Over the December holidays I had the opportunity to present a workshop to some young Rhythmic Gymnasts in a small town. It was lovely - they were an enthusiastic bunch, good humoured and tried incredibly hard. They managed to accomplish so much during the three days that it was a really energising experience for me.
One of the Rhythmic Gymnasts attending the workshop truly impressed me with the spirit she showed for the Sport. There is something very exciting about working with an individual that is driven and excited about what they do. I loved the fact that she never stood still, sat down or leaned against the wall - you know the usual things one does when you’re either tired or bored. Instead she kept on moving and even encouraged the other girls around her to keep on trying. She was completely passionate about Rhythmic Gymnastics.
Maureen van Rooyen is a well known figure within South African Rhythmic Gymnastics. Together with Isabel van Achterberg, she has been instrumental in establishing and growing Rhythmic Gymnastics in South Africa as we know it today.
Maureen has had a tremendous journey starting as a High School Teacher to becoming a successful Business Owner. She has been a South African National Coach as well as a Brevet Judge for a number of years.
Her Club, Gold Reef Rhythmic Gymnastics, has to date produced the majority of South African Junior and Senior National team members. Maureen's most notable achievements include attending two Olympic Games as a Coach with her gymnasts, Stephanie Sandler - 2004 Athens Olympics and Odette Richard - 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet Mr Morinari Watanabe, the Secretary General of the Japanese Gymnastics Federation. He is also the First Executive Committee Member of the International Gymnastics Federation (F.I.G.) as well as the Vice President of of the F.I.G Marketing Commission. What really peaked my interest during his introduction was that he was instrumental in bringing Rhythmic Gymnastics to Japan in the early 1980s as well as his involvement with the AEON Group (he is the General Manager of the Sports and Leisure Department and the President of the AEON Rhythmic Gymnastics Club.)
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Rhythmic Gymnastics Competitions, but with moveworklove I've had the opportunity to attend these events in a different capacity than what I usually would have. It's also given me the time to observe and notice things I wouldn't have before.
In my past life as a Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach one thing that was really import to me was that when my Rhythmic Gymnasts arrived at a Competition they knew what to expect and what to do. We had a firm process in place that helped them focus on why they were there and to cut out any uncertainty and distractions.
It doesn’t matter whether they are in Level 1 or 10, Junior or Senior Olympic Level - you should always have a plan. Your Rhythmic Gymnasts need to know the plan. Your ultimate goal should be that when your Gymnast walks onto the floor they are focussed and ready, not distracted by all the sideshows.
I thought I would share some guidelines that helped me a great deal as a Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach.
There is something awesome about working with tremendously talented Rhythmic Gymnasts, to arrive at Competitions and see the interest, experience the encouragement and I suppose the slight pangs of jealousy from other Coaches.
High Performance Coaching is far from glamorous and I believe there are too many Rhythmic Gymnastics Coaches attempting this level without really thinking through the pros and cons of this type of Coaching or really having the proper qualification to do so. That said, if you are truly passionate about it and know in your heart that this is what you would like to do - GO FOR IT!! There are definitely ways to make it work, but it doesn’t happen overnight and you need to have a solid, sustainable support structure in place.
Make no mistake, it takes incredible skill to be an excellent Levels Coach and those Coaches that have chosen to go this route have produced amazing results over the years and have built very successful businesses. This is due to their single minded focus on doing this really well.
A question that keeps on popping up from Rhythmic Gymnasts, their Parents and new Coaches to the Sport is how do you determine the length of the Rope for the Gymnast.
This video is a step by step guide to measuring and cutting a Rhythmic Gymnastics Rope.
Grace Legote embodies the ultimate Rhythmic Gymnast. She's tall, beautifully proportioned, extremely flexible, elegant and exciting to watch. For someone that started quite late in the sport, she's accomplished a tremendous amount.
She has been a member of the South African Senior National Team for several years and is the current South African Champion and African Champion. Grace has competed in 4 World Championships (2009 Mie, 2011 Montpellier, 2013 Kiev and 2014 Izmir) as well as a number of other International Grand Prix's and Competitions. She placed 10th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.