The performance level coaching course is focussed on coaches wishing to develop athletes at a national level. The course itself takes five days and is hosted at the home of British Gymnastics; Lilleshall. Candidates who wish to enroll must demonstrate the development of gymnasts up to national level. You will be expected to focus on high quality execution with a solid understanding of bio-mechanics, nutrition, flexibility and conditioning.

General Terminology


There are three training principles to consider when aiming to work on flexibility:

  1. Age
  2. Temperature
  3. Inactivity

Flexibility is limited by:

  1. Bone structure
  2. Muscles
  3. Connective tissues
  4. Ligaments and tendons

Muscles are stimulated by impluses from the nervous system which cause them to contract / relax to move a limb in a joint complex.

Muscles generally work in pairs so when one contracts it's partner will relax at a controlled rate.

The contract muslce is known as the agonist and relaxing muscle is the antagonist.

For example in the knee joint during flexion; the hamstring muscle contracts and quadriceps relax. When the knee is straightened their roles reverse.


Flexibility can be categorised into the following definitions:

  1. Passive - external influence
  2. Active - use your muscles to get flexibility
  3. Dynamic - use momentum
  4. Ballisti stretching - rapid / sudden (avoid)

When training flexibility it is important to check you are training the right type. Try to avoid reflexes when stretching such as phasic (ie rapid response to a knee tap) or tonic (response to sustained change in muscle length).

Good Practice

When training flexibility it is good practice to:

Improving flexibility

A muscle can be realistically extended to around 50% of it's normal length. To improve the flexibility in a joint it is necessary to improve the habitual length of the muscle and to stretch the associated tendons, ligaments and connective tissue.

Always warm up thoroughly before commencing hyper stretching. Use slow, progressive, and prolonged stretches making sure to strectch both sides equally.

Flexibility is best developed in young gymnasts but should be maintained throughout a gymnast's career.

Gymnastic Injuries

There are two primary categories of injury with a roughly 50/50 split:

Predisposing (risk) factors

Intrinsic factors:

Extrinsic factors:

Management of acute injuries

If concerned always send to A&E for bone or tendon injuries and / or rapid swelling. Stress fractures can be common in the foot, lower leg and lower back. For less severe injuries prevent further damages by following PRICER (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Refer):

There should be no heat or massage in the first 48 hours.

3. Strength and Endurance Training

The purpose of which is to increase power and stamina. The second main effect is protein synthesis where muscle becomes more dense.

Physical Preperation

Strength training principles

The principle that that the human organsim: > Specifially adapts to imposed demands

Maximum Strength

Maximums strength is the highest force produced through a voluntary contraction against an insurmountable load of resistance.

Power and speed training

Losely described as the ability to produce an explosive force

Difference between age and sex

The maximum adult bpm is 200 versus a child maximum of 215. An adult takes 40 breathes per minute and a child 60.

Types of Muscular Contraction

Muscular contractions results in the shortening of muscle.

Concentric max strength

Concentric max strength is the greatest load that can be moved against gravity

Isometric max strength

Isometric max strength is the greatest force that can be exerted so that the force of a contraction and the load are equal - usually 10 - 15% greater than the maximum concentric strength

Definitions of strength

Principles of Strength

Fatigue can be muscular or mental (ie distractions / moral).

4. Sports Pyschology

A number of factors influence a performer's ability to learn and these include:

5. Planning the training

In simple terms planning involves answering the following questions:

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we want to be?
  3. How do we get there?

The basic principles are:

11. Diet and Nutrition

For a gymnast to perform at an optimum level they must be able to control body weight and replenish their body with required nutrients, fluid and energy.

Body composition and control of body weight

Body composition refers to how the body is made up and it is composed of 'Lean Body Weight' and 'Fat Weight'.

The body does need fat, protein and carbohydrate, but excess calories cause weight (fat) gain. This can cause an increased risk of injury and reduction in the quality of performance.

Always remember this is a potentially sensetive area for a gymnast and needs to be addressed sensitively and if in doubt advice from a qualified nutrionalist should be sought. Failure to address this sesnsitively may lead to dietary illness such as anorexia or bulimia.

If body weight is to be maintained the following equation applies: > Maintained body weight = calorific intake = calorific expenditure

Consequntly if the calorific intake exceeds the expenditure, the body will increase in weight and vice-versa.

Nutrition and the growing gymnast

Coaches should be aware of the following:


The Performance qualification allows you to coach the following skills.