I was browsing Facebook yesterday morning and came across a post from 2004 Olympic Champion, Paul Hamm, offering free gymnastics coaching via online video. My first thought was, “Wow … What a great idea!” My second thought was “Wow, is he crazy? Who wouldn’t send him a video!” So, I messaged Paul and asked him if I could promote it for him. I thought of all the aspiring gymnasts out there that could benefit from the insight of one of the greatest gymnasts ever … and how easy it is now to send someone your gymnastics video.
I asked Paul to write a little more about what he’s doing. Following, is more about it directly from Paul. You’re gonna want to act quick on this one. We didn’t talk specifically about it, but I feel pretty certain this level of coaching can’t be free for long.
As a gymnast, I found that watching myself was one of the best ways for me to improve. My brother Morgan and I constantly studied video tapes of ourselves as well as other gymnasts. I remember a time when USA Gymnastics would send a representative to another country to film that county’s athletes. That person would then make VHS copies and send them to national team members.
I used to be so excited when I got the tape in the mail. I would play it over and over; first in regular speed, and then in slow motion. My parents had to buy a new VCR just so we could use slow motion. I would sit waiting…and waiting…and then…ok, PAUSE!!! Now turn the wheel. Then it would skip forward and back about 50 frames – haha! It was terrible, but I had an obsession to understand the sport and its complicated techniques. I used the tools I had even though it seems silly now, and I’m only 30.
Then came video cameras with flip-out screens. This allowed for instant playback of videos. I spent lots of time watching my turns at practice and at home. I also used the program Dartfish to make more complicated analyses of my gymnastics. I can’t even explain how much this helped me to improve. That was 1999, and I was 17. The following year I made my first Olympic Team.
Over the years technology got better. The Internet became widespread. Digital cameras took over. Videos could now be viewed on computers. The public gained the ability to easily edit video, and websites like YouTube took off.
In 2007 my brother Morgan and I decided to start makingtheolympics.com, a website chronicling our journey to the Olympics. We had our coach film a lot of our turns and we would go home, watch them, and finally edit them into 3-5 minute episodes. The extra time spent watching my turns had an extremely positive effect. Today, I am so glad I have that archive of video clips.
Then came Smartphones. People began texting photos and videos. Apps like Coach’s Eye became available and now the ability to analyze gymnastics skills is no longer a tedious process. Coaches and athletes can connect in a way that has never been possible before.
With live streaming video (FaceTime/Skype), another leap has been made. This technology will only get better. FaceTime is already great and the iPhone 5 allows streaming video with a 4gLTE network. Gymnasts now have a great opportunity to work with coaches all over the world.
I’ve often wondered when gymnastics would stop getting more difficult. Well, I believe if technology keeps improving and knowledge is more easily communicated, then the skill level will continue to rise. In order to be competitive, gymnasts need to take advantage of the tools at their disposal.
I have a wealth of technical knowledge, and now, a great way to teach-anyone, anywhere. Check out http;//www.paulhamm.com. It’s a coaching website where I provide video analysis as well as live coaching using FaceTime. It is time we take the next step to help the younger generation. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Also, right now I am doing skill analysis for free. This is my chance to improve my skills and develop relationships.
- Record a video clip of a skill.
- Email or Text it to email@example.com.
- Give me your name, club name, and email address.
- Then I will send you a link to the analyzed video.
Here is an example of what you will receive:
I look forward to working with YOU!
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