Young talent and their training

A few weeks ago I watched the level 4 competition at our gym because we hosted the meet. It was very interesting to watch the girls who are mostly between 6 to 8 years old and competing as a gymnast only for the 2nd time.

Overall, they looked much better than the usual practice in the gym and all were trying so hard to do the routines as well as they could.

However, many girls looked uncoordinated and moved a little awkwardly because they were trying to straighten their legs and tighten their arms so hard for the first time.

Among them, two girls stood out in my eyes because they worked much tighter and had better control of their bodies. I can tell that those two girls were also trying as hard as the others, but their effort was making their body movement smoother and more aesthetic.

Those children seemed to have an ability to focus better and perform well when they were excited by outside stimuli and use the adrenaline rush to perform well.

It is a wonderful thing to have this special ability, but this could also hinder them if we are not careful and we don’t develop them the correct way.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to work with some very talented children for a while. Their ages ranged between 8 and 10 yrs. old and they were just finishing up with the compulsory levels.

They were always full of energy and able to handle many repetitions so that they were able to get many things done very quickly. I never took more than 30 min. for any rotation with the 6 children in the group.

I always had 3 or 4 extra drills or exercise stations ready to go, besides the planned event, in case I needed to quickly set up and have them do it. They did not like to stand around and wait for their turn. So they needed to be engaged in activities all the time.

I was able to get done many things in a two hour workout and it was great. The only problem that I had was the event or the station may not be open when I had planned to get to it. So, I had to constantly look for an opportunity to jump in with my group at any available equipment.

Soon I noticed that these talented children have certain traits that were evident in the training.

They always performed well if:
1. I paid special attention to the individual
2. Always excelled in the games or in a small contest
3. When they are really motivated to do a skill or learn a particular skill

At the same time they did not do well in the practice in the following situations.
They did not perform well:
1. When they were too tired physically or mentally
2. When they were not motivated or bored because the skill was too easy for them
3. When they were not interested in what they were doing because they didn’t like the skill (including the skill is too hard or too scary)
4. When I made them do a simple drill repetition

I could tell that they needed a constant challenge to keep them excited about doing gymnastics. They needed constant outside stimulus that keeps their interest up.

It was draining for me to keep up with their energy, but those year’s experiences were very rewarding and they improved very quickly.

Have fun coaching!

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