For Coaches An eye catching gymnast

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Linsul

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Sep 19, 2008
876
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For the past month I've had a gymnast thats just starting, and she's wowing me in ways I've never been wowed with in such a short time. She's got the best of both worlds when it comes to genetics and what a gymnast can bring to the table naturally. I wouldn't describe her as compact, more like short with long limbs. Everything she does has a very dancer like quality to it. Gorgeous toe point and engages her shoulders when moving her arms, so she never has the dangling elbow issue. She's also got muscles on her muscles! It's unfair really lol.

She's very coordinated and takes correction to heart. I mean within 3 tries of a skill, she's made a change for the better. Sometimes she has to be told to relax and take a breath or go get a drink! I have no intention of mentioning team or anything remotely competitive to her or her parents, I see that as something they should initially express interest in. Right now I'm just feeling lucky to be her coach and watch her discover something she shines at and wanted to share!
 
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kiwiflyer

Member
Jul 21, 2008
66
New Zealand
Yay. That's so exciting. I love those kids that start, and they just have something. It's so awesome working with them. I had an 11-year-old start recently, and it's a shame that she didn't start when she was younger. It takes her two or three turns to get the idea of what she's doing and then there's just this rapid progression until she near perfects it (we're still working on consistent pointed toes, but other than that she is great to watch - good body position etc).
All the best with your young gymnast :)
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
Yay. That's so exciting. I love those kids that start, and they just have something. It's so awesome working with them. I had an 11-year-old start recently, and it's a shame that she didn't start when she was younger. It takes her two or three turns to get the idea of what she's doing and then there's just this rapid progression until she near perfects it (we're still working on consistent pointed toes, but other than that she is great to watch - good body position etc).
All the best with your young gymnast :)

Thanks, you too! :) It's shocking to watch them progress so fast isn't it? I kept her at bh drills until this week. When she went for them we went from wedge, to 8 inch mat, to the floor, to no spot in one night. Honestly, by the time she left she walked out with a lovely bh, no undercut or the arch that sometimes comes from stretching them out, and nice rebound. I was almost looking to be critical, just out of surprise. She had this smile on her face, but also said she was surprising herself lol. She's zooming through bars as well, if her kip drills produce the same results as her bh drills then I may just die of shock!
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
That is very exciting - sounds fun to watch. Keep us posted.

If she has just started I would agree to wait on mentioning team, but if she keeps progressing I would put the bug in her parents ear ( I would put it in theirs first in case it is something not do-able so the kid is not let down). As a parent it can be intimidating to ask the coach about moving your kid to team ( pretty much nobody wants to be the pushy parent :D ). It also might not occur to them to ask if they don't know much about how competitive gymnastics works.

Good Luck
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
That is very exciting - sounds fun to watch. Keep us posted.

If she has just started I would agree to wait on mentioning team, but if she keeps progressing I would put the bug in her parents ear ( I would put it in theirs first in case it is something not do-able so the kid is not let down). As a parent it can be intimidating to ask the coach about moving your kid to team ( pretty much nobody wants to be the pushy parent :D ). It also might not occur to them to ask if they don't know much about how competitive gymnastics works.

Good Luck

(I apologize for the length, bear with me plz!)

Thanks much for saying that! I got some curiosity and advice in my pm box from parents about waiting to mention team, or not mentioning it 'til the parents do. Honestly it's changed my perspective. I posted this in the coaches forum because it's 'work related' and I'm a coach. I always want to know what parents are thinking because while the gym writes my paychecks, I consider the parents among my boss(es). Their happiness directly affects how happy my actual bosses are with me, which keeps the paychecks coming, which go directly to to fueling DD's Hannah Montana and GK leotard obsessions lol! Knowing what you guys as parents expect, wish for, like and dislike is 99.9% of the reason I'm here, so please post away in any thread of mine or burn up my pm inbox because I love the insight.

Regarding the mentioning of team- I have come to the conclusion that I'm a big fat chicken. Cluck! I had it all reasoned out that the gymnast is so new I didn't want to freak them out, but I haven't hidden what I think so the freak out potential is already there. After her class her parents are so happy with her and what she's doing, but they also have a look of 'omg where did this come from?!' on their faces.

Since they already have an idea of their daughters talent and potential, my main reason for waiting was because they still have a deer in the headlights look on their faces after class. Albeit a very happy, smiley deer lol. As an adult and a parent, I can think of no 2 bigger potential emotional triggers than finances and kids. Being on team is a trigger to both those hot issues. It's such a personal decision whether you think your child is ready for competition or if you can afford the added gym fees that I always thought parents bringing it up and the gym taking a look at the child and responding was the way to go about it. I see now that that could exclude some of the shyer parents, and thats not acceptable whether their kid is having issues with a forward roll or a potential team candidate. It's easy to get caught up with the parents who are forward and vocal when I'm available. I'm going to make an effort now to seek out the ones who rush out the door instead of just assuming they're busy or have somewhere to get to.

So here's my new plan. When gymmies parents get to the point where they're saying 'Duh, of course she busted that full on the tumble trak, did you expect anything less?' I'll mention team. Just kidding, a little sooner. I'm going to work level 4 with her, when she has 3 skills down to competition ready on each event (minus vault) I'll mention it. I'll ask for her to be evaluated for team if/when we get to that point. If the deciding coach likes what they see then I'll bring it up, in a private, no pressure environment alone with the parents. I figure having the evaluation done beforehand saves a lot of 'what if?' worry. Waiting for 3 skills on each event should also hopefully give the parents time to settle in and accept the fact that their daughter is slaying the standard progression rate as well lol.

apologies for the manifesto, but I wanted to get it all out and hopefully say it right!
 

kiwiflyer

Member
Jul 21, 2008
66
New Zealand
Well that sounds like a plan. Just out of interest, how old is the child?
I was really lucky this term - I got 3 kids with obvious ability (including the one mentioned earlier). They were on a waiting list, so it was really good that when we got another coach we were able to let them in. With one of them (the youngest), I now have to broach the subject of what to do with him. He's 6 years old and he walked into our gym with natural strength, flexibility and amazingly (for a 6 year old boy) an ability to keep his legs straight, his body tight, and point his toes. I work in a recreational gym. We do have advanced classes with kids who compete in novice competitions. Anyway, this boy has potential. You'd have to blind not to see it. The question is, do I mention it now or wait a bit longer? our competition season runs from about April to September, so if he and his parents want him to compete (yes, boys this age can compete at low levels), something really needs to be done before the end of this year. On the upside, if they do want to, I know exactly where to send them :)
Hope everything continues to go well with your young gymnast. It makes all the difference having kids like that in your class. I'm fairly lucky that in each of my classes I've got 2 - 4 kids who are really on track and progressing:p
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
Well that sounds like a plan. Just out of interest, how old is the child?
I was really lucky this term - I got 3 kids with obvious ability (including the one mentioned earlier). They were on a waiting list, so it was really good that when we got another coach we were able to let them in. With one of them (the youngest), I now have to broach the subject of what to do with him. He's 6 years old and he walked into our gym with natural strength, flexibility and amazingly (for a 6 year old boy) an ability to keep his legs straight, his body tight, and point his toes. I work in a recreational gym. We do have advanced classes with kids who compete in novice competitions. Anyway, this boy has potential. You'd have to blind not to see it. The question is, do I mention it now or wait a bit longer? our competition season runs from about April to September, so if he and his parents want him to compete (yes, boys this age can compete at low levels), something really needs to be done before the end of this year. On the upside, if they do want to, I know exactly where to send them :)
Hope everything continues to go well with your young gymnast. It makes all the difference having kids like that in your class. I'm fairly lucky that in each of my classes I've got 2 - 4 kids who are really on track and progressing:p

The gymnast I wrote about turned 8 a little over 2 months ago, thats part of the reason I'm surprised at her progession slaying rate lol. At her age and newness to it all I generally see a little more caution, concern, or straight up silliness in the beginning. This girl comes in ready to work, I have to silly it up a little for her just to get her to crack a smile. I also have to ask her questions that don't require a 'yes' or 'no' answer just to get a good idea of where her head is at. She's very quiet and will nod to answer if the question or comment is kept simple. The hard work is going to be in getting her to engaged and lively, I don't want her to think she has to be a machine!

If you have all the info on workout times, cost and about how much they compete at the novice level it wouldn't hurt to bring it up. I'd talk to whoever would be coaching him and see if they think it's a good idea before bringing it up to the parents. They'll probably want to know how the competitions work as well, like scoring and awards and such. I think thats an excellent intro into seeing if he wants to continue in the sport. It's fun and involved without being pressure filled it sounds like.

If your gym is structured like similarly to mine, age 6 is when they start the all boys classes that focus on all the mens events. It's a big change from the pre-school gym days! Novice competition could be just the thing for a talented boy to try that will decide if he keeps his interest going. It also buys the parents time to look into competitive boys programs at beyond the novice level. If it's something they're open to and their son remains hooked on the gym then getting the jump on what the future could hold is always nice.
 

gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
I wouldn't mention team until they're ready to be evaluated either. Although if she had a BHS and enough bar strength to do kip drills, then all the gyms I've worked at have an older pre-team group that an 8 year old could go in anyway.
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
I wouldn't mention team until they're ready to be evaluated either. Although if she had a BHS and enough bar strength to do kip drills, then all the gyms I've worked at have an older pre-team group that an 8 year old could go in anyway.

Right on, yeah I'm going to wait. The pre-team option would be the nicest, but I'm at the newest location of my gym and one hasn't been established there yet. The group she currently works out with is advanced, but some of them are actually ex-competitive gymnasts, so it's not officially geared towards producing potential team kids. I have my work cut out for me as far as research into her options goes lol.

oooooh her kip drills...so wonderful. I have to freak out about her bars for a sec, it is my favorite event to coach! The first time I saw her, she was taking off some dangly earrings before class. That simple little act was enough to show off her ridiculous arm muscles. I'm not going to lie, the bar coach in me did a mental happy dance at the thought of what she might be able to do. She hasn't attempted a kip yet, but her glides are hollow all the way through, stretched out with no hip angle. She does 3 kip drills, and while I don't want to start her on kips too fast, I did have her glide and get her toes to the bar last week. Just to see if it trashed her form, it sometimes does at first. Nope!

She can cast to a horizontal. She actually had to rein her cast in a bit to even learn back hip circles, because she had the tendency at first to clear-hip instead of wait for her hips to make contact with the bar. Now that she has the back hip circle (with no pike after 2 classes, I can't believe this kid), she's working on her timing with her horizontal cast. She's 'accidenting' her way into harder stuff just because of her awesome form. It's pretty new and different to have to say 'yeah, remember how to horizontal cast like that, but take a sec to learn this skill before we move on please!'

She's got her single leg shoot through down with her stationary leg remaining straight, toes pointing, and head remaining straight with eyes forward. She can change her grip and press up to an open stride, but i haven't had her try a mill circle yet. She's also doing front hip circle drills. Falling forward in a front support while remaining straight and hollow until her shoulders reach my palms, then I pop her back up and she repeats. She looks like a perfect little see-saw, heels driving up behind her, a nice straight body line.

I think the single most impressive concept she has grasped so early is in regards to her alignment. She has an inherent grasp of the fact that what she's looking at in a front support isn't what she'll be looking at when in the highest point of her cast. She completely trusts her form, and doesn't try to always have a concrete visual reassurance of where she's at that could destroy her positioning.

Thats about it for my bar freak out, but it had to be done!
 
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gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
Single leg shoot through this early is good, I have some girls who already mill circle down that still need a spot.

The problem with mentioning team whenever a child just looks headed for that is that things can misunderstood if you're trying to say "when she gets these skills" etc. People don't know. If you say they are ready to be evaluated for preteam and that commitment will be explained when they are accepted, it just makes things much easier. Obviously if the child enjoys it and has a talent for it, the parents will see that and probably ask questions, which I just answer honestly (i.e. we evaluate them after each session and she is doing well and I think she will continue to progress without problems). I know parents sometimes feel shut out but it is hard to explain without creating expectations when there is often nothing to promise.
 

kiwiflyer

Member
Jul 21, 2008
66
New Zealand
Yeah, I'd agree about waiting a bit before mentioning team. With my gymnast, I plan to wait until the end of the year (he's already enrolled for the next term). That means I've got at at least a term (9 weeks) to work with him and make sure that he's got as much as possible before I send him to be evaluated at the gym I'd recommend (that is of course that this is something that he and his parents want to do). Otherwise, I'm happy for him to stay and work with him, and he can join one of our advanced classes.

I've just got to say it again... it's so refreshing having kids like these in class - especially as a recreational coach. :p:huge:
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
Single leg shoot through this early is good, I have some girls who already mill circle down that still need a spot.

The problem with mentioning team whenever a child just looks headed for that is that things can misunderstood if you're trying to say "when she gets these skills" etc. People don't know. If you say they are ready to be evaluated for preteam and that commitment will be explained when they are accepted, it just makes things much easier. Obviously if the child enjoys it and has a talent for it, the parents will see that and probably ask questions, which I just answer honestly (i.e. we evaluate them after each session and she is doing well and I think she will continue to progress without problems). I know parents sometimes feel shut out but it is hard to explain without creating expectations when there is often nothing to promise.

I've had to spot the shoot through and not the mill circle before as well, thats why it stood it out to me too! I get your point on not selling the parents on an expectation by mentioning upward potential. Doing it in way where the parents are involved yet grounded is paramount. I never had this issue with team when I coached it before, no coach ever approached me to evaluate a rec gymnast. Gymnasts who transferred looking to get on the team were always evaluated by the HC, so I didn't do that either. Glad for the advice!

Yeah, I'd agree about waiting a bit before mentioning team. With my gymnast, I plan to wait until the end of the year (he's already enrolled for the next term). That means I've got at at least a term (9 weeks) to work with him and make sure that he's got as much as possible before I send him to be evaluated at the gym I'd recommend (that is of course that this is something that he and his parents want to do). Otherwise, I'm happy for him to stay and work with him, and he can join one of our advanced classes.

I've just got to say it again... it's so refreshing having kids like these in class - especially as a recreational coach. :p:huge:

I hope I didn't misunderstand the post before this and end up looking dumb! I thought the novice competition would be at your gym, and if he wanted to go further he'd have to go to another gym. If I got it wrong, sorry! I agree on the refreshment factor. I don't coach team atm. When I applied at my gym, the owner said he'd love to give me the job, but he simply didn't have it anymore after hiring someone else a week before me! Snooze you lose lol. I'm happy to coach rec though, I always still did when I coached team. My biggest happiness requirement in coaching a class is kids wanting to be there, what they're learning isn't a make or break deal. It's awesome when the desire to be there is combined with natural talent though no doubt!
 

kiwiflyer

Member
Jul 21, 2008
66
New Zealand
No, you were right. I think I just added to the confusion ;). We held our annual novice competition about a month ago, and well he wiped the floor with the other boys (who had all been there for a couple of years, and he's also younger than most of them). So yeah, if he wants to progress to compete more seriously he will need to move gyms.

My happiness factor with coaching is kids who try. It doesn't matter what they're doing, if they try it makes my life a lot happier. I guess it goes with what you said about the kids wanting to be there:). One of my best gymnasts has up and down moods where she'll try sometimes and other times she can't be bothered - needless to say, I like it a lot better when she tries :p. Her best friend, on the other hand, lags behind ability wise, but you know she puts in so much effort and she really loves gym, and it makes her great to work with:).

ps I like smiley faces
 
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