Tips & Tricks — May 10, 2013 8:15 pm

Parkour tips for coaches and trainers

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I am going to show you a list of Parkour tips that will help you if you’re planning on teaching Parkour. As more people practice Parkour & Free running, many practitioners find themselves in the situation of having to teach somebody else. If you have never taught anything this can be a daunting task and you might fail without some key points that I would like to share with you.

Let’s say you’re planning on organizing a 2 hour training session for a group of people. If you’re planning on getting it right you will need some guidance on your path to organizing the event.

I have assembled a list of frequent questions I exchanged with a colleague of mine and that might help you get through the event successfully.

1. What are the best Parkour tips for a 2-hour workshop?

First of all I do a thorough warm up, including movements that are useful for Parkour (push-ups, quadrupedal movement, lunges, squats, etc.). If you’ve got people in the group who are like “Aw, how boring I can do all that soo easily” (usually teens), I include a few exercises which include balance, because they have to focus to get it right.

Examples of focus grabbing Parkour tips

  1. Standing on the left leg, right upper leg lifted (90°), right lower leg dangling down. Next start rotations with the foot while keeping the leg up.
  2. When this is too easy for them – hands behind the back.
  3. Still to easy – Eyes closed.
  4. Still to easy – changing directions on command.

After a couple of rotations (10+) you do the rotation from the Knee, then from the hip.
As this isn’t mainly strength but balance and concentration it often calms kids down and gives the weaker ones a chance to use other skills than pure power.

Also static holds are very good exercise, as the injury risk is very low, but it’s still challenging.
I always try to think of ways to make it harder or easier to do an exercise. I try to focus on quality workout rather than quantity – 3 push-ups with a good technique will be far better in the long run, than 10 with an arched and twisted back.

2. How strong should I push my participants?

 

Higly active/Aggresive participants

When I’m training very active, sometimes aggressive kids, my focus lies on first letting off some power with a challenging warm up which keeps them in motion for some time. It’s a little like with a pack of wolves: as soon as you showed them their limits and they are coughing up all the cigarettes they smoked secretly round the corner just before the training started  while you are slightly sweating at the most, you will have their attention and you can start to teach.

Normal participants

With other groups I do the warm-up until everyone is sweating and every part of the body has been addressed by some kind of exercise. Normally its about 15-20 Minutes. During the Warm up I try to alternate the Exercises so they’re legs don’t get tired, when they’re upper body hasn’t seen any exercise.

Then I usually start with the precision jump, as it’s a good example how to do a proper landing. Let them do it for some time, occasionally doing some jumps by yourself for the participants to watch and reproduce. While they are doing it, I try to give individual tips to the participants.

When you see that someone is managing it easily, provide him/her with a new challenge (for example: do 3 jumps in a row, land on a smaller spot). Same when you see someone is having a too hard time. I see my main task as a coach to adapt the exercises to the skill of the participants – giving them ideas and options to chose from.

3. What techniques should I teach in a 2-hour workshop?

  1. Precision jump
  2. Passements (first slow, then faster/more fluent)
  3. How to get on an Obstacle (small walls, etc.) and down again in a safe way
  4. Balance/Quadrupedal movement on small walls
  5. Saut de Chat (Kong Vault) (at first, mostly its trying to leap on the obstacle not over it)

Combination of the techniques above (doing a small run of 5 – 10 jumps) with the focus on fluent movement – keeping the obstacles and distances small and nice.

Mostly you have different skill-levels in a group, so try to help the participants to find a challenging way of doing it – either making it harder or easier. (there are a lot of simple tricks of doing it like: “Ok and now start with the other leg” or “You are just allowed to do 3 steps”, etc.)

4. Talk about the philosophy behind Parkour before or after?

Really depends on the group. If you have got a high level of attention in a group it makes a lot of sense to provide them with information on Parkour before or during the warm up and between exercises if fitting.

Sometimes I do it after the Training, while sitting down together and do some light stretching. The advantage when you do it afterwards, is that you can point to personal experiences they just collected. The drawback is, that there might be no attention left, because people are tired or want to leave. Also you have to tell them some things in order to lower the risk of injury during the training (to prevent to turn it into a big jackass session)

5. How would i measure their improvements?

Easily: let them do a challenging obstacle (or a row of it) without training instructions, letting them feel how exhausting it is. Then you show them the techniques step by step. In the end they will overcome obstacles they didn’t think they were able to do, at least not without being completely exhausted.

At the End of the training let them look back on what they had done today and they will measure for themselves.

6. Separate them into two groups, fit and unfit?

Hmmm, it’s a good question, I’ve spent hours to discuss with friends.

My approach is not to split them up, as you can introduce a lot of pressure into groups by splitting them (“Ha ha, that’s the fatty’s / weak group”). Rather I try to have them train together, making it easier for the unfit, making it harder for the fitter.

This just works good until a the group has reached a certain size, then it’s getting harder and harder to give individual tips. Max size to do it with high quality is 6-8 participants per trainer (with challenging groups like above it is even lower) but you can still apply the same approach to bigger groups.

Have fun teaching Parkour and Free running to your friends

Most important thing is to have fun. Don’t take the training to seriously and don’t push the participants too hard. It’s supposed to be a fun physical activity from which everybody can learn more about themselves and their boundaries.

If you have anymore questions, post them below.

1 Comment

  • This was the best “stumble-upon” link I could find!

    I’m going to start teaching kids 10-13 yr and have never done anything of the sort. My Parkour is kind of lackluster nowadays but shaping it up pretty good.

    For me, perfect article, brings to the light, valid points I had not thought of yet.

    Thanks :)

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