The Jr. Olympic competition season has just started and some of us already have a few meets under our belts.
Unfortunately, not all the gymnasts will have a successful meet when they compete. Rather, many of them struggle through the meet particularly in the beginning of the season and make many unnecessary mistakes.
Generally, mistakes are due to the lack of physical preparation and/or some technical deficiencies as well as mental errors such as various anxieties created by the competition environment.
In order to have a successful competition the routines should be easy for the gymnast to get through. But often times the routine has a few skills that are still technically deficient and/or inconsistent. This situation makes the ratio of hitting the routine very low.
However, if a gymnast is having some trouble with highly difficult skills, such as a double back in the floor routine, she may be able to make it better in the competition situation. This is because she will be able to use the adrenalin in the competition to generate more power and energy to make the skill.
But the gymnast who relies on the adrenalin rush all the time and doesnâ€™t put strong effort in the practice to do it by herself will never gain routine consistency.
Our level 9 & 10 gymnasts generally have 2 level routines, especially in the beginning of the season. One is a core routine and the other one is the future routine. The core routine should be the routine, hopefully, with all the requirements for the level and be able to hit it with ease. The future routine should have skills or a sequence in it that she is still working to make or trying to improve on the consistency of it.
In most cases, she should be replacing (upgrading) a skill or sequence for better value by the state meet.
When they compete, how they warm up in the competition is very critical. When a gymnast is competing a Yurchenko full for example, we try to make her warm up in 5 turns. We ask her to do the 1st turn: timer, 2nd & 3rd turns: layout, and 4th & 5th turns: full.
We try to warm up on bars in 3 to 5 turns. Generally we will allow 5 turns in the beginning of the season but make sure to do 1 complete routine within the warm up turns. Hopefully the routine attempt should not be the last turn in case they make a mistake in the routine. If the routine was attempted in the 4th turn, there is still a correction turn available within the time limit.
Generally, the beam warm up will include a complete routine or more within the 2min. time limit so it will be consistent from one meet to the next.
The warm up for the floor routine should be done with all the tumbling passes with good control of the landings. Generally, they should have enough time to warm up all the dance elements as well.
Obviously the warm up should be different according to the levels. The lower level gymnasts should be doing routines focusing on good execution and better amplitude of the skills even in the warm up routines.
Ideally all the levels should become easy enough to do by the end of the season so that the main focus becomes more on good execution & better amplitude, as well as sticking the dismounts at the end.
We have discussed details for how they should warm up for the competition, but in order to do the warm up properly in the meet, we need to prepare our gymnasts first.
Whenever they train routines during the competition season, they should always be doing a competition simulation warm up. If they do warm up like the meet often they are going to feel more comfortable with it.
Have fun coaching!
Edited by Dan Connelly