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Body types

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vmom

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Feb 15, 2008
130
Has it been anyone's experience that larger/muscular gymnasts don't score as well in compulsaries on floor and beam? My daughter is shaped more like Mary Lou Retton rather than Nastia L. It seems no matter how good her routines are technically, she scores lower than the other girls. It's gone so far as to one of her coaches suggesting she wear the leg seams on her leo higher to make her legs look longer. On bars and vault she scores right up there (if not higher) than her team mates. Is her body shape not looking "dancey" enough? It seems like the thin girls with the long legs score better on floor and vault. Just curious. Thanks. (P.S.- I would never do anything to encourage my daughter to try and change her body shape!!! Just so there are no concerns. She's beautiful and strong just the way she is!)
 
K

KBT

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I'm not sure about USAG rules on this, but could her coach ask the judges what deductions they are taking? Maybe there is some issue that is being missed.

More muscular girls may not have the "pretty" ballet-style Nastia leaps, but that doesn't mean they can't score well. I've noticed that many muscular gymnasts have knees that only extend to 180 degrees while more flexible gymnasts will often have knees that extend past 180. While having only 180 degree extension is certainly better for the joint, it can make it look like the knees are always bent. (Think Jennie Thompson or Terin Humphrey). Your daughter may have to work extra hard to keep her knees tight and straight while the flexible gymnasts can let their knees be loose and still hit 180.

Your daughter will likely have an advantage in tumbling and vaulting as she moves up the levels, though. As she gets into optionals, she'll be able to take full advantage of that extra power that the flexible girls don't have.
 

vmom

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Feb 15, 2008
130
Thank you, that does help. We did get a comment at a mock meet that her knees did appear bent. She told me, "But, they were straight!" I will pass this along to her!!
 

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Body type shouldn't play into score at all. However, some kids' knees appear bent even when they're as straight as they'll go, and some kids' toes appear slightly flexed even when they're as pointed as they'll get.

Honestly, I don't know how best to counter this: it seems to be more of a joint structure thing than a flexibility thing, so I don't know if there's any way to stretch that area and improve the appearance of form. If any other coaches with more of a medical background than I have can wiegh in on this, I'd love to hear what they have to say.
 
K

KBT

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I realize your daughter is still doing compulsories, but when she does get to optionals tuck jumps, cat leaps, stag leaps, ring leaps, etc, will be good skills for her. Skills that have bent knees built in will help eliminate the look of having bent knees all the time. She may also want to try things like straight-body casts to handstands on bars instead of straddled because it's often easier to keep the knees tight if you are also concentrating on squeezing the legs are together.
 
C

Coach23

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Hyper-extended leg positions on all leaps/jumps with the sharpest toes points possible, and the right choreography. I've had a handful of athletes with a stocky, muscular build, and this worked every time on beam and floor. On jumps: If the gymnast can keep her toes above waist level, especially when she rotates the legs outward in a straddle jump, it gives the illusion of straighter legs for girls who can't extend the knee further than 180, but the toe points have to be sharp. Choreography: It needs to be body-type specific (if she's L7 or higher).
 

vmom

Member
Feb 15, 2008
130
Thanks for the input. She worked really hard on keeping her legs tight and straight and pointing her toes hard. She got good results (higher scores) and took third on floor at State! She even scored her highest beam score and came in 4th on beam at State and AA.
 
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