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  • Coach Collins

Norbert And The Back Flip Conundrum…

Within a few weeks of starting gymnastics, Gilbert could do a back flip - it wasn’t really a goal of his, it just seemed like a cool thing to do... And this seemed rather annoying to Norbert, who had been practicing back flip progressions for over 6 months. “Half a year of rolling backwards off the tumbler trainer, flinging myself from a 2 foot coaching block into the foam pit and practicing on the trampoline and I’ve got nothing, and this Gilbert c*** comes twice and gets it with almost no effort… What a complete b******!” Norb thought, angrily stamping his feet… Norbert was right to be upset. He’d landed on his head and neck 7 times that morning alone, and the vision was starting to go in his left eye…   Herbert saw his frustration and encouraged Norb to tuck harder, making for a faster rotation and an increased chance of pulling off the back somersault. “Good idea, Herb” said Norbert… Mentally mugging him off. If Norbert tucked any harder he’d rupture his spleen. Ginger Cecil saw something different, something very, very subtle between Gilbert’s back somersaults and Norbert’s attempts… “It might be nothing”, he piped up, “But Gilbert is jumping ever so slightly higher than you are, Norb…” Ginger Cecil was indeed onto something. Gilbert was jumping higher - almost a whole foot(!) higher than Norbert - and with more height comes more time to pull off the tuck and land safely. Norbert told him to go f*** himself. “How can 6 months of somersault progressions NOT prepare you for somersaults?” Norbert challenged. “You’ve been doing backwards rolls off the tumble trainer for 6 months now” said Ginger Cecil, “while Gilbert has apparently been squatting, sprinting, lunging, and just generally increasing his strength and power… More power means more height, and more height means more time to perform the back somersault.” What Ginger Cecil was trying to say was that Gilbert had built the right tool for the job. The tool was his body and all its physical abilities, and the job was the back somersault - something that requires a certain amount of power… Power that Norbert was most certainly lacking… This conversation felt ever so similar to the one Norbert had with his coach about muscle ups 2 days prior… “Skills are built on prerequisites,” he was told “if you’re strong enough to perform a skill - backflips, muscle ups, pistols, etc - then generally you can do it with minimal fuss and frustration, but if you are lacking certain physical attributes, then it can be a real struggle…” Norbert carried on doing banded muscle ups anyway because they look cooler and feel easier than actually building upper body strength… Back in the present, Ginger Cecil was still(!) mouthing off... “The back somersault itself is not at all technical, you just need to jump high and tuck. If you had more leg strength, you could learn it in 5 minutes.” Norbert had had enough of these know-it-all ****s; he kicked Ginger Cecil hard in the solar plexus. “How’s my leg strength now, punk!” he yelled, as Ginger Cecil gasped for air. The whole class laughed. They all agreed that Ginger Cecil deserved it. Gilbert deserved it too, but no one wanted to kick him because he was so much stronger than everyone else… An interested observer could have learned a lot from that class... 1. Skills are for those who have built the right physical attributes.   2. There are good ways and bad ways of building these attributes. 3. There are good ways and bad ways of presenting information. 4. Not everyone wants to hear the information, regardless of how it is presented... Norbert learned nothing. He continued trying to practice a skill that he wasn’t physically prepared for, and now, 2 years and 5 serious injuries later, he almost got a backflip off a springboard… “Sit the f*** down and have a beer…” ~ Coach Collins Copyright 2017

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