Subject: USA Gymnastics vs USAIGC program
Gymnastics Level: 8
The gym that I have been attending for 10 years is now under new ownership, they said that they will be implementing a new program the USAIGC, they state that this is a great program with greater potential to be seen by colleges. I tried finding things on line but have not found much information regarding this. I have always trained under the USAG Rules and do not want to waste my last 3 years of gymnastics before college at something that won’t help me. Please if you have any knowledge or input it would be so helpful. I feel lost and confused and don’t know what I should do.
The USAIGC (United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs) has a long and proud history, that deserves its own article, but which for the purposes of your question is not relevant.
The Current USAIGC Program
Ed Knepper, a former Executive of USGF (the forerunner of USAG) started the USAIGC in the early 1970’s. After his retirement, a new board of directors took over the USAIGC in 2001 and totally reorganized the programs and goals. One of those changes involved trying to develop a program and national competition designed for college bound gymnasts. I have a lot of respect for the old USAIGC, but the current USAIGC program is not, in my opinion, strong enough to use as the sole basis for a gym’s whole competition program. It can make an excellent supplement to competing in USA Gymnastics competitions, and can allow for lower level gymnasts a chance to qualify for regional and national meets, but that is because it is not as competitive as the USAG, which has many more competitors.
USAIGC and College Scholarships
The primary qualification of the USAIGC for is a single meet, called the College Bound Invitational, designed for gymnasts who want to highlight their skills and routines to the college coaches in attendance. The competition uses rules very similar to NCAA competition rules, which require less difficulty than USA Gymnastics’ Level 10. There are college coaches who attend this meet, but it is not the primary recruiting competition for NCAA Division I and II gymnastics coaches offering scholarships. It is easier to qualify to participate in the USAIGC College Bound Invitational, than either the USAG Level 10 J.O. National Championships or the USAG Level 9 East/West National meets. So for gymnasts who do not or cannot qualify for any of those USA Gymnastics meets, the USAIGC College Bound Invitational does offer another opportunity to be noticed by some college coaches.
The Reputation and Scope of the USAIGC
During Ed Knepper’s reign over the USAIGC, the federation literally competed with the USGF (now USAG). It had the first Junior Elite Development Program (JEDP), later copied by USA Gymnastics in the form of their TOPs program. The JEDP program produced the first wave of Elite gymnasts proving the training concept. But after Knepper’s retirement, the fortunes and size of the organization waned. The 2001 reorganization tried to identify gymnastics niches that did not directly compete with USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics has programs and championship qualification meets in every state. There are many states that do not have any USAIGC meets at all. There are far more gymnasts competing in USAG meets in every state and at every level. It remains a truism that competing against the best tends to raise the level of your own competition. For that reason alone, I would always have to recommend that USAIGC not be the only federation under which a gym competes, and that every gym should compete USAG first and then consider competing in USAIGC.
USAIGC Only and No USA Gymnastics Competition?
If the intent of the new gym owner is to compete in USAIGC only and not compete in USAG, I would have too say you should be concerned. While there could be an argument made that training specifically for collegiate rules might be a good idea, the problem with the USAIGC is that the competition is not viewed as tough as USAG Level 10, and college coaches are going to prefer the best gymnasts, who have proved themselves against the best gymnasts in the country. This is not to say that there are not a few gymnasts at the very top of USAIGC competitions that are top quality gymnasts, but the depth of the competition is significantly less.
Your Training is More Important Than Where You Compete
For your particular situation, it is important for you to understand that as a Level 8 gymnast, you are not yet at the difficulty level that college coaches will be recruiting. Your number one priority has to be moving up so you are personally doing skills and routines with sufficient difficulty (USAG Level 10) to be able to attract positive attention from college coaches. So you must evaluate the coaching at the gym where you are and decide if the coaching there is good enough to help you get up to that level of difficulty or not (and if you have any reasonable alternatives, if not). If you are not at the best gym with the best coaching available to you, especially if another gym will be competing USAG, that is something you must take into consideration.
Other Methods of Attracting College Coaches Attention and Scholarships
You should also realize that there are other methods of attracting college coaching attention and scholarships, other than being noticed at a meet. The primary method of “applying” for a college scholarship is still submitting a video to the college program(s). Attending a summer camp at the university/college of your choice is another method of being noticed and there are some gymnastics college scholarship services that can help you get noticed.
- Competing in only USAIGC meets is not going to have you appear as having faced the strongest competition. USAG is tougher and more competitive.
- Your number one concern needs to be improving your gymnastics to the level that college coaches will want to offer you a scholarship. What federation you compete in is secondary to that.
- There are other ways to get college coaches to notice you other than competing in meets.
Good luck and let me know if I can help further or answer any other questions for you.