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COACHES: Pre-team Requirements

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CoachMeg

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Just out of curiosity & to compare to our own program...what kind of requirements do you have for a child to be on pre-team? Are there any skills that they HAVE to have to be in the group? We have a Jr. pre-team (ages 5-6) and then a regular pre-team (ages 7-10). Right now we have 7 Jr's and 16 regular pre-teamers.

I have a couple girls in my regular pre-team group that I feel have been incorrectly placed by another coach...they are way behind in my opinion. Is it too much to ask to want all pre-teamers to be able to do a bridge kick-over??? Another coach put 3 (older - 9/10 yr old) girls in the class who can barely do a good handstand and cannot do a bridge kick-over.....I want to pull my hair out!! They also don't have any natural flexibility. If they cannot do a solid bridge or kick-over...how do they expect me to get them to be doing roundoff-bhs by spring when they only practice floor 1-2 times a week! Now I feel like I have to be the bad guy that has to confront the parents about their daughters being incorrectly placed.

Are there any skills that your pre team girls MUST have in order to be in that practice group? I'm trying to create a list of skills to hand out to other coaches who might test kids who are interested in pre-team. Right now here's what I got:

Jr. Pre-Team (ages 5-6) Requirements:
- able to kick to handstand with feet together and kick back down (does not have to be vertical)
- able to cartwheel
- able to hold bridge 5 seconds
- able to hold bridge and lift one leg in air for 1-2 seconds
- able to walk forward, side, backwards on a low-medium beam without help
- pullover on bars
- able to show front support on bars
- monkey climb on pit bar or low bar all the way down to the end
- straight jump up to resi-pit vault (level 3 vault)

Pre-Team (ages 7-10) Requirements:
- pretty solid handstand
- able to cartwheel
- able to round-off
- able to hold bridge 10 seconds
- able to backbend
- able to do bridge kick-over
- able to handstand on low beam
- able to do side handstand on medium or high beam (level 2 dismount)
- pullover on bars
- back hip-circle
- 3 push away casts in row
- straight jump up to resi-pit vault
- forward roll up to resi-pit vault


Am I asking to much???? Seriously, is this unreasonable?
 
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SurpriseGymMom

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I don't think that's asking too much, personally.
I'll come back with our pre-team req's, have a hot bath waiting. :)
 
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OzZee

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It would depend what they are being taught previously and what the timeframe/expectations of pre-team are.
We don't have under 5-6 year olds taught any kind of bridging or really any proper gymnastics skills in kindergym (preschool age programmes) so there would be very few 5 year olds (unless coached at home) doing bridges and pullovers.
That is what a 5-6 year old moved out of preschool/beginner class would be moved to pre-team to learn.
But we also don't have 6-7 year olds doing bhs's so there isn't the urgency to get those skills so early around here.
If your preteam is 1 year with limited hours and the kids expected to be competing level 3 at the end of that time, then yes you would need something to work with. But where would the kids be learning those skills on your list? And would they be learning them with proper form?
 
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My dd was placed in a pre team type group when she was 7, we were told from the get go that this was for a trial period and if they didn't make progress over time then they were placed in a more suitable group (advanced rec).

My dd started her group without being able to do a pullover or pull up and she could only barely just do her left leg splits, she couldn't do a bridge kick over either. Dd's group gets tested every few months and they need to either stay as they are or make improvements before further action is taken. Dd has been training twice a week for 6 months., she go now do the following -

All 3 splits (near enough flat)
Chin ups to chest height
Leg lifts
Pullovers
Hanging pullovers (hit and miss)
Back hip circle
Straddle undershoot dismount (when coach lifts them above bar and let's go)
Handstand flat back on high crash mats
Bridge kickover
Back walkover (hit and miss)
Front handspring on fast track
Forward roll on high beam
Cartwheel on high training beam
Back extension roll
Straddle lever to stand
Round off
 
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Noideaaboutgym

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My DD was asked to TRIAL in the equivalent of pre-team at the age of 6 with hardly any of these skills (but very strong and focused), out of the approx 25 girls asked to do an initial trial, 8 girls were asked to trial for a term and she was the ONLY one to get into "team". By the end of the term long trial (2 hours in addition to the 1 in rec) she went from

Jr. Pre-Team (ages 5-6) Requirements:
- able to kick to handstand with feet together and kick back down (does not have to be vertical) - before NO after YES
- able to cartwheel - before NO not even vaguely, after YES and less than 1 year later happily doing them on a beam
- able to hold bridge 5 seconds - before possibly after YES
- able to hold bridge and lift one leg in air for 1-2 seconds - before NO after YES
- able to walk forward, side, backwards on a low-medium beam without help YES
- pullover on bars - before NO after YES
- able to show front support on bars YES
- monkey climb on pit bar or low bar all the way down to the end YES
- straight jump up to resi-pit vault (level 3 vault) - before possibly after YES

The improvement in the 8-10 weeks was phenomenal, she was nowhere near splits or folds before and could do right and left to flat (not box), and straddle and pike to flat from barely being able to reach forwards. If my DD had to have all those skills she would never have been given a chance.

So no I do't think it is reasonable to expect all the kids to be able to all of those skills, unless you have a pre-pre-team where they learn to do them, however I do think it is entirely reasonable to have them start on a trial basis to be assessed after a few months.
 
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gymisforeveryone

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We have a special test week at the beginning of June every summer for those young kids who are willing to get into pre-team. Those kids are 5-7 years old.

They don't test skills really. The coaches are looking for straight lines, strength and flexibility. I think strength is the most important factor. The kids who are chosen usually have these "skills":

- rope climb all the way up with feet
- 1-3 pull ups, at least
- (one leg kick) pull over
- able to do a few casts with straight arms
- beautiful front and back rolls with gymnastics finish position
- nice bridge, shoulders on top of the hands or further
- at least one split near the ground
- at least one full leg lift all the way up on stall bars
- nice and straight handstand line stomach against the wall, able to follow form corrections
- able to follow directions
- child doesn't get tired during the class (1,5 hours)
- nice pike stretch
- able to point toes and knees when asked
- able to do a cartwheel (not the 5 year old though)

Kids who are older than 7 are asked much more. If I would have to take a 8-11 year old from rec to the team I would want her to be able to:

- 2-3 rope climbs all the way up with feet
- 3 pull ups, at least
- pull over feet together on head high bar
- able to do a few casts with straight arms
- beautiful front and back rolls with gymnastics finish position
- bridge kick over or back walkover
- at least one split near the ground
- at least one full leg lift all the way up on stall bars
- nice and straight handstand line stomach against the wall, able to follow form corrections
- able to follow directions
- child doesn't get tired during the class (2,5 hours)
- nice pike stretch
- able to point toes and knees when asked
- able to perform a good cartwheel, handstand on floor, a round off and a front handspring with light spotting from panel mat
- comfortable on beam, able to do all the basic stuff like walks, kicks, jumps and able to handstand and cartwheel on low beam
- able to do a back hip circle
- able to do a back extension roll to front support with straight arms
- able to do a handstand flat back vault and straight jump vault
 

COz

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From @CoachMeg 's list for 5-6 year olds, I would expect the bridge and pullover to be worked on in that group, not before. But I don't know how many hours the kids would have been doing beforehand. My child needed a substantial number of hours per week to develop the upper body strength for pull ups and pullovers. Aside from those two elements, it pretty much matches what my child had.

Our placements are based on (as far a I can tell) flexibility, core strength, some amount of upper body strength, ability to take correction and general attitude/behaviour.

But this is a perspective from a parent of a 5 yo, not a coach.

If you're after feedback from coaches only, posting in the coaches forum will stop us parents from commenting :)
 

COz

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Just a thought, is there any way of asking for assistance rather than moving kids out of these classes?
I think the parents would be pretty upset, not really at you, but at the gym and the system placing them 'incorrectly'. It would be nice to find some other solution.
 
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l.c.o

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For DD's first gym, preteam selection was mostly strength and focus-based, but they did have an official "test". Dd was tested on cartwheels on low beam, handstands, splits, rope climb, leg lifts, tick tocks on mats, pull overs, casts, chin ups, etc.

I'm pretty sure that previous rec coaches were also asked for an opinion on coachability.

Highest scoring kids were selected for preteam. Later, there was also a separate, tougher but similar try out to officially make team... Anyone could attend, but preteam kids also had to do it.

At age 5, coming out of rec, DD had some skills but not all. She and one other kid were offered spots on a newly developed pre-preteam. That class was mostly conditioning with some very slow skill progressions mixed in.

The official testing was not fun for parents or for my DD. But as a her parents, knowing she truly earned a spot helped us decide to let her give it a go. We knew she was one of the "better" kids that had tested, so combined with her love for the sport, we thought it was the right choice to let her try.

So, requiring some skills doesn't seem out of line, and I think it could also be reassuring to some parents.
 
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profmom

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Are they expected to compete in the spring? If so, what level? And how much time per week do you have with them to get them there? At my kids' gym, girls were really selected for preteam based on strength and flexibility, and really, trust me, that is ALL that DD had when she got the tap on the shoulder. She'd only done one session of rec previously. She couldn't even do a cartwheel, though she could climb the rope like a little monkey. After about a year to a year and a half of preteam, her group started competing at old L5.

Just based on my experience, I'd be more concerned about the lack of flexibility you mentioned than the missing skills. Skills can be taught . . .
 

coachmolly

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That list is a bit of a stretch for most of our girls, but we do Xcel only, so a little more laid back. The levels before pre-team groups come for 1 hour 1, maybe 2, times per week, so not much chance for learning some of those skills. But the expectation is that they will be able to get many, if not most, of the skills you listed pretty quickly once added to the pre-team group.
We don't have specific requirements, mostly just look for strength, flexibility, solid basics, willingness to work, not especially fearful. For our younger pre-team group (6-7 year olds), I look at handstands, cartwheels, bridges, ability on bars- so maybe not having a pullover, but good front support, ability to hold a pull-up position, willingness to jump up on the high beam and walk forward/backward/sideways with no assistance.
No specific requirements for our next level of pre-team (7-10ish) either, but the same basic stuff of strength, flexibility, handstands, bridges, cartwheels. We go a little beyond and also look at things like bridge kickover/backbend/pullover- either that they have them or be really close to it. Though there are always exceptions.
I think sometimes accidents do happen in placing girls on pre-team. I know I have a few who I don't think are going to make it, either fizzle out or just get stuck there indefinitely due to already having fear issues, not really committed to the extra time or work, or just struggling with skills. But with how our program works, there are some deficiencies that just aren't seen before they get to the pre-team groups.
However, I have one girl who was really struggling on pre-team, lagging behind the other kids in skills- though she did work really hard and had a great attitude. We kept plugging along with her and just recently she has had a majorly impressive surge in skills. It just took her 6 months in the pre-team group to get there. She still struggles, especially with bridges (no kickover yet), but is developing her own strengths. I think shoulder flexibility will always be a struggle for her, but it's something she can get by with if we play up her other strengths. So there is hope for some of the kids who seem to struggle!
 

z2akids

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My DD's gymdoesn't have a preteem per se, but they do compete in a local club rec program. Most of our girls move from rec classes to the club league. They compete new L2 and L3.

When my DD was 7, she started in a rec class (never having done gym before) and was asked only a couple of weeks into the season to join the club team. At the time, she had almost none of the skills OP listed for her 7 year old preteam group and only a couple of the younger requirements. What she did have was focus, flexibility, some inate strength and pretty lines (from a couple of sessions of ballet).

She was definitely behind the other girls, but quickly caught up and only 6 months after waking into the gym, she took first AA in old L3 club championships that spring.

If she had to fit these preteam requirements, she likely would never have qualified for team (given her age on starting gym). She is repeating usag L3 this season because she was behind in skills (not s lot of uptraining fir a new girl who started the club team with almost no skills) and, while she was competent last year in new L3, her gym career is going to benefit by a season where she doesn't have to chase skills. Repeating this year means that next year, she will start the season competitively rather than starting begind and slowly rising to the top. In fact she is doing a lot of uptraining this season.

Anyway. Obviously our HC saw something in my DD, or a combination of things that allowed my DD a chance that she might never have received in some other gym. Her HC and the head optionals coach both see a lot of potential in her.
 

Firefly

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At our gym kids are invited to an official pre-team try out once a year. The kids invited are the ones whose rec coaches feel they have the abilities needed for team.
There are usually 40-60 kids at the try out. They go through each event with the team coaches and are tested on strength, flexibility and skills. I don't remember what the exact list of skills would be, but it was essentially what you have listed. A few weeks after the try out ever family gets a letter with a yes or a no. They cap the two pre teams at 8 kids each. So there would be no "placing" of a kid in preteam by a rec coach in our program. I, obviously, don't know what goes into the decision making behind closed doors, but the team coaches collectively make the decisions. It seems unfair that other coaches can simply put a kid into a program where you are expected to train them into team-ready athletes without confirming with anyone that the kid is capable of performing at that level. Because you know there are kids going to become your problem because the parents nagged hard enough....
 

CoachMeg

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Thanks for all the feedback! I guess I should have specified a few things in my original post.
First, the Jr. Pre-Team girls practice 4.5 hours/week
and the regular Pre-Team girls practice 6 hours/week

Also, at our gym, being put into our pre-team program is basically an invite to team. We don't want ANYONE being in pre-team for over a year, we usually move them all up to level 3 in late spring or early summer. Usually the Jr. girls, though, just move up to the regular pre-team; however, we did have 3 girls in the Jr. program last year who moved straight up to level 3 and they're doing really well.

So if I have kids in the group who can't do a handstand,cartwheel, bridge kick over, pullover, etc.......its going to be REALLY hard to get them level 3 ready by spring/summer when they only practice 3 days/week and usually only hit 2 events per practice.

Most of the kids we put into pre-team come from an advanced level of rec. gymnastics (regular pre-team) OR they are doing exceptional in a kindergarten class (for Jr. pre-team)....and to answer @COz question, we don't move any girls who are 4 or JUST turned 5 into the Jr. program. ALL of them are kindergarten or 1st grade. We wouldn't pick any of the pre-K rec. kids to be in the Jr. program just because their bodies aren't ready for the physical strain and demands of that group. So as a kindergardener/1st grader who I'm going to put on pre-team in hopes of them being level 3 ready in 6-12 months, yes, I would like them to be able to bridge and even hold it for 5 seconds. Otherwise the group just gets to0 diverse with what some kids can do and some kids can't do. I'll be wanting to work back-handsprings with two girls...but still working bridges with another 2. See my problem?
 

SurpriseGymMom

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We have two "pre-teams": the younger developmental group is more TOPs oriented and we expect the kids to be in that generally 1-2yrs before going into team, and then (if all goes as planned) we prefer that they go straight into L4.
The other track is for the older gymnasts and we the preference is for them to join L3 training group and as quickly as possible move to the competing group.

For our developmental group the requirements are:
*show good handstand hold
*decent cartwheels both ways
*rope climb with feet to 12ft
*walking on high beam with no assistance, as fearless as possible
*at least a pullover! preferably a BHC
* showing a good straddle hold (beginning of press to handstand)
*at least one full leg lift
* splits somewhat close
* most importantly: show good focus and effort!!!

Our developmental group is divided into skill levels and the girls move through based on their accomplishments, not time spent in the group. Some girls go straight to team after a shorter time, some go through the entire level system in this group and then end up going to TOPs testing group (as well as competing JO). Our focus is TOPs training and conditioning to build strength and form, and then it's easier for them to get the necessary skills like walkovers, BHS, kips etc.
We work all those skills too of course, but with the added focus on TOPs training.

We also recruit older girls from the advanced rec classes into our older pre-team group (L3), they don't get the benefit of going through the developmental group so their skill levels needed are a bit higher but strength requirements lower.
 
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vagymmomma

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Our old gym invited girls from classes or camps based on what the coaches saw. It definitely wasn't all skill based. Mine had a pullover before being invited to join pre-team, but she wasn't even close on the bridge kickover. She's now competing L9 so shoulder flexibility isn't everything (though I firmly admit good shoulder flexiblity would make a lot of things easier).

Probably just as important as the physical skills are a gymnast's focus and dedication. Not sure how you test that except based on class participation. The girls on DD's preteam who had the easiest time with the skills are no longer in the sport. They couldn't handle it when it required more work.
 

Amber

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At our gym, we have a completely different system. No preteam. No tryouts. What happens is every spring, each coach from rec gives a recommendation to the team HC of their top 10% girls. This is from beginning to advanced rec, ages 3-10. The HC sends out invites to the the 10% inviting them for a team placement evaluation. Then HC evaluates them: do they have splits, bridges,straight legs, etc. Only turns and leaps are evaluated on beam. Bars evaluation is regarding casts, pull overs and hip circles. Then HC sorts out kids by fears: who is willing to try a handspring or other new skill with a spot from a coach. Of course, the tiny ones have age appropriate challenges.
Two weeks later, each girl evaluated receives their placement: level 1-3, or excel bronze, silver. They attend an information mtg detailing hours, costs, etc.
Numbers wise: 50 girls invited per spring. 25 show up for evaluation. 15 join team. They have the summer to adjust, and are sometimes moved levels. Comp season starts Nov.

According to some of the posts here, my DD, level 7, would not have made pre team 3 years ago. She did not have a handstand on beam, nor a bridge kick over. She did have strength and all 3 splits. She did get manage to get all the skills she needed by comp season.. And she has been a consistent top scorer through the levels every year, every event.

So it is possible to be successful starting as a blank slate:)!
 

coachmolly

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I can totally see the dilemma is you want them to be meet ready in 6-12 months. That would require a slightly higher skill set, especially if you have an advanced rec class that is working towards those skills. And while I could see reason to make exceptions periodically, I think a set list does help to keep things in order for the most part- lets other coaches know what to look for and gives you an easy response when Suzy's mom wants to know why she wasn't invited.
I really do feel your pain, our head coach is really into numbers and keeps throwing kids at me for my pre-team groups, sight unseen. Some work out, some are a flop, and some ultimately work out but require a ton of extra effort on my part and take away from the other kids. It's really frustrating. I essentially have 2 sub-groups in my pre-team right now with very different skill sets.
 
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momof2gymmies

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Our gym starts competing JO level 4. To be placed on preteam the kids must be 5 or 6. My girls were both too old, so they went the xcel route. To get invited to Xcel tryouts they had to have a back hand spring on floor, handstand and cartwheel on beam, be able to go the L3 vault, and have a pullover, back hip circle and pretty good cast on bars. I don't know what the JO preteam needs, other than age. They are pulled from the little kid rec classes.
 

CoachMeg

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I can totally see the dilemma is you want them to be meet ready in 6-12 months. That would require a slightly higher skill set, especially if you have an advanced rec class that is working towards those skills. And while I could see reason to make exceptions periodically, I think a set list does help to keep things in order for the most part- lets other coaches know what to look for and gives you an easy response when Suzy's mom wants to know why she wasn't invited.
I really do feel your pain, our head coach is really into numbers and keeps throwing kids at me for my pre-team groups, sight unseen. Some work out, some are a flop, and some ultimately work out but require a ton of extra effort on my part and take away from the other kids. It's really frustrating. I essentially have 2 sub-groups in my pre-team right now with very different skill sets.
Thank you for understanding! My HC and Assistant HC are all about the numbers, too. We have a total of about 25 pre-team kids between the two groups and at least 5 of them do not belong at all. It's just frustrating because I feel like ANY child between the ages of 5-10 that has a parent interested in pre-team gets put straight into the group....regardless of skill level. And then I have to be the bad guy who either gets on the child constantly in an effort to catch them up or has to recommend a different class to the parent. UGH. As the main compulsory (levels 3-5) coach and pre-team director, it's just so frustrating when I have this group who's skill level is all over the place. Especially when I have a vision of where they need to be for level 3 since I coach it!

So basically I feel like anyone that shows interest in team can be in the pre-team group as long as they're between the ages of 5-10. Then I have to be the bad guy during the entire process of constantly correcting them because of their inexperience...and then once they move up to team their poor scores are going to reflect me as a coach and be a bad experience for the kid when they really had no business being in pre-team from the beginning!

I'm not even kidding, just last week the HC put a 10 yr old girl into the pre-team program. She is VERY tall and has little to NO flexibility. Cannot do a solid bridge because she also has no shoulder flexibility. Bent legs in cartwheels and scared of handstands on a low beam even with spot.......and he expects me to get her to be competing level 3 in 12 months!

Sorry for venting...just frustrated and overwhelmed.
 
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