Is concentrating on winning at the compulsory gymnastics levels the best gymnastics career strategy? Do you really want compulsory winners and do you really want to judge your gymnasts and base your team’s future on compulsory results? There are real reasons why you should not want to do any of these. There is nothing wrong with having successful compulsory performers and competition success on your team. Indeed, we are constantly endeavoring to help you to achieve that, but we don’t want to become enamored with it or overemphasize its importance in the development of our true goals – a National Team and National and successful international competitors.
Compulsory Success Not Indicator of Elite Success
The problem with compulsory winners is that compulsory age group success is not a predictive indicator of future high level optional competitive success. Too often compulsory winners are successful because of early maturation, inappropriate intensity and length of early training or raw natural talent.
Early Maturation Often Responsible for Early Success
Early maturation as a cause for early success is more obvious in other sports, but is equally valid for gymnastics. Girls who mature earlier and are bigger and stronger than their peer group are naturally the fastest runners in early age group competition. Their continued success later when their peers catch up physically is not guaranteed.
Too Much, Too Early Causes Burn-Out
Athletes who have been identified by coaches as having potential and put in advanced training programs with longer than average training hours than their peer age group may progress faster or even much faster than their peers leading to initial success. While we hoped this strategic coaching mistake was identified years ago, we seem to be seeing somewhat of resurgence in it with each new crop of coaches. Gymnasts who train too much too early, burn out and quit the sport before they are old enough to compete internationally. This is especially true in situation of rigid coaching discipline where the sport is not approached in a fun manner.
Talented Is Not Enough
While everyone hopes and prays for gymnasts with high levels of raw talent, these gymnasts must overcome easy early success and learn good training habits and develop a strong work ethic. Talented as any gymnast may be, they are not talented enough to perform full-ins and other truly difficult skills without hard work. If they do not develop the work ethic, they will tend to quit when success does not continue to come to them. There are two ways to be successful in the sport of gymnastics. One is to be talented and work and the other is to work (perhaps harder or more intelligently than everyone else).
Temporary Success Is Not What We Are After
Therefore, from a coaching point of view, compulsory success may often, perhaps, most often be an illusory and temporary success in the development of true gymnast’s high level optional competitors.
Long-Term Goals and Training Are the Most Important
Coaches should point their team goals, team member choices and training programs with a long view toward the future goals of successful optional competitors and a National team. All gymnasts who agree and work within the prescribed training program should be given the expectation of eventually developing into a high level competitor and should not be cut or trained less than possible flash-in-the-pan early talents.
High Level Results Come From a High Level Training Program
Coaches and parents should not be deceived by the Compulsory competition system or results. Real high-level gymnastics success will likely come in spite of compulsories rather than because of it. To achieve high level optional gymnastics success requires a training program specifically designed to produce that, not a plain vanilla compulsory program.
To learn more about the place of compulsories in a gymnast’s training, purchase and read any of our Compulsory level e-Books.