When parents are deciding who to look to, they often have a misconception about who has the most knowledge and experience. They want to know who to look to as the final authority about gymnastics. Their choices include judges, coaches and their own gymnast(s). Since judges are the final arbiters at competitions, many parents assume that they know more about what is going on in gymnastics than coaches or their gymnast.
Many Judges Were Not Gymnasts
First, parents need to understand that not all judges were gymnasts or coaches before. Many judges, especially at the lower compulsory levels of competition were just parents like themselves, who studied the book, watched the videos and took the test. Even for judges who were low level gymnasts some time in the past, the sport has evolved to a whole new level from what basic gymnasts did years ago.
Who Spends the Most Time in the Gym?
Second, it is instructional to consider how much time, in terms of hours and days, that judges, gymnasts and coaches spend in the gym. That gives you some comparison between the three groups.
Judges are There Only During the Season
In most areas of the country the meet season lasts for about six months of the year. Most judges might judge competitions two or three times per month during the season. Meets usually last 1 – 4 days, depending on the size of the meet. Judging is limited to 3&1/2 hours per session and a maximum of three sessions per day.
Gymnasts Both Practice and Compete
Team gymnasts are in the gym, say 4 – 6 days per week year round, plus they also attend 6 – 12 meets per year for at least their own session.
Coaches Are in the Gym the Most
Coaches are in the gym 5 – 6 days per week year round. They often work with more than one team training group in addition to team practices and when they attend meets, they are often there all day long.
The Annual Scorecard
So what is the annual scorecard for hours in the gym for each group.
Judges = 126 – 252 hours at meets.
Gymnasts = 384 – 1152 hours at practice plus 30 – 60 hours at meets.
Gymnast Totals = 414 – 1212 hours per year.
Coaches 1200 – 1500 hours of practice and 84 – 252 hours at meets.
Coaches Totals = 1284 – 1752 hours per year.
Ask Your Own Gymnast – They Know More Than You Think
So, in spite of how it sometimes seems at meets, coaches are likely the most experienced, your own gymnast spends more than twice as much time in the gym as most judges do. And judges are part-timers in the gymnastics scheme of things. So when you want to know what is going on, you might want to just ask your own gymnast or coach. They will likely have the answers you want to know.