Coaches Feeding into team

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Feb 1, 2015
How do your gyms find gymnasts to put on your team? (I'm only speaking to women's gymnastics, I don't know anything about how it works on the men's side.)

At the gym I used to compete at, there were a few possibilities.
A. If a girl showed a lot of potential in the toddler classes, she could move to an accelerated toddler class with the goal of moving to pre-team or compulsories when she got the requisite gymnastics and listening skills.
B. If a girl showed a lot of potential in rec classes, she could be pulled onto pre-team directly where she could catch up skill-wise and then move on to team.
C. If neither A or B happened but a girl wanted to compete on team and worked hard, she could progress through all the rec classes (4 different "levels" for rec classes), and after she "passed" the end-of-season eval at the highest rec level (basically L3 skills but you don't need all of them to pass) she would move to pre-team and then competitive. These days the girls and family decide if they want a more competitive and expensive commitment with JO or a lighter one with Xcel.

That system was the only reason I was able to compete in gymnastics starting at the age of 13 and fulfill my dream of competing in the sport.

At the gym I work at now, there is one possibility.
A. You are in the toddler classes and get chosen for an advanced toddler track, a superadvanced toddler track, and eventually go to pre-team.

There's no team track for girls who start past the age of 5 or 6, essentially. Individual considerations might be made for someone really talented and young in the beginner class.

I feel like we could be missing a lot of talent and work ethic with this system. The gym's mantra is to get them young to make our team program more competitive down the line. That makes me uncomfortable for reasons I can't exactly explain - I coach the toddlers and I love them; I worry about the wear and tear of the team program on young bodies. I also don't necessarily believe that getting talented gymnasts to compete ASAP is the best for them or for the program - since burnout is a big factor in losing mid-level gymnasts to other sports and pasttimes.

What are your thoughts? What is your feeder program like?
We pull mainly from the beginner girls rec class. Rarely from the preschool class (3-5 yr olds) but it happens sometimes. Never from toddlers. The beginner girls are typically about 6-9. They are invited to Xcel pre team then can advance up to Team (JO 6+) using the scoring out of 4/5 path.
We have Baby classes (ages 18mos-3 yrs), Preschool classes (3-4 yrs), and a "3 level" progressive rec program (ages 5+). There are 2 ways onto team...
1. Make it to the Progressive 3 class and tryout for team in late March or late August. Tryouts are individual and the parent is told the option HC recommends (Team, Team w/ Skills emphasis, or continue Rec until the next tryout period).

2. Come to our 1 week rec summer camp in July. Impress HC and get an invitation onto team.
Day 1 - Evaluation of all gymnasts on all events for placement into a group and a fun game.
Day 2 - Work skills on 3 of the 4 events (on Beam and Floor, coaches are making mental notes for routine construction), and a fun game.
Day 3 - Learn routines on Beam and Floor, and go to one other event. Play a fun game.
Day 4 - Work on the routines and go to whichever event was skipped the day before. Play a fun game.
Day 5 - One hour to review routines and prepare for showcase. One hour to showcase beam and floor, awards ceremony, and, time permitting, open gym.
SOMETIMES, it helps to come to summer camp BOTH weeks it is offered, because you could move up a camp group level if HC sees something at the first week's showcase that shows you are ready for more. There are 4 camper groups - the 4th one being for those girls that moved to team in April (in 3 days, they learn the L3 Floor and Beam routines -with any necessary modifications... THESE girls do not have the first day evaluation, instead, they start learning the choreo for Beam or Floor. The next day, they start the choreo for the other event).
WE ONCE HAD A GIRL GET ONTO TEAM THIS WAY right from our Progressive 2 class (and she had JUST moved to P2 in June of that year).
I feel like we have several paths...1) get spotted early in preschool class and get directed into very early preteam groups. 2) come to evaluations held once a year and get placed into preteam 3) get spotted in recreational classes and get placed in preteam 4) start in the Xcel groups, progress quickly, get spotted by JO coaches who then plot how to steal you from the Xcel coaches:)
We have several paths as well. You can get spotted early in rec classes and asked to join developmental team, who generally is fast tracked to L4 but also can go into L3 OR get spotted in rec and get asked to join pre-team and then L3 (if slightly older) OR attend evaluation for developmental team (and then sorted through depending in age). Our gym is just starting Xcel and as far as I know that won't be a desired path to JO but rather the opposite, a place for JO gymnasts who desire a lesser commitment. :)
We don't have an age limit on pre-team/L3 (right now I know we have a couple of "older" girls trying out, age 11 and 13) but we do have an age limit on our developmental team.
We will funnel gymnasts of all ages into our level 2 class, which is currently huge.

There, we have several different coaches depending on what parents want & what we see potential wise.

There is the young group, which are all age 4-7 and are being trained with TOPs and level 3 both in mind.

There is the second talented group, which are 8-12 and are also being trained for a fast move to level 3 but no TOPS stuff.

Then we'll have the level 2 competition group, which aren't ready to go to level 3 but we want to prep and compete in level 2 for a season first.

And after that, what's usually left are the older girls, 11-15, who aren't in the sport to compete but just to gain skills before they go into our local high school program.

We've only had one girl older than 12 who has moved up to our level 3 team, and she was just extremely talented and progressed very quickly. By 15, she was training level 8.
We have a couple of ways to go about it. Our rec program starts with mommy and me classes and goes all the way up to 3rd grade + classes. The vast majority of our team kids are picked out of regular preschool/occasionally school age classes and funneled into our "hot shots" class, which is taught with level 2 in mind. This is the second year we've been working that way, and we actually have about 10 new little ones joining the level 2 team! We also have what we call our Jewel Team, which is more of an advanced rec class for the older kids. They get to do one in-house meet at the end of the year, for which they use the level 3 routine (they're allowed to modify, though - add another backhandspring on floor, a back walkover instead of the kickover, etc.). We're working on getting some of our Jewels to do XCel Bronze/Silver this upcoming year - so far, we have about 10 signed up! Those are the two main ways we funnel kids into the team program.
Pre school is our feeder program. Obviously if I see a rec kid who looks good we will offer them a spot as well.
We do a tryout every June(we have one tomorrow) and anyone that has finished our rec level 6 is welcome to try out. Sometimes we will add a tryout if we see necessary.
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