Starting an Elite Gymnastics Training Program

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I am planning on starting an Elite training program in my gym. I was hoping you had some actual training information-for example, the different workouts/strength training they must do. My JO athletes currently do an intense training program, however I don’t know how this has to differ from the Elite training program. Is there a place where I can request information about starting an Elite program or training Elite athletes?

Also, for the future, how would I go about having my gym become a national training center?

Let’s dispense with the second question first about becoming a National Training Center. Change your name to Karolyi or wait for them to die. There is only one official USA Gymnastics Olympic National Training Center and that is Karolyi’s ranch. All national training camps are held there. It is not uncommon for gyms with National Team members to call themselves National Training centers, with some justification. Many other gyms name themselves a “National Training Center” but none are used for that purpose by USAG.

Elite information is, as you have already found, not particularly easy to find. After a brief spurt by USA Gymnastics a few years ago to publish Elite information, the shrinking number of gyms producing (or for that matter even trying to produce Elites) has diminished along with easy access to Elite information.

You can find the official USA Gymnastics Elite web pages which actually include an article titled – “Coaching Elite Athletes” but good luck using such a brief article.

We have an Elite related article on GymnasticsZone.com called Elite Progression.

There is also an organization USECA (United States Elite Coaching Association) that used to be a real force in the Elite world and provided some good competition videos. Copyright restrictions cut them off from distributing international meet videos and now all their videos are clinic presentations from some good old coaches and some new wannabes. I don’t know of any of the presentations being done by coaches who are currently producing Elite gymnasts in the new scoring system.

If you have time and around $2,000 or about a third of that for the good videos (if you can figure out which ones are which), you can buy a bunch of videos and opinions. They also have some very expensive books (for what you get). Some of them are decent, but check for them used on Amazon.com before paying retail from the USECA web site.

If you are serious about training Elites (and that is considerably less popular now than ever before) you are likely going to need to considerably revamp your current point of view and be very proactive in gathering information. Historically, it has been difficult to get inside information about the Elite program and the frequent changes made to the program(s). The coaches who are producing Elites and are on the Elite committees have rarely ever made a big effort to distribute information and rule changes in a timely manner. For a brief time when USAG first put up their web site, there was a much more concerted effort but that has faded.

To really keep up, you will need to get on good terms and the mailing list of your Regional Elite Program rep. Be aware, depending on where you are, there are some Regional Elite reps who may not have had any Elites for some time and may not really be in the loop either. Go to your regions web site and you should find out who you need to get to know to get current info.

Basically, training for elite means switching to the new set of International rules and training for maximum difficulty instead of trying to get by with easiest skills as is most common in USAG JO competitions. You will need to get and train according to FIG rules because USAG has inflated the values of many skills. Fortunately, the entire FIG program is available free online at the FIG web site:
And the FIG Women’s/Men’s Code of Points downloads are also available.

Other than what I have mentioned, there are no good sources of information for training gymnasts for Elite. I have outlines for three books that are going to cover the topic of training for Elite, but since the rule changes have changed the landscaping and I have other products I am planning to release first, that won’t be available for some time.

Here are some general suggestions:

Divide your gymnasts into training groups depending on their “natural” Olympics (the Olympics where they have first reached the age of 16). Some gymnasts on your team will have only a short time, like 3 years for the 2012 London Olympics, others either 7 or 11 years for the 2016 or 2020 Olympics. Some of your gymnasts will be off-Olympics (they will graduate from high school and theoretically go to college before their natural Olympics and might more likely aim instead for World Championships.

Using the TOPs/Elite physical-testing program to develop a complete and comprehensive gymnastics strength training and flexibility program that will develop the required level of strength to test out and to develop planche and pirouette strength. Get your athletes that strong and flexible first.

Using a combination of the current Elite compulsories, TOPs skills test and FIG “D,” “E,”  “F” and “G” level skills, develop your training progressions for the skills you can coach and your gymnasts will be able to do.

Develop those skills in your athletes. Gymnasts will need to score about 54.0 – 55.0 to qualify for Elite and 62.0 + top be competitive internationally. Both of these numbers are just guidelines and will likely change as coaches and gymnasts continue to adapt to the new rules.

Fundraise so you and your gymnasts can afford the travel and training costs you and your gymnasts will need to qualify.

Keep an eye our web site as we will producing more and more information and products for elite gymnastics.

I Hope this helps. It is impossible for me to write down everything I know about training for Elite in one web page. (Currently it looks like it will end up being 3 books about Training for Elite, 4 event books and a Trampoline Training book.)

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