–By Ottawa Sportspage, for Kanata GymnoSphere
In a recent series on youth athletic development, Ottawa Senators strength and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz lamented the number of top hockey prospects who hit at a wall in their careers because they lacked a proper athletic base.
He says learning rudimentary gymnastics skills are the first critical step in building “physical literacy” – the major key to success long before stick-handling and skating perfection.
“Gymnastics is named as one of the core sports that every child should participate in. It brings so many positives to a child’s development,” notes Kanata GymnoSphere program director and long-time local coach Laurie Loh. “Gymnastics allows children to explore how their body moves. It teaches the ABC’s – agility, balance, coordination – that provide the foundation for skill development in all kinds of sports.”
Hockey Canada states in its Long-Term Player Development framework that hockey players often aren’t taught fundamental movement skills properly, ultimately resulting in athletes failing to reach their genetic potential and optimal performance level. It says hockey organizations should recommend other sports and cross-training methods to get away from hockey and avoid burn out.
Located next door to the Hazeldean Mall (and just down the road from the abundance of hockey rinks in Ottawa’s west end), Kanata GymnoSphere offers a wide range of programs for all ages and abilities, from one class per week up to intense competitive training, in the summer and year-round.
“We have a truly amazing group of coaches here to guide athletes at different stages of their development, including several who have university degrees in coaching and physical education from top international schools,” highlights Loh. “We have a large and bright facility with quality equipment, and the club has already developed a great community spirit in our relatively short existence (opened in 2015). It’s a wonderful place for everyone to experience gymnastics.”
SUPER SUMMER CAMPS
A great way to get an introduction to gymnastics is at Kanata GymnoSphere’s fun-filled summer camps!
For ages 3-12, the week-long camps run throughout the summer. They feature several hours of gymnastics and other fun activities each day, plus indoor and outdoor games, walks to nearby parks, arts and crafts, Friday pizza day, and special events or outings.
Each camp incorporates activities to match that week’s theme, such as Cartwheels Across Canada, Parkour & Pirates, Beach/Splash and Treasure Island. During the Cartwheels Across Canada week, for example, there will be events mirroring various parts of the country, like the GymnoSphere Stampede or the Stanley Cup pool noodle hockey championships.
“Of course, we want our campers to learn new skills and improve their athletic abilities,” Loh explains, “but what it really comes down to is kids having fun while being active and enjoying themselves, plain and simple. That’s always the most important part of building a lifelong love for sport.”