Is There a Point in Taking this Recreational Class?

From: Katie
Subject: Is there a point in taking this recreational class?

Sex: female
Age: 12
Gymnastics Level: 4/5

Hi, I’m a 12 year old level 4/5 (sometimes 6 on certain apparatuses) gymnast. I’ve been taking recreational classes for 3 years, I don’t have time to compete. Although I’m recreational, I am still very motivated and intense. For the past 2 years and 10 months, I took gymnastics at one gym. After taking about a year of classes once a week, I was already up to about level 3/4, catching up to their team girls. I started working out with the team girls. Over the last year and a half or so, I’ve been doing their 2 hours of practice, once a week, while they go 4 days a week, adding up to 15 hours. It started to get boring because they kept on perfecting level 4 skills. I wanted to move on, because I could already do all the skills. A couple months ago, it just got to be inane because I needed to move on and as a recreational gymnast, I don’t need to be absolutely perfect. So for the past 4-6 weeks, I have been taking a once a week 1.5 hour class that is technically “advanced” girls. The issue is the other girls are more level 2/3, none of them can do their round off-back handspring. I am very advanced on beam for a level 4/5, being able to do front walkovers and back walkovers on the beam. I am ready to move on and start learning some skills which I almost had at my old gym (e.x. half on half off on vault, kip, front flip 3/4 twist on tramp etc.). The problem is the other girls can’t do anything close to these things. They are doing squat ons onto the vault using a minitramp. I am doing front handsprings, half on half offs, and started doing round off entries a little at my old gym. They can’t do much more than pullovers on bars, whereas I have all the level 4 skills, excluding my kip. I’d really like to get beyond the “round-off back handspring” level. There is no way I can compete, and no way I can go to another gym, in my town these are the only two gyms. I really love doing gymnastics. Is there a point in taking either one of these classes? Which
one is better? Thanks.

I certainly understand your dilemma. Learning new skills is what is most fun and appealing about gymnastics. There are literally 1000’s of gymnastics skills and combinations you can learn. Any class or program that does not have variety or focus on learning new skills is both wrong and boring. I still absolutely vote for your old gym, where they let you work with the team girls and do at least some team and optional skills.

I am going to take exception to your thinking you don’t need to work on perfecting your skills. There are three ways to improve in the sport – learn new skills (the most fun), improve your skill execution (let’s face it – you want to look good don’t you?) and improve your consistency (when the time comes to show off a skill, you want to be able to do it every time, don’t you?).

I am going to vote for your old gym, which shows the most flexibility in allowing your to do new skills. Talk to the coach and ask them to help you get what you want out of the sport. I am going to assume if they are flexible enough to let you work with team, they may (and are certainly more likely to) be flexible enough to help you with your individual goals.

I assume you understand that it is difficult for coaches to make individual variations in practice, so you will really be asking a big favor of them to do so, but good coaches are able to do it.

If I were your coach, I would be wondering exactly why you think that you cannot compete. In general, in life there are ways to do virtually anything, if you really want to. I am not saying you do not have valid reasons, or perhaps you have other stronger interests and this is just a sideline/hobby, but you are too smart a girl to think you cannot find a way to compete, if you really want to.

Anyway, I would vote for the old gym where they let you work with team and ask the coach to let you work more optional skills.

P.S. Have to love any 12-year -old gymnast who uses the work “inane” in her Ask the Coach question.

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