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Impact Moments: Life Lessons in Parkour

Coaches Are Mentors for our students.

Freedom in Motion is far more than just a parkour gym. We know that for our students we are a vital source of inspiration, mentorship, and leadership. Through parkour, we help them break their own limiting beliefs and replace them with a powerful mindset to better take on life’s challenges.

There are a number of moments during a student’s parkour journey that can offer a profound lasting impact. We want our coaches to know how to watch out for when these moments are happening so that they can foster them and make them more applicable and impactful. Coaches must keep an eye out for the below “impact moments” as they happen for their students. When we see them unfolding in a single moment or over the course of a number of sessions, coaches have the ability to say the right things at the right times, give praise when it matters most, or even give some tough love when it will provide a highly valuable nudge in the right direction.

Impact Moments

Keep your eye out during a student's journey for any of these impact moments. As they occur, a powerful and impactful coach will beagle to contribute to these moments to make their life lesson take root more quickly, resulting in meaningful growth for said student.

Failure is Necessary for Success

What are some examples of this happening in a session What are things a coach can say to foster a positive mindset

When can a coach give praise, advice, or reflection to solidify this situation & how is this mentorship provided by the coach best delivered?

The lesson: Failure and repeated failure is an expected element of success. The road to achieving any worthwhile task is paved with failure. Think of Thomas Edison who had 10,000 failed experiments before he was finally able to create the world's first light bulb. If one can find comfort in failure and not ever take it personally and give up because of it, then one will be able to persevere and eventually discover success in whatever form it may take.

When found in parkour: Learning parkour is difficult. Athletes at literally every level of skill need to grapple with repeat failure to eventually learn a new skill. Oftentimes an athlete may not learn a new skill as quickly as other athletes or as quickly as they assumed they would. However, staying focused and continuing to practice the movement and its respective progressions will eventually result in success and even mastery.

Coaches As Mentors: When a student is struggling to learn a movement in your session they may become discouraged. This is a great moment to teach them about a time when you, the coach, struggled to learn a move and how you overcame that struggle by keeping up the effort and not giving up. When the student eventually makes progress you can shower them with praise and reflect back to them how their consistent efforts are starting to pay off. Over time they will learn this life lesson as a universal truth.

Obstacles are meant to be overcome

The Lesson: Life is full of obstacles. These take the form of literal physical parkour obstacles & challenges, sure, but they more often take the form of tricky life problems. No matter the problem, there is always a way to figure out what the problem is and how to overcome it. This one might come in a few flavors. Everything is figureoutable. Every problem has a solution. There is a way out of every maze. You can, if you believe you can.

When found in Parkour: Parkour is all about taking your current level of movement skill and finding challenges that take you out of your comfort zone and demand growth to overcome them. A tricky vault one day may seem near impossible for a new student, but after some time of practice, the obstacle is figured out and the athlete can easily overcome the challenge.

Coaches as Mentors: If you see a student overwhelmed by the complexity or difficulty of a challenge you can take the opportunity to teach them that everything is figureoutable. Guide them through the steps of breaking down the challenge into progressionary steps, mastering each step one by one, and then in time the whole obstacle can be overcome. When this happens with a physical parkour obstacle you can say that these same steps apply to any obstacle in life. All problems can be looked at in it's smaller components and eventually solved piece by piece. Saying this in class often will slowly instill this mindset into your students. If any parents hear you giving this lesson, you will jump the ranks of “favorite coach” in no time!

Fear is overcome with preparation & a calm mind.

The Lesson:

Fear can hold one back from something truly enjoyable or meaningful. When the thing we are afraid of is in reality an opportunity for growth and achievement and the risk vs reward equation is in balance (meaning the risk of failure isn't instant death or something insane) then overcoming the fear can have major benefits. This could look like asking out someone you're attracted to, asking for a raise, or standing up for yourself when needed. Anything like that where fear can stand in the way of a growth opportunity.

When Found in Parkour:

Parkour is full of moments that can feel scary but once overcome the act of achieving the movement or mindset can help us unlock a ton of self-esteem, confidence, and personal validation. Calming the mind focusing on the task at hand and remembering your training can lead to truly powerful moments of overcoming fear.

Coaches as Mentors:

When a student is held back by fear in your session, work with them to calm their emotions and to logically think through the situation. Have them remember the preparation they have done so far, what to do if they fall (how to stay safe), and remind them that they can go back to a progression if needed but they may already be ready if they can just focus and move.

Growth/Progression is a lifestyle

The Lesson: Hard work works on us more than we work on the work. Meaning the process of working towards a goal and making progress is the reward. The act of trying our best and pushing ourselves is the very thing that makes each of us great every day. Owning a million-dollar company doesn't mean anything, on the contrary, the people who put in the hard work needed along the way to create that company are the ones who benefited on a personal growth level. Without passion-driven work, our lives can feel directionless. Fill your time working towards things you care about.

When Found in Parkour:

Being “the best” is an empty goal. Instead the act of self-improvement and progressing your body and mind to your next levels can unlock a lifetime of motivation, happiness, and confidence. Make your parkour journey a personal one centered around working hard to better yourself, that’s where the real enjoyment comes from.

Coaches as Mentors:

If a student feels directionless, help them create goals that feel motivating and empowering for them and their current level of movement and mental fortitude. If they achieve a goal and then feel stuck, inspire them to keep climbing their mountain and set their sights on their next milestone.

Etre Fort pour être utile | You only have 1 body, take care of it!

The Lesson: You only get one body. Once you receive a major injury, your body might not ever be the same. Young athletes will feel the consequences of improper training as they get older. It has been the end of many athletes across many sports in history - improper care of their only body.

When Found in Parkour: The term “Etre Fort pour être utile” means to be strong and to be useful. It's one of the founding mottos of parkour. In essence, your body must be strong to be useful. If your knees and back are broken from heavy impact movements or risky tricks, you will soon lose the ability to move at all. Treat your body with respect and plan to still be training when you're 40, 50, 60, or more.

Coaches as Mentors:

Remind students of the amount of stress and impact they are taking when you see them doing lots of high-impact movements or overtraining. Perhaps they aren't giving an injury the proper rest and attention it needs to recover. Coaches can help students develop better training habits to keep their bodies stronger for longer. Young athletes need to be taught proper warm-up and cool-down habits as well as pre-habilitation and rehabilitation of injuries

Always lift others, never put others down

The Lesson:

Those who are supportive of others will find a much greater sense of community and connection in life. If you are always in competition with others and/or putting others beneath you, you will soon feel dejected from the communities around you. Treating others how you would love to be treated is such an important proverb for leaders to abide by.

When Found in Parkour:

As athletes around you make their movement successful and achieve new personal milestones, it's important to acknowledge them and give praise. Give praise to folks who are working with skill levels both more and less difficult than your own. The level of skill is irrelevant, simply focus on that others are making progress and that you're happy for them. Praise is not the same as unsolicited advice.

Coaches as Mentors:

Encourage a culture where everyone in the gym supports and acknowledges one another. If you ever see the opposite of this, kids saying things like “you suck” or “ I'm better than you because…” immediately shut this down and find incentives to train them to replace those impulses of putting others down with lifting others.

Risk V.s. Reward

The Lesson: Not everything that can be done should be done. Fear is a good thing, it’s okay to be afraid and say no sometimes. Often this is our bodies telling us that we’re not ready to take on a hard or dangerous task. Other Times, however, we are ready and the outcome of the task isn't all that dangerous. It's all about accessing the risk and the reward and making a logical non-emotional choice about what to do next.

When Found in Parkour:

The consequence of not landing certain jumps or flips can mean major injury or death. If a student is fearful it might mean they are about to do something they aren't ready for. Alternatively, if they are trying to do a move they are ready for and the consequence of failure is easily mitigated, then you may want to encourage them to focus their mind and go.

Coaches as Mentors:

When a student is about to make a move that could result in a major injury, have them think through the risk and reward out loud. If they know their bail options and feel confident in their training, that's a good sign. If they are about to do the dangerous thing without the proper preparation and training, have them realize that and back away from the move.

Leave No Trace

The Lesson:

Wherever we may go our environment plays a huge role in creating the experience we have. When trash is left in nature or a park/public place is broken down and dirty we leave a lesser experience for people to come after. By taking responsibility for our use of a place we create a sense of collective push for having “nicer things” and keeping them that way.

When Found in Parkour:

Whether training outdoors or in a gym, our sport is all about engaging with our environment. If we don’t take care of our equipment or the beloved parkour spots we jump at, we lose respect from the muggle community and ruin our own experience of getting to train happily and productively. By picking up trash from sidewalks/grass patches or putting away mats and using equipment properly we create a sense of love for our environments that provide us the space for our favorite activity!

Coaches as Mentors:

There are many ways we can influence our students to understand this concept. The first and most prominent in our daily classes is teaching kids to put mats away after a station or open gym and creating a sense of duty to clean up after we use something. Moreover, teaching recycling and proper trash disposal in the gym is a great way to encourage that behavior when they grow up and start training outdoors!

Play is the Best Teacher

The Lesson: Imagine reading a book about how to ride a bike. One could read that book cover to cover 100 times yet when it comes to actually sitting and balancing on a bike, the reader will fall just like everyone else their first time on a bike. Some skills can't be taught but can be learned with hands-on experience.

When Found in Parkour: Often when coaching parkour movements the coach has conveyed all the practical knowledge and now it's time for the students to get on the court and experiment, play, and take on the skills shown by the parkour coach. Those who play with movement the most, oftentimes, gain skill and mastery the most quickly.

Coaches as Mentors: Coaches will identify when a student needs to transition from information gathering to "play" or utilizing the information and personally testing and applying their knowledge. This concept shows up in nearly all skills throughout life.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

The Lesson: Practice will solidify habits. However, if you're practicing a poor technique, you're going to burn that poor technique into your memory. To see results your practice has to be well targeted and always pointing you towards the ideal habits and techniques or it may be hurting your progress.

When Found in Parkour:

It’s common for students to be self-directed and to teach themselves movements as they progress in their Parkour journey. That’s awesome! However, if a student is practicing poor technique without knowing a “better” or safer method, they could get hurt or not make progress as quickly as they like. This is where a knowledgeable coach comes in to save the day.

Coaches as Mentors:

With as much kindness and warmth as possible, seek out opportunities to give students tips to improve their form or training habits. It's also important to leave them with the “why” behind any technique cues you give them so they understand how to utilize your advice.

Self-Belief Vs Self Defeat

You can condition your brain by digesting fear or rejecting fear. When you come to a challenge and overcome it, you have conditioned your mind positively. It is now easier to overcome that same fear or other fears because you went through the process.

Alternatively, you can negatively condition your mind by walking away from challenges you should be able to do. You are conditioning your brain to think it is acceptable to walk away and you make it more difficult for yourself to overcome that same challenge or other challenges in the future.

Having a growth mindset

The Lesson: There is always something to get better at, you’re never done learning. If you feel like you have plateaued then you just aren’t challenging yourself to be creative, use different skills, or take your skills to the next level. Always be ready to learn and see that every opportunity can be an opportunity for growth if your mind is open to it.

When Found in Parkour:

Revisiting fundamentals, limiting what obstacles you have access to, or running out of ideas are all opportunities to take a moment and ask yourself “What can I learn from this and how can IFoster use this moment to become a better athlete”.

Coaches as Mentors:

Help students realize the opportunity in every situation they face. FOster this ability within them by giving them constraints to operate within. Tell them to make a whole course with only 1 obstacle or have them come up with multiple new skills they would like to practice all within the same small area. Coaches can direct students to become more open to learning opportunities and more capable of resting said opportunities for themselves. THis can be a powerful idea for stations during your sessions.

Tame the voice in your head

The Lesson:

Train the voice in your head to be positive and not negative. So many people allow their internal voice to tell them they are inadequate and don't realize they have the power to choose not to listen to those thoughts. Furthermore This, they don't realize with practice they can replace those thoughts with positive ones that will serve them way better in life.

When Found in Parkour: “I'll never be the best”

“That person is better than me”

“I can't learn this move because Isuck”

Coaches as Mentors:

Keep an ear out for when students lean into their internal destructive voice. Call it out and help them replace it with something more compassionate and goal-focused. Perhaps make saying a powerful self-affirmation as part of one of your stations if they do the movement well enough can be mixed into your session to create this impact moment for the whole group.

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