Updated guidance on gymnastics activity in Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland Gymnastics

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Updated guidance on gymnastics activity in Northern Ireland

Update on gymnastics activity in NI 11.12 2
In line with the new Covid-19 restrictions, that come into force today (Friday 11th December), we have received updated guidance from the Department for Communities about what the new restrictions entail for sport and physical activity.

It is our understanding from the updated guidance that gymnastics clubs can carry out the following under existing Step Forward Plan guidance: 

  • Non-contact activities of up to 15 people that do not cause an individual to get out of breath. Under this regulation, only one group of 15 is permitted in any indoor facility at any given time.*
  • Individual training/ one-to-one indoor sessions with one coach per gymnast. There must be a parent/guardian or the club welfare officer/appropriately trained safeguarding individual present who can see and hear all of the session. One-to-one sessions can include more than one gymnast if they come from the same household e.g. two siblings with one coach. 
  • Multiple individual training sessions/ one-to-one sessions can take place if space permits and social distancing is adhered to. Where multiple one-to-one sessions are taking place, the club welfare officer, or a suitably trained safeguarding individual, who is not coaching must be present and be able to see and hear all of the sessions. 
    Fitness and conditioning sessions outdoors where there is no contact for a maximum of 15 people 
  • Elite training

*As Covid-19 is spread by respiratory droplets, indoor sports / exercise activities that have high levels of exertion (i.e., cause participants to get out of breath) are not permitted at this time.

All staff, members, customers, and visitor contact details must be recorded and retained for track and trace purposes.

What is allowed under ‘activities that cause an individual to get out of breath’?

To ensure sessions follow the current guidance issued by the NI Executive and Department for Communities, gymnastics clubs and coaches should consider the following information when planning and delivering gymnastics.

Clubs and coaches should still ensure sessions are creative, fun and engaging whilst remaining vigilant to not deliver activities that cause participants to become out of breath. Sufficient rest periods must be provided whilst also trying to avoid long periods of inactivity. It is important for everyone to ensure strict compliance with the guidance in place, as noncompliance may lead to the whole of gymnastics in Northern Ireland being stopped. 

For activities that require high levels of exertion and cause gymnasts to get out of breath, these can only be delivered in one-to-one sessions.

Below are some examples of the types of activities you could consider which would help ensure compliance with this guidance and providing safe and enjoyable sessions for gymnasts:

Warm Up:

  • Slow steady repetitive exercises 
  • Stretching, flexibility and range of movement 
  • Extend the warmup time 
  • Avoid games or activities where participants may get out of breath such as. running on the spot 

Session Activities:

All activity must be non-contact.

  • Focus on individual skill progressions and development such as balances/static skills  
  • Plan sessions that concentrate on skills and activities that don’t cause high breathing rates 
  • Have fun– challenge gymnasts to explore further the static skills they are competent at by adding different hand apparatus, or performing on different surfaces  
  • Limit rebound/explosive/jumping activities unless sufficient rest periods are implemented 
  • Practice skills in isolation whilst restricting high repetitions 
  • Walk in different ways between activity stations or apparatus set-ups such as stretching high or crawling, balancing a bean bag on a body part or using imaginative play to walk like an animal. 
  • Avoid the use of circuits where gymnasts require high exertion  
  • Use non-contact partner work such as matching and mirroring encouraging different transitions such as in cannon or in synchronisation 
  • Try to avoid the gymnasts standing in a line to wait for their turn by creating some static activities to maintain their attention such as making patterns or shapes with ropes on the floor, throwing and catching a ball off a wall or throwing bean bags to land in a hoop or on a target. 
  • Implement periods of rest throughout the session such as drinks and/or hand sanitisation breaks, and remain alert to adapt any activities that are causing gymnasts to become breathless 

Cool Down:

  • Slow and steady exercises 
  • Stretches 

All activity must continue to follow the current guidance as part of the Step Forward Plan, including but not limited to; regular cleaning of equipment, frequent hand sanitisation, and social distancing to be maintained. It is up to clubs and coaches to determine skills and activities that are suitable to the age, ability and fitness of the individual whilst delivering sessions that are enjoyable and engaging. 

We must all be responsible for limiting the spread of Covid-19 and therefore it is essential that clubs and coaches ensure strict compliance with the guidance in place, as any breaches to the regulations could cause indoor sport and/or gymnastics to face increased or tougher restrictions or possible further future closures by the NI Executive.  

Soft play:

Our understanding of the current regulations is that soft play areas for children are allowed to open, subject to risk-assessments and with appropriate safety measures in place. Any associated hospitality provision must follow the relevant guidance for Hospitality and accommodation.

Under this measure, we understand that parent and toddler sessions, overseen by a supervising coach, where children under 5 and adults have free movement of the gymnastics space, can continue, following the Step Forward guidance that is in place for this activity. For structured Pre-School activity, which is delivered by a coach, this must follow the above guidance regarding non-contact activities of up to 15 people that do not cause an individual to get out of breath. Please note this may be subject to change.

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