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Talent!

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dannolynn

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I have seen a lot of posts that mention a gymnast's talent. Well, you hear about talent when mentioning lots of endeavors, not just gymnastics, but anyway...

Sometimes I am confused about what exactly "talent" is. Is it good form? Body or air awareness? Good control? Natural strength or flexibility? Style? Getting skills really quickly? All of the above? Does it look different at different ages?

How would YOU define talent?
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
I would go with...all of the above? Personally I find I label a gymnast as 'talented' in my head when they can take a correction and make a change to the skill they're working on. Verbal, spotted, whatever. If they can grasp it and have the ability to change what they're doing for the better in 3-5 tries that's good. If they come back and their skill reflects they remember and perform that skill as good as their best at the last workout and are ready to move on or improve from there I'd call that talent. I value consistency very highly, but to have that combined with the ability to adapt and change is real command over oneself physically. Age and skill level matter too, I wouldn't define talent as moving beyond their skill level so much as attention to detail with whatever skill currently has their attention.
 
Apr 15, 2009
94
Washington State
I like what Linsul said. Some people are born with a "natural" talent that helps them exceed in gymnastics. Natural strength, natural flexibility and the ability to control their bodies well. I see these kids as talented in so far as they do well in gymnastics but realistically, they often don't have to work hard to get skills,etc That describes my step-daughter to a "T" Not to say she doesn't work hard in training but she very naturally picks up new skills left and right while my daughter is talented in a less obvious way - such as some kids' talent is the ability to learn, focus and persevere. These types of talent are usually also inate to the gymnast as well but just manifest in a different way. I also ma a firm believer that some kids have less "fear" than others or no fear at all when it comes to throwing their bodies over vaults, beams, bars and floors - that lack of fear helps them do the skills that others might hesitate about - again, my step-daughter and daugher are perfect examples of this. My daughter sometimes lets her fear overcome her and holds her back when trying to "go big" on beam,etc. But, she is a great gymnast! :) I feel that anybody that is on a competitive gymnastics team is talented! :)
 

NotAMom

Active Member
May 27, 2009
894
Region 6 (Northeast)
How about only in a few words... (partially stolen from someone else here)

- fast learning (knowledge absorption)
- knowledge retention
- adequate execution (not necessarily perfect)
- easy to train
- adaptable to anything new
- flexible with unexpected changes

In my mind, one cannot be deemed talented (in any matter) without any of the above. Notice attitude (and showmanship in many cases) don't come in play here.
 
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Sarah_Rose

Guest
Along with the physical abilities, I think that a gymnast's drive plays a large role as well, at least in self-developing talent.

After all, what is a talent for, but to use it?
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Jan 21, 2007
4,120
Baltimore, MD
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USA
There are a lot of different elements of gymnastic talent. There are the physical aspects, such as natural strength, flexibility, and body control. The ability to make corrections easily, the ability to feel precisely what your body is doing and when.

There are also psychological aspects; your ability to deal with fear, your ability to mentally break down a skill and focus on the individual components, the ability to quickly and easily get a handle on where you are in the air while flipping and twisting (this last one doesn't even come into play at the lower levels)

It is easily possible (and in fact quite common) for a kid to have some of these attributes but not all. This is why you get kids who are very strong on one or two events and weak on the others; they will excel at the events that play to their natural strengths.
 
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emacmommy

Guest
Yes, I agree with all said above. I'll sum it up into even fewer words...

Three types of talent:

Talent of mind (ability to think, reason, understand corrections, etc)
Talent of body (naturally coordinated, flexible, strong)
Talent of spirit (dedicated, motivated, self driven)

The total TALENT PACKAGE of elite type athletes is well roundedly talented.
 
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dannolynn

Guest
Do you think if you're naturally strong and flexible and have good body control that that automatically means you will get skills quickly?
 
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CoachGoofy

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Do you think if you're naturally strong and flexible and have good body control that that automatically means you will get skills quickly?

...to a point. There's also that whole fear, self trust, and taking corrections thing.
 

GikiGirl

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Feb 21, 2009
372
Region 6
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USA
I think a lot of talent in gymnastics is learning faster than average...like, if 'normally' a level 7 is, say 10, a talented kid (relatively) will be doing level skills at age 7 (assuming the gymnast started early enough). Also, just 'getting' skills without necessarily being coached. Like, the first few times they are allowed to try something into the pit, say, its already great. Gymnasts who can learn by playing pretty easily. Also gymnasts who never have to think about straight legs/pointed toes, they just do it automatically. I don't think just being strong flexible and spacially aware = get skills. Sometimes too old bad habits learned at a gym where the coaching wasn't as good can be a problem. Certain things like power for vault and massive bodyweight strength and great swing for bars are hard to teach and come slow or not at all even when worked hard on. Think of how to teach Nastia to vault like Mary Lou, or Mary Lou to swing bars like Nastia. They are more talented in their respective strengths, and you just recognize it when you see it.
 

gymjoy

Member
Jan 31, 2009
410
I only agree with the fast learning in part. I know plenty of talented gymnast who are late bloomers - my daughter included. Often we as a society equate talent with the early acquisition of skills or knowledge. This is not always the case. My daughters elementary school tested for their gifted and talented program in 1st grade. I declined her to be tested because I thought it was silly to test so young. I do not deny that a few of the kids test were truely gifted and talented. However, many were not - they just knew how to focus and follow directions to past the test. Two years later my dd was wondering why she was not in the G&T program, but was in the highest math while many of the G&T students were below her.
Same thing with gymnastics. A girl on her level 5 team got skills easily. She received more attention and up-training from the coaches. She was very focused and a good listener. She always did exactly what she was told by the coaches. A coaches dream, I imagine. But as she was asked to learn harder and harder skills, it became harder and harder for her too learn them. She became frustrated as the "less talented" gymnast caught up and passed her. She eventually quit.
Certainly there are the phenom gymnast that learn quickly at a young age and hang in there through the long haul, but they are not the only talented ones. Sometimes talent in just beneath the surface waiting for the right time to emerge. A good coach will spot this and nurture it. Other coaches at my dd old gym would tell me to keep encouraging dd, one day she would be the girl to beat. Her dance coach especially saw talent simmering in her when her gym coach dismissed and ignored her. When we moved we landed at gym that practically specializes in nurturing the unseen talents. They can and have taken average compulsory gymnast and turned them into awesome optional and elite gymnast.
For gymnastics natural physical talent is important. It is rounded out by mental and emotional maturity. When they come together it's fireworks!
 
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Mack_the_Ripper

Guest
As a L5 gymnast, I see talent in attention to form (that's me!), good movement and body awareness (understanding how a skill feels and being able to replicate it), and dedication (driving yourself even if no one else is pushing you).

I know that I do not get skills as quickly as some girls which is partly due to fear because I am older and have a different body awareness, but also to inability to "find" the feeling of the correctly done skill. However, once I get that feeling I can usually replicate it: after I made my first kip, it was not a problem to begin making them consistently and in a row. This has been the case with most skills except side-ways moving skills on beam (cartwheel and CW-HS dismount).
 

dmytv

Coach
Coach
Nov 17, 2009
258
region 8
I am gonna go with drive above all else. I have seen very skilled gymnasts get burnt out driven out or thrown out and I have seen talentless gymnasts suddenly after a horrible lv5 season pull somethin out of the water and become a level 7 in the spring and go to nationals the next yr. They above all else must want it more than anything. More than boys more than parties more than breathing...Gynastics must be their life
 

tough gymnast

Member
Dec 29, 2009
83
minnesota
i would like to add to everything else ok


so it also means that they are good at skills


like this is my first year of highschool gymnastics and i came from the rec classes and i am just as good if not better as the girls that have been on team and going three or more days a week compared to me with one day a week i don't mean to brag at all but people say that i have talent because i'm just as good as everyone else :D
 
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LasswadeCoach

Guest
Talent to me is a natural flare for the sport

Its that kid who can swing on the bar 10 times higher than anyone else, without any effort.

Or a girl who can tumble so high from a step or jump, where as girls who run still cant achieve her height.

Talent can also mean natural strength or flexibility

Ive had kids walk in the door able to do 10chin ups, get down in side splits and climb a rope -- Thats talent.
 
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dannolynn

Guest
thanks for the responses everyone. i started this post awhile ago, and there have been a lot of interesting things you all mentioned. after hearing all the definitions of talent, i think i can pretty definitively say i don't have talent! :) maybe if i could go for a few months without being injured i could be in the gym long enough to find out, but that's not looking likely!
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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We look first for body size and body shape. To develop an elite gymnast this is very important, just a a 5 foot tall kid will struggle to succeed on an elite basketball team, so will a 6 foot tall girl struggle to succeed on an elite gymnastics team. That is not to say that kids without the ideal body shape can't be successful competitive gymnasts but to allow them to succeed you wouldn't out them in the elite stream.

We also look for

*Natural strength, coordination and flexibility.
*Lots of energy (usually too much energy is great)
*Drive and desire to always be testing the body and trying new things
 
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