ATC Comprehensive Instruction Curriculum
Introduction—About the Child, not the Gymnastics
When I was 19, I had an experience where, in only about 15 minutes, I was able to break through to a 13-year-old boy whose social worker had deemed unreachable. At that moment I realized that gymnastics was far more than merely a way to show off or to make myself better; it was a powerful took that, when used properly, could transform lives and make impacts in people that may not be possible through other means. I dedicated my life to the sport, not so much due to love of the activity itself, but rather due to the mission of reaching kids.
ATC Gymnastics is not about gymnastics as much as it is about using gymnastics, acrobatics, tumbling, cheer, or any other mean to make lasting and transformative changes in lives that need it. What makes gymnastics such a powerful tool, among other things, are:
- Self-Esteem: You learn to do things not everyone else can do. For many youths, they feel like they are worthless and talentless and cannot succeed at anything. When they realize for the first time that they can succeed at something they previously felt was an impossibility, it awakens hope and a new confidence in life they have never had.
- Self-Discipline: Mastering gymnastics skills is hard work! It takes focus and dedication to truly master. Most people can’t simply attempt a skill once and succeed at it. It often takes hundreds—or even thousands—of tries before it is perfected. And then it must be maintained or else the skill (at the very least, the polish) will be lost. So many youths have no real structure, boundaries, or defined goals and objectives in their lives. Forcing themselves to create goals, work hard for them, and then feel the joy of achieving them, literally transforms lives.
- Teamwork: Many adolescents feel alone in this world. They feel they have no one they can truly depend upon. While many skills in gymnastics can be self-taught and basically mastered by one’s self, to truly excel, the student needs a coach. Unlike most sports, there are so many times the gymnast is entrusting his/her safety and/or his/her very life into the hands of the coach. This cannot happen without learning trust. And many areas of gymnastics—especially acrobatics and cheer—require this same type of trust and teamwork among the peers. These skills will follow the student throughout his/her life.
- Giving Back to Others: Gymnastics is a spectators’ sport. Almost by its very definition, gymnastics requires some type of performance. Why learn to do the skills if you are not going to demonstrate or show them off to others? This desire usually stems from a selfish sense of wanting to show off to prove to people you are worth something. But as the gymnast begins to mature, it becomes a desire to bless the audience with a sense of wonder and joy at what can be accomplished with hard work. Even more than this, it allows the performer to inspire others to rise to achieve more in their own lives. And if the gymnast is allowed to become a mentor to other students, they have a chance to make a lasting difference in someone else’s life as well.
Why This Curriculum?
Since ATC is more about reaching the child than about developing elite athletes, we need a wide approach to reaching them. Just as every child is different, with different interests, abilities, and learning styles, we need a variety of areas of skills and styles of teaching to best reach each one. For this reason, I have attempted to develop a modular system that:
- Is comprehensive in its structure and covers all the various areas. It has components for Artistic, Acrobatic, and Tumbling and Trampoline gymnastics, as well as elements for recreational gymnastic and cheer.
- Is standardized to the industry. A student can take what they have learned here to another gym and fit in, or someone coming from another program can fit into our program.
- Can be used for recreational programs or for developing teams.
- Can be easily incorporated into multi-level classes. We very often have 10 or more students in one class with varying skills from absolute novice to fairly advanced. Keeping them all engaged and productive can often be a challenge. This curriculum is designed to give you tools to help you coach multiple levels at the same time at the same station on completely different skills, simply by reviewing charts of progression.
- Is vertically and horizontally adaptive, yet cohesive: People in any given class may be more interested in one area of gymnastics—say artistic (bars and beam) or acrobatics or trampoline—and wish to focus more on those areas. This program will allow them to do this while still developing skills that will allow them to migrate to a different area with a minimum amount of catch-up work. It is also designed to allow a student to progress easily from one level to another.
Since it is modular in nature, a student may be working Level 2 skills in one area while working Level 4 skills in another. But intermediate skills must be mastered before moving on to the higher skills. So, a student struggling with upper body strength in bars while being fantastic on beam and trampoline can continue to advance in those areas without having to be held back to a class that is too easy in most areas. But, at the same time, they are not being forced to work on skills they are not yet ready to attempt.