Solid Performance

I stayed up this morning to watch the Team Finals at the World Gymnastics in Tokyo. Jordyn, Sabrina, Gabrial, Makayla and Ali did awesome as they won GOLD for the US. They were so calm and stuck almost their landings. There were no falls and they won by a large margin.

After that I was so excited I could not go back to sleep and finally got ready adn headed down the gym with coach. The energy was great and although I was a little tired I was ready. We started off on front handsprings and I am getting closer and closer to doing them by myself. I ddi 5 with coach spotting and then 5 with coach backup spotting. I still needed him but as he backs off the spot it will get to a point soon where he is not there at all. There is no fear, it is really now just cleaning up technique.

My Back Walkover is getting better. The challenge is mainly when my back is not warm and I need to do them. It just does not work. I still have a lot more conditioning to do so that I can lean back and put my hands on the ground any time day or night. I will get there. The first step was the conditioning to allow me to go back without fear. I am there. Now it is conditioning to have muscle memory.

The third big block to my floor routine is by Back Extension Roll. We now have a new strategy for that to assist in reprogramming the tracking in the arm. We will get this. I am not going to settle for writing off this technique. I will overcome it like everything else.

When I finally can get my Level 5 floor routine out of the way I can start my prep optional routine using Lady Gaga’s Born This Way as my floor music. So excited.

After the Front handsprings we then went to front tucks. I am very close to doing this on the floor now which is exciting. I am punching off the flooe into the put onto mats at pit height. Very soon.

We then went to bars where I got back into great form and we will be doing more soon and then went to do work on beam where I completed the first half of the routine and made all skills for the first time. We also worked on Front Tuck Dismounts and I did my best set ever as well and actually finished with a great stuck dismount. I LOVE this technique and cannot wait until I can do it off the beam all the time. This changes the game for me and makes beam so much more fun. So much of my beam is getting more comfortable and I can definitely see me doing Back Walkovers and Back Handsprings on the beam into the future.

Finished with leaps and jumps and turns on floor and put in more solid results. I love days like today. I may not be advancing rapidly but turning in solid performances is so exciting for me. Foundations are the Building Blocks of Success and to the US girls that means one thing. GOLD. Go USA. Go Heroes!!

The Dreaded Plateau

As a gymnast I love the ability to progress in skills and there are so many skills to learn that it seems insurmountable. Yet constant training in each skill starts to build muscular memory and before long progression happens and then there is another challenge and another and another and you never get done. My challenge is when I hit the plateau or the worst of them all regression.

Back when I resumed doing gymnastics three years ago I was able to do a Round Off, Back Handspring and Back Tuck on the floor and it did not take that long. With all the knee challenges I lost the technique as I did not train tumbling for almost a year while my knee continued to get twisted. I am now back working on it and have not got the technique correct yet and so it is frustrating have to retake ground. I should already have layouts on the floor and be moving to full twists but still not there. Argh!!!

Over the last week I have been sitting in this plateau not making very much progression on anything. I am training long hours at LA Fitness in support. My back is more flexible than ever and yet in my floor routine I ran out of energy by the time it came to do the final back walkover. I can do 25 in a row at LA Fitness but could not do one in my routine when I need it.

Front Handsprings was something I started week one with coach. That week I twisted my knee. That has been the story of Front Handsprings. That technique was responsible for me twisting my knee seven times. Agonizing let alone stopping vaulting because I could not sprint. I am currently doing front handsprings on the floor with coach spotting me. They are getting stronger and cleaner and more comfortable. I no longer have the fear that I did for a while. At one point I used to burst into tears after doing them because I survived uninjured.

I will keep going and I will persevere through the challenges. A friend once said to me. Bobbie gymnastics is about falling, falling on your back, your head, your arms and mostly your pride. If you like falling then gymnastics is for you. Every great gymnast has had to fail a LOT to get this good. As natural atheletes that we are the skills we learn are not intuitive and need to be technically perfect and done with confidence. Backflipping on a 4 inch wide beam, swinging between bars and running full speed at a vaulting table just are not things people do in ‘normal’ life, let alone tumbling across the floor and proppellign yourself high into the air for a quad twist.

I need to remember to keep smiling. I love the journey and know that every minute in the gym is a blessing. I get to train in my passion every day. I get to improve and get stronger, healthier and do things that less than 1 in 100,000 can do at best. For that and everything to do with the sport of gymnastics I am so grateful. Loving life. Go Heroes!!

How the Tears Floweth

I had an amazing day yesterday training with coach and was expecting today to be another great today. I woke up at 3:40am and got ready and went down to LA Fitness in San Carlos to warm up for an hour. My body was in good form and I did multiple Triple Back Walkovers.

I finally started with coach and did my first Quadslinky at the gym followed by my first Quad Back Walkover at the gym. I was so excited. I then did work on Back Walkovers on beam. I did a couple of good ones and then we moved onto tumbling. I started off with Round Offs and Round Off Back Handspring and RO-2BHS. Coach kept saying faster, tighter Bobbie. I then started working on Round Off, Back Handspring and Back Tuck. Coach wants me to do it into the foam pit but I am just not comfortable and just kept making mistakes and finally big a back tuck and hit my hard on the side of the pit.

Coach then had me doing Back Tucks and Layouts on the tumble track. They were lousy as well. I then did two series of five back handsprings in a row followed by doing some back handsprings on the floor. Coach spotted me on the floor and the aim is for me to do series on the floor rather than just doing it on the tumble track. I then did some good standing back tucks on the tumble track before coach going to spot me on the floor but considering how my body was responding we cut them short.

I went to bars and just could not do a really good job there either. Coach cut that short as I was making no progress either. We spent the last half an hour on bars and again nothing was working. I could not stick a turn, horrible handstands and fell on all cartwheels. Coach finally said ‘Well Go Home!!” I turned and walked back to the bag to pack it crying. Coach said. Bobbie I am not disappointed with your tumbling. I am not disappointed in anything you have done. But if you walk out with 15 minutes to go. I will be disappointed. Quitters NEVER win Bobbie. I then went back and kept drilling skills and fell on everything and I mean everything. I was crying while working away heartbroken because it was such a terrible day. I knowe there are going to be days like this and it is frustrating when I am so healthy and I also understand a lot of it is conditioning my body to train so early on a regular basis.

I will overcome this as this too shall pass and I will keep working on my way to GOLD. Back focusing on success. Go Heroes!!


Today was another great day training with coach. I was up at 3:40am and ready and down at LA Fitness at 5:15am. I trained for over an hour before heading off with coach. My back was in nice form doing some nice Back Walkover Series and tomorrow I am going to be back doing it on the beam again.

I started on vault this morning. We started on Setting 5 on the vault which is the height I need to be able to do my Level 7 vault which is a Front Handspring with a Full Twist. I am back to full running strength which is great and I am landing onto a mat in the pit. It is not a flat surface as it has the foam below it which makes it a little challenging to stick but I am getting more comfortable at it.

Coach has said I am going to vault into the pit once more, then vault onto the mat and then we are going to talk twisting. Yay. I will get to do the Level 7 Vault this block.

Next we rotated to bars. We are working up on tidying up the technique. I need to focus on keeping my belly sucked in. If my abs are out I am losing power and peeling off on the bail. I did a 5/10 Long Hang Kips as I was working on improving the form. The key thing here is the hands are in good shape for Thursday.

I then went over to work on Front Handspring and I got a new distinction about really focusing on reaching through the shoulders. I did 8 Front Handsprings and landed all 8 on my feet and going forward although the last one could have been better. Next I worked on Front Tuck into the pit. I did it onto a mat in the pit and landed on my feet on each one although I did not stick them all.

Coach said Bobbie you are actually landing a foot below ground level so you would have ended on your butt. So on the last one. I ran, set and tucked like a crazy girl and sure enough coach was like Hmm good Bobbie. So her then dragged another mat into the pit to bring it close to floor height and looked at me like lets see. Well I did four more front tucks and stuck every one of them. I should be doing Front Tucks on the floor before I finish this block. I also want to work with coach on Front Handsprings too.

Finally I finished with Handspring Pirouettes which is part of my Prep Optional Gold routine. I am going to be doing a 540 degree pirouette or 1 and a half turn. (This also helps with pirouettes on bars). I did my best set ever and coach was excited for the progress. So overall it was a great day and look forward to training tomorrow and continuing to get great results on my quest for GOLD in London in 2012. Go Heroes!!

How Good Can We Get

I never cease to be amazed by how my back keeps getting better and better. I remember when I could barely do a back bend and now ten back walkovers in a row are a nice warmup. My best is 25 in a row and I am sure I will be able to blow through that as well. Now I am working on doing Back Walkovers on the beam my shoulders are having to open a lot more which is greatly assisting in opening up the upper back. I regularly do back bends onto the beam now and push through and count for 60 seconds. I can feel that it will not be long before I am going to be able to beam slinkies at the gym and then eventually Back Walkovers by myself.

I was speaking to coach the other day about it and he said he can definitely see it as well. I know I will be doing Back Walkovers and Back Handsprings on the beam within the next year. It is a given considering how much my back is opening up. Doc said I am going to able to train at 100% for at least another 9 more years before age will begin to catch up with me. That is so exciting. I am wondering how good I am going to be able to get.

I am wondering how flexible is my back going to get as I keep drilling it and keep working on opening my ribs, my abs and my shoulders. Life is so amazing. Go Heroes!!

Building Muscular Memory

THe longer I train the more I realize about the importance of muscular memory in achieving a skill and how doing building patterns of muscles firing it gets easier to do it again. I am currently doing ltos of techniques that reinforce this. I am starting Front Tucks on the floor (into the pit first) without the aid of the springboard. As a result I was able to do the technique well very quickly and I know as I keep working with coach I will have it as well.

This is especially apparent to me on the beam where some of the new techniques were so wobbly and yet after constant drilling they became smoother and smooth even on the same day as learning them. Training is about putting in the hours. Drilling and drilling and drilling until the skill becomes ‘natural’.

When I train down at L.A. Fitness now I warm my back and shoulders up for about ten minutes and then I do a couple of slinkies and push hard against the body and squeeze to really open it up and then I am good. I can then do Back Walkovers, Slinkies, Front limber Kickovers and Standups pretty much at will. I can also do combinations of them.

I have recently being doing my back bends on to the minibeam. As I do this I am getting better and better and my hands are getting closer and closer to my feet. I was at the point this morning where my hands are getting very close to the edge of the beam which is fantastic news. I also squeeze very tight in full extension and can feel the stretch from the lower abs right up through the chest and into the shoulders. It is amazing to see this on film as my abs keep opening the arch gets tighter.

Coach is currently spotting me on beam on Beam Back Walkovers. I need to keep drilling the smoothness and balance of going straight back while standing on the beam. I will get there and that is so exciting. This is the one technique that washes out so many gymnasts because it is so scary. Not for me I LOVE it.

My next key drills for this is to do more back walkovers with front leg raised to increase balance. Do 20-25 standard back walkovers in a row in rapid succession to increase speed in the technique and then to do a back walkover on the floor with hands in beam position. These three drills will accelerate me doing Back Walkovers on the beam. Looking forward to it.

So look at what you want to obtain, break it into small steps, keep track of all your progress and keep persevering and watch your dreams come true. Go Heroes!!

Change Point

I cannot believe it has been almost eighteen days since I posted. I was busy working and training over that time although not with coach. I started training with coach three days ago and was doing great and had one of my best workouts and while on bars I did a monster rip on my hands about four layers deep right across the major crease of the palm. Normally after two or three days I can train bars again. Not this time the rip split and split and just is taking ages to heal.

Coach now has me training my new beam routine and I love it. It includes a stag handstand, eventually a back walkover and a Front Tuck dismount. The mount is very tough to do but with drilling I should get there. I LOVE the front tuck dismount and stag handstand. You will be able to see these under Episode 157 of GOLD: Trials and Tribs of an Olympic Gymnast on the blog. Now that I am doing tumbling dismounts off the beam it seems like I have hit a change point where I can never look at the beam the same again.

My back walkovers are doing great and I got to 21,22 and 25 down at LA Fitness so my back keeps opening up and allowing little miracles to happen. Docs adjustments keep it in great shape and I love seeing her. It gives me such confidence.

On the bars I am doing somersault dismounts again (which is what caused the rip) now that we have the pit. I will get back to doing these smoothly so I can complete my Level 6 Bar Routine. It is taking a lot longer than I anticipated.

I may have to change out the Back Extension Roll because it is holding me back at the moment on Floor. Back Walkover is a given as part of the floor routine now so that is great news. Front Handspring is coming along and there is no fear doing it which is great it jsut comes down to consistency.

We are starting working on layouts so coach wants to me tumble into the pit. When you are tumbling towards it though it appears you are going over a cliff. It took me most of of session to get the confidence to tumble and end up within three feet of the pit. It also took a heavy toll on my body.

So overall I am doing great. Loving the progress, frustrated at the slow progress in some areas but watching my body change, skills improve and having so much fun. Life is great and I feel blessed every day. Go Heroes!!

20/20 Vision

I have been working on building series of Back Walkovers over the last 6 weeks to assist me in doing it on beam. I need to improve the speed at which my hands get to the ground after starting to leave back. It takes a lot of confidence to be able to do this. For a loong time I was focusing on Slinkies where you start on both feet and lean back and then kick over. It was my dream early on to do be able to an Octoslinky. 8 in a row. Surely enough over time I broke through this and then Decaslinkies.

When I move to Poway in January I had a much larger area to do a series and it is then I started focsuing on 12. Done. 14. Done and then did 16. I then began focusing on Back Walkover series rather than Slinky series. Next day 6 Back Walkovers in a row. I was stunned. That was 10 days ago. Today my back felt REALLY good and I thought me let me see if I can go for 20. Just let’s see.

I did my first pass of 12 which is the most ever for an initial pass. Then I did 20. I sat stunned. I rested. I drank and I thought let me go for another 20 in a row. Done. Wow. To give you an idea up until then the maximum done in three series was 33 (8,9,16) I just did 12,20,20. My back is opening up to such an incredible level.

What is the key you ask? It is definitly conditioning and doing it repeatedly. I am do back bends onto my beam. Holding the beam in back walkover hand position is MUCH tougher than doing it normal style. It has a much bigger impact on the upper back as well. I do ten back bends onto the beam and then count to 60. While upside down on the beam in bridge position it feels like you are about to break in two. Every part of you is at full stretch. It does not feel like you make much progress each day but what it is doing is building the conditioning and that happens slowly allowing such massive breakthroughs. A breakthrough is a reflection of the work done the previous day that allows it to happen.

When I was in Australia and training with Georgia I was close to doing Beam Slinkies by myself with just a little spot. When I get back to training with coach I am going to be VERY interested to see what progress I have made since I have been away.

My goal now is to go for 30 in a row and then once I know 20 is a given start time trials to see how fast I can them and time it. It is amazing watching the bodyh change and grow and keep getting better. I know it is jus a matter of time before I am doing Back Walkovers on the beam by myself and that will be a huge day of celebration when I do my first one without coach spotting. It will happen. Go Heroes!!!

At Full Stretch

I am back training in San Diego and got to train for four hours today. Feels so good to be back putting in the hours again. Now I have declared for Rio I have five more years to train so rather than overtrain to make London and risk injury I have adjusted my schedule.

After competing at the SingTel Invitational in Singapore last weekend which was at the same time as the Visa Championshps (US National Titles since I did not qualify for them) I was able to get a reality check. I came Bronze on beam, Bronze on bars, 6th on Floor and Silver on Vault. Overall I came fourth in All Around. Just not at the level I need to be and this proved it to me. New focus. New goals.

I am still working hard on opening up my back up. Two weeks ago there was a significant change in my back structure. As a result doing 8-10 Back Walkovers in a row is normal now. I can clearly see it will not be long before I do 20 Back Walkovers in a row and then timed 20 Back Walkovers and then start doing series with my other leg. In fact I am going to focus on working on my off leg tomorrow.

I am working hard on backbends onto the beam and when I bend back and grab that beam and then arch into maximum back stretch it is an amazing feeling. Feeling the entire body at full stretch. You can feel it from the very lower as/hips right through the core, ribs and shoulders, almost like a elastic band at full stretch.

I feel like I am getting closer and closer to be able to kickover from that position and I think it is likely to happen in the next week if I stretch it every day. There is a risk of twisting if I do it incorrectly which is what happened when I used to do it on the floor so I am hesitant. I will probably push the stretch to the point that when I do finally do it, it will be easy, maybe not effortless but easy.

I am doing Level 3 Upslinkies which is great and will probably do 5/5 in the morning when I train. This is all assisting in opening up the back. I can definitely see the day when I will be able to grab my own ankles. My good friend Marina Pearson took 7 years for her to be able to do it. It will be a huge accomplishment for me when I can do it.

I am also working a lot on a variety of handstands, my jumps and my cartwheels. So many techniques are getting cleaner and while I was not getting personal bests I am moving back into the breakthrough zone so it will not be long before I am getting breakthroughs on everything I am doing.

I get to train with coach in five days which I am so looking forward to and also get a lot more training with him in September and October so I am going to make the most of it and make some serious progress. I should be able to complete Level 5 during this Sep/Oct and move fully into prep optionals.

Loving life, loving my champion Kenny. Go Heroes!!!

Birthday Breakthroughs

Wow it has been so long since I blogged. I was busy travelling and have not trained with coach for over 6 weeks and it is really exasperating. I cannot wait to get int the gym and train with him. We will be in the new Elite Gymnastics gym as well which is over 2 times the size and will not have pits. Yay. I have certainly not been slacking off. Today I had lots of great breakthroughs to support all lots the previous couple of days.

My personal best is now 16 slinkies in a row and today I did 16 Back Walkover in a row as well. I did a lot of beam slinkies (spotted) while I was in Australia and my back continues to open up.It is amazing. I am getting closer and closer to being able to grab my own ankles. The arch in my back just gets improving. A lot of that has to do with the opening up of my chest and the front of my hips. I love it.

I have also been working a lot on stag handstands because coach wants me doing it on the beam. I now go into handstand, stag, handstand, stag other leg, handstand. I have just started making them but I will keep doing it and master these as well. Handstands are getting stronger and stronger and will be one of my greatest strengths going forward.

My body is Ok. I have one rib causing some pressure. I have a pinched nerve in my right arm that is very painful in certain positions especially when straight up next to the ear. As I keep working on my Back Slinkies for the beam I am moving closer and closer to beig able to do it on the beam. With all the massive progress I have made I look forward to doing it with coach and getting his feedback.

My new beam Clinton bought me for my birthday arrives in ten days and then I get to focus on doing cartwheels and handstands on the beam and eventually back handsprings as well. Love it.

Time to go and celebrate. I am flying over to Phoenix for the night with Kenny and then I fly back early in time to train in the morning. I will also make sure I get some footage up of the latest episodes. It has been way too long. Love you. Go Heroes!!