These are some suggestions for creating a zero injury tolerance training program for gymnasts from a coach who had no serious injuries during a 25 year coaching career – zero career ending gymnastics injuries, zero broken bones and zero torn ligaments of tendons. Bumps, bruises, sprains, pulled muscles, but no serious injuries!
Zero Injury Program
Here are some of the training policies and procedures for building a zero injury program:
- Weight Training – Weight training strengthens ligaments and tendons. Regardless of any coach’s beliefs about the use of weight training for gymnastics strength, weight training should be used to strengthen ligaments and tendons and potentially prevent gymnastics injuries.
- Careful Following of Proper Skill Progression – Even with the safety margin of error of the pit, coaches should carefully follow proper skill progression and have gymnasts master each step of progression for safe progress.
- Use of Proper Equipment Progression – The use of proper equipment progression on every event, like the beam equipment progression from foam floor beams to high beams.
- Pits – Every possible skill should be first learned and completely mastered technically and for consistency in a pit before being taken to harder surfaces. This gives the highest possible margin of error for avoiding injury.
- Daily Use of Trampoline – The daily use of trampoline is not only the most efficient method of performing skill repetitions and gaining air awareness, but also allows the training of high numbers of repetitions of high difficulty tumbling skills without significant pounding and repetitive stress on the body.
- Tumble Trac and Rod Floor – For tumbling training, the use of a Tumble Trac and rod floor protects gymnasts from too much pounding on their bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
- Mats. Mats. Mats. – There can never be too many mats. The rule for mats should always be – wherever a gymnast might possibly fly or fall, there should be a safe, soft mat there.
- Pad Vault Runway – For training purposes, there should be extra thick padding on the vault runway to save gymnast’s legs from the repetitive stress of vault training.
- No Unnecessary Drills That Pound Gymnasts’ Bodies – Many gyms perform huge numbers of repetitions of unnecessary drills that do not teach new skills or create significant progress, but put significant stress on gymnasts’ bodies. Only steps of progression that actually make progress are worth putting stress on gymnasts’ bodies.
- Constant Safety Evaluation and Reevaluation – We made a policy and habit of regularly evaluating the gym for safety and safety practices. And whenever we would see any potentially unsafe situation or near accident, we would immediately reevaluate and retrain all staff to avoid any possibility of that same situation ever causing an accident or injury in the future.
Implement a Zero Gymnastics Injuries Program Now
Most gymnastics coaches do not implement such comprehensive and stringent zero injury safety strategies. Not only that, but many gymnastics coaches do not even believe a zero injury program is even possible, so they do not even attempt to implement a program that could lead to zero injuries. We owe it to every gymnast to offer them the safest gymnastics program possible.
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