Many coaches have never taken the time to map out the careers of their gymnasts, in a way that would help them have a realistic chance to become an Elite gymnast. This would be what we would consider the minimum track for gymnasts to have a good chance to achieve the Elite level and compete there successfully.
Year of Training
|Age 6 – 8||Â Year 1||Â Training Team|
|Â Skip Level 3|
|Age 7 – 9||Â Year 2||Â Level 4|
|Age 8 – 10||Â Year 3||Â Level 5|
|Age 9 – 11||Â Year 4||Â Level 6|
|Age 10 – 12||Â Year 5||Â Level 7|
|Age 11 – 13||Â Year 6||Â Level 8|
|Age 12 – 14||Â Year 7||Â Level 9|
|Age 13 – 15||Â Year 8||Â Level 10|
|Age 14 – 16||Â Year 9||Â Hopes / Jr. Elite|
|Age 15 – 17||Â Year 10||Â International Elite|
Compulsories are for Competition Experience Only
Just because we are listing the USAG Compulsory Levels does not indicate that we would not have gymnasts seriously and purposely training for Elite from their very first year. The levels indicated are not the focus of the training we would be doing, but just an indication of where they might be getting their competition experience.
TOPs + Training
The first year of training would be on some type of team training program where gymnasts are working on strength, flexibility and basic and optional gymnastics skills progressions (like a TOPs program). They would also be taking advantage of Peak Velocity Training to take advantage of the windows of opportunity for speed training, flexibility and skill training.
This is Not the Fast Track
This is not a fast track program. This is actually more of an average to below average track speed. Naturally strong gymnasts should actually progress faster than this. This track also fits right in with the concept of 10,000 hours of training to achieve excellence.
Just See Where You or Your Gymnast(s) Fit
This is not the only path or a rigid plan, but it is necessary for coaches and gymnasts to understand what it really takes to become and Elite in terms of years of training. When decisions are being made about holding gymnasts back for another year in a Compulsory level (or worse two more years), everyone must understand the consequences of that decision for the upper level potential of a gymnast.
We recommend doing a TOPs type training program for the initial years of a gymnast career and skipping Level 3 to concentrate on a more extensive program of real gymnastics basics and progressions. Level 4 and Level 5 are so very close in the skills they use, to do both levels in one year is a logical shortcut to real optional gymnastics. Level 9, with its watered down bonus/difficulty system might be one to jump as well – Get to a real scoring system. The Hopes program does get gymnasts started in the difficult Elite testing program, but many coaches might choose, instead, to do another year of level 10, to get more meets of high level competition experience.
The Path to Elite is Much More Difficult Now
Most gymnasts and their parents are interested in reaching Level 10 or Elite, so then they can have met their optional gymnastics goals and get a college scholarship. This is the kind of gymnastics career track for gymnasts to do that successfully.
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