TOPs National Testing – One of the most all-around consistent test
There was a smaller group at TOPs National Testing this year, probably due to lower participation nation-wide, but it was one of the most all-around consistent tests I’ve seen. The vast majority of the athletes had solid, if not tremendous skill,s and were still very strong at physical abilities. In years past, there were a lot more athletes who were obviously not even close to the level of gymnastics that you would expect. I think that, across the board, most of the clubs and athletes involved have a very good grasp of the program and sent kids who “belong” at the test. The test ran like clockwork, with little to no complaints, due to the large majority of veteran coaches and the consistency of the administrators.
Were you at this year’s TOPs National Testing? Share your experience in the comments below.
It seems to me that the TOPs program has reached a pivotal point. The governing board does not meet until October, but it will be very interesting to see where they want to take the program.
I expect it will trend one of two ways:
- Broadening the base and increasing the opportunities available to athletes, or
- Narrowing the focus to the top 3% of the age appropriate athletes that the National staff wants at the Training Center as early and often as possible.
My hope is that the program will trend towards broadening the base. The point of the TOPs program from the beginning was to get rookie coaches with talented athletes exposure and education in what it takes to enter the Elite level. Though the number of Elite athletes is not going to grow, I think it is still in the best interest of our National Team to try to keep more clubs and athletes in the loop. If there are training camps and/or tests administered at the Zone level, more clubs will likely get their most talented athletes and coaches involved with and exposed to the entry level of the Elite program.
The chances that a club in New Hampshire will identify a potential elite athlete and then access the Elite program independently is very unlikely. If the handful of strong clubs in New Hampshire are able to send their talented young athletes through a testing process like the current TOPs program and gain access to Zone-level training opportunities, I believe that the chances of getting the right athlete the right training and access to the right opportunities rises drastically. In addition, having more athletes involved at the grassroots level makes it that much easier to fund the top 3% and continue to allow the Training Center to expand and strengthen the centralized program of training camps.
In what direction do you see the TOPs program heading? Share your thoughts below.