After working every day in my gym for four years with some of the best Russian coaches I have ever seen,Vladimir Samodurov and Olga Sikorra (currently Aliya Mustafina’s tumbling coach), I came to understand that with the right training system, team gymnasts can safely progress from just basic gymnastics to the Elite level of skills. As preposterous as that may sound (and it sounded the same way to me when we first started), as I watched what we accomplished each day, month and year, I came to understand, not just how it was possible, but how it should be expected.
T&T Long Tumblers Tumble In and Out of Skills Most Artistic Gymnasts Cannot Even Do
It became apparent to me after watching Olga and Vladimir coach, that they could likely actually take a gymnast from virtually zero to the elite level of skills in only three years. For mere mortal coaches, the process might take an extra year or two. Part of the reason for this ability to achieve such rapid progress, I believe, came from the fact that just before coming to my gym, they both had been coaching long tumbling (T&T style tumbling) which requires much higher tumbling difficulty for success than artistic gymnastics and they had produced two World champion tumblers.
Expectations for Tumbling Must Be Raised
The level of difficulty of tumbling that high level T&T tumblers, at that time, far exceeded the level of tumbling in artistic gymnastics. And while T&T tumblers have the advantage of a longer run and more speed to work with, still the level of tumbling and the expectations of the level of tumbling were much higher for T&T tumbling than for artistic gymnastics. Gymnasts tend to live up to the expectations of their coaches. For Olga and Vladimir, double layouts were considered a basic. That was when real tumbling started. Gymnasts were expected to get to that level so that they could begin to work serious tumbling like twisting doubles and double-doubles.
Expectations and Progress for Other Events Must Also Be Raised
There was no doubt that achieving such a high level of tumbling was something that these particular Russian coaches had done many times with many gymnasts. Having already coached two tumbling World Champions, they were looking for new challenges. The challenge we set out to accomplish was to make the same kind of progress in all the other events as they could already make in tumbling.
The “Gymnastics Success System” and “Quadrennium Coaching”
We used the same coaching concepts (Gymnastics Success System) that we used in tumbling and applied it to all of the other events. When you raise the expectations for your gymnasts to this high a level, they respond by living up to your expectations. In addition to the “Gymnastics Success System” (coaching concepts to ensure high level gymnastics success) that I compiled, I developed another system that I call “Quadrennium Coaching” or “Quad Coaching” which combines the training system we used for all of the events into four year training blocks, designed to match the four-year Olympic cycle.
First Coaches Must Raise Their Own Expectations for Progress and Success
The first key to being able to make this type of progress is for coaches to raise their own sights and expectations for the success of their coaching. It will be impossible to fool gymnasts about how fast you expect them to progress, if you do not believe it yourself.