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TOPS pragrams?

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TnTTaxi

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Jan 18, 2009
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So, the HC at our gym mentioned that they had been training my dd's class to begin their TOPS pragram. What exactly is that, I know some info but would prefer to ask the professionals(you guys). These girls were hand picked from the gym to start a pre-team program about 2 years ago.

Is it a productive program? What is the point of it?:confused: Thanks
 

Aussie_coach

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It's the talent oppourtunity program. This is a program for identifying talented gymnasts and eveluating their skills and strength and monitoring their progress from the ages of 7-11. To help prepare them to be elite gymnasts. Generally if you child is selected for TOPs it means they have the potential to make it to the elite level and represent the USA in competition. However, not all gyms only choose those kids. They may have 1 or 2 kids with international potential but they put in a lot more kids in order to make the class profitable.

But regardless of if your child has elite potential or not, it is worthwhile training to improve her gymnastics now.

From 7 the girls are tested in strength and flexibility and from 9 they are also tested in basic skills. he top kids are selected to attend a special training camp free of charge to help accelerate their gymastics.
 
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cher062

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This is from USAG site

For women’s gymnastics, the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs) is a nationwide, annual program to identify young gymnasts who have the ability to excel in the sport. More than 3,100 gymnasts participate in state and regional testing, with more than 300 qualifying for national testing based on state and regional scores. State and regional testing is conducted for gymnasts 7-11 years of age, with the 9-11 year olds eligible to advance to national testing. The best 7-and 8-year-olds qualify based on their test scores from state and regional testing, while the 9-11 year olds are named to the team based on national test scores. The TOPs National Team has about 70 gymnasts, approximately 20 gymnasts in each age group.

Our gym offers it to the girl 9 - 11 (competition age not actual age) in our gym the older girls do a different program not sure what they call it but it is similar to the Tops program.
 

mariposa

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Sep 25, 2007
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Here are some threads on it for ya!
http://www.chalkbucket.com/forums/question-answer/14695-tops.html
http://www.chalkbucket.com/forums/question-answer/12349-tops-necessary.html
http://www.chalkbucket.com/forums/question-answer/10849-what-exactly-tops-program.html

Neither of the gyms that DD has been at do TOPS currently. DDs current gym does train some of the skills that TOPS trains, especially the press handstand. They also do a lot of flexibility training.

Also, some gyms follow the TOPS program, but not to do testing, just depends on the gym.
 

Tim_Dad

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Nov 3, 2008
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Region IV (Missouri)
At the Gym level, it's basically intensive conditioning and flexibility training with the goal of accelerated gymnastics training and proficiency.

VERY VERY few kids will achieve the physical requirements to become a candidate for the National TOP's team. But the training itself has enormous benefits in my opinion.

Our gym does not do TOP's prep or conditioning at all. But DD and I do work on many of the conditioning challenges at home, including rope, stall bar V-ups, press handstand, handstand hold, etc. Personally, I love when the L7-10's stare in amazement when Nastia does her rope climb is seated L position. I think she's the ONLY one in the gym that can do it. It makes her (and obviously Dad) very proud.

As others have mentioned (or linked too), TOP's is one way to become Elite-track.

My question (as a parent) would be: Why on earth would you want your DD to become an Elite?! You basically loose all the family time you have your daughter, It's costs you $30K a year (avg), homeschooling is mandatory, injury levels skyrocket -- AND when it's all said and done, does precious little to train her for a career in anything other then gym.
 
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gym law mom

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To clarify, just having your dd placed in a TOPS class does not mean in anyway she'll train as an elite gymnast in the future. Some gyms love the TOPS program and others don't offer it at all. Our former gym trained up through elite and doesn't have TOPS. Many gyms take the TOPS skills and incorporate them into daily workouts for their team girls. I know my gymmie at the ripe old age of 12 still does some TOPS conditioning in her L8 practices. Many gyms offer only the 7-9 yo TOPS program and don't have the time or staff to teach the skills required to those that want to do the 9-11 yo program. Also many times, the girls are sick of it by 9 or so and more into spending more time training for team and don't want the extra hours for TOPS.

Overall, I think every gymnast could benefit somewhat from some type of TOPS work---it does provide some structure to team conditioning. A normal TOPS class though focuses on the strength and flexibility requirements of the program and it can become boring for many kids. State testing is only done in the summer and darn hard to qualify past that point.

I would look at the extra time expected for your dd and the extra money for you before saying yes. If they have a group already doing TOPS, take some time and watch their practices. Don't know how old your dd is, but this is always something she could join 6 mos from now if you don't feel she's ready or she doesn't seem all that interested.
 

TnTTaxi

Member
Jan 18, 2009
141
Thank You all for your info. The gym does not currently have a tops program, I think they are hoping to feed some pf our girls into one. It now makes more sense to me the strength and conditioning things that the coach has them working on. My dd is 6 1/2 and has her over splits(one leg on a panel) left, right and middle. She can climb up the rope in about 15 seconds and is working on doing it without her legs. So after reading your posts, i see why they do these things. I am not sure yet whether I feel it is the path we will go down, but the more info the better, so Thank You
 
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cher062

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Thank You all for your info. The gym does not currently have a tops program, I think they are hoping to feed some pf our girls into one. It now makes more sense to me the strength and conditioning things that the coach has them working on. My dd is 6 1/2 and has her over splits(one leg on a panel) left, right and middle. She can climb up the rope in about 15 seconds and is working on doing it without her legs. So after reading your posts, i see why they do these things. I am not sure yet whether I feel it is the path we will go down, but the more info the better, so Thank You

Strength and conditioning should be a big part of any gym program even if they don't have TOPs. Without them doing the "tricks" in the routines can be dangerous and can be more prone to injury.

My DD did Tops and is now in the older girl program and I have to say I have see a HUGE improvement in her gymnastics with it.
 

UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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My dd is 5 and in TOPs (only one day a week, as she gets older she will increase her days). It is AWESOME strength training (she is already super flexible). I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that she is NOT going to be an elite gymnast but our gym picks "talented" 3-5 yr olds out of the preschool classes (only 2-4 at a time) and starts them in L2 and TOPs. She was chosen and I could not say no. It is a great opportunity for her to have some extra special training and right now, at 5, she is not doing the testing and it is not costing that much extra $$. Plus, our TOPs girls can skip levels...which is an advantage for a super talented young gymmie. I think it is a good program as long as the child enjoys it and you have the time and $$ to invest. Our 7 y.o. TOPs girls are SOOOO strong by the time they are that age and we have had a couple kids do really well at state TOPs testing. No olympians yet, but some talented and VERY STRONG little girls!
 

dadingym

Member
Oct 10, 2008
111
Here is our TOPs story:

Haven was invited into the program at 7 yrs old. She started the program in April, a mth after turning 7. By July, she was a nervous wreck about the testing and the intense workouts. We feared she wanted to quit. We thought a less intense program would behoove her. So we switched gyms.

Haven did her FIRST level 5 year at a gym about 40 minutes away (old gym was 5 minutes away!) and had ZERO pressure. She had a good year. 2nd in states. After turning 8, Haven was trying to do some upskills on her own at practice. She was told that they do not focus on upskills. They work on their assigned level. Haven became bored within 2 mths. We went BACK to the old gym.

Haven went back into the TOPs program. She LOVED it. She just FLEW through the new skills. By November, she had all of her lvl 7 skills except the giants (our gym won't let the TOPs girls move up without the giant). Haven asked if she could move to half days at school. After much consideration, we agreed. She excelled even more. The TOPs skills she was working on were amazing in their transformation. When she began in July, she had 1 press handstand. By January, she had 10. In july she could not even come close to a cast handstand, but by January she had 5. She asked to move to home schooling. Since I did not like her teacher and my mom was a 3rd grade teacher for 30 years, i said we would give it a try.

A year after our return to our original gym, Haven made it to national testing in Houston. In October, she made the TOPs A Team. She was on cloud nine.

I guess my point here (about time I get to it huh?) is that for Haven, as a new 7 yr old, the TOPS program was way too intense. The move to the mild gym was good for her. I am glad we did it. HOWEVER. I am MORE glad that we returned to our original gym and to TOPs. The TOPs program and the awesome coaching there really made her blossom. Her strength is amazing and her balance and flexibility have vastly improved.

Haven loved her experience both times she was in Houston and is so excited at the chance to go again. I know if she had to choose, she would def choose TOPs training. If your gym offers it, I would say ABSOLUTELY DO IT. It really does make a difference.

Phew. ok I am done.
 

gym-mom-fla

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Nov 15, 2008
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Our gym just introduced the TOPS program 2 months ago, although we have always done TOPS style conditioning. It was invite only to select team girls, based on age, ability, etc. After 2 months, I cannot believe the improvement in my dd's strength! I have no idea what the future holds for her in the sport and I would not do the program if I just saw it as a way to elite. There is no way to guarantee that, no matter how talented the child. However, I think a talented and focused girl can benefit from the program in many ways. If you can afford the additional cost and she is up for the extra hours, I would go for it. She is young enough to wait if you don't think she is ready, maybe give her a year or so, but we have some 4's & 5's in our group who are doing awesome. By the time they are 7 (assuming they stay with the sport), they are going to be amazing. Good Luck!!
 
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