For all the skills listed in the Secrets to Staying on Beam e-Book or any other beam training progression system, there are the additional equipment progressions relating to beam height and padding. All skills should be mastered on a line on the floor and progress eventually to the high beam. Depending on the equipment available in the gym, there are a number of intermediate equipment progression levels. They include:
- Tape line on floor.
- Ethafoam floor beam on mat.
- Heavily padded floor beam.
- Regulation floor beam with mats stacked even with beam.
- Regulation floor beam.
- Padded medium beam.
- Regulation medium beam.
- High beam with beam platform.
- Padded high beam.
- Regulation high beam with platform mats.
- Regulation high beam.
- 6 – 8 foot high beam with 2 – 4 foot high matting underneath (Platform beam)
Master Each Stage
For safety and personal confidence, the best system is to require complete mastery at each equipment progression. There are some coaches who do not like to include padded beams, especially padded high beams in their progression series, because it returns a crutch that has already been overcome at a lower level. This seems to be generally sound advice except when a gymnast, perhaps, is unable to progress because of fear caused by a fall.
Know and Overcome Danger Points
Gymnasts should be trained and aware of the danger points of each skill that they are performing and concentrate on that first and foremost. For example, when performing a back handspring on the beam, the most dangerous mistake would be to miss the hands and land on your head on the beam. The second danger point is missing the first foot and possibly straddling the beam. Once those danger points have been successfully negotiated, the worst that can happen on any beam is a controlled fall.
Land on the Line
Thus, when gymnasts begin training on a line on the floor, their first concern should be to always get their hands on the line. When they can get their hands on the line ten out of ten times, they have proved to themselves that they are safe from falling on their head by missing their hands and they can move to mastering the next danger point – missing the first foot.
Land Your First Foot
When the gymnast can get their hands on the line and their first foot on the line ten out of ten times, they are ready to add the margin of error landing techniques to the skill. When they can land the skill ten out of ten times without error on the line, they will have developed the true confidence necessary to move to the next equipment level where they will repeat the process.
Prove to Yourself You are Ready to Move Up
This means that they will have to have ten no fall repetitions at each level up to the high beam – up to 90 out of 90 (not necessarily in a row) before they have to perform the skill on the high beam. This is a seemingly slow but sure method of success. Actually, because of the safety and consistency of this method, in the long run, it is faster and more efficient.
A NO-Spotting System
This system can be used without benefit of any spotting. This will eliminate the need for the coach to be running around the beam during meets “standing there” or even actually having to spot during meets. Coaches may spot at early stages and equipment levels to ensure proper technique is being performed.
Back Up If Necessary
This system usually works best under a system where the gymnast backs up in the progression if they fall at the next highest equipment level and re-masters the previous level to improve confidence and reaffirm technique.
Review the Progressions Daily
Every day, even with old skills, a modified (shortened) equipment progression beginning on the line on the floor is used to check for proper technique and consistency.
Planned Competition Warm-Up
A warm up equipment progression should be planned for competition warm ups. With limited time for warm up, gymnasts may be instructed to warm up skills on a line at the end of their previous event to save timed warm ups for high beam warm up. They may also be given a practiced warm up sequence with 1-3 elements on a floor line and then right up to the high beam.
Be Ready for No Warm-Up
Coaches should attempt to schedule their gymnasts’ beam warm up so their gymnasts doing harder difficulty skills have more time to warm up them up on floor lines and low beams. This does not mean that any gymnast should become dependent on having any more than the minute or minute and a half allotted by the rules to warm up.
Fear is often the limiting factor in beam skill development and determining the danger points and training for their safety often eliminates fear from the equation. If, however, there are other fears, additional progressions to eliminate or minimize their impact on the gymnast can be developed specifically to deal with that fear.
Yesterday’€™s Workout and One Step More
Some days it may take only a few short warm up progressions to reach a comfort level and some days it may take exhaustive preparation. The end result is that each day it is possible to reach their previous level and add one more small step. This is the basis for long term progress.