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Tips for Cheerleading Tryouts

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in General | 8 comments

Cheer Try Out

Are you preparing for a big cheerleading tryout or competition? In addition to feeling comfortable with any memorized cheerleading routines, there are many ways to help ensure you have a successful tryout experience. Here are some useful tips from All Star Gymnastics and Cheer in Springfield, MO to think about while preparing for your cheerleading tryouts:

Eat, Sleep, and Hydrate Ahead of Time

We all understand the importance of eating and sleeping well the night before tryouts or a competition, but preparing sooner can be a huge help. Try to sleep and eat well the entire week of your tryout, and be sure to stay hydrated. Taking good care of yourself is important and will help your body regulate itself and ward off sickness. In addition, you will have more focus and energy, which can be an advantage.

Dealing with Details

When the big day of tryouts arrives, avoid preventable stressors like last-minute packing or navigating. Try on your entire outfit, including hair and make-up, two days ahead of time. Also get your bag packed with everything you need. Preparing early gives you some leeway and helps you avoid having to do laundry or run to the store at the last minute. Similarly, if your cheerleading tryouts are held somewhere unfamiliar, try to visit the location earlier in the week. The morning of, set a second alarm and allow for plenty of extra travel time. Eat breakfast and take along a few snacks, and pack your water bottle. In addition, consider turning off your cell phone to avoid outside distractions. You could also take along some headphones to pump yourself up with your favorite songs.

Enthusiasm

A line from the movie Annie says it best: you’re never fully dressed without a smile! Smiling is a simple way to boost your energy, and studies have shown that smiling helps to calm your nerves. If you are nervous about performing, try to visualize a successful routine in your head. You can also try implementing breathing exercises into your morning or warm-up routines. This will help keep you focused and calm, allowing you to do your very best in the tryout.

Good luck from all of us at All Star Gymnastics and Cheer in Nixa, MO!

Benefits of Cheerleading at Your Local Gym

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in General | 5 comments

iStock_000006290696MediumWhen it comes to cheerleading, for most students, school participation is all that is desired. However, if your child does not have the opportunity to cheer as part of a school team or would like to supplement that with outside activity as well, a local gym can be the perfect place. There are many benefits to cheering at All Star Gymnastics and Cheer in Nixa, MO.

1. Cheerleading at the Gym Is Non-competitive.

Many schools have limited space and require students to try out for the cheerleading squad. If your child does not make the cut, this can leave him or her feeling left out. Teens can be cruel and focus on those with less skill. If your child wants to cheer in a stress-free environment, a cheerleading class can provide that opportunity. It may even encourage him or her to make friends outside of the school circle.

2. Classes Provide Individual Attention for Every Child.

When cheerleading is a school activity, there is often a single coach to supervise a dozen or more students. With limited time that must be scheduled around other school functions, it can be difficult to give each child the individual attention that he or she may need. In a gymnastic setting, there is more time to devote to each student. Classes are small and are often organized by skill level in upper grades, meaning that a child who needs additional support in one area will get it.

3. Gym Classes Are Open to a Wider Age Range.

Most public schools begin offering a cheerleading program in middle school or high school. If your child is younger and wants to participate, a gym is the perfect place to get a head start. Classes are available for preschoolers and elementary-aged students. Younger kids will have opportunity to start with simple tumbling and grow into the more athletic programs.

4. Cheerleading Is a Healthy Activity.

Cheerleading comes with many health benefits. Practice is an aerobic workout that contributes to a healthy heart, strong muscles, and endurance. Many of the moves also require coordination and flexibility. By participating in a regular class, a child will enhance each of these areas. This type of workout can reduce the risk for muscle strain and sports-related injuries. When starting at a young age, this instills an appreciation for exercise that will contribute to lifelong health.

5. Learned Skills Increase Confidence.

A child who starts young with tumbling classes will grow and change as the class moves forward. He or she will develop new skills, including cartwheels, backbends, and handstands. As a child masters each technique, he or she will become more confident. This positive attitude can spread to other aspects of life too.

If you are in the Springfield, MO or Ozark, MO area, you can take advantage of the benefits of All Star Gymnastics and Cheer in Nixa. Sign up to try out a cheerleading class for free and find out if this program is right for your child. Classes are small and open for enrollment year-round.

Gymnastics Birthday Parties

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in General | 1 comment

Trampolines, tumbling, obstacle courses, and more: let your child’s next birthday party be extraordinary! Parties at the gym are cost-effective and fun, and our supervised instruction means that you get to enjoy the festivities stress-free. We provide great gymnastics parties for the Springfield, MO area and beyond. Keep reading for more details, and then give us a call today to book your next party.

The Entire Gym is Yours

Our fantastic center is the largest for gymnastics in the Springfield, MO/Nixa area, and it is all yours when you book a private party. We clear the gym just for your child and his or her guests! You will get one hour of supervised gym time with another half-hour in a private area for your cake and treat time.

If you are not a gym member, don’t worry. Hosting a party for up to 10 children is $135 for non-members or $125 for members, and just $4 for each additional child. We book parties on Saturdays after 1pm, so simply ask about party availability.

Our Trained Staff Leads Activities

Gymnastics features lots of movement patterns and jumping, so our professional staff will lead the fun with plenty of exciting activities. We offer parties for kids from 2-12 years old, with special activities and events for each age range. With trampolines, a large inflatable castle, and parachute fun, everyone at the party is sure to have a blast.

Set-Up and Clean-Up Are On Us

Book your party and supply the cake and drinks: we truly take care of everything else! Your little one gets to send out our special party invitations, and we provide the cups, plates, napkins, utensils, and tablecloths for the after-gym time. After an hour spent exploring the gym, your child’s day will be made even sweeter if you bring a personalized cake, cookie cake, or cupcakes. A large mess is no stress: we take care of cleaning up.

If you want a great birthday party activity in Springfield, MO, gymnastics may be the answer! Our parties are fun, easy, and exciting. Contact us at (417) 725-1304 to book your child’s next big day.

4 Benefits of Gymnastics for Toddlers

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in General | 21 comments

Balancing, jumping, and climbing: toddlers love to stay active, and gymnastics is an ideal outlet for that level of energy! Discover a few gymnastics benefits below, and then contact us for more information on toddler tumbling classes in the Springfield, MO/Nixa area.

1. Gym Time is Fun!

Toddlers love to climb, run, and jump, and the gym is a safe and fun place to play. Enjoy watching your child burn off some extra energy as he or she explores everything from trampolines to low balance beams. You might be amazed when it comes to your toddler’s resilience and perseverance when faced with a tumbling exercise.

2. Socializing

Little ones may be a bit timid when approaching a new activity, but will likely come out of their shells after watching a few other children take turns. Socialization is important for young children, and gym time makes it easy for kids to interact and grow.

3. Learning to Listen

Even the tiniest tots will learn a few gym rules. During group classes, toddlers will work on listening and paying attention while copying movements. From imitating stretching or tumbling exercises to following directions for using equipment, children will quickly realize how to work in a team and respect other children, adults, and equipment.

4. Developing Motor Skills and More

Gymnastics is a comprehensive sport and activity that develops flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, and more. This is especially important for your growing toddler, who is developing and learning at a rapid pace. Starting gymnastics at a young age helps set a precedent for a future healthy, active lifestyle.

Specialized Classes Just for Toddlers

If you are interested in toddler gymnastics in Springfield, MO, All Star Gym and Cheer has a couple of great options for you. On Tuesday mornings, the open gym session called Mommy & Me is a perfect opportunity to let your child explore and play, with trampolines, balance beams, a large inflatable castle, and more. The 45-minute session is just $5 per child, with activities for children who are just crawling to those up to seven years old.

Interested in enrolling your child in a structured class? Our gym offers sessions for children of all ages. Toddler Bears is parent-involved and designed for children from 1-3 years old, offering motor skill and coordination development through jumping, climbing, tumbling, and more. Bouncing Bears, for children 3-4 years old, focuses on more advanced skills including hopping, balancing, skipping, and hand-eye coordination. Classes run in four-week sessions, but you can join anytime. Visit our website for more information on fees and dates, and let your toddler try gymnastics today!

Proper Technique of the Back Handspring

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in General | 11 comments

The back handspring is one gymnastics move that helps set your body up for the next step in your gymnastics floor routine. Because you are completing several different steps in this move, you have to begin your move with enough strength and speed so you have momentum to get through the last step of this handspring. Tumbling classes in Springfield, MO can teach you this valuable skill.

Sitting Position

When you start taking Springfield, MO gymnastics classes, you know you’ll learn new skills. Stand, both arms over your head, with your back to the spot on the mat where you want to end up. Start lowering both arms. When your arms pass your legs, begin to bend your knees. Sit back just as you would sit in a chair. Your center of gravity should be behind your feet.

Beginning Your Jump

Begin to swing both arms forward with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Push down against the floor with both feet. As you push from the ground, your feet and toes should move you completely off the ground. Now, swing both of your arms over your head at the same time that your legs straighten fully. Your feet will leave the ground and your body will begin to move backward.

Your body should resemble a rainbow at this point. Your hips and knees should not ever move forward in front of your feet. If this happens, your back handspring will be cut short.

Reaching Up and Back

At this point, your head should be neutral with your gaze straight ahead, until your arms pass by your ears on their swing upward. Keep your head in between your arms as you continue to travel backward. This means your head should be moving backward at the same speed as your arms. Reach back with both hands toward the floor as your body moves through the arch position.

Completing Your Block

By this point, your legs should still trail behind your hips as you are moving through your back handspring. Your hands should land on the mat before your body is fully vertical, in a handstand position. As your hands touch the mat, both shoulders should be fully extended with your head in between your arms. Position your hands so they are slightly turned inward and make sure your body is set up in a tight arch. Now, prepare to block off the floor. This movement should come from your shoulders and move all the way through every one of your fingertips.

Finishing with the Snap

Your body should “snap” from its tight arched position into a rounded and hollow position. Keep your arms positioned over your head. As you land, let your knees and feet finish just slightly in front of the rest of your body. Depending on your next move, your finishing position will vary just a little bit.

Learn the Benefits of Springfield, MO Gymnastics and How it Leads into Other Sports

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in General | 6 comments

It all begins with those early gymnastics classes you take your child to in an effort to help him or her burn off excess energy. Soon, you see your child tumbling, jumping and doing cartwheels and round-offs. Before long, you’re fielding questions about taking more advanced classes in gymnastics. You may not be aware that what your child is learning can actually help him or her when you start discussing other types of sports.

Overall Benefits

When you bring your child to a Springfield, MO gymnastics academy, neither one of you may be aware of the benefits he or she will receive. Aside from learning how to move his or her body in tumbling, dance and beam events, your child will begin to feel more confident about his or her ability to learn and perform new routines.

Listening to the instructor and practicing new gymnastics moves helps to teach your child how to develop good mental focus. Your child will have to learn how to concentrate for periods of time learning new skills. When he or she discusses learning a new skill, the teacher will probably set a deadline for learning and demonstrating that skill.

Increased Flexibility

Almost every sport requires its practitioners to be flexible so they can move quickly, sometimes with almost no warning. Lacking a degree of flexibility can potentially lead to unexpected and unnecessary injuries.

In gymnastics classes in Springfield, MO, your child will learn exercises and moves that help him or her to stretch his or her body much more than children who don’t practice gymnastics. If your child decides to enter another sport, this flexibility can prevent accidental injury.

Better Strength

In learning new gymnastics routines and apparatuses, your child will be required to strengthen his or her body–arms and legs, for instance. The most important element of strength development will be his or her ability to develop good strength in his or her core.

Think about some of the most famous gymnasts today. You’ve seen them completing routines that required high leaps and feats of sheer strength. This is what gymnastics will do for your child. This benefits him or her when you decide it’s time to try out for a different sport, such as volleyball, baseball, softball, football or soccer.

Awareness of Technique

Your gymnast child has to practice every routine, from floor exercise, balance beam, uneven parallel bars, parallel bars and the rings. His or her instructor has worked repeatedly on every second of every routine until the entire thing was absolutely perfect. This helps your child learn that what he or she is learning in gymnastics can be applied to other sports in which he or she might be interested.

Improved Spatial Awareness

Spatial awareness simply means knowing where your body is in space at all times. It’s vital that your child know where his or her body is in relation to the floor at all times. Not knowing this could lead to a painful crash against apparatus or even on the floor, which could lead to serious, career-ending injury. This connects to other sports when you realize that your child needs to know where he or she is on the softball diamond, football field or volleyball court.

Sign Up To Give Your Child The Benefit of Gymnastics Classes

We have levels for toddlers through 13 years. Our younger kids program is built to get your little ones familiar with the moves and build the strength and coordination needed to progress to the next level. Our school-age program is based on the USAG Jr. Olympic Program.

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How Gymnastics Helps Build Self-Confidence

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in General | 33 comments

24487356_sWhat makes a person successful? Is it determination? Yes, partially. Intelligence? A little, at least. Luck? It’s certainly helpful, but not essential.

No, the number-one trait necessary for a person to succeed is Absolute, Unwavering Self-Confidence. Okay, maybe the capital letters were a little overboard. Nobody has Absolute, Unwavering Self-Confidence. We all doubt ourselves from time to time.

But it is true that people who believe in themselves and their abilities have a better shot at leading successful lives than those who are mired in self-doubt. The question is, how do you build the self-confidence necessary to go out and grab that success?

Luckily, there’s an easy answer to that: Be good at something.

There’s no boost out there that’s better than mastering a difficult skill, and gymnastics just happens to be a difficult skill. When kids learn new stunts, and learn them well, they feel an immediate increase in their sense of self-worth. We’ve seen it time and again.

Then, those same kids take the assurance they gain from their newfound abilities and use it in other areas of their lives, wanting to feel the rush of success again and again.

Looking for classes in Nixa? Gymnastics and cheer classes are going on all the time! Nixa All Star Gymnastics…Where Every Child is a STAR

Call today: (417) 725-1304

There are a whole host of ways in which gymnastics can help with self-confidence, but here are the big ones, in no particular order:

  • Athleticism. Gymnasts are some of the most athletic people on the planet. They have to be. The routines they practice tax every muscle in their bodies to the limit, and sometimes beyond (suggest link to safe training post).

Gymnastics training can take you to the peak of physical fitness, which naturally makes you comfortable in your own skin. Being happy with your body is one of the first steps on the road to self-confidence.

  • Encouragement. Another important factor in building belief in yourself is recognition. Having someone you look up to notice and compliment you when you progress in your training is a major ego boost. At All-Star Gym, we make sure to recognize each and every achievement, even if it’s only with a well-placed “Good job”, and nurture our students’ confidence at every opportunity.
  • Mental Toughness. Like we said, gymnastics isn’t easy. In addition to the physical demands, it can be highly-taxing mentally. There are only so many times you can fall when trying to master a stunt before you start to get discouraged.

As much as it is physical, gymnastics is a mental sport, as well. Gymnasts learn that, no matter how many times you fall, it’s up to you to get up and get back on that balance beam.

The mental toughness that builds is key to self-confidence. We can’t ensure that our students will succeed 100% of the time, but we can help them realize that failures are momentary and nothing to be afraid of. We can give them the poise and assurance they need to keep trying, which will pay out a hundred-fold later in life.

  • Performance. Kids can be shy. It’s natural. Overcoming that shyness is a great way to build confidence, and a great way to overcome shyness is to perform in front of people.

Gymnastics is a performance sport, and being able to show off what you’ve learned and impress your spectators is not only a rush, but it’s also a huge ego boost.

  • Camaraderie. Being part of a team has undeniable benefits when it comes to confidence. The team gives each of its members unconditional support, which naturally bolsters each individual. Plus, the friendships formed on the mat can last a lifetime.
  • Fun. Happy kids are confident kids. And happy kids are happy because they get to have fun. No matter how demanding the training can be, no matter how many times you may have to pick yourself up off the mat and try again, gymnastics is a lot of fun, because we make it fun.

The confidence a young gymnast gains lasts a lifetime, and provides the most important key to future success. We wish that every kid out there was possessed with Absolute, Unwavering Self-Confidence. If we could make that happen, we would in a heartbeat. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with building a confident world, one little gymnast at a time.

Live around Springfield, MO? Gymnastics classes are just a phone call away! (417) 725-1304

All-Star Gymnastics Techniques: The Perfect Cartwheel

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in General | 19 comments

We encourage our students to practice basic skills at home (see our Safe Training at Home tips), but there’s a problem.

Most parents of gymnasts aren’t, in fact, gymnasts. And since they’re not gymnasts, they have no idea to how to perform the skills, let alone teach them. So, from time to time, we’re going to run posts teaching the basics of these techniques so that parents know what they’re looking for when kids practice.

For our first instalment, we’re going to look at that staple of good gymnastics: the cartwheel.

Whether you’re in Rio de Janeiro competing for the gold, or right here in Nixa, gymnastics training starts with a good cartwheel.

Mastering the cartwheel is the key to mastering a whole host of more complicated techniques, like the walkover, the limber, and the round off. Learning to do a solid cartwheel isn’t just a good first step in gymnastics training. It’s also a great confidence-booster. Your little gymnast will light up like the Olympic torch when she shows Grandma what she can do.

Getting Started

Before you even begin your cartwheel, you have to make sure the area is safe. There’s a lot of flailing and falling when you first get started, so it’s important to stay away from low ceilings and things with sharp corners. You’ll also want about 10-15 feet of free space in front of you to make sure you don’t run into anything.

Learning a cartwheel is, of course, best done on a padded surface so you don’t bruise anything should you fall.

The Lead Up

To achieve the perfect cartwheel, you have to be in the perfect position. Start with one foot in front, standing straight and tall. Make sure your back stays straight throughout the entire movement.

Raise your arms up over your head, again maintaining as straight a line as you can from ankles to wrists. Now you’re ready to go.

Hand, Hand

The cartwheel is a continuous, four-part motion. It goes hand, hand, foot, foot. Don’t try to stop in the middle. You’ll probably fall down, and then your kids will laugh at you. It’s embarrassing.

With your arms up over your head and your body aligned as straight as it gets, shift your strong leg (the one you kick with) out in front of you in a lunge. Be sure to point your toes in the direction you want to go. Shift your weight to that foot as you bend at the waist, maintaining the line between your wrists and your back ankle.

Your back leg should naturally come up off the ground as you’re bending at the waist, and your front knee will bend slightly. Reach toward the ground with your arms, letting their momentum bring your back leg up higher.

The first hand to hit the ground will be the one on the side you initially stepped with. For example, if you started with your left foot forward, your left arm will touch down first. Keep your arm straight (it’s the only thing keeping your face away from the mat) and plant your other hand next to the first one, shoulder-width apart.

As the second hand hits, the momentum from your movement should bring your back leg up. Now it’s time to kick off with the front leg and go up into a handstand.

At this point, you should be supporting all of your weight with your arms, which should be straight, and shoulder-width apart. Your legs should be up in the air, forming a wide V (called a straddle), and your entire body should be along the same plane. No bending your back or your waist.

If it sounds difficult, don’t worry. You won’t be here long.

Foot, Foot

Once you’re up, you have to come down. Ideally with the grace of… well… a gymnast. The first leg that lifted off is also going to be the first to come down. Let it fall naturally and, as it hits, your other leg should come up and over, pulling your first hand up and off the ground.

As your second foot hits, your first hand comes up, and you end up standing in a slight lunge, facing the opposite direction from when you started.

Now bring your feet together, throw your arms out wide, and smile to the cheering crowd while you wait for the judges’ decision. You just did a cartwheel!

Tips

  • Relax. Sure, supporting yourself in a handstand takes some core strength, but try not to tense your body up. You’ll hinder your progress and your cartwheel won’t flow like it should.
  • Choose (or draw) a straight line to do your cartwheel on. Every time you drop a hand or foot, it should land on that line. That’ll stop you from veering off into the unknown while you’re upside down.
  • You should have no more than two body parts touching the ground at any given time. Lift up your trailing appendage a split second before the next one hits the ground. Your momentum will keep you from falling and carry you through the movement.

Ready to try out your cartwheel in front of a real coach and get some expert feedback? Our open gym hours are 5:00-7:00 p.m. every Sunday! If you live in Springfield, MO, gymnastics help is right around the corner!

How to Teach Your Kids to be Flexible – Safely

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in General | 91 comments

Flexibility at Springfield MO GymnasticsWe’ve all seen those images of contortionists who can tie their feet behind their heads or wrap their bodies twice around a pole, and we tend to react one of two ways. We either say “Wow! I wish I could do that,” or “GAH! Ah! Wh—why? What? Ahhhhhggggg!”

But there’s no denying that, for better or worse, those people have developed a skill. They’re ridiculously flexible, and that degree of flexibility has helped them get where they are today – probably a circus, possibly exploring tiny caves where normal people can’t reach.

Flexibility plays a huge part in gymnastics. While it’s not necessary (and likely dangerous) to go to the extreme lengths contortionists do, it’s important for gymnasts to keep their bodies limber. Supple athletes tend to be more successful and get injured less often than those who ignore flexibility training.

Like everything in the gymnastics world, flexibility is not a one-size-fits-all training program. As your young gymnast’s body grows, she’ll need to perform different stretches to help her reach her maximum potential.

Looking for classes in Nixa? Gymnastics and cheer classes are going on all the time! No need to wait until the next session starts! Call today: (417) 725-1304

Up to 10 years old

As Willy Wonka observed, small boys (and girls) are extremely springy and elastic. Unfortunately, not all of us have industrial-sized taffy pulling machines to keep them that way. So, it’s important to start flexibility training young.

It’s doubly important to be careful about it, though. Especially at this age. Children under 10 should be encouraged to do dynamic stretches – ones that involve the full range of motion (ROM), rather than holding one pose for 15 or 30 seconds (and who knows a 5-year-old who can sit still for 30 seconds?).

Young kids’ nervous systems are still developing and aren’t capable of providing the feedback that tells them they’re stretching too far until it’s too late. Holding stretches past the limit for too long could damage joints. And remember, no backbends for kids under 7. You risk damaging their little spines.

Good stretches for this group include things like:

  • Arm circles – Hold both arms out to the sides and windmill slowly through the full ROM.
  • Toe touches – Arms all the way up to sky, knees slightly bent to avoid locking, bend at the waist (not at the knees) and bring your arms down until your hands are touching your toes or the floor.
  • High knees – Bring each knee slowly up to about belly-button-level while walking forward or standing still.
  • Head rolls – Roll down and around like you’re drawing a circle with your chin, starting at your chest.
  • Slow lunges – Lunge forward with one leg, keeping your knee behind your toe as it bends, back straight, hands on your hips unless needed for balance, then switch legs. Don’t hold the lunge position.

10 to 13 years old

When they’re not reading Twilight or working on developing their angst glands for the upcoming teenage years, tweens should be encouraged to maintain or even increase their flexibility training. As they grow, they’ll progress in gymnastics and need the increased flexibility to keep from getting hurt.

This group can now handle some static stretching, but it’s best to leave that until after the workout. Dynamic stretches should still be encouraged, and should be done pre-workout. The important things to remember are not to let them stretch so far that it hurts, and not to bounce in the stretch. Also, keep an eye on posture and form. Tweens tend to be gangly (but don’t tell them we said that!).

Good tween stretches include all of the under-10 stretches, and:

  • Butterfly – Sit with the soles of your feet touching, thighs out to the sides, so that your legs look like butterfly wings. Slowly lower your knees as far as you can without pushing them down, and then bring them back up again.
  • Straddle – Sit with your legs spread as far as they’ll go, knees and toes pointed up to the ceiling. Lean your torso over and reach for one foot, slowly rotating out and around to the other one, making sure to work through the full ROM. Then go back the other way.

13 years old and up

The teen years are where it starts to get complicated. Gymnasts will start to specialize more into different events, which will require flexibility in different areas. Of course, keeping a solid general flexibility regimen is an absolute necessity, but in this age range, a lot of the stretching becomes event-specific.

Athletes who train, for instance, for the uneven bars, need to focus more on stretching shoulders and knees, while a gymnast on the beam should concentrate on legs and back. Again, this is in addition to the general stretching.

Your child’s coach can lay out the best flexibility training for the events your gymnast wants to compete in.

Flexibility training is one of the most important parts of gymnastics. Not only does it help the body flow beautifully through a routine, it helps keep your little gymnast safe from injury.

Live around Springfield, MO? Gymnastics classes are just a phone call away! (417) 725-1304