The dreaded mill circle

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ellabella

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May 26, 2008
176
DD started working on her mill circle on Monday. It's one of those things I see and can't imagine she'll ever get it. The good news is she's only 3 years old so she'll have so many years to get it. Her gym doesn't compete until level 4 and she has a late December birthday so she'll have a long wait.

How long did this skill take your kiddos to master?
 
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ginnymac

Parent/Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Jun 26, 2008
386
Hi, I have been involved in gymnastics for many years (athlete,coach,parent) and beyond just holding herself up in the beginning position for a stride/mill circle, I can honestly say that I have never seen a 3 year old do this skill! Good luck!!:)

This is not typically a preschool skill, although I'm sure that others on the board may have seen a 3yo do it.
 

momof5

Member
Proud Parent
Oct 26, 2007
375
The youngest I have seen work on this skill are some old 4 year olds. It took my dd about 7 months to learn this skill of course she was older at 6-7 years old.
 

gymkat

Active Member
Former Gymnast
Judge
Jun 24, 2008
691
I'm a former L9, current college club gymnast, and to this day, I still don't have a shoot through or mill circle without hooking my knee. :) Some girls pick up mill circles pretty quickly (<3 months), but it takes others much longer (9 months+).
 
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starmaker

Guest
My dd has acquired many skills rather easily. But it took her about 5 months to learn her mill circle. It is the skill she is most proud of because she actually had to work at it. She is 5 years old. Good luck with the evil mill circle!!!
 
The Mill circle was the bain of my DD's existence as a L4. The first thing she did when she came off of the floor at L4 States was pump her fist and shout, "NO MORE FRONT MILL, YES!!"

It took her about 5 months to "get" it, but it was never perfect. Her coaches kept telling her to lock her arms and tighten her tummy towards the end of the circle. It just takes LOTS of practice.

Since your DD is only 3 years old, she has plenty of time to practice and become a pro at it before she competes. Good luck!!
 
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Billy

Guest
Skipping the mill circle was one of the major blessings in DD's skipping up to L5. She never had to do it. Woo hoo!
 

CoachKat

New Member
Oct 27, 2008
40
Colby, Kansas
I have never seen a 3 year old attempt it but I do have a 4 year old who has it down cold. She is absolutly insane on bars. First day of class she could pull herself over from a dead hang. She was to short to touch so she was just hanging and pulled herself right around by the second class she had is with perfectly straight legs and pointy toes. Craziest thing I've ever seen. Also in her first class I asked her to do a back hip circle and helped her one time second time she had it by herself. Since that was all so easy for her we started working Stride (mill) circles. We are 8 weeks in now and she has is down and were working front hip circles. I have never seen a kid take to the bars like her she is amazing.
 

ellabella

Member
May 26, 2008
176
DD is actually on a developmental team not a preschool class so that's why they are working on it. I just posted in preschool because to me she is preschool! She will be 4 very soon. It just seems so difficult and it's hard to imagine she'll ever be able to do it. Like I said they don't compete until level 4 and because of her late birthday she'll be almost 7 before she'll compete because the compulsory season is in the fall. She'll have 3 entire years to learn it. Who knows if she'll even want to do gym 3 years from now.
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
It just seems so difficult and it's hard to imagine she'll ever be able to do it. Like I said they don't compete until level 4 and because of her late birthday she'll be almost 7 before she'll compete because the compulsory season is in the fall.
It is a difficult skill for most & personally, I believe worthless.... maybe they will consider training her for L5 and just let her wait until she turns 7 to compete (if she is still loving the gym at that time). L4 would be a waste of time on your DD in her situation - just my .02 ;)
 

UnoMas

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2008
3,736
Wow...a mill circle at 3:eek:. That's intense! It took my 7 year old 3 months to get it, and she still hooks her leg about 50% of the time. She worked very, very hard on it and continues to. My 4 y.o. is set to join level 2 team in the spring and I dread the day she is a L3 or L4 and has to attempt that thing.

I hate the mill circle!!!!

Good luck to little dd! I am sure she will get it...and like you said she has a LONG while to work on it!
 

gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
It is a difficult skill for most & personally, I believe worthless.... maybe they will consider training her for L5 and just let her wait until she turns 7 to compete (if she is still loving the gym at that time). L4 would be a waste of time on your DD in her situation - just my .02 ;)
Not worthless at all. This is virtually the only skill to introduce alternate grip, requires them to push up off the bar, stop themselves, stay tight through the knees. If it were worthless then it would be easy for most. It's not that hard but there's a learning curve and I've seen it taught in ineffective ways, that is, barely taught and just having the kids attempt it.
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
Not worthless at all. This is virtually the only skill to introduce alternate grip, requires them to push up off the bar, stop themselves, stay tight through the knees. If it were worthless then it would be easy for most. It's not that hard but there's a learning curve and I've seen it taught in ineffective ways, that is, barely taught and just having the kids attempt it.
In this case, this child is very young & has many years to work on her skills, and no time will be wasted. I am sure she is having fun even with an introduction to it. But the mill circle is still not necessary. Many gymnasts did not learn or compete this skill & continued on to do wonderful bars in their gymnastics career. It is still a current required bar skill in the L4 routine, and can be actually quite fun to learn, but it should not hold a child back from continuing onto L5. I think more emphasis and time should be put on learning the kip.

My dd is competing her first season as a L5/6 & has never had to learn it, was never even introduced to the skill, but self taught herself for fun long after she had her kip, free hip etc.
 
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gymnut1

Guest
Not worthless at all. This is virtually the only skill to introduce alternate grip, requires them to push up off the bar, stop themselves, stay tight through the knees. If it were worthless then it would be easy for most. It's not that hard but there's a learning curve and I've seen it taught in ineffective ways, that is, barely taught and just having the kids attempt it.
My gym doesn't use it but I would be interested as a learner coach in any ideas for effective ways to teach it should i want to. I used to love them as a child. I always understood they introduced forwards grip for forwards giants later but i know that can be introduced in different ways.
 

CoachKat

New Member
Oct 27, 2008
40
Colby, Kansas
I really like mill circles because they force the girls to pull their shoulder up over the bar which I feel leads into the front hip circle and they don't even realize it. It require alot of control to stop and hold yourself in a nice mill circle. I know that it is in the opposite grip but I know that in our gym it is nice to have a second beginner element that makes them come around the bar forward and teaches them to pull their shoulders back over the bar. So many of my girls are less scared of this skill than the front hip circle. I think it is all beneficial.
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
"I really like mill circles because they force the girls to pull their shoulder up over the bar which I feel leads into the front hip circle and they don't even realize it. It require alot of control to stop and hold yourself in a nice mill circle. I know that it is in the opposite grip but I know that in our gym it is nice to have a second beginner element that makes them come around the bar forward and teaches them to pull their shoulders back over the bar. So many of my girls are less scared of this skill than the front hip circle. I think it is all beneficial. "

Even it is (and I don't agree that it is) a good skill to train for progression, too much time should not be wasted on the skill if a child or coach wishes to pursue higher levels. I still think that learning a kip is more beneficial. And still say a child should not be held back from L5 simply because they can't master the mill circle. More time should also be spent on strength and flexibility.

I really like the ezine articles posted on gymnastics, and tend to agree with what they have to say - here is one specific to the myths on L4.


Myths About USA Gymnastics Level 4 Gymnasts

Not Originally Designed for Competition
Level 4 is the first official level of compulsory competition in the USA Gymnastics competitive system. The Level 4 vault and bars, beam and floor routines are substantially similar to the routines in the previous 8-year compulsory cycle, which ended in 2005. During that cycle, Level 4 was upgraded to official competition status and gymnasts were allowed to enter official USAG competitions up to the State Championships. But the routines and especially the vault were originally designed simply as training devices, not for competition.

The Level 4 Vault MatYou Don’t Have to Compete Level 4
Another common misconception is that gymnasts are required to compete Level 4 before they can compete in Level 5. There is no Level 4 competitive requirement before you compete in Level 5. The only requirement for Level 5 is that gymnasts must pass a skill evaluation from a skill evaluator with a score of at least 75%. You don’t have to compete Level 4! It is not required!

Level 4 Skills are Almost Never Used at Higher Levels of Competition
Level 4 skills, especially the bar skills are almost never used at the higher optional levels of competition. There are 12 skills in the Level 4 bar routine and none of them are ever used in optional bar routines, except for the casts. On beam and floor, the situation is somewhat better. About half of the skills are direct progressions to more difficult skills that may be used later, but that also means that half of them are not.

The Majority of Level 4 Skills Lead Nowhere
Since the vault, all of the bars skills and about half of the beam and floor skills are not used later at the higher levels of competition, it is obvious that most Level 4 skills are not used ever again in competition.

Level 4 Has Been Watered Down
During the previous 8-year compulsory cycle, Level 4 gymnasts were allowed to attempt to compete a kip on bars. Starting this year, you must be a Level 5 gymnast to do a kip in competition. Level 4 gymnasts no longer need to hit a real cross handstand in the beam routine, only a ¾ handstand. The handstand hold time requirement on the beam dismount is also less than in the last compulsory cycle. In short, USA Gymnastics has made the Level 4 routines easier.

Why?
By now, you must wonder why USA Gymnastics has made all these Level 4 changes. The answer is quite simple and even justifiable. They are trying to make the sport more available to more gymnasts. By lowering the entrance level to competition, more gymnasts may participate in the USA Gymnastics competitive system. This is not necessarily a bad thing for the sport. It increases the financial base of USA Gymnastics and the number of gymnasts competing by a very significant percentage. Some of those gymnasts may eventually rise to the top of the sport.

What Does It All Mean?
But parents and gymnasts should know that there are other paths to becoming a high level gymnast other than competing at Level 4. In fact, most of the gymnasts you see on TV were probably not ever Level 4 gymnasts. If it is your goal to become a high level optional or Elite gymnast, then you should be aware of the other paths that are more likely to make that happen.

Count Out the Years
Really good gyms and training programs create high level optional and Elite gymnasts in 3 – 5 years of daily training. That is fewer years than it would take to move from Level 4 to Level 10 (at one level per year) and they are working on harder skills sooner in their career (which is usually a good thing). For gymnasts on the Level 10/Elite track competing at Level 4 may be a waste of a year of their gymnastics career.

Special Elite Strength and Skill Development Programs Available
Elite and level 10 gymnasts often use programs like the USA Gymnastics TOP program and the USAIGC (United States Association of Independent Gymnastic Clubs) STEP program and competitions or their own version of these types of programs. The TOP and STEP programs both concentrate first on building strength and flexibility and then the teaching of high level optional skill progressions.

TOP and STEP Programs Work for All Gymnasts
The truth is that these type programs that build gymnastics strength and flexibility and work on high level skills and their progressions are really the best training system for all types and levels of gymnasts. It is, however, possible to participate in these programs and compete at a compulsory level to gain competition experience. But by far, it is more important for a gymnast’s career to develop strength, flexibility and begin to train on the appropriate higher-level skill progressions.
 
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Billy

Guest
Count Out the Years
Really good gyms and training programs create high level optional and Elite gymnasts in 3 – 5 years of daily training. That is fewer years than it would take to move from Level 4 to Level 10 (at one level per year) and they are working on harder skills sooner in their career (which is usually a good thing). For gymnasts on the Level 10/Elite track competing at Level 4 may be a waste of a year of their gymnastics career.
This sounds like our gym, or at least the group my DD is training with. They intend to get her training level 7 within one year (she came to them as a L4 last month). Another girl just started gymnastics three years ago at 10 years old. She is now a 13-year-old 8th grader and a level 8 and hoping for a college scholarship in a few years. And they have an 8 year-old who's been on team for two years. She just made the National TOPs team and is training level 7.
 

ellabella

Member
May 26, 2008
176
I would LOVE if DD could skip level 4. I hate watching compulsary meets. I'm sure it's different when it's your own child, but they are just torture. Her gym didn't compete level 4 for many years and just recently started, but some talented kids do skip right to level 5.

It's impossible to predict where she'll be 3 years from now. She doesn't like to go to the gym lately. I don't get it and maybe it's perfectly normal for her age group, but she has a blast at gym, but she always says she doesn't want to go. She whines when I'm getting her ready to go and the whole way there. Then during gym she is having so much fun and she is bouncing off the wall with excitement when we go home. I can't figure out why she always whines about going. She's doing the same thing about ballet and even going to preschool. Anyone gone through this with your preschool aged child?
 
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Billy

Guest
It's impossible to predict where she'll be 3 years from now. She doesn't like to go to the gym lately. I don't get it and maybe it's perfectly normal for her age group, but she has a blast at gym, but she always says she doesn't want to go. She whines when I'm getting her ready to go and the whole way there. Then during gym she is having so much fun and she is bouncing off the wall with excitement when we go home. I can't figure out why she always whines about going. She's doing the same thing about ballet and even going to preschool. Anyone gone through this with your preschool aged child?
I haven't had too much trouble with this but there was a few times last summer when DD complained about going to practice. Turns out she was having to get ready and leave in the middle of some cartoon that she liked watching. I explained to her that tv was last on the priority list and I would never let her skip any activity (gym or anything else) in favor of watching cartoons. It also helps to give them some notice when it's going to be time to leave. This really helps with my youngest son at bedtime. If I just suddenly call for bedtime, he gripes and complains. But if I warn him 10 or 15 minutes early then when I call him for bed, he's ready with no problem.
 
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