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TOPs or no TOPs that is the question

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bogwoppit

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Okay this will be the spin off from the TOPs camp thread for all those who wish to discuss, politely, the various ideas on TOPs. Please keep this discussion here, the other one was going too far off topic.

So here are some questions to lead the discussion, answer any or all of them. Or even ask more questions.

1. How many girls that have competed internationally for the USA have tested TOPs and attended TOPs camps.

2. How many high level gyms, as in gyms with current and past elites, do not use the TOPs testing.

3. Do you think that making a TOPs camp, A or B, is an indicator of future success?

4. Do you think training TOPs style skill has a benefit to the general gymnast, regardless of her path or goals?
 

Muddlethru

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I think we can all agree that having participated in the TOPS program (or any USAG sponsored developmental camp) is no indicator of future success as a gymnast. Coming from a small gym whose coaches may not be Olympic caliber coaches, the benefit of participating in these camps can be significant. Having world class coaches work with you certainly has its benefits. Being considered one of the top young athletes can also boost their confidence. The exposure to these top athletes and the national coaches can have significant benefit to a gymnast coming from a small inexperienced gym. As indicated on the website, One of TOPS main objectives is to find young talented athletes that may not have the same superior coaching as the bigger more high level gygms and train and educate both the athlete and the coach. The bigger more successful gyms don't need to participate because they already have experienced, top coaches. In addition, just to be considered a member of a "national" albeit TOPS is good to have in your resume. It is an accomplishment whether you further your career in gymnastics or not. I think for small gyms, it is a good thing. For the gyms like WOGA or Geddert's, it may not be that beneficial.
 
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PureTalent

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I think we can all agree that having participated in the TOPS program (or any USAG sponsored developmental camp) is no indicator of future success as a gymnast. Coming from a small gym whose coaches may not be Olympic caliber coaches, the benefit of participating in these camps can be significant. Having world class coaches work with you certainly has its benefits. Being considered one of the top young athletes can also boost their confidence. The exposure to these top athletes and the national coaches can have significant benefit to a gymnast coming from a small inexperienced gym. As indicated on the website, One of TOPS main objectives is to find young talented athletes that may not have the same superior coaching as the bigger more high level gygms and train and educate both the athlete and the coach. The bigger more successful gyms don't need to participate because they already have experienced, top coaches. In addition, just to be considered a member of a "national" albeit TOPS is good to have in your resume. It is an accomplishment whether you further your career in gymnastics or not. I think for small gyms, it is a good thing. For the gyms like WOGA or Geddert's, it may not be that beneficial.
Extremely well said!! I agree to every word you said. :) thanks! :D
 

txgymfan

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Here is another question

What are the benefits to the gym and athletes from a top level gym to participate in TOPS?
What high level gyms do TOPS and why?
Texas Dreams has athletes every year that make the TOPS teams. How is it beneficial to their athletes and coaches?
 
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JessLW

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Here is another question

What are the benefits to the gym and athletes from a top level gym to participate in TOPS?
What high level gyms do TOPS and why?
Texas Dreams has athletes every year that make the TOPS teams. How is it beneficial to their athletes and coaches?
Just a thought, but maybe they go in part so that they can check out the up and coming talent? On a different thread a member talks about how her daughter was scouted by several elite gyms while at TOPS testing. Maybe for elite gyms that aren't household names like WOGA, going to TOPS testing is a good way to scout for potential recruits and get their name out there to people with talented young kids.

I don't know though. Back when I was a competing gymnast there was no TOPS program. It started around the time I quit, I think, and I remember thinking it was a pretty good idea. I do think there are benefits to being exposed to top coaches, to meeting other talented gymnasts, and I am sure the coaches who participate in the camps learn a lot too. TOPS is probably more beneficial for girls from small programs than it is for girls from the big name gyms but I am sure all the girls get something out of it so it isn't a total waste of time even for girls who regularly train with top coaches. I think once you get up to upper levels too, you are more and more likely to be one of the few girls at your age/level in the gym, so I am sure TOPS can be a bit of a bonding experience for some of the very talented young gymnasts.
 

sally

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Do you think the tops program has helped the USA in becoming the world's best in gymnastics? You guys must be doing something right over there.
 
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Granny Smith

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Do you think the tops program has helped the USA in becoming the world's best in gymnastics? You guys must be doing something right over there.
Honestly, no I don't think it has helped. Tops is an identifier. At very young ages it proves a gymnasts is strong and flexible. At a slightly older age it shows that the girls have skills. It does not show if these skills can be put into routines, it just shows that the gymnast can do skills. Once a gymnast becomes a higher level gymnast or elite, they all have the skills regardless and it's not just from tops. All of the girls at tops, not one of them have gone through puberty. No one knows what they are really going to be like when they hit elite age. Are they going to outgrow the bar setting? Will their more mature bodies hold out from all the pounding? Will they even want to do gymnastics anymore in 5 yrs, remember these are girls who are 11 and under!

As for doing something right over here, well ya this year we have but honestly this is only the 3rd time an American has won the AA. It's not like we have dominated for years. We are contenders, but so are other countries. Maybe we do so well year-to-year because how huge our country is and our selection pool is so much great then other countries. I don't know, but in my opinion I believe that tops is not what put us where we are on the international scene. I believe that the number of girls that are on the National team that did tops is far, far less than the number of girls who did.
 
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NGL780309

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Honestly, no I don't think it has helped. Tops is an identifier. At very young ages it proves a gymnasts is strong and flexible. At a slightly older age it shows that the girls have skills. It does not show if these skills can be put into routines, it just shows that the gymnast can do skills. Once a gymnast becomes a higher level gymnast or elite, they all have the skills regardless and it's not just from tops. All of the girls at tops, not one of them have gone through puberty. No one knows what they are really going to be like when they hit elite age. Are they going to outgrow the bar setting? Will their more mature bodies hold out from all the pounding? Will they even want to do gymnastics anymore in 5 yrs, remember these are girls who are 11 and under!

As for doing something right over here, well ya this year we have but honestly this is only the 3rd time an American has won the AA. It's not like we have dominated for years. We are contenders, but so are other countries. Maybe we do so well year-to-year because how huge our country is and our selection pool is so much great then other countries. I don't know, but in my opinion I believe that tops is not what put us where we are on the international scene. I believe that the number of girls that are on the National team that did tops is far, far less than the number of girls who did.
Agree with everything you said, but with a small correction. It is not only the 3rd time an American has won the AA.

1991 Kim Zmeskal
1993, 1994 Shannon Miller
2004 Carly Patterson
2005 Chellsie Memmel
2007 Shawn Johnson
2008 Nastia
2009 Bridget Sloan
2011 Weiber

Am I missing anyone else? I think the USA's success is mostly due to lack of competition around the world compared to how it was 20 years ago.
 

chalkbowl

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Let's take a look at the national teams and their TOPS Experiences...

Senior National Team:
Rebecca Bross
Bridgette Caquatto
Mackenzie Caquatto
Jessie DeZiel
Gabrielle Douglas- TOPS Team 2004, 2005, 2006
Brandie Jay
Shawn Johnson
Anna Li
McKayla Maroney
Grace McLaughlin
Chellsie Memmel- TOPS Team 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
Hallie Mossett- TOPS Team 2003, 2004, 2005
Alexandra Raisman- TOPS Team 2005
Alicia Sacramone- TOPS Team 1998
Bridget Sloan
Sabrina Vega
Jordyn Wieber- TOPS Team 2002, 2004, 2005
McKenzie Wofford- TOPS Team 2003, 2005, 2006

Junior Team
Kennedy Baker- TOPS Team 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Brianna Brown
Madison Desch
Brenna Dowell
Sarah Finnegan
Amelia Hundley- TOPS Team 2007, 2008
Bailie Key
Katelyn Ohashi
Elizabeth Price- TOPS Team 2005, 2006
Lexie Priessman- TOPS Team 2006, 2007, 2008
Kyla Ross
Mykayla Skinner
Kiana Winston
 
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Granny Smith

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Your right NGl - brain fart on my part. Still don't think we're all that and a bag of chips... I think we share the chips with other countries and it's anyone's game year-to-year! :)
 
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chalkbowl

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Granny Smith: You were probably thinking the number three as this was the third time we (Team USA) have won team at the World Championships :) 2003, 2007, and 2011 :)
 

Muddlethru

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When my daughter first qualified for national testing as a 9 year old but did not make the team, her coaches said at least she is now in their system. I think the benefit for larger more nationally accredited gyms to have their elite bound gymnast participate in TOPS is that so their gymnast meets the national level coaches, judges and/or national staff. There is something to be said (perks etc.) with starting a relationship that early on. Shawn Johnson's gym submitted a video to Marta Karolyi so that she may be invited to developmental camps. Until then, she was below the radar and nobody knew her. But I guess Chow's gymnastics had to get her recognized by the national staff. I would also think gymnastics is not without its set of popularity contest.

As we all probably know by now, there are no guarantees in gymnastics. ALL the stars have to be aligned to make it to the highest level gymnastics. So, an extremely smaller than small percent make it to the top (70,000 gymnasts in the US and only 5 make it to the Olympics, EVERY 4 YEARS!). So to look at only national/olympic gymnasts history with TOPS may not be a good assessment of its success as a program. How about those that have had successful and satisfying careers no matter what level. Those that have turned out to be stronger and more skillful gymnasts. TOPS has its benefits but it is not a necessity by any means nor is it an indicator of who will be successful. A top coach once told me, in her gym the most successful gymnasts (received best schorlarships, won most meets) were those that did not make TOPS. That is of course her gym's experience and I am sure there are as many other gyms who have had the opposite experience.
 
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I don't really think we can decide whether or not the TOPs program is a good thing just by looking at what gyms test TOPs. What I would love to know is how many gyms incorporate the principles of TOPs training into their programs. I'm willing to bet that there are a lot of gyms that basically train TOPs, but it's just a normal part of training instead of a separate thing with a label (which I'm sure is how it works at big gyms like WOGA). But then again, the idea that sufficient time should be spent on good strength, flexibility, and basic skills isn't exactly exclusive to TOPs...Sorry, not sure what point I'm trying to make--mostly just thinking out loud :rolleyes:
 

gymmomtoo

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I agree that TOPs is a good way to get noticed by the National staff--something you want, if your daughter wants to go Elite. Our gym used to test TOPs (my own daughter did too--didn't make any team, but just the work-outs for testing helped her a ton!).
 
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bribri514

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I did and I didn't do TOPS as a kid. Our gym didn't have a separate TOPs group or extra hours for TOPs girls. We had a small team program and we all did the relatively same training. We do have girls do TOPs testing though because the conditioning our gym does the same things stressed in TOPs normally without having us stay extra time.

I made it to TOPS national testing (not the team, sorry for confusion earlier, sometimes I still use the wrong english terms lol!) in 1998 I think. It was the year before everything moved to the Ranch so I was super bummed about that. It was fun testing onto the team and getting a t-shirt and traveling for all the testing. It was a really great life experience. Other than that did I learn anything that was integral to me being a successful optional and college level gymnast? Absolutely not.

That said, will I support my niece testing TOPs. Yep! It's fun for kids (well ideally it should be), stresses that conditioning is important to gymnastics. But would I ever sign her up for a "special" TOPS group, paying more money for her to train more hours a week than a 9 year old ever should? No no no. A good gym should have TOPs skills in their regular conditioning program. In my experience the gyms who use it that way are just trying to get money. A lot of the TOPs hype is marketed to parents who are told it's correlated with elite gymnastics and these poor parents, without knowing better, push and push their kiddos into TOPs. The gyms who put their elementary school aged kids in 25 hour a week training groups for "TOPS" are ridiculous and are setting girls up for burn out.

So TOPS is a good program! But it's been taken way way out of control in my opinion and based on my experiences, it only hurts young gymnasts this way (and makes some gym owners much richer!)
 
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bookworm

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When the TOPS program was first created, its mission was to identify girls with talent who "might" want the elite path and weren't at a gym with an elite program (per se) and train those coaches on how to coach an elite, and still keep them in their homes and home gyms. That's why you don't (or shouldn't) see gyms like WOGA or Gedderts or All Olympia doing TOPS because their coaches already know how to train Elites. Why programs like Parketts, Cincinatti Gymnastics and Texas Dreams continue to do TOPS is beyond me because these gyms have established records in elite training so I don't think the added expense of a TOPS program (for the gymnast's family) would be necessary and they could just incorporate TOPS into the training.

My daughters did TOPS and made TOPS teams and seemed to enjoy it. Was it beneficial to them? To a certain extent , I think it was, they have great basics which have helped them immensely but again when we were doing TOPS , we were at a smaller gym without an established elite program so I think it was a help to the coaches as well.
 
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