Gold Medal Coach: Al Fong of GAGE Center
Our Gold Medal Coaches Series looks to honor those individuals in the gymnastics community who have dedicated their lives to training the next generation of champions. These coaches and gym owners guarantee a successful future for the sport of gymnastics, and that, we feel, is a feat worth recognizing.
We recently interview Al Fong of GAGE Center in Blue Springs, MO to get the scoop on his unique training techniques. He shared excellent tips on how you know when you have an Elite hopeful in your gym and how to prepare an athlete to compete internationally.
GK: How do you take your international coaching experience and apply it to your younger athletes?
AF: In addition to seeing what the athletes are doing in real time when we compete internationally, my wife Armine is constantly on the internet watching competitions around the world. She looks for new skills, combinations, and trends from all countries, regardless of their international status. We share that with our athletes, especially the young ones to prepare them for what they will have to deal with in the future.
GK: Al, what is the significance of the gloves?
AF: No real mystery. I use them for spotting and setting bars. All bar coaches can show you the scars they’ve acquired from tightening bars and getting their fingers and hands pinched.
GK: Tell us a little about your training techniques and why they have proved so successful over the years.
AF: Early on in my career, I developed a unique system of mats and teaching techniques which took the fear out of learning skills. This made it possible to spot safely so the athlete and myself don’t get hurt.
GK: What is the first thing you notice about an Elite hopeful?
AF: They have a quality about them, body type and physical strength is only part of it. You can see great potential by observing how smart they are and noticing that they carry a certain confidence when training and competing. They also look you straight in the eyes when you speak to them.
GK: How do you prepare an athlete to train and compete on an International level?
AF: There‘s no difference how we train an average gymnast or an international gymnast. There are certain rules to follow, such as discipline, preparation, focus, and most importantly, practice-practice-practice.
Thank you, Al for all your hard work and dedication to the sport of gymnastics. Your exceptional contributions to your athletes shows through their success. We look forward to seeing your athletes continue to rise to the top.
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