To register, use the “Register” link to sign up for just this seminar.  This seminar is limited to 20 participants so sign up early to ensure a spot. The price listed above will hold up until 10 days prior to the event (July 31) at which time the event cost will increase to $90.

This seminar is coupled with the Trainer’s Gymnastics Seminar. Member’s cost for both Athlete’s and Trainer’s seminars is $90, non-member cost is $100.  Call (415) 250-9710 to sign up for BOTH seminars and receive the special pricing.

This Week in The Cave

Monday, June 9th, 2014

campfire-night3_webKids Night Out

Forget about the babysitter and bring the kids to The Cave!  They’ll get exercise, have lots of fun and enjoy a healthy dinner.  This week’s theme is Campfire Night.   Register on-line or call (415) 927-1630.  $35 in advance or $45 at the door.

Summer Camps

Have you made summer plans for your kids yet?  The Cave’s summer camps are perfect for any age and any level!  Our coaches will challenge your child at her level while making sure they are safe and having fun.

summer-parkour-campsfinal-1

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW as these classes fill up FAST!
Gymnastics:  June 16-20
Ninja:  June 23-27
Team Gymnastics:  June 30-July 3 (This training camp is for Level 3+.)
Gymnastics:  July 28- August 1
Youth Camp:  August 4-8
Gymnastics:  August 11-15
Parkour:  August 18-22

REGISTER ON-LINE OR CALL (415)927-1630.

Challenge WOD

Challenge WOD #4 was announced last night, read about it here, so get it done by this Sunday! The third challenge WOD is complete, great job to all those who participated. Want to know more about Challenge WOD? Check this out!

CrossFit Trainer’s Gymnastics Seminar

amanda_muSpend 3 hours with Roger Harrell, founder of the CrossFit Gymnastics Certification program, learning how to properly teach gymnastics fundamentals in a CrossFit program. Detailed progressions will be covered. Key safety concerns will be addressed specifically geared toward teaching gymnastics movements to adults.

SAugust 9, 2014 01:00PM to 4:00PM

Member cost: $70.00
Non-member cost: $75.00

To register, use the “Register” link to sign up for just this seminar.  This seminar is limited to 20 participants, so sign up early to ensure a spot. The price listed above will hold up until 10 days prior to the event (July 31) at which time the event cost will increase to $90.

This seminar is coupled with the Athlete’s Gymnastics Seminar. Member’s cost for both Trainer’s and Athlete’s seminars is $90, non-member cost is $100.  Call (415) 250-9710 to sign up for BOTH seminars and receive the special pricing.

CrossFit Athlete’s Gymnastics Seminar

Spend 3 hours with Roger Harrell, founder of the CrossFit Gymnastics Certification program, learning gymnastics movements. This seminar is focused on proper and efficient execution of key gymnastics elements.  Get started or improve your technique on a variety of movements. Learn how these skills truly break down to work toward mastery. Floor, rings and parallettes will be covered in detail with an introduction to other gymnastics apparatus.  Learn some key techniques to dramatically improve your efficiency and enable performance of skills you thought unattainable.

August 9, 2014 04:30PM - 7:30 PM

Member cost: $70.00

Non-member cost: $75.00

To register, use the “Register” link to sign up for just this seminar.  This seminar is limited to 20 participants so sign up early to ensure a spot. The price listed above will hold up until 10 days prior to the event (July 31) at which time the event cost will increase to $90.

This seminar is coupled with the Trainer’s Gymnastics Seminar. Member’s cost for both Athlete’s and Trainer’s seminars is $90, non-member cost is $100.  Call (415) 250-9710 to sign up for BOTH seminars and receive the special pricing.

The Ride Home

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

As a coach, I see this all the time, and I too am guilty of this behavior with my own kids:   The need to immediately engage in a critique of our children’s athletic performances, however well-meaning.  After an event, we question and/or comment about our kids’ performances.   But, does this really help anything or anyone?

Below is a re-post of an article titled “The Ride Home”.  While it’s specifically about soccer games, the message is worth thinking about and can be applied to all the activities our children may participate in, whether it’s soccer, parkour, or gymnastics.

The Ride Home  by John O’Sullivan

One of the saddest things I had to do as a Director of Coaching for numerous soccer clubs was conduct exit interviews, meetings with players whom had decided to leave the club. Children quit sports for a litany of reasons, and my job was always to see what we could learn, so we could improve the experience for other children.

When I got these players alone, and asked them “what was your least favorite moment in sports?” I often got a very similar and sad answer: the ride home after the game.

It has always amazed me how a moment off the field can have such a detrimental effect on it, yet when we think about it, the toxicity of the ride home makes perfect sense.  Emotions are high, disappointment, frustration, and exhaustion are heightened for both player and parent, yet many parents choose this moment to confront their child about a play, criticize them for having a poor game, and chastise their child, their teammates, their coach, and their opponents.  There could not be a less teachable moment in your child’s sporting life than the ride home, yet it is often the moment that well intentioned parents decide to do all of their teaching.

One of the biggest problems on the ride home is that a simple question from you, often meant to encourage your own child, can be construed as an attack on a teammate or coach by your child.

As Bruce Brown states in his book Teaching Character Through Sport, “athletes do not need adults to question their actions, the actions of other players, or the coach’s decisions concerning strategy or playing time.”   A simple comment such as “Why does Jenny get all the shots?” may be meant to construe to your child that you think she is a good shooter who should also take shots, but is interpreted by your daughter that “Jenny is a ball hog!”  Questions such as “Why does Billy always play goalie” or “Why does your team always play zone?” can just as easily undermine the coach’s authority, and again cause confusion and uncertainty for your child.

Many children indicated to me that parental actions and conversations after games made them feel as though their value and worth in their parents’ eyes was tied to their athletic performance, and the wins and losses of their team.  Ask yourself whether you are quieter after a hard loss, or happier and more buoyant after a big win.  Do you tend to criticize and dissect your child’s performance after a loss, but overlook many of the same mistakes because he or she won?  If you see that you are doing this, even though your intentions may be well meaning, your child’s perceptions of your words and actions can be quite detrimental to their performance, and to your relationship.

One of the things that Coach Brown urges parents to be a source of confidence and comfort in situations such as when your child has played well in a loss, when your child has played poorly, and especially when your child has played very little or not at all.  Even then, it is critically important that you do not bring the game up for them, as uninvited conversations may cause resentment in children.  Give them the time and space to digest the game and recover physically and emotionally from a match. When your child is ready to bring the game up and talk about it, be a quiet and reflective listener, and make sure she can see the big picture and not just the outcome of a single event.  Help her work through the game, and facilitate her growth and education by guiding her toward her own answers. Kids learn a lot when they realize things such as “we had a bad week of practice and coach told us this was coming”  Most importantly says Brown, remember that your child always loves hearing you sincerely tell them “I love watching you play.”

The only exception to the above ‘Ride Home’ rule is when your child engages in behavior that you would not accept at home, such as spitting, cursing, assaulting an opponent, or disrespecting a coach or authority figure.  In these cases you should initiate the conversation, not as a parent to an athlete, but as a parent to a child.  Even then you must be careful and considerate of the emotions of the match, and choose your words wisely.  Deal with the issue, and then put it to bed; do not use it as a segue to a discussion of the entire game.

Not every child is the same, and some children may want to discuss the game on the way home. My advice is let them bring it up, and let them end the conversation. if you are unsure, ask your kids whether they want to talk about the game, and honor their feelings and their position on this issue. There is nothing, aside from the unacceptable behavior mentioned above, that cannot be discussed at a later time. The best part is, you will likely have a far better conversation about it hours after a game, instead of minutes. As many youth sports are entering the season of playoffs and state championships, emotions are higher than ever, stress and pressure are more prevalent, and it is crucial that you let the Ride Home belong to your son or daughter. They will thank you for it one day, that I promise. “

I hope everyone enjoyed this article as much as I did.  Not only as a parent, but also a coach, there is much to take away from this article.

This Week’s Happenings in The Cave!

Monday, May 5th, 2014

What a great day for our BBQ!  A little breezy, but the sun was shinin’ and people were smilin’!  Thank you all for coming to The Cave’s Client Appreciation BBQ on Saturday.  It was wonderful to celebrate our achievements together and show gratitude all around!  Many CrossFitters AND gymnasts gathered to eat, drink and mingle.  Coach Bo proved his BBQ skills while Crystal showed she’s got game with a water-balloon toss,  and egg-in-spoon relay!  This place wouldn’t exist and be what it is without this community of students.  Thank you all for committing to this incredible journey.   - Rog & Pam

Fantastic Acrobatic AcroYoga Workshop

May 18th 1:00 - 3:30PM

Combining partner yoga, partner acrobatics, and healing arts, AcroYoga helps build strength, confidence and trust.  Who wants to be fantastic when you could be Acrotastic?!  This workshop is guaranteed to make you work hard and gain skills while having a blast!  Come learn the ways and leave happy!  Space is limited so please register early!   AcroYoga beginner and intermediate levels welcome.

AcroYoga is an incredibly fun way to bust through fears, build trust in one’s abilities, form powerful friendships and large amounts of confidence. Crystal Hatzimichael is both an experienced AcroYoga teacher and a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist. Reserve your space now by e-mailing crystal@inthecave.com or calling (415)927-1630. $35

Challenge WOD

Thanks to Coach Bo, the Challenge WOD is back and better than ever! This time around the in-house competition will consist of 6 workouts, each running for 2 weeks. At the conclusion of the 6 workouts, a winner will be chosen for Top Male and Top Female athletes. Read more about it here!

Whole Life Challenge

The Whole Life Challenge is a game/contest started by CrossFit LA. designed to help people make positive lifestyle changes by using accountability.  If you would like to participate in this challenge, sign up by going to our team page at:  http://www.whole.lc/wlcsummer14/pt/thecave. We’ve had Cavers do the WLC before with great success.  Be sure to share this with your friends — they do not have to be Cavers to participate, nor do they have to be fitness nuts.  There are varying levels of participation.  Inviting friends to participate in the WLC with you may be a good way to get them thinking about their health and fitness without the full level of commitment of joining The Cave.

summer-parkour-campsfinal-1

Summer Camps

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW as these classes fill up FAST!

Summer Camps:


Let’s talk about handstands!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Have you seen the individual regional workouts?  They were just announced and our girl Amanda is going to crush it!!  We can’t wait to cheer you on.  Since handstands are making an appearance at regionals, I’ve reposted part of an article Roger wrote about handstands below.  A refresher never hurts, enjoy.

Beginning handstands

Many people will be intimidated simply by the concept of doing a handstand. Fears of falling and/or not being able to support themselves with their arms will be the primary hindrances early on. Proper positioning and a gradual progression will take trainees through this process safely and quickly.

The first step to a handstand is simply to learn how to be comfortable in a hand support. A vertical handstand is not necessary to start this process. Start with a folded panel mat, plyo box, or other stable raised surface. Stand in a shallow lunge in front of the object with arms overhead. In the lunge, the rear leg is the kicking leg, and the front leg is the support leg. Place your hands on the object, and kick your rear leg up toward the ceiling so that the support leg comes off the ground only a few inches. Start small. Getting up into a handstand at this point is not necessary and not recommended.

This initial stage can tell you a lot about the handstand and you can begin to improve handstand technique. The first thing to look for is proper shoulder angle. Many people will push their shoulders forward past their hands. This creates a very unstable position unless the individual performing the handstand is capable of performing a planche. The shoulders should be completely open and active with the arms by the ears. The head should be positioned so that your hands are just visible by looking toward them with your eyes (not moving your whole head). If you can see two feet past your fingertips then your head is too far out and your shoulder angle likely is “broken.” Once the proper position has been established, work on kicking higher. If the handstand is approaching 45 degrees from vertical it is time to move off of the raised surface.

Before moving to a handstand on the ground, you should be very comfortable with forward rolls. A forward roll is the easiest and safest way to exit a handstand that falls forward. Training a forward roll is discussed in detail in CrossFit Journal issue 38.

Proper shoulder angle for a handstandProper shoulder angle for a handstandProper shoulder angle for a handstand
Proper shoulder angle.
Improper shoulder angle for a handstandImproper shoulder angle for a handstand
Improper shoulder angle.

Practicing a handstand on the ground may be the starting point for individuals who already have a solid base level of strength and kinesthetic awareness. The starting point is the same as it was for the raised object. Start in a shallow lunge with arms overhead. Kick to a handstand by lunging forward and kicking your rear leg up toward the ceiling. The kick is what brings the hands to the floor, not reaching down with the hands. A very common mistake is to reach down with the hands, which breaks the shoulder angle and creates a less stable position. The line from wrists to the rear leg should be kept straight. When starting to kick to handstand, the kick should be kept low. As with the handstand drill on a box, only a small kick is necessary to identify deficiencies in the position. Once proper positions have been demonstrated, the kick can be taken higher. Simply kicking up and stepping back down repeatedly will begin to bring the hips higher in each kick and train an understanding of the shoulder and arm push required to hold a handstand. Once the kick leg is reaching vertical, the support leg can be brought up to meet it in the handstand.

Proper arm position in a lungeImproper arm position in a lunge
Proper and improper shoulder angles.

Holding a handstand and improving alignment Once a kick to handstand is consistent, shift focus to holding the handstand. The only way to improve your ability to hold a handstand is to practice handstands. Do handstands whenever you get a chance. This is comparable to learning to walk. When children learn to walk they practice constantly. This is the same approach that should be taken with handstands. A solid static handstand is essential to performing free standing handstand push ups. Handstands can be practiced against a wall to develop strength in the position and to allow for enough time in the handstand to play with body alignment. Handstands against a wall should be practiced both with the back to the wall and facing the wall.

Handstands facing away from the wall do not encourage a proper hollow handstand posture, but allow for practicing balance in a handstand. Start in a lunge facing the wall and kick to handstand so that your heels hit the wall. Be sure to place your fingertips only a couple of inches away from the wall. Start the lunge far enough away from the wall so that you have to stretch forward a bit as you kick to the handstand. This will force a better alignment in the shoulders and improve the mechanics of the kick. This also creates proper positions for other kicking skills such as front handsprings and round offs. Once in the handstand, the shoulders should be pushed up (toward the ears) as far as possible and fully extended. There should be no angle between the shoulders and torso. The line between wrists and toes should be as straight as possible. Once the handstand is aligned properly, push with your fingertips and try to pull your heels away from the wall slightly to hold the handstand. As you get more stable you can walk your hands farther away from the wall to practice your balance.

Handstand facing away from the wall, proper position Handstand facing away from the wall, improper position
Correct Incorrect - hands too far from wall

Practicing handstands facing the wall helps to ensure a proper hollow handstand position but does not allow for balance practice as readily as facing away from the wall does. To get into a handstand facing the wall start with your back to the wall, bend down and place your hands on the floor 1 to 2 feet away from the wall, then walk your feet up the wall as you walk your hands in to the wall. Try to get your hands as close as possible to the wall. Your toes should be pointed and the tops of your feet should be the only thing touching the wall. It is possible to do this with your wrists virtually touching the wall assuming handstand alignment is good. Proper alignment is an open hollow with shoulders fully extended and pushed up. Think about pushing your toes as high toward the ceiling as possible. Once this position is obtained, try to push away from the wall slightly and transfer your weight to your fingertips and hold the handstand.

Handstand facing the wall, proper position

Practice freestanding handstands as often as possible. Kick up to a handstand whenever you get a chance. When you kick to handstand, think about extending your lunge, keeping your shoulders open, and maintaining a straight line between your kick heel and your hands. Part of your practice should be just trying to stay on your hands no matter what it takes. Walk, break form and bend your arms, just stay in the handstand. As you spend time in the handstand you will begin to feel the adjustments that are necessary to maintain it.

In addition to practicing handstands allowing for walking, you should also make a concerted effort to practice static handstands. Kick into a handstand with a tight, straight body and don’t move. If you have to take a step, come down and try again. As with previous handstands, kick into the handstand with an extended body and shoulders. Once in the handstand squeeze your legs together, extend your shoulders so that they are completely open, and hold the body in a straight, slightly hollow position. Think about digging your fingertips into the floor while practicing static handstands. This will create a more solid base for the handstand. Think about leaning the handstand slightly forward, as it is easier to save a handstand that is falling forward (over onto your back) than it is to save a handstand falling backward. (The exception to this is on rings.) To save a handstand that is falling forward, extend through your shoulders and dig your fingers into the floor as hard as you can. To save a handstand falling backward pike your shoulders and hips and if necessary bend your arms. As the handstand gets stronger, a slight planche will save a handstand that is falling backward.

Proper handstand alignment Improper handstand alignment
Correct Incorrect

This article continues to discuss free standing handstand pushups. To view this entire article please visit: http://www.drillsandskills.com/article/19

This Week’s Happenings in The Cave!

Monday, April 28th, 2014

cave_client-bbq6_webCave Community BBQ
The Cave is hosting a Client Appreciation BBQ event on May 3rd from 1:00-7:00PM.  All are welcome to attend, though we will be paying extra special attention to our CrossFit community! They have worked very hard this year and deserve some home cookin’ and some fun!
If you’re looking to show off your awesome paleo (or non-paleo) cooking skills, you’re in luck for this is a pot-luck event.  The Cave will provide the bulk of the food and drink, but feel free to bring a dish to share! Come prepared to participate in some fun games and contests for prizes.  Who doesn’t love an old fashioned water balloon toss or three legged race? It is important to note that The Cave will NOT be providing child care at this event, however, children are welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!

Challenge WOD

Thanks to Coach Bo, the Challenge WOD is back and better than ever! This time around the in-house competition will consist of 6 workouts, each running for 2 weeks. At the conclusion of the 6 workouts, a winner will be chosen for Top Male and Top Female athletes. Read more about it here!

Whole Life Challenge

The Whole Life Challenge is a game/contest started by CrossFit LA. designed to help people make positive lifestyle changes by using accountability.  If you would like to participate in this challenge, sign up by going to our team page at:   http://www.whole.lc/wlcsummer14/pt/thecave. We’ve had Cavers do the WLC before with great success.  Be sure to share this with your friends — they do not have to be Cavers to participate, nor do they have to be fitness nuts.  There are varying levels of participation.  Inviting friends to participate in the WLC with you may be a good way to get them thinking about their health and fitness without the full level of commitment of joining The Cave.

Fantastic Acrobatic AcroYoga Workshop

May 18th 1:00 - 3:30PM

Combining partner yoga, partner acrobatics, and healing arts, AcroYoga helps build strength, confidence and trust.  Who wants to be fantastic when you could be Acrotastic?!  This workshop is guaranteed to make you work hard and gain skills while having a blast!  Come learn the ways and leave happy!  Space is limited so please register early!   AcroYoga beginner and intermediate levels welcome.

AcroYoga is an incredibly fun way to bust through fears, build trust in one’s abilities, form powerful friendships and large amounts of confidence. Crystal Hatzimichael is both an experienced AcroYoga teacher and a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist. Reserve your space now by e-mailing crystal@inthecave.com or calling (415)927-1630. $35

summer-parkour-campsfinal-1

Summer Camps

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW as these classes fill up FAST!

Summer Camps:


This Week’s Happenings in The Cave!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

cave_client-bbq6_webCave Community BBQ!

The Cave is hosting a Client Appreciation BBQ event on May 3rd from 1:00-7:00PM.  All are welcome to attend, though we will be paying extra special attention to our CrossFit community! They have worked very hard this year and deserve some home cookin’ and some fun!
If you’re looking to show off your awesome paleo (or non-paleo) cooking skills, you’re in luck for this is a pot-luck event.  The Cave will provide the bulk of the food and drink, but feel free to bring a dish to share! Come prepared to participate in some fun games and contests for prizes.  Who doesn’t love an old fashioned water balloon toss or three legged race? It is important to note that The Cave will NOT be providing child care at this event, however, children are welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!

Kid’s Night Out

Next Kid’s Night Out is April 26.  It’s Sports Night, with hot dogs for dinner!  Reserve your space now by e-mailing crystal@inthecave.com or calling (415)927-1630. $45 at the door or $35 in advance.

CrossFit Open Masters Qualifier

Masters competitors who finished in the top 200 worldwide in their age division in the Open are invited to compete in the Masters Qualifier. The Masters Qualifier runs from April 17-21. At 5 p.m. PT on April 17, four workouts will be released. Competitors will have four days to complete the workouts and submit scores. The Cave has 5 athletes competing this weekend!   Stay tuned to the blog and our Facebook page for more information.

summer-parkour-campsfinal-1

Summer Camps

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW as these classes fill up FAST!

Summer Camps:


Swing Mechanics part 4 - The Ring Swing

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

This article is the 4th part of a 6-part series focused on swing mechanics and achieving efficient maximum swing on different equipment. Part 3 focused on the support swing. This week, the focus is the Ring Swing.
Ring Swing Rearward phaseA correct and effective swing on rings takes significantly longer to learn than an effective swing on a bar. A swing on rings is a double pendulum, a very complex system that demands very good timing and body alignment. Proper body tension and maintaining pressure on the rings is critical.
Ring Swing Rearward phaseFrom a hang position on the rings, initiate the swing by kicking your feet forward and backward. Hang relaxed in the shoulders so you can begin to feel the natural period of the swing. As the timing becomes apparent you can begin to drive the swing more aggressively. Consciously squeeze your heels together, particularly in the rearward swing.
Ring Swing Rearward phaseFrom the horizontal position in the front, your shoulders should be pushed back and your body extended as much as possible without arching. If your rearward swing is arched when you reach the bottom there will be a significant downward jerk. This jerk is not only uncomfortable but also decreases momentum and severely limits your swing. Maintain a slight hollow until the rearward swing passes through the bottom. At this point an aggressively kick your heels toward the ceiling (that is, direct the kick up and back, not just back). As the swing rises to the back, keep your chest pressed downward and shoulders open and slightly out to the sides. Maintain pressure on the rings throughout. The rings should also be turned out (pronated, or thumbs inward). This turnout allows a greater range of motion in the shoulders and will allow you to put downward pressure on the rings earlier in the swing than if your hands were not turned out. As the swing peaks, the rings should be brought together and pushed as far forward as possible to prepare for the forward swing.
Ring Swing Forward phaseThe beginning of the forward phase of the swing is a reversal of the beginning of the rearward swing. From the face-down horizontal position at the back of the swing, arch your body lightly, press the rings forward as much as possible and push your chest down and slightly forward. Maintain this position until the swing passes through the bottom. As the swing reaches vertical it should turn over rapidly as you drive your toes toward the ceiling. Be sure to turn over by kicking your feet and maintaining a tight body. This turnover must be driven by the kick and not by pulling the rings forward. Ring Swing Forward phaseThe rings should be pressed back as the swing turns over. After the turnover, drive your toes toward the ceiling and press the rings back (away from the top of your head) aggressively. At this point the swing should be traveling nearly vertical, and you should be aggressively pressing the rings back and slightly outward. This pressure will drive the swing upward. Do not bend your arms; this pressure is a push, not a pull. As your swing reaches horizontal in the forward swing, the rings will need to be turned in (supinated, or thumbs out) to enable you to push down on the rings as the swing rises above the rings. After the swing peaks in the front, extend away from the rings as much as possible to prepare for the rearward swing.
Next week I’ll focus on the basket swing.

Taking Risks Is Beneficial

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

NOTE:  This post focuses primarily on children and allowance of risky play, but speaks well to how adults should approach some risk as well.

Being involved in a sport with a very high perceived risk factor has caused me to look at safety very deeply.  Subsequently, running a business that involves people participating in activities with very high perceived risk factors, maximizing safety of the program is essential for continued operation.  What I find interesting about the actual data regarding risk -taking and safety, is that our society has swung so far toward trying to make everything safe that we have actually made people more prone to injury.

First, accidents happen.  They are an unfortunate part of life and are unpreventable if your goal is to enjoy the life you live.  Even if we were to remove all physical risk out of a person’s life by locking him in a padded room, the physical and psychological consequences would far exceed any safety benefit.  Yes, the rare, catastrophic accidents influence large aversions to physical risk, but they are very rare.  Since the ’70s, playgrounds have changed dramatically in the spirit of safety.  Yet, reviewing the statistics, these safety measures have not dramatically reduced these catastrophic accidents.  Adversely, they have created kids that are risk-averse and do not have as strong a sense of how to navigate the real world safely.

Head injuries, runaway motorcycles, a fatal fall onto a rock—most of the horrors Sweeney and Frost described all those years ago turn out to be freakishly rare, unexpected tragedies that no amount of safety-proofing can prevent.” ¹ This is a clear point.  I have heard the statement, “All accidents are preventable”.  I completely disagree with this statement.  While we have made great progress toward safety-proofing, (seat-belt compliance, workplace safety, etc.), believing that ALL accidents are preventable is folly, and attempting to regulate safety with this mind-set leads to decisions that can make people less safe.  For example, a Novato elementary school (that shall remain nameless), doesn’t allow children to run on campus at all.  Not allowing children to run may reduce the risk of injury from a fall on school grounds (though this doesn’t appear to be true either), but also leads children to believe that running is fundamentally unsafe,  further contributing to stagnant lifestyles with significant consequences.

Sensible risk-taking is essential for childhood development. Yes, kids are going to get banged up, yet, if we allow them to take some risks while they are small, they can safely figure things out and make informed decisions.  This is so important for children to learn while they are light enough to not cause physical injury or do significant damage.  Kids can take falls that would put an adult in the hospital.  They just get up, brush it off and walk away.  If we don’t let them take these risks, they will never learn to navigate them, and then, when something happens later in life, they will have no idea how to handle the situation and they could suffer more severe consequences.

I speak not only as a concerned business owner, I am also the father of two children with very different approaches to risk-taking.  On the scale of risk-taking, my daughter falls fairly average, being fearful with new activities, but able to gain confidence by working through and overcoming those fears.  On the other hand, my son is of the don’t-look-before-you-leap variety.  He is not cautious about anything.  Therefore, I  approach my encouragement of  their play differently.  I continually encourage my daughter to go ahead and take risks, and caution my son to just think about his risks before diving blindly forward.

Take a good look at what you allow your children to do, and what risks you allow them to take.  Give them room to explore this amazing world they live in.  There will always be the possibility of something horrible happening.  But you must understand that you can not remove this possibility.  If you allow for a steady progression of risk-taking, your children will grow to be very capable adults.

¹The article, The Overprotected Kid, greatly influenced my decision to share this post.  I encourage you to read the article as it holds a significant amount of great information.

Swing Mechanics, Part 3 - The Support Swing

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

This article is the 3rd part of a 6-part series focused on swing mechanics and achieving efficient maximum swing on different equipment. Part 2 focused on the tap swing.  This week, the focus is the Support Swing.
A support swing is swinging in a free support between two fixed objects. From this position a swing can approach vertical in the forward swing and reach a handstand in the rearward swing. Working support swings builds support stability, strength, and shoulder mobility.

The Support swing
Start practicing the swing focusing on keeping your body completely straight. Your body should maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your toes. Do not pike in the forward swing, and do not arch in the rearward swing. The goal is not to see how high your feet can go, but to swing your entire body efficiently and effectively, as a unit. In the support your elbows should be turned so that the inside of your elbows are facing forward. This dramatically increases stability and will help prevent buckling as you swing through the bottom.
Once both your forward and rearward swings approach horizontal, you should start practicing the shrug. Through the bottom of the swing shrug your shoulders; then extend them at the top of both forward and rearward swings. This shrug allows for a very dynamic push at the peak of each swing, adding significant power to the movement. Practice the shrug by performing swings with relaxed, shrugged shoulders through the arc of the swing, and then, as it reaches its peak, extend your shoulders. This shrug and push gives additional upward force to the swing enabling greater function.

If you are performing your support swings on parallel bars there is an important skill to learn before attempting to reach a handstand. You should be comfortable with a forward roll on the bars. A forward roll is the safest way to bail out of a handstand that falls forward. Practice forward rolls by first kneeling on the bars. Your knees will be slightly outside the bars and your feet on the inside. Place your hands as close to your knees as possible. Lean forward and lift your hips, stick your elbows out so your upper arms rest on the bars. Push off your legs and roll over your arms, constantly pressing your elbows toward the floor to lock the shoulders into a “shelf” to support you. You will need to let go of the bars as you roll over, but this is a very natural reaction. At the end of the roll you will be in an upper arm support on the bars. Yes, this is uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary skill. The discomfort decreases as you get more proficient with the movement.

As the rearward swing approaches handstand, be sure to maintain a hollow body and push with your shoulders. Done properly this will ensure that the swing stops in the handstand. An arched swing leading with the heels, with the head out can easily swing past the handstand requiring a forward roll or other method of bailing out. A proper hollow swing to handstand will settle in the handstand regardless of how much momentum is behind it. If anything the swing will hop as it reaches vertical as the momentum is upward and not forward. A swing to handstand should be just an extension of a normal support swing. If you have to change your body alignment to get to the handstand, then the mechanics of your swing are not correct and you should continue to practice a proper swing before attempting to swing to handstand.

Next week Rings!