Tips from our coaches!
We at LiveWire do more than help with tumbling tricks and dance skills. We are also trying to teach your children that positive thinking will lead them to achieve anything they put their mind to. But class can be hard at times: physically, mentally and emotionally draining for your child... we ask a lot from our students during class including staying focused, giving 100% effort in each drill and encouraging themselves and each other to do their best.
Sometimes, kids just need someone "in their corner" that is their cheerleader and is happy with them no matter what skill is achieved, but rather that they gave a great effort in class. Reminders to give on the way to class or to ask questions about on the ride home include: Keeping a positive attitude even when something is new, unfamiliar or difficult, telling them to ask questions if they are unsure about something, encouraging others, using positive self talk "I can do it", and envisioning themselves doing a trick in their mind before their turn.
Reminding your children of these items will help them become productive and happy because they can recognize their effort given rather than just skill acquisition.
As coaches we occasionally see students who are above average on their physical capabilities. They hold amazing handstands, throw back handsprings, or have great switch leaps. However, when their mental capabilities don't quite match their physical capabilities there becomes a misalignment that can lead to bad habits or possible injury. By mental preparedness we speak of things like the capability to listen to instruction and carry it out appropriately (sometimes without a physical demonstration), or understanding that a coach is not demeaning you (as a person) but is correcting your body movements. Parents are wonderful cheerleaders for their children and want them to achieve great things, but sometimes mental preparedness gets glossed over and forgotten.
Why does this matter? If your child is physically able to throw a back handspring, but mentally isn't assessing whether the situation is safe to do so (obstacles in the way, enough space, energy level, etc) this can lead to mental blocks and possible injury. Furthermore, if your child isn't mentally prepared to do a skill each time, they might "cheat" on a skill because they are nervous, or they want to achieve the skills. This can create bad habits with improper technique which not only takes much longer to "unlearn" but can also lead to injury.
We know as parents that you want the best for your children, and so do we: a safe and healthy child both physically and mentally. Sometimes it can be good to be a big fish in a small pond.
What to Say When Our Kids Perform
As competition season heats up we are constantly reminded of the incredibly fragile job that parents have keeping their athlete calm before and after a competition. What is the right thing to say? How do you manage the emotions, yours and your child’s? It is complicated…but does it have to be? While preparing this article, I came across another brilliant article by Tim Elmore called, "What Parents Should Say as Their Kids Perform", published in August of 2013.
Here is an excerpt from that article: What We Should Say When Our Kids Perform
The most liberating words parents can speak to their student-athletes are quite simple. Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as they perform are:
Before the Competition:
1. Have fun.
2. Play/Dance/Hit hard.
3. I love you.
After the competition:
1. Did you have fun?
2. I’m proud of you.
3. I love you.
Six Simple Words… For years, I wondered what the student-athlete would say about this issue. After decades of work with athletes, Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller found out. They suggest six simple words parents can express that produce the most positive results in their performing children. After interacting with students, they report:
College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: "I love to watch you play.”
That’s it. Those six words. How interesting. How liberating to the parent. How empowering to the student-athlete. No pressure. No correction. No judgment. (That’s the coach’s job). Just pure love of their child using their gift in competition.
When I learned this, I reflected on the years my own kids competed in sports, recitals, theatrical plays, and practices. Far too often, I wanted to play a role that added more stress to their lives. Instead, I now realize—I just need to love them. And to love watching them play.
From a parent’s view—this is the best way to cultivate an emotionally healthy kid. - See more at The Growing Leaders blog by Tim Elmore
This hit home, it is so important that youth sports, competitive or recreational are just that YOUTH sports. The benefits and lifelong lessons gained through participation are incredible. Our reaction as parents before and after workouts, competitions, or shows will have lasting effects on how our children deal with pressures long after the youth sports are over. So no matter the outcome, a win or a loss, we can all remember to utter 6 wonderful words and know that they will have the best lasting impact, “I love to watch you play”.
-Taken from TumblTrak
Why is technique so important?
"I feel like my child isn't throwing hard skills like I used to see at our old studio."
"She already has multiple back handsprings, why are they taking her back to a single back handspring?"
"My child already moved off the barrel for their back handspring, but I saw them spotting him with it again!"
Ever had these thoughts go through your head or heard someone mention them? It's totally normal if you have, and it's something you are always welcome to talk to your coach or the office staff about. But we would like to address some of the reasons for these things.
Good technique is imperative to making the skill look clean and making it "easy" to do by getting our energy going in the correct direction. We break down back handsprings so that they are fluid and quick, with a tight rebound. Once they can do that, they can have easy multiple back handsprings, whips, etc. The first back handspring is the hardest part!
Secondly, proper technique for taking off and landing are so important to prevent immediate and long term injuries. Students who "throw" their skills, muscling their way through it, are more likely to land short at some point - possibly leading to an injury but also leading to fear of attempting that skill. Long term exposure of too high or too long back handsprings can injure wrists and arms, and landing short time and time again from short/squatty back handsprings can injure ankles, knees, and back.
Proper technique takes time for the mind to tell the body how to shape itself and the body to translate it into muscle memory. Which means doing drills related to the skills that allow the athlete to focus on just one aspect of the skill.
We love our students and want them to succeed and progress quickly, that's literally our job! :) But we also want to see that their hard work isn't thwarted when once they get a single skill, and have to start over to get a tumbling pass because their form isn't clean enough to be fluid in multiple skills.
What can I do to help my child progress?
Does my child REALLY have to practice bridges, handstands and splits at home? The answer to that question is another question: Do you want to see greater improvement in your child's dance/tumbling? If you can practice with your child 15 mins a day working those three skills (or any other homework your coach has given you), you (and their coach!) will see increased flexibility and strength.
Why does that matter? If a child cannot do a proper bridge, they will struggle more with back handsprings, walkovers and scorpions. If they cannot do a handstand they lack the strength needed for all the other tumbling skills. If they do not work their splits their leaps, kick overs and aerials are even more difficult.
If you feel like your child is stuck in a rut, it could be for many reasons. But the first thing I recommend trying is spending 15 mins, 5 days a week on these skills and watch the outcome over the next month. I can guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised with the progress made by such a small feat.
Our classes are focused on teaching skills and drills, not spending time stretching. We expect students to do that easy stuff at home so that they get the most out of class time.
Will taking the summer off affect my child's progression?
If you want the shortest answer we can give: YES.
Just like in school, when kids go on summer break and they don't continue reading, practicing math, etc, it is really difficult to maintain the same level and virtually impossible to increase their knowledge level... because they are not "practicing" the same amount of time, nor the same quality, as when in school.
Our muscles only get stronger with work and even then, the work load has to become more and more strenuous to increase muscle ability. Summer is the time we don't have to worry about competitions or recitals, we don't have to worry about school or homework... so we can increase our work load, work on new skills (think back tucks and twisting fulls!) and get to try new classes to broaden our knowledge.
We allow people to switch up classes as they need to regarding their schedule, but it is first come first served for spots in classes, so contact us early. Summer is just 2.5 short months, make the most of it and don't let your child's hard earned skills regress!
If you have to take the summer off, please remember to give cancellation in enrollment in writing by the 15th of the month prior to avoid a penalty fee. We are a month-to-month studio so that people can come and go with ease, but once you leave a class, your spot gets filled with someone from the wait lists. So please remember when you want to return in the fall to check in with us at least a month in advance to get your name on the wait list for the classes you would like to enroll in.
Helping children be ready for class
What's the best help you can do for your child so they can excel in tumbling and dance? Helping them be prepared for class. We understand that some days it is just a miracle to get them to the studio, but on the other days here are some tips that we have found make a difference:
For younger students:
*Remind them earlier in the day about class (and/or the day before) and get them excited about it and let them pick out something like their outfit or a hair tie for class
*Make sure they have eaten something 30 mins before class
*Arrive 5 mins early so they have time to use the restroom
*Make sure you tell them when you will be back and say bye to them when you leave. Turning around and having a parent gone can be disturbing to many young students
For older students:
*Ask them to pack their dance bag the day before so they don't forget anything. Encouraging them to have a written list of everything they need so they can double check they packed everything
*Pack a snack for those long days so they don't become irritable or tired
*Make sure the night before isn't a late night so their technique classes are still productive
For all students:
*Make sure they have the appropriate clothes on for their class
*Hair should be tied back
*Jewelry including earrings should be taken off, or earrings taped
*Feet should be clean for tumbling or proper dance shoes are brought to class
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