Written by Joshua Fabian (National Centre of Excellence - Perth)
With the support of Gymnastics Western Australia, I was recently lucky enough to travel on a three-week professional development tour through England, The Netherlands and Germany. This trip included visits to observe and coach in best practise, high performing gymnastics programs in the three countries, attend and observe the Great British National Team’s final training camp before leaving for World Championships and the opportunity to attend and spectate at Stuttgart World Championships.
It was an amazing three weeks of growth, increasing my understanding of the comprehensive range of different training programs, philosophies, gym cultures and systems that can lead to success. It was surprising to see how different the six gyms I visited actually were from one another, especially those that were in the same country! Yet, they could all still produce athletes that had in the past, and would in the future, achieve international success. What was not surprising however, was the core values and distinct traits that the gyms all had in common. The athletes and coaches were very dedicated, driven, engaged, willing to “give it a go” and willing to learn. I could sense the desire to improve in the air, and that hard work and humility were celebrated, and expected. I was thankful that everyone I met was so keen and forthcoming with me. Very open and happy to share their thoughts and ideas.
Alongside the gym system and culture growth, it was great to continue and advance my learning journey of the technical skill aspect of gymnastics. I had the opportunity to coach and work with a large variety of skills and athletes which helped consolidate, refine and in some cases change(!) my teaching methodology.
Attending World Championships was also an excellent opportunity. I attended Women’s Team Final, Women’s Individual All Around Final, and Day One and Two of WAG and MAG Apparatus Finals at the 2019 Stuttgart World Gymnastics Championships. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to watch (live) not only the competition routines of the highest performing athletes in the World but also their apparatus warm up touches, coach interactions and their “off camera” inter-routine sequences and pre-routine preparations. It also provided me with a great opportunity to network with many international coaches pre and post event.
During the competition, I was seated and conversing with German and French National Team coaches, as well as a technical expert for the UEG and the Italian and German National team choreographer. The informal discussions on what we were observing and what we think will be the future direction of gymnastics was invaluable. It was also amazing to see Simone Biles compete live. Her triple twisting double tuck salto was enormous! What an athlete!!
Anyway, I would strongly recommend that if anyone reading this has a desire to continue their learning journey and has a good professional development opportunity in mind, contact Gymnastics WA! The assistance of the High-Performance Grant made my trip possible and I am sure that it would be able to help you too! Thank you Gymnastics WA for the opportunity! Also, if anyone would like a more detailed report of my observations and learning, please feel free to contact me and I can forward you my report!