It is a new year and we are off on the second part of the #GRTworldtour !!!! Those of you who follow us online and within the acrobatic community have seen our videos from the various clinics we have been to around the world for the last several months. We have been to over 15 countries this past year and have visited 2 - 4 facilities in each country; from competitive training centers to trampoline parks, as well as tricking and parkour centers.
ABOVE PHOTO: OLLERUP TRAINING SCHOOL ~ DENMARK
My business partner Trish McGeer and I have seen many different places and training methods over the world tour. When you only train at one facility over and over again it is easy to get "stuck" into one way of thinking and one way of training. We have realized over time that different opinions matter and different perspectives allow the athletes to differentiate within the field.
I have been in the acrobatic world for over 20 years and have seen athletes come and go, each with a very similar story. I do not see as many unique concepts as I would like. Our social media strategy is based around the idea that different perspectives all lead to a better, well rounded athlete, both mentally and physically. Some of you may think you are different and better because you can do skills others can't but let's not forget skills are not the only way to differentiate.
Arguably, not many in my industry have done the extreme stunts and trampoline skills that I have and it helped me to stand out and be 'different' at the beginning. Of course, a lot of people called me 'crazy' for it but it helped me get off the ground and form the foundation for everything you see me doing now. But, let's face some facts, if all I could do was throw big tricks, wouldn't that get boring pretty quickly? Wouldn't that demonstrate that I am only throwing skills with no real passion for my sport?
I started when I was fresh off the boat, as they say, from a Russian orphanage at the age of 5. This was the beginning of the decline of aggressive coaching. My coaches would slap us if our legs were bent, and kick us out of the program without a moments hesitation if we did not do our drills or listen. Conditioning was much more aggressive and the coaches did not take it easy on you if you were injured or new to the group. It was a much "tougher" training environment. Good or bad, it shaped who I am today.
When I saw the psychological aspect of coaching start to develop and coaches were more worried about how the athlete felt instead of how well the got the job done, coaching became more sympathetic. When I was younger, parents were in no way allowed to interfere with training. By the time I was 18/19 years old, it was common routine to see parents watching and interfering more. What I have noticed now is a trend towards a softer approach so he athletes always feel safe, secure and treated fairly. Although this is good, how does that fair on the world stage? I started seeing athletes that did not know how to compete. Athletes that relied on the coach to give them all the answers. Athletes that did not understand the importance of finishing routines even when they fell.
Those who have actually met me know my nose is crooked. I broke my nose on floor landing flat on my face during a double back when I was young. I did not even have to look at my coach to know that if I did not just finish the routine I would be insulting him and myself. With teary eyes obscuring my vision I finished that routine! Not a great routine by any stretch but I landed my 3 other passes and held my cool during my strength press to handstand elements. I just remember being in a lot of pain but knowing I could not give up.
I look back now and realize that moment shaped my character today and without those moments in my competitive career I wouldn't know the value of perseverance when the going gets tough. That philosophy still holds true in my business today and what Trish and I are trying to create on this world tour. I remember her telling me about similar situations in her equestrian career when she would fall off her horse in the ring during competition. No matter how much pain she was in she knew she had to get back on and keep going or her coach would be hitting her, not the horse!! So from the beginning, we had a similar mindset that allows us to do what we do. Let's put it this way; we hear all the time..... "You guys are so lucky to travel the world doing what you love! How can I do that?" My answer is simple: "Go break your nose a bunch of times and finish the routine, then let's talk". LOL
Not to say people getting hurt is "good", but it is necessary to learn the lessons life demands us to learn if we want to live life to the fullest of our potential.
"Does your conscious let you live life the way you want to?"
Dr. Jordan Peterson
~University of Toronto Psychology
Everyone learns more from their mistakes than from their accomplishments. We firmly believe this philosophy. Athletes learn over time that failure is necessary for success and that having an independent mindset is key for any level. Athletes should not cling to their coach for answers. During our clinics, I always say that the coach is there to guide the athlete, not tell them what to do. The athlete should be in control of their training if they want to go far in the sport and their coaches need to allow this by creating an atmosphere for independent learning.
EVERY clinic we have done on the world tour has demonstrated that the amount of athletes really willing to step outside the box is very low. For example: I asked a group to create 10 skills that they had never seen before. Their first inclination was to show me a front tuck. I told them not to repeat the skills they use in regular training. They froze, and had no real idea what to do. But after just a few minutes of training and forcing their brain out of the box I came in to see them making up creative fun tricks. Not dangerous tricks as many would think, but stylish, unique jumps and skills that they could call their own. It warmed my heart to see how much fun they were having.
During our clinics we focus on 3 main things:
1) A Step By Step Process: Every skill can be learned if the correct steps are taken from the very beginning. Many coaches that I have seen, skip these steps. It is not necessarily a conscious skipping of steps, but generally an unconscious one. Coaches have a lot to think about and a simple step by step approach breaking everything down into very small building blocks can simplify training and make the athlete understand what they are doing. Memorizing a textbook is not the best form of learning. However, if the athlete can understand the process they can take that process into any skill, any discipline and more importantly, any aspect of the real world.
2) Order of Operation: Many look at skills as "Skills" but the reality is that it is a sequence of events done in succession very quickly to the point our eyes and brain piece it together as a single skill. It is exactly the same way that movies are made of actually thousands of still pictures. Each picture is a stimulus and when you put 100,000+ stimulus's together in a row very quickly you get a video; a skill. If the athlete is taught to see acrobatics this way and mixes it with the step by step approach they can see that every skill is completely obtainable if they take the time to build it up slowly and methodically. It also destroys fear. I can't say this loud enough: IF YOU HAVE FEAR, IT MEANS YOU SKIPPED STEPS AND WENT TO FAST!
3) New Skills Are Not Dangerous: There is a stigma that NEW SKILLS are bad or dangerous. A stigma that says, OFF AXIS skills are bad for athletes. A stigma that keeps athletes in the box repeating the same 50 skills every other athlete does. There are infinite skills available with the step by step process and not many tap into it. We want athletes to see that they can safely and easily imagine a skill and build it up piece by piece until they get it and then they can call it what they want. Ask your athletes if they would rather a gold medal or have a skill named after them for all time.
We deliver the clinic in a fun and educational way so the athletes can see there are fun ways to train that are educational as well. Many athletes, including myself have this idea that unless you are doing a typical standard list of drills and sets and reps over and over again, you are not going to improve. Of course you need those drills but they need to be balanced with a lot more creative training and fun. You do not have to choose between a fun warm up and a productive one. It can be the same thing.
Overall we want coaches and athletes to work together as a team with the older athletes taking more responsibility for their training and asking more questions so they understand the principles behind the skills. The coaches need to try and explain how skill is done and break it down, explaining as well WHY it is done that way. Also I like to see people being more creative with training to keep the athletes engaged. Many coaches are starting to think along these terms and we simply want to enforce this pathway instead of promoting stagnant training. If the athletes are having fun that is most important because they will be more committed to the sport long term. If they are more committed to the sport they will retain the lessons. That is the real goal of this tour when it boils down to it.
We want the athletes and coaches to not only look at medals but to look at life after the sport. What happens when the athlete is done and can't or does not want to compete anymore? Are they equipped with the lessons to succeed in the real world? Coaches, please talk to your athletes about their future inside and outside of the sport and see what you can do to encourage them to stay within the sport at some level. I do not see a big opportunity for competitors to stay int he sport unless they are coaches, gym owners, judges or work at the federation. We want to create more options for the athletes both on the trampoline and off the trampoline.
This is really one of the major goals of the World Tour: Create More Options in a Safe Manner
PHOTO: JUMPED TRAMPOLINE FIT CLUB ~ JAKARTA, INDONESIA
The other focus of our tour is visiting trampoline parks to bring safety and educational awareness to this industry. We see that there is a large divide between the trampoline parks and the competitive gymnastics/trampoline industry. It has been said by many in my industry that trampoline parks are dangerous and they "would never step foot in one, ever." In Australia, local gym clubs actually called and showed their displeasure of the new trampoline park opening while we were in town saying they would not allow their athletes to go there.
The first modern trampoline was built by George Nissen and his coach Larry Griswold around 1934 at the University of Iowa. However, it started with an idea that George had as a teenage gymnast, to create a piece of equipment out of scrap steel, angle iron and rubber springs, with a canvas bed, for his act in the Iowa Hawkeye Circus. This “bouncing rig,” as it was called, gave Nissen the power to leap into a back somersault. When it started, even a simple back flip was considered dangerous because no one knew how to do one on a bouncy utensil such as the newly invented trampoline. A back flip was a "Junk Trick" that many call dangerous today. George and many others kept learning and improving the skill and safety so that every trampolinist can now perform both back flips and front flips as a compulsory skill.
Trampoline parks are no different. In a sense it is like looking back many years ago to a young trampoline industry and many competitive trampoline coaches forget where they started. We simply want to remind everyone that trampoline parks are not to be avoided, but to be helped, educated and motivated to keep increasing their safety so history does not repeat itself. With approximately half a million jumpers going through these parks every year and with over 3,000 parks world wide, if the insurance agencies or governments decide that enough is enough, I can guarantee that the competitive private gyms and government backed competitive gyms will take a massive hit. Is it not better to reach out and do something, rather than turn a blind eye? Well, Trish and I clearly think so and have put on business on the line to help.
Then we come to the third element in our philosophy.....the garden trampoline community. Again, there needs to be more education to ensure kids who are now bouncing around the world unsupervised have a way to stay safe. This is something we will address in another article, as we are also passionate about giving these kids an outlet for the creativity. We hear so often how they love to bounce, and want to learn the tricks, but don't want to go into the competitive stream. Their parents buy them a trampoline thinking it's just a toy and we see the resulting video's of their enthusiasm. Some are great and will actually go and take classes, or practice in the parks, where there is some supervision, however, they also need a safe outlet to learn while still being allowed the freedom to express themselves in their backyards. But more on this later!
We firmly believe is our DUTY to not turn our back on these young athletes the way many turned their back on me, but to help them and nurture them so that we can all benefit. Imagine what that would do to our industry if we had 250,000,000 more athletes to train and educate and put into the competitive system? Even if only a fraction only want to compete, by increasing the market share by this vast amount in some way would lift this acrobatic industry to new heights.
That is the second goal of the GRT World Tour: Safety & Education!
So, here we are, having just completed 2 competitive gymnastics based clinics, 1 trampoline park training and 1 urban free movement workshop within the first week of 2017. Just today we had a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia where we educated the media on the health benefits of trampolining, with advisors from the medical community. I can honestly say things are looking up and more people are quickly jumping on board!! We will continue to push and to spread the word throughout the world tour and forever after.
PHOTO: FREEMOVR SPORTS CENTER ~ NORRSKOPING, SWEDEN
Thanks to all our supporters around the world who have seen what we are trying to accomplish and have joined the fight! Big shout out to Tumbl Trak who saw right at the beginning what our mission was and has helped make this tour a big success in many different aspects. Skybound Trampolines has also seen over vision and joined the fight with us from the garden trampoline industry side of things, as they see our dedication to all aspects of trampoline. Jumper Threads has supported us with great coaching shirts for over a year now as they know how my high energy personality quickly goes through sports attire! Thanks to everyone else behind the scenes who has offered advice and information that has made this all a GIANT SUCCESS! #GRTworldtour
®Photo's courtesy of: Ollerup Denmark ~ Jumped Fit Club, Jakarta ~ Oliver Munro & Axis Trampoline Club, Bristol, UK ~ Freemovr Sports Center, Norrskoping, Sweden.