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What makes a real or good gymnast? What kind of gymnast are you?

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PressHandstands

New Member
Feb 28, 2015
23
22
Country
USA
My best friend started acrobatic gymnastics as a 10 year-old, did it for 3 years, had a year break and started artistic gymnastics at age 14. She just turned 17, so a little over 3 years of gymnastics for her now!
She is on my team, so she is a Level7 and we train 20 hours a week.
She is crazily strong and has good body proportions for a gymnast. She is about 125lbs, 5’3’’ and has super broad shoulders and narrow hips. Coaches joke all the time that at the movies she would need two seats for her shoulders but would fall in between with her tiny butt J

However, she is concerned about something that I also noticed since she started. As an acrobatic gymnast, she used to be one of the pressing tops. She is still VERY good and strong at press handstands. She mastered all of them; Straddle Press, Pike Press, V-Sit Pike Press,... Her beam mount is a straddle planche!
She just has such a good form, it is really nice to watch. She is also strong in all the other areas. She can rope climb in L up and down, pull-ups, leg lifts, squat jumps... But, she doesn’t have the hardest skills and also doesn’t seem to be born for all those fast things or maybe it is because she hasn’t done it in acrobatics.
All girls on my team work on fulls already and most of us have at least a full twist, some 1 ½. But she hasn’t started twisting yet because she had to catch up on the other events.
I am a little bit like her, I don’t like the running things that much and prefer standing powerful skills, however, she is definitely much more extreme.
If you would give the other girls at my gym the option to either jump on the trampoline and work twists high tucks or getting on floor beam and working on standing back tucks with nice form and controlled landings plus some conditioning, all of them would pick the first one. But not her; she would spend hours of just getting her standing front or back tucks perfectly from a stand or conditioning.
When the others are doing their FT-FT Series, she prefers getting her first tuck as perfect as possible. She does not like „playing“ around with new skills or combinations, because in her opionion, only if it is perfect it counts as „I can do it“ and she just does not enjoy it that much.

Most of the girls at my gym who are older than 15 can only do one press handstand, and all of us need to bend our arms. No one can pike press and I don’t even want to think about a straddle planche or a V-Sit! And we have 3 Level 9s! We are all hard workers and enjoy the sport, but no one of us is aiming for anything more than doing the best we can and just having fun – so no college gym or anything.

Same on bars – her kip cast handstands are one of the best of our team, however, she hasn’t got her free hip to handstand at all while the other girls have it already.

If you would watch us all do our basic warm up with conditioning, stretching and basic drills like round-offs, standing tucks etc, you would guess she is the best of us.

I think you get my point. She is worried now because although she loves the sport with all of her heart, she has the feeling she is not a „real“ gymnast if she doesn’t enjoy all those crazy things.

I talked to her yesterday after practice, because I noticed she was desperate again.
I said she should not see the negative things in it and worry about it too much. Maybe she is just not born to do it, maybe it is because she hasn’t done it as a child. Maybe she will never be able to compete a tsuk or a yurchenko or a full on floor. She definitely could, she is so strong and everything. But why should she distress herself with things she doesn’t enjoy training or doing if she has other qualities? Of course, it is part of gymnastics to do things you don’t like that much or are scared of.
But no one else can do a straddle planche, no one else does the back tuck on beam as good as she does.
Of course, there are girls who have all of it. They have good form AND high level skills. But it is not very common. You do not need to be the best to just be good! And look, how many girls age 17+ can do what she is still doing? And she is not going to stop anytime soon. How amazing would it be if she is 25 and still doing her amazing beam routine?
Doesn’t matter if she is still only doing her „boring“ FH on vault. Or doing her RO BH BL instead of a full twist.

She can be proud she made it to this Level, many others have not. And I think she can definitely say she is a good and also a „real“ gymnast. She loves this sport like nothig else and she has great form in all she does.

PS: This is her beam routine: Straddle Planche Mount – Needle Kick – Back Tuck – Full Turn– Split Jump – Wolf Jump – Punch Front Tuck – Cross Straddle Press Handstand – Back Handspring stepout – Front Pike Dismount
(She is not competing the BT and FT in the USAG competitions of course.)

I know she wants to continue doing gymnastics and staying in shape as long as she can and she also wants to coach when she starts college. She will be amazing.

I think our conversation really helped her and she felt a lot better. However, I do not know if I told her the right thing, I do not want to lie to her. But that’s what I really felt at that very moment.
I would appreciate it SO much if you would tell me your opinion on that!
Also, I would like to know what type of gymnast you or your children are and what you think a right gymnast is.
And at what Level/skills you think girls can say they are really good gymnasts and can do the most important/basic skills.

Thank You in advance!
 

PressHandstands

New Member
Feb 28, 2015
23
22
Country
USA
So sorry this turned out so long and messy!

Actually, I wanted to know if you can still consider yourself a good gymnast, if you don't enjoy all those speedy things as much as most other gymnasts do. Becaue that's what my best friend thinks. She is such a perfectionist and prefers all the standing, powerful things so much more than the tumbling passes. And she sometimes has the feeling she can not consider her a good gymnast because of that...
 

ldw4mlo

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
5,163
59
Country
USA
You are both gymnasts, you are in gymnastics programs.

You are also different young ladies and different gymnasts.

She sounds incredibly hard on herself, makes it hard for her to "just be".

And that I expect is just not with gymnastics.
 
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