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Genetics vs. Training

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Muddlethru

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How does one ascertain, or can one ascertain, whether it is genetics or training that is limiting a gymnast's progress? Many gymnasts (including elites) switch gyms because they believe their training is not getting them to the true potential. Some were right and some where wrong. For the average gymnast, who does not train at an elite gym with elite coaches, is there a way to determine if you've reached your potential with a coach or that the coach has not or is not capable of tapping into that potential?
 

GetaGrip

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Jun 26, 2009
570
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I recently moved to a better gym for a very similar reason. Honestly, I would have left a lot sooner had I recognized that I couldn't learn anything at my old gym anymore.

It's pretty hard to find the signs, but really I'd just look out for plateau's, especially if you are strong/brave enough to learn new skills.

As far as genetics go, I personally believe that most people (given the right coaching) can at least advance into the higher optional levels in gymnastics.

Maybe this is just me, but I feel that it is very rare for a gymnast to quit because of unfixable issues with their body (of course excluding injuries, but those aren't genetic).

There are good coaches, and not so good coaches. Some coaches work better with other gymnasts than others. If a gymnast feels that they aren't being adequately coached, they have the right to at least explore their options. After all, if you're going to pay over $400 a month to do gymnastics, you should at least go to the right place :)
 
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dunno

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good post ^^^but want to clarify that some injuries can be genetic based.:)
 

iwannacoach

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I have a recurring genetics ^^^^ based injury. It comes in the form of a bruise that appears after I smack myself in the forehead and chant the phase...stupid, stupid, stupid. ;)
 
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dunno

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my forehead doesn't bruise anymore. it's flat and no longer has a blood supply...:)
 
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CoachGoofy

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Maybe this is just me, but I feel that it is very rare for a gymnast to quit because of unfixable issues with their body (of course excluding injuries, but those aren't genetic).
Some injuries are genetically based...the ones that go with the various genetic hypermobilities, for instance.
 

Coloradogymmie

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Aug 5, 2012
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We are lucky where we are. My dd has pretty tight shoulders and she is still in the top pre team group. They have a few different levels for her age, which she could have easily been placed in. She is working with a physical therapist and slowly is increasing her flexibility. I hope that in 6-8 months she will be spot on. It's interesting because she has a beautiful backwalkover and ROBS and is a little further ahead than the rest of her class, despite this. I am really happy with her gym for letting her in the upper program and willing to let her prove herself. Our gym is very well known, but still has a family atmosphere;so she has a great chance to work hard a advance as far as she wants. Some other gyms might not be that understanding.
 

iwannacoach

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Let's say you can look at a group of kids on any given team and compare one child to the other (no not publicly), with both kids having been in competitive gymnastics, or better still on the same team for the same period of time. More often than not, you'll see one with better skills, execution, and scores than the other. Now do the same thing with every child with the same experience level. If you see kids with the same number of years, they should be at the same level, except for those with frequent or a singular major injury.

If all things are equal (excluding minor age differences) you can guess that the child at the top has at least equal ability as the others, and the kid at the bottom has no more than the rest of the group. If one child distinguishes themselves by doing well on skills the others haven't started, or is more polished and able to compete one level up, you can assume that natural ability has something to do with her good fortune.

As far as reaching your potential with a coach, it's an either/or situation. A coach with good gymnastics intuition, who has the time and equipment resources, and a desire to provide what each kid needs, can keep up with a natural talent....up the point where the skills are going beyond what a "typical" level 10 would be working. Or....The kid learns faster than the coach is able.....or the kid has a goal that goes beyond the gym's "mission statement", such as the elite program with a dash of national team ambitions.

Kids who's natural abilities exceed the coach's, that possess an uncommon work ethic, will be leaps and bounds ahead of their teammates. When this happens you have to cater to the kid's goals and work ethic by finding a training situation that has a realistic chance of helping them get to where they want to be.

As an example.......I had a kid who's mother sent her to my gym for a 2 week evaluation in the hope that I could advise her on a course of action......stay at the current gym, or switch to a gym that could help her throughout the rest of her career. This kid wanted to train to become an elite, and had even dreamed aloud to her mother about being on the national team. This amounts to a "goal jump" of three levels, as her abilities at the time would have her competing and setting goals as a level 7, well almost level 7 because it was off season and kids usually progress a bit....

So you can't just take a look at a kid and use their current skills to choose a training situation for them, because if they have natural ability in any measure, work their tails off to the point the coach is leaning towards stopping them before they spontaneously combust, and have lots of desire.......they will quickly catch up and excell in any program.

I remember telling this girls mother that in two weeks with her dd I was able to get an overwhelming sense of her desire, work ethic, and a noticed a fair amount of "natural ability". I shared with them my view into her future......a very likely elite gymnast, an almost certain college scholarship, and a shred of a chance to brush up against the national team. I pretty much "nailed it" on two of my visions, but was off course about the national team......well two out of three isn't bad.

My advice for her was to switch to another gym with a proven track record of training elites, and the sooner the better. I offered and was hoping to have her train in my program, but she ended up doing exactly what I've already said, and switch to the one of those gymnastic nivana programs (RATS!!!!) where she quickly adjusted to the program and did really well, great actually.

As for me......I can only look back fondly on the entire episode, and wonder how I could be so far off on the guess about a possibility of her "brushing up against" the national team program. I missed it, but have no regrets when I consider thet I was wrong in the right direction, and she boldly made the national team rather than just brushing up against it.....and not just kinda-sorta.

Moral of the story......Aim high, and let your kids do more than dream.
 
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Muddlethru

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Thanks for all the posts above. They have all been helpful. After I posted the question, I realized it may have been a loaded question with many possibilities and variables. Since my daughter was Level 5 I've had concerns about the coaching in her gym. The ratio of gymnasts to coaches seemed too large. As an 8 year old Level 5, they were left pretty much on their own for the first half of their practice. They did their exercises on their own. At 8, without any coach watching, they constantly cheated on their exercises. In spite of that my daughter has done well. She is the strongest performer in our team. The only one that qualified for TOPS National testing as a 9 and 10 year old, but never made team. Always places in the top three at our meets. But we also only go to small meets where the coach feels our team will do well. As a Level 8, she was the only one that qualified to regionals. She placed 2nd aa but it was in the All Star team. She is the only one that can hold a handstand, climb the rope all the way to the top without legs and on the horizontal, half leg lifts or any strenghtening exercise or drills. Most telling is our entire team, even in small meets, almost always place in the bottom 3rd, with MAYBE 2 or three end up in the top 3rd, including me daughter. Now as an 11 year old L9, I feel she does NOT seem to be getting stronger. She was strongest when coach was getting her ready for testing. Now that is over, she is back to the teams regular exercises.

In comparing our team with other teams, my husband pointed out teams where the gymnasts have a unifying quality clearly evidencing coaching. We've observed teams where the entire teams are all uniformly strong, similar forms, with maybe two or three scoring better than the rest. If you watch our team, the strength, form, skill level, execution, of each gymnast in the same level vary greatly and look pretty poor. To further clarify, WOGA gymnasts have been refered to as WOGAbots. The fact that they look all alike is evidence to me of the coaching.

I will say the head coaches do focus a lot of their attention on my daughter. So they acknowledge she is progressing faster than the rest and are putting forth the effort But when our head coach came up to me last year and said it puzzled her how some teams practice 4 to 5 hours a day, I felt that was telling. Our L7-L10 practice 15 hours a week, 3 hours a day. She said she did not know what else to add to practice to extend it. I am not a coach and know nothing about tumbling, but I could have thought of more strengthening exercises, drills and many things I could add to improve performance.

It is easy to blame the coaches for deficiencies in our daughter"s progress. It may be the pool of gymnasts the coaches are working with. I've been troubled by what I think is coaching deficincies in my daughter's gym. Then it came to me, what if it is my own daughter's limitations?
 

Seeker

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Level 8 training only 15 hours a week seems low to me. Maybe it's a combination of coaching, non-efficient practices, poor feedback from coach-to-gymnast, etc. Sound like it could be all of those things. Yes, all gymnasts have limitations, but there has to be a balance of effort, desire and determination on the gymnasts part and all the other things that make up a good coach on the other. If some of those are missing (on either side), then the result will not be as good as it could be.
 
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