Planning Gymnastics Practices


Ask the Coach


I am revisiting my class structure and trying to figure out how to get a quality work out in one or two events, especially bars, but still have time to get some of the other events in. I feel that I can easily get 2 events in, 3 on a good/bad day (depends on if I am doing good or girls are doing poorly). What suggestions do you have for setting up a class and moving from event to event during a practice?

This summer I have 4 hour practices, from 5-9, can’t get in the gym until 6pm. Figure 20-30 min for warm-up, and 30 min for sprints, maintenance/preventative strength, partner flex, or therabands. That leaves 2 to 2.5 hours of practice for skills and 30-45 minutes of strength/plyo at the end. I realize there are hundreds of ways to set things up but there are so many “important” things to try to fit in.

Reevaluate Your Options

There are infinite ways to set up practices. But let’s examine some of your assumptions and “choices” first. Someone is making choices about time in the gym. You are not doing 2-a-days so you will only be able to do half the training that gyms who do 2-a-days will be able to do. Since you can’t(?) get in the gym for the first hour, you are obviously making up stuff to do that you can do outside the gym, not maximizing your training. Do all your critical non-gym equipment/event work in the first hour.

Gymnasts Need Explosive Strength Not Endurance Work

You are not understanding the difference between strength training and endurance work. Maximum strength training and development requires high intensity/heavy weight (for post-puberty gymnasts) and recovery days for muscle growth and development. My strength training program is so intense that gymnasts cannot do it more then once a week. Real Plyo training should take very little time. If you are doing a number of repetitions, you are again now doing endurance work not real Plyo punch quickness work.

Must Train Every Event every Day for Consistency in Learning and Competition

Gymnastics skill and routine consistency requires that you do each event every day. Even a two-day weekend off will begin to affect consistency. You do not necessarily have to do full event workouts, but you should be doing routines and skills for that competition year every day in practice. I suggest that you start with routines (and skills) on the events you are not going to emphasize that day. In the first 30 minutes you can do the gymnast’s routines (competition style or cold routines) and necessary consistency skills on 3 events. Then most days you have 2&1/4 hours left for 3 full events.

Make Yourself, Your Practices and Your Training As Efficient as Possible

Concentrate on progress and learning. You have no time to waste on drills or other make work activities. Make sure the gym and matting is set up for the day’s training so you don’t waste training time moving mats. Have very specific skill and progress goals for each gymnast on each event and even on every turn. Shut up (make your training suggestions no more than a few sentences). Do what you have to do outside the gym (lift weights, run, meditate, learn to control your emotions) so you don’t have any “bad” wasted days or time during practice.

Teach Your Gymnasts to Train Efficiently

It is also important to teach your gymnasts how to train efficiently and not waste valuable practice time. Here is a link to download our guide: “How to Get The Most out of Every Gymnastics Practice“.

Good luck!

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