Olympic standard: Preparation for Tokyo 2020
In autumn Believe and Achieve Sports schools began preparing for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, well Gymnastics as the lessons plans titled but still aspirations were high
Both Key stage 1 and 2 started their gymnastics adventure with a group discussion of what comes to mind when they think about gymnastics? What makes a good gymnast? Had any of them had experience in gymnastics? And what they were most excited about learning, most of course wanted the mats and to start rolling.
Early years began by self-exploring what the children could do with their bodies, we looked at making shapes i.e. letters, utilizing space and what balancing is.
After a couple more weeks of varied movements, looking at balance, how animals move and covering just about every inch of space in the sports hall they needed a fresh challenge.
Mats were a recurring theme in our lessons now, with the children being more than comfortable on how to handle and use them. So I challenged them to jumping, its technique the varieties and when we can use it in a routine. Of course much like their personalities they began bouncing around very quickly.
Shortly after learning our jumping, we learnt rolling which to me and you seem simple but to the children it’s another big hurdle to climb over. Once I had demonstrated the safe way to perform rolls, I allowed the children to partner up and they began creating all kinds of different rolls.
Our young Olympians were eager to put all their moves together and finally perform routines and by the end of the term had not only developed new moves but also the confidence to perform in front of an audience.
Despite the age and ability range in Key stage 2 we all started at the same point. Of course some of these years had experienced gymnastics before and some in the older years even studied gymnastics as an extracurricular activity so used this as a positive and delegate rolls with the experienced pupils helping the younger ones.
Levels of movements was the foundations for our building blocks, looking at high, medium and low level movement in both pairs and alone. Trying to discover new ways of movements not just everyday walking and running.
By weeks 3,4,5 the children had become tired with simple movements, so we spiced things up and began to look at more jumps, rolls, mounts and dismounts after all the children wanted more ingredients for their final showpiece.
In the final weeks we allowed the children more and more free time to explore in their groups different routines and what moves flowed well together, as copying someone at the front can become very tedious.
These were the lessons where I felt the children learnt the most, studying each other’s ideas and be allowed to judge and decide what their routines looked like good.
Constant creativity was the most refreshing part of gymnastics for me, to see the children think of dynamics gymnastics was fascinating, however I did struggle with the teaching of routines, trying to think what looked best and what should be the starting and finish because routines and gymnastics was so alien to me before teaching.
The only advice I would give somebody teaching gymnastics would be to get the mats as early as possible. This small 2 metre platform becomes a stage for the children; a place where they feel the part of a gymnast and if they start to feel the part they will comfortably start to look the part.