Elite Testing

Subject: Elite Testing

Sex: female
Age: 10
Gymnastics Level: 8

Hi. I am a 10 year old level 8 gymnast and would like to know when and where I could test for Elite. I live in Ohio. I have all three oversplits down, can do straddle press handstands, cast kip handstands. I have a 14″ vertical jump. I can only hold a handstand (without walking) for 30 seconds and really struggle with the pike rope climb. Can you offer any advice to help with upper body strengthening and when should I start thinking about testing for Elite?

PLEASE NOTE: Traditionally, the Elite program goes through significant changes right after the Olympics as priorities and strategies are revised for the next four-year Olympic preparation. This article is being written right after the 2012 London Olympics so be aware that lots of new changes may be coming and that state and Regional representatives may change.

You have shown that you are training some of the skills for TOPs and Elite testing. The first step for both is passing the strength and flexibility testing. When you pass those, then you test for the skills. In the Elite program, you must pass off on the Compulsory skill testing before competing/testing Elite level optional routines. So before you test for Elite, you should be training both the Elite Compulsories and optional routines. Click here for the list of those skills. even better, here are videos of the Elite Compulsories.

Elite Qualification

At 10, you are old enough right now to test and qualify for HOPES, a pre-Elite program. The question is whether you have trained the Elite Compulsory skills and are ready to compete International FIG rules event routines. The FIG rules, scoring and even the bar settings are not the same as USA Gymnastics. Here is the summary for HOPES, Pre-Elite and Elite qualification.

Elite Testing Information

Since there are so few gyms producing Elite gymnasts, Elite information is not widely published. In general, coaches have to make a few phone calls to get Regional Elite testing information. For a variety of reasons, Elite information is just not as easily available as it should be. It is supposed to be online or emailed, but the email list is often just the coaches and gyms who are already producing Elite gymnasts, not every gym in the Region. Traditionally, if you are interested in Elite information, you must track it down at the source and continue to pay attention, because the information can changes frequently without you being notified.

Elite Testing and Other Information Online?

As far as I know, right now, there is no information posted online about Elite testing in your region. So you will need to contact one or more of your state and regional directors to get on the list or find out when and where they are going to post the information or have the information emailed to you or your coach. One of the best places to start to get the information that you need is with the new State TOPs program managers:

AreaTOP StateGymEmail
Ohio-SouthRachel TracyCincinnati Gymnasticsrachaeltracy5@gmail.com
Ohio-NorthDawn ToussaintOlympic Dreamsodgcoach@aol.com
Ohio-CentralKittia CarpenterBuckeye Gymnasticskittiac@buckeyegymnastics.com

and/or

Contact your Ohio State Chairman:
Nina Dent
10808 Watkins Road
Pataskala, OH 43062
(home) 740-927-8465
(cell) 614-316-6391
ninadentoh@gmail.com

and/or

Contact the Region 5 Chairman
Bobbi Montanari, RACC
Universal Gymnasts, Inc.
2881 Scioto-Darby Exec. Ct.
Hilliard, Ohio 43026
(gym)(614) 777-9430
(home)(614) 876-2930
(cell)(614) 507-0524
r5bobbi@aol.com

and/or

Contact the RJCOCC
John Geddert
Twistars USA Gymnastics
9410 Davis Hwy.
Dimondale, Michigan 48821
(517) 322-0360 gym
(517) 622-3699 home
USATwistar@aol.com

Are You Ready to Test?

So after you have looked at all of the above material, you will have to decide whether you are ready to test yet or not. Even if you are not completely ready, some girls like to test so they can see what the process and the competition is like. But at least you should have a better idea of what you need to do.

Upper Body Strength Advice

The first thing about strength training is to make sure you don’t assume that the TOPs/Elite strength testing is all of the strength work you should do. Those are testing programs, not strength training programs. you need to do many more types of strength exercises than just those.

Strength Training Intensity

To get really strong, you have to work really hard. When you are doing strength exercises you should do as many repetitions as you can in a row without stopping, right to the point where you just cannot do even one more. If you do less than that, you will not get as strong.
1-Arm-Handstand

Ideas for Strength Training

1-Arm Handstands – In addition to training to hold handstands for 30 seconds to a minute without moving, you might want want to do some 1-arm handstands against the wall for time. Do both hands and then doing two arm handstands will seem easier.

Rope Chin-Ups and Holds – In addition to climbing the rope, you can do chin-ups on the rope, which works the same muscles as climbing but in a different way. You can also grab the rope and hold yourself in a pike V (with bent arms) for as long as you can. If you are strong enough, you can even try to hold yourself on the rope with only one arm.

Upper and Lower Body Plyometrics – This just means doing fast, powerful exercises like punch jumps from a height for the legs and hand bounding on a trampoline.

Weightlifting – Even though you are young, I recommend gymnasts do weight training with weight machines. It is an easy way to measure your strength improvement and medium to light heavy weightlifting strengthens ligaments and tendons, which makes it less likely you will be injured.

Strength (and Elite training and testing ) are very complicated topics that I literally could write a whole book about (actually I am doing just that), but I hope this helps. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

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