Author Topic: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners  (Read 1918 times)

Offline Matthew Wang

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How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« on: February 25, 2011, 06:15:09 PM »
Hey guys, I think we should compile a basic and simple list of how to help new teachers begin teaching others. Everyone can throw their thoughts in, then I or a mod can edit a list with bullet points on the main ideas of teaching beginners.

I think a training day would run something like this:

1. A Short Parkour Introduction
2. The Warm Up
3. Training the Basics
4. Ending the Session


And under each section, we'll throw in bullet points detailing briefly what's should be going on. If you have other ideas for the beginner's training day, feel free to throw them out there. :) You can post with your full thoughts and ideas on teaching, and then those ideas and points can be summed up shortly. Don't be afraid to give too much information!

I'm hoping this will become an easy to use guide for anyone looking for help on teaching. If it gets filled up pretty well, maybe it can be stickied.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 08:21:33 PM by Matthew Wang »
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Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2011, 07:27:31 PM »
Yeeaaaaaaaa!

Pre-everything: ask if they have any injuries or conditions you should know about.
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Offline Stevie Leifheit

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2011, 08:14:17 AM »
Don't you think the parkour intro should be done before the warm up?
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Offline Brian O'Neil

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2011, 08:28:25 AM »
Don't you think the parkour intro should be done before the warm up?

I concur. I wouldn't want to get warmed up, then sit around discussing Parkour, getting cold again.
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Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2011, 12:22:37 PM »
I was planning for my initial club meeting here at SCUPk to be somewhat like this (similar message up on the posters advertising it):

Say there will be a short introductory meeting explaining parkour and whatever's relevant without getting too involved. For those looking to workout, come dressed accordingly. That way, for people somewhat intimidated by whatever concept of parkour is in their head, they can come just for a picture of what would be going on. Might get a bigger turnout than I would otherwise.

Once the intro is done, hopefully short (no longer than 10-15 minutes and more would be explained during the workout), go into the warmup, workout, and cooldown.

I still don't know what would make for a good first workout though. My first thought is about picking something that won't scare them off, but maybe that shouldn't be my concern, though it should obviously be friendly to new people. So, pick a workout that shows it takes work but keep it appropriate for people who are completely new. I feel like I shouldn't overthink it though.
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Offline Matthew Wang

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2011, 08:21:06 PM »
Don't you think the parkour intro should be done before the warm up?

Er, yes. That's what I meant to do... :P
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Offline Stevie Leifheit

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 06:23:22 PM »
I'm going to be teaching a  parkour class at a local gymnastics facility I'm working for. I do know how to set up, and teach a class, but it would be nice to get some more detailed ideas about what goes into each section Matthew listed. Just to give me a few more ideas. This is my first "official" class. 
Weight training alongside parkour always benefits, it never takes away.


Quote from: Joe Brock
It's like you are some kind of APK Angel...not the girly kind...but the big "Sodom destroying" ones!!!

Offline Adam McC

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 10:11:17 AM »
I'll try to answer some questions as specifically as I can to help some people on here get a more detailed idea of what goes into a class,

It all rotates around what goals you have for your class. Try to keep things related and relevant, so they consistently support your class purpose. For example, say you want to really focus in on precisions in today's class, since they are all very weak in that area:

Your class might start with a warm up that involves a lot of motion of the lower body. Jump-rope type movements that get the ankles flexing, and the calves, shins, quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip rotators going. Once you feel that the heart-rate has been high for a long enough time, and you feel as though each primary area of the lower body has been hit and is properly warmed up for their safety, that's when you can move on.

After that, I might do some joint rotations. If you're planning on doing some jumps and dynamic, medium impact movements, you'll want to warm up their joints. Really, you should do joint rotations every class. But focus on the area you're utilizing in the class the most. Maybe do a few extra motions for the ankles and knees.

It's either here, or later on that I'd elect to do conditioning, if that's a regular part of your class. Focus on building the appropriate skills that link with the theme of the class. In our example, we're working on precisions, so my initial reaction might be to focus on building explosive power in the legs, by doing movements like box jumps, burpees, and those kinds of dynamic motions. In between, I'd do some ankle conditioning, and maybe some resistance strength training for certain areas, like hamstrings or glutes. It's not a bad idea to do conditioning for the other parts of the body, just make sure you have a goal and a purpose that points your conditioning in a certain direction. As for -how much- conditioning, that's a common problem. My solution is simple. Do the workouts with them, feel it, and carefully observe them as they go. Compare how you're feeling to how they look, and find some middle ground. Be prepared to push them a little, don't be afraid to make them go through a little agony. Most of your students are there to be pushed. But you also need to give them something they can chew, or else they'll realize they can't fulfill what you ask of them, and become demotivated. Judge it by the class, by the person, by the minute.

After that, you might pick and choose the order. Here, you could go straight into the technique training, especially if you have a lot to cover. Or, you could stretch. Whether you want to do stretching as it's own specific activity in order to build flexibility, or whether you're doing stretching as a reaction to a day of training will be one of the factors that help you decide when (and if) you want to do some serious stretching that day. Also, what level of warm up you did will dictate what you do. If it's a light warmup, stretching won't be as effective until later in the class.

So then you can move into your technique, which is completely up to you. Use your methods or progressions or whatever you feel is best to teach them the technique. Make sure not to overload them with information at first. Give them what they can digest at once, and give them enough time to digest each step, or they'll feel left behind and demotivated.

Now you should be well-past the half-way point of your class, and they've had a sufficient workout, and learned a good amount. Enough to be content. You should put the main content of your class (which in the case of my classes, are conditioning and technique) in the first two thirds of your class, and let the rest fill in. Things like discussion of philosophy and history, learning information on physics and anatomy and nutrition, warming up, warming down, stretching, team-building exercises, games, all those kinds of things I use as tools to fill the gaps. Sometimes they get lots of focus, sometimes they don't, depending on how it relates to the theme or purpose of that particular class. Again, it's about stringing everything together so that it's relevant and coherent. You will impress your students when they realize at the end of the day everything you did was targeted towards developing something specific. It'll give them confidence in your ability to lead them through their goals.

Ending the session is often up to you. Obviously, a warm down is suggested. Some light stretching, maybe some deep breathing, some meditation if you have knowledge on that subject, things that help them transition from that training zone back into the real world, both physically and mentally. Also, remember that their bodies are nice and elastic at this point, so long as you haven't taken too many breaks. If you want, the end of the session is the time to bust that ab workout that sends everyone home sore, or to do that one final challenge that makes everyone go home feeling accomplished, or motivated to succeed next class.

Above all, keep it positive and joyful. Your students are looking for a good learning environment, somewhere they can truly feel separate from their daily toils and struggles and can find refuge. Be sure to provide an environment that they feel comfortable and happy in. That is what will keep them coming back, above all.

Just my thoughts on some of the questions in this topic. I tried to be as vague as I could to allow for your ideas to be placed in, while being specific enough to be helpful. I hope it helps in some way! Let me know if you have questions, I'm more than happy to explain things.

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Offline Stevie Leifheit

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 12:04:03 PM »
Few....good stuff Adam!
Weight training alongside parkour always benefits, it never takes away.


Quote from: Joe Brock
It's like you are some kind of APK Angel...not the girly kind...but the big "Sodom destroying" ones!!!

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 10:22:17 PM »
Haha no man, that was absolutely perfect for me.


Things like discussion of philosophy and history, learning information on physics and anatomy and nutrition, warming up, warming down, stretching, team-building exercises, games, all those kinds of things I use as tools to fill the gaps. Sometimes they get lots of focus, sometimes they don't, depending on how it relates to the theme or purpose of that particular class. Again, it's about stringing everything together so that it's relevant and coherent. You will impress your students when they realize at the end of the day everything you did was targeted towards developing something specific. It'll give them confidence in your ability to lead them through their goals.
This part was sick. I have a terrible habit of trying to put as much in someone's head as possible. I've been getting much better at controlling this urge but this reminder will definitely help me.

So: pick a focus. I would have a tendency to give them a general overview on everything. Rolling, vaults, jumps, etc. Would you discourage that? Keep it simple and identify the usefulness and ways to develop a single aspect each session? (i.e. precisions as you suggested or maybe 2, 3 vaults)
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Offline Adam McC

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2011, 12:29:31 PM »
Haha no man, that was absolutely perfect for me.

This part was sick. I have a terrible habit of trying to put as much in someone's head as possible. I've been getting much better at controlling this urge but this reminder will definitely help me.

So: pick a focus. I would have a tendency to give them a general overview on everything. Rolling, vaults, jumps, etc. Would you discourage that? Keep it simple and identify the usefulness and ways to develop a single aspect each session? (i.e. precisions as you suggested or maybe 2, 3 vaults)

Alec,

If I were teaching a singular beginner's introductory seminar, my overall theme would be to develop a basic level of skill performance, so I might go over a few vaults, rolling, jumping, landing, all those "basics". But if I have a class that meets weekly, I'm not going to do that at all. I'm going to feed them little bits of information, things that are digestible and truly stick. Over time, as they attend the class more and more, they'll build those bits into a nice whole picture. But you can never give it to them all at once and expect it to stick. I would only ever (and only have ever) done that at seminars or introductory special events, to give them a sampler, if you will, of all the things they'd learn in detail, if they were to consistently come to the classes. Make sense?

So to answer your question sharply, yes, I would discourage that for classes. They'll never truly get a grasp on anything, if you give them the surface level of everything, all at once. Allow them to really work through something specific so they go home feeling as though they've really mastered something, and want to come back to master something else. If they learn 30 different things on the surface level, since that's the only level they know, they think they learned everything. Not the way to keep them coming back, from the business perspective, and not the way to help them to really understand and internalize the skills, from the teaching perspective.

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Offline Chad Zwadlo (Zwadloc)

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2011, 07:20:20 AM »
I posted this in one of the other threads, figured I'd post it up on this one as well.  I've been teaching a very successful parkour/freerunning program at a gymnastics school in Minnesota for 3 years now and I have a ton of info and notes on how to teach classes and what work and what doesn't work.  I also have a 30 page document talking about teaching freerunning, breaking down how to teach basic skills, lists of beginning/intermediate/advanced skills, different philosophies, and a 12 week class syllabus.  For a long time I considered selling this as a package to gymnastics schools wanting to start a freerunning program (makes lots of money at my school , and similar gymnastics curriculum starters sell to gyms for upwards of $10,000) but I've decided now that I'd rather give it all away to people who really want to start teaching in their area to help them get started.  It's not really something that should be followed exactly to the letter, but it's a great starting point for people to get some ideas from.  I've already helped a few friends in nearby states start their own programs and it's seemed to help them a lot.  If anyone is interested in this info just send me a pm with your e-mail address and I'll e-mail the whole thing to you and answer any questions you may have about it.  I only ask that you don't turn around and try to sell it after I've given it to you.

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2011, 09:56:17 AM »
Nice posts, Adam. I would have recommended the exact same things.

Offline Adam McC

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2011, 06:59:28 PM »
Nice posts, Adam. I would have recommended the exact same things.

Thank you! Sounds like we teach and think in similar ways then. Hopefully some day we will get to train together.

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Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

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Re: How to Teach the Basics: A Guide for Beginners
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2011, 05:05:53 AM »
Looking forward to it. :)