Welcome to our Gymnastics Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

Planning for gymnasts

Status
Not open for further replies.

blantonnick

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Judge
Club Owner
Apr 17, 2007
174
USA
I feel many times coaches are very good at teaching gymnasts new skills and working routine construction, however, lack the very important skill of peaking gymnasts at the right time for competitions. Recently completing my high performance qualification in the UK I had to come up with a year plan for an elite level gymnast. This plan involved the day to day forecasting, goal setting and structure of workouts. Having drawn upon my own personal experience and coaching suggestions from the past, I developed a plan to peak for certain competitions and insert new skills in others. I am looking for any suggestions or feelings towards the process of coaching planning. How many routines, how many elements, when to taper back, when to push forward, weekly microcycles to monthly microcycles etc... Any thoughts or ideas?
 

ACoach78

Coach
Coach
Feb 22, 2007
112
USA
For me, my primary emphasis is proper skill development. If a gymnast is very technically efficient and the skills are "easy" to them, then I don't think that there's a need to do a million routines.

Here in the U.S., our elite kids have to constantly be on their toes to be able to hit routines at a moment's instance because that's the philosophy of Marta Karolyi. I'm not sure if it's a trend that they started, but it's pretty much a mainstay philosophy in Romania in general.

In contrast, when the Soviets were leading the charge, they did a lot less routines and were far superior in terms of technique. So, their gymnasts not only hit their sets, but also were able to really "push the bar" in terms of advancing the sport with bigger, more innovative skills. Meanwhile, the Romanians performed (and continue even still today) pretty much cookie-cutter routines with mediocre technique - especially on bars.

If the Soviet Union had not been dismantled and were not suffering the current economic woes, I believe that they'd still be kicking everybody's butt. Of course, many of their top coaches have migrated to the West because of a better economic situation and way of life. So, their entire system has deteriorated dramatically.

As far as periodization is concerned, I haven't really done a lot on my own. I've worked under people much of the time and watched them screw it up. So, based on my career experiences, I'll offer what I'd do. Simply put, I'd pretty much follow general training principles with respect to volume and intensity. As intensity increases, then volume must decrease. I would define intensity as a progression from individual skills & drills (lower intensity) to doing parts/combinations (medium) to doing full sets onto competition landings (highest intensity). Volume would obviously indicate the number of reps of each skill/drill/combo/routine.

I'd say about 10-12 weeks from a competition, I'd start working more combinations while still spending time on refining old skills and doing drills/progressions for new ones. By about 4-6 weeks out, I'd start doing mostly combinations and a few full sets onto soft landings, with beam pads, etc. The last 2-3 weeks, I'd start doing more full sets onto real competition landings. In keeping with training theory, I'd actually raise the intensity the highest about two weeks out and then taper it the week of the meet so as to hopefully achieve the "supercompensation" effect.

Of course, at this point, if you'd done your job in developing the skills, success is really dependent more upon the mental side than probably the physical and technical.

As far as applying this across the course of an entire season...I'd decide which meets are important and which aren't. Then, follow the same protocol. Start easy and gradually build up. If the intensity gets too high, then pull it back and water-down for an unimportant meet to let the athlete recover both physically and mentally. Then, add back in the more difficult skills when it's time for the big competition.

Anyway, I don't think that it's rocket science. I think that general training theory can be applied very easily to be honest. I think that it's more a matter of coaches keeping their ego in check and not pushing gymnasts too quickly because of their own personal over-zealousness. Furthermore, I don't think that doing a million routines 52 weeks of the year is necessary if the gymnast has proper technical efficiency. At that point, the routines become easy and pretty much second-nature.

So, I guess the moral of the story from my perspective is to spend more time on proper technical prep and less on routines.

Just my two cents.
 

blantonnick

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Judge
Club Owner
Apr 17, 2007
174
USA
Well put, might I suggest an article/webpage to read with some good info to this issue... http://gymnasticszone.com/CoachSystem.htm good article about planning for gymnasts.
I agree that technical preparation is a key element to producing succesful gymnastics. Also remember though that single element training and perfection can only take one so far. Coaches must be very intent on keeping a routine ready level of preparation always. Granted this does depend on what level we are teaching at...at the compulsory level, lots of technical preparation is spot on, however, once into the elite level of competition, planning I think is critical to success.

Arkayev put it an excellent way when he says "It is one thing cooking a meal in a hot kitchen and eating it at the kitchen table with your relatives and friends (technical training). It is quite another using the meal as food at a big banquet with candles and servants, when mistakes in etiquette are not forgiven and open to scrutiny (competitive training). They are both different affairs, but the first is subordinate to the second and done for the latters sake. To fully reproduce conditions of an official banquet in domestic circumstances is impossible. It is just the same when using the pedagogical modelling method (teaching); we need to remember that it is in principle impossible to reproduce fully conditions of competitive activity in training. Artists know that the dress rehearsal can never replace the premiere."

To me that is such a profound statement of why planning is important. Would love to hear some more thoughts about preparation and such, perhaps we can confine it to a high level discussion then a low level discussion...low level first......
 
Status
Not open for further replies.