Take a Break from the Routine
This is the meet season—uncounted numbers of compulsory routines, day after day, in gym practice. Those compulsory skills can get awfully old, for gymnasts and coaches alike. Just for a break in that routine (!) think about allowing a certain amount of time each week or so, for playing with some fun skill parts that will be used later in optional routines, or for higher level compulsories.
During the development of an athlete’s skills over many years, there should be a balance between skills in Column A—compulsory elements and skills, and those in Column B—higher level compulsory and optional skills. The proportion of time spent on skills in the two columns will vary, depending on the time of year. Even during this time, the meet season, there should be some time spent doing Column B skills—perhaps just after a meet. This should be as much part of your periodization plan as any other. You are preparing for the future.
Playing with concepts like shoulder control in handstands, or with flipping and twisting concepts in small doses during the competitive season, may be a very good idea. Presenting these concepts at an early age, to those we deem ready, in a progressive approach should increase the likelihood that a 6-year-old will stay in the sport, and enjoy competing optional routines when she is a 10-year-old. Set up some fun stations where your kids can go after they have finished a set of compulsory routines. Give them a taste of twisting by using a floor drill, and maybe in a year, they will have some good fundamentals for front or back twisting.
This idea of including some work on optional or higher level compulsory skills is just as important as deciding how many routines, and skills should be done every day, week, and month, for those preparing for competition. Such work can be a great break for both coach and gymnast!I know that since I had a setback in my training, I can’t go out and ride for 4 hours without paying a hefty price. The same is true for athletes in any sport including gymnastics, tumbling, Cheer, or any other sport, at any level. I had to start over, and rebuild my foundation. If you or your athlete has taken, or been forced to take time off, it is necessary to rebuild the strength and skill to be able to perform as you would like to.If you rush this process, you risk injury and other set backs that are not worth the risk. I hate to have to start back at 4-5 hours per week of cycling, when I know that four months ago I was riding 8-10/week, at a harder effort, easily. As Chellsie Memmel, our new partner, can tell you, there is a science to coming back from an injury, and part of it is patience.