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What does it take to make a GREAT gymnast?

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John

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Cecile and Laurent to WCC.

This thread got me thinking, for a few days now. Here are some of my ramblings.

I have a hard time distinguishing what it takes to make a great gymnast. Obviously, it takes an extraordinary individual with physical and mental capabilities most people do not possess. That individual must then be paired with a coach who has the ability to bond with the athlete at every level. We are talking a one in many many many type relationship.

Where am I going? Well WOGA has developed some great gymnasts. Stated in the Laurent thread the old group of coaches at WOGA are gone, the group is now a new young group, does this new group of coaches possess the ability to continue the legacy? Kim Z. is also making great gymnasts what is her secret? Mihai and Silvia Brestyan have developed great gymnasts what is their secret? I would like to learn the daily training routine of the coaches and gymnasts that have been successful. I would like to know what works and what doesn't. What the work commitment must be to allow my DD to fulfill her dreams. I used to have a repeating bad dream. DD is 16 and she asks me a simple question. Dad, why didn't you allow me to follow my dreams? This Dream is what caused her gym change.

DD is currently attending what I call a Russian style gym, not sure what to call it. Everyone gets the same attention and coaching, you excel or get left behind. No special groups. The Owner/Head Coach does mandate what snacks are allowed in the gym during summer hours. He is tough, very tough, but he is also caring and makes the girls laugh very regularly. I believe if he asked DD would jump off a bridge for him, she trusts him, she believes he would protect her. Part of me feels that becoming a great gymnast requires some eastern block mentality, gymnastics requires a high level of trust and toughness.

Does anyone care to share thoughts or ideas for gymnasts to achieve success? As a caveat, I do not have any definition of success, every gymnast has their own interpretation of success. Gymnastics is a hard demanding sport, at times I wish DD had picked softball or MMA.



 

chalkbowl

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IMHO there are very few coaches in the country that have the technical expertise to create an elite athlete. This is something that the developmental camp system has helped with, educating coaches so they CAN coach athletes to a higher skill level. However, there still needs to be that expertise in the gym day in and day out to develop that skill level.
 

bookworm

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Cecile and Laurent to WCC.
DD is currently attending what I call a Russian style gym, not sure what to call it. Everyone gets the same attention and coaching, you excel or get left behind. No special groups. The Owner/Head Coach does mandate what snacks are allowed in the gym during summer hours. He is tough, very tough, but he is also caring and makes the girls laugh very regularly. I believe if he asked DD would jump off a bridge for him, she trusts him, she believes he would protect her. Part of me feels that becoming a great gymnast requires some eastern block mentality, gymnastics requires a high level of trust and toughness.
One of the gyms my girls attended was an Eastern Bloc gym as well and operated much like you describe above and he was a good coach and my girls did love him ...but their greatest coach was a woman who's style was warmth and positivity and believing in her gymnasts and working with them to fulfill their potential...there was never any belittling or berating or food monitoring...she was a wonderful mentor and role model that they miss every day. She was truly a great coach who produced great gymnasts. Sometimes it just takes a while to find your match.
 

John

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IMHO there are very few coaches in the country that have the technical expertise to create an elite athlete. This is something that the developmental camp system has helped with, educating coaches so they CAN coach athletes to a higher skill level. However, there still needs to be that expertise in the gym day in and day out to develop that skill level.
How do you identify if a coach has the ability to take a gymnast to college and beyond? Did Simones coach have any record before Simone? Doesn't every coach have to have the first athlete at some point?


One of the gyms my girls attended was an Eastern Bloc gym as well and operated much like you describe above and he was a good coach and my girls did love him ...but their greatest coach was a woman who's style was warmth and positivity and believing in her gymnasts and working with them to fulfill their potential...there was never any belittling or berating or food monitoring...she was a wonderful mentor and role model that they miss every day. She was truly a great coach who produced great gymnasts. Sometimes it just takes a while to find your match.
DD's first coach was a young woman. She loved my DD very much and DD loved her. She taught her many tumbling and beam skills that are still very impressive. This coach lacked the technique necessary to go to the next level but overall was so good for my DD. When my DD started she was 5 and the shyest kid you could imagine. For the first 6 months of training, this coach allowed me to sit on the corner of the floor so DD could participate.

I am confused constantly about how DD should continue gymnastics. Part of me says with my PA residence and PA cyberschool she should attend a gym that trains in the day allowing her to be normal during the evening. Currently, she does public school and trains 5-9 in MD. She gets home close to 10 pm. Usually, Homework is finished after school.
 

ldw4mlo

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I am confused constantly about how DD should continue gymnastics. Part of me says with my PA residence and PA cyberschool she should attend a gym that trains in the day allowing her to be normal during the evening. Currently, she does public school and trains 5-9 in MD. She gets home close to 10 pm. Usually, Homework is finished after school.
First, "normal" is a setting on the dryer.

If she trained gymnastics all day that would not be a "normal" childhood experience. Or rather typical (I really hate the word normal).

And there is no doubt for a gymnast to succeed they need a coach who can get them to where they need to be and a supportive family structure.

To be a "great" gymnast

There is also something that goes beyond talent and work ethic. A drive that they either have or don't. They all don't "get" it at the same time. The road is not always the same. But there is something within that sustains them, when others would give up. And I'm not sure there is a recipe for that. Its like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. And its not about fulfilling a dream. Lots of kids have "dreams" of doing something. Its bigger then that.

My kid is pretty talented and she has a great work ethic. She does not possess that drive. At least not up until now.

And then you need to distinguish "great"...........

Because there is someone like Simone Biles and there are ladies who do college gym. And while getting to a Div 1 school is a huge thing, it is not the same as a Simone thing...

And then some of it is just timing and life. Kids with equal talent/drive/coaching, one gets injured, one doesn't. One has family support, one has a devasting family situation. So many things. You have a kid who is great on beam, but her college choice is looking for vaulters when its her turn...

Again, this is also a sport that unlike, say track, where the fastest kid wins. Its a sport where a bunch of coaches decides who they want on their teams. Where you have an Olympic Trial Meet where only the top finisher is gets a spot for sure. The rest is a back room thing.

If you are looking for the, if I just do these 10 things and get to this gym/coach there will be a guarantee. Life and especially gymnastics, just doesn't work that way.
 

ldw4mlo

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And this is totally JMO and I am sure I'll be slammed......

But if it is about college gymnastics. I would be looking for a coach, who has a track record of getting kids into college gymnastics (in particular colleges you and your gymmie would OK with attending). Because that means they have connections.

And if it comes down to 2 girls all things being equal talent/work ethic-wise. The only difference being the college has dealt with one coach previously and the other coach is not known. They will go with the girl who has the coach they know.

As the saying goes, sometimes its not what you know, but who you know.
 

chalkbowl

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How do you identify if a coach has the ability to take a gymnast to college and beyond? Did Simones coach have any record before Simone? Doesn't every coach have to have the first athlete at some point?
I think competition results, the overall look of the athletes, as well as a coaches personal gymnastics background are all things I would take in to consideration if I was moving my athlete to a gym for the sake of wanting to earn a college scholarship or going elite.

I don't know enough about Aimee to answer the first part of your question, I'm not even sure how long she coached at Bannons for. However, of course every coach has to have a first. There are plenty of coaches that have just enough technical knowledge and get a talented enough athlete that they end up with a "one hit wonder" in the elite world. However, your first post touched on the question of the new WOGA coaches carrying on the "legacy." Being able to produce one or two elites it not the same as qualify multiple elites to Nationals year after year. I guess I should have been more specific in my previous post.
 

John

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No one should slam you. Normal reminds me of when SpongeBob went from square to round to be NORMAL. Good point.

I think I am looking for the knowledge that lets me feel comfortable with this crazy path called gymnastics. As a parent, I have only a pony in the race. I pay, feed and support my daughter. Everything else is up to her and her coach. Finding a coach who can help her along the way while keeping her to the normal side of typical is my only goal. She is already not typical. I have zero expectations of fame or fortune, I just want a happy girl now and when its over.

She is happy and progressing, my path is to watch and listen and support. If she demands more I will see what I can do. I am no closer to feeling better please everyone share some thoughts.
 

ldw4mlo

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I think I am looking for the knowledge that lets me feel comfortable with this crazy path called gymnastics. As a parent,I just want a happy girl now and when its over.

I am no closer to feeling better please everyone share some thoughts.
You would like to have a crystal ball and know you did it all right and she is going to be all right. You want to know how to get to the happy ending.

But that is not possible. You can do it all right and she can end up with an issue with how it went. You could do it all wrong and she could be just fine with how it worked out.
Are you an engineer by any chance??? :)

Personally I am constantly questioning myself. Am I pushing enough, not enough. Giving her enough space, too much.... Its parenting. And just when I think I have something down. We are onto the next thing.

You make the best decisions you can based on the information you have at the time. That is all you can do.

I reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Stone.

“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
 

John

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I was thinking I'd like to be a successful parent just one lousy day, and maybe just maybe that day could be the day she picked a gym. Why not dream big right?

Maybe my worry is regret?
 

Gymx2

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I reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Stone.

“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
I often think of that quote, because I remember first reading it when I was pregnant with my daughter and thinking how sweet it was- aww, the baby will be the embodiment of my love!
It was only after I became a mother that I realized just how terrifying it is to have my heart walking around outside my body. If only I could protect them from anything bad ever happening.
 

ldw4mlo

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Ahhhhh but whose, yours or hers????

They can't be "our" do overs. Their regrets will be theirs.
And to expand from my lens.

I would of loved to have had more opportunities but family finances didn't allow it.

My mother pushed beyond too hard in somethings and yet let me quit things when perhaps she shouldn't of.

And yet I know some of her pushing is part of who am and has benefited me all these years, some of it brought a lot not so good results.

So I don't want to be "her", except of course for the parts I think she got right.........

About the only thing I can control is my kid will never not be able to shoot for something over money, if I have to work a bunch of jobs. And it will never be about the money. No I spent xyz so there must be abc......

As to whether I didn't push enough or too much. I hope I live long enough to have that conversation with her when she is looking back and wondering the same thing as she parents.
 

John

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Regret. Mostly hers.

To this point I feel good about the gymnastics path, confused at times but well researched and thought through. Did the best with what we had. The next and only other option would be home school gym. Prestige comes to mind.

Her regret. Hopefully I teach her to listen to herself and follow her own desires from life. It has been my experience that people make snap decisions and after time passes they wish it could be redone. I read some fact on here that a coach wrote about quitting. It was about regret, it was eye opening.
 
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amiandjim

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I think it’s totally normal to question whether you are doing the “right” thing for your DD. When mine was 4-6, she was at less competitive gyms. She was mediocre even compared to her peers as these gyms. She once asked a coach at this gym what she needed to do to be invited to TOPS, and was laughed at! Mind you, this gym didn’t test for TOPS and had only had one level 10 ever. I always saw “something” in her, but I’m her mom, right? When I wanted to move her to a gym that was 45-60 minutes away, DH thought I was a little crazy! But, within a year, she changed SOOOO much. She worked harder, she became a leader, she was invited to their equivalent of TOPS (they don’t actually do testing)....all this at a gym that last year had a Nastia Liukin participant, a level 10 national bar champ, and 2 level 9 Eastern National AA champs.

I guess my point is, if your DD is committed and you have the means, then do what you can to help her succeed. I have no idea what will happen with mine...her goal right now is NCAA but she is a bit behind as an 8 year old level 3....but I have to at least give her a shot right??
 

FlippinLilysMom

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As for why so many coaches have multiple great gymnasts that go on to do great things, once that coach and/or gym makes a name for themselves than the up and coming talented gymnasts seek them out. Chows was a relative unknown before Shawn Johnson, and after her success I'm sure he had a waiting list a mile long of girls wanting to come train with him (I know my daughter did!). So while these well known coaches are obviously amazing coaches, like one poster said, it all has to start with one. Our head coaches haven't had any huge standouts, though they have had quite a few girls go on to receive scholarships (mainly to schools in the midwest like Minnesota and Iowa State), but I know that they have high hopes for the current group of TOPS and HOPES girls that they are training. They are both amazing coaches and equally amazing people. And as for the "who you know" part, that definitely helps too. Our female head coach is the sister to a very well known D1 gymnastics head coach and our male head coach is best friends with another very well known D1 gymnastics head coach. I'm not gonna lie and I will say that I hope that these connections work out for my daughter down the road. And I am so thankful every single day that Chows didn't accept my daughter when we approached him about training her 5 years ago, she has gotten to where she is because of the coaches she has and the bond that she had made with them and I will forever be grateful for that.
 

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When comparing kids to kids or coaches to coaches, I really don't think bringing Simone up is even in the same universe. That kid is one of the most powerful people we have ever seen in our sport and insanely talented to boot.... She is beyond amazing and had/has great coaching to boot.
 

John

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For the record thia thread was more about the traits of great gymnasts and the coaches that have developed them. Great defined as successful level 10 and above.

I feel achieving level 10 is a huge accomplishment.
 
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