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Sep 3, 2005
Region 4 / Wisconsin
Many of you know I have been a rec. coach for the past 8 years. My family and I just moved to Wisconsin and I am now coaching Level 6 girls.

Does anyone have any general tips for creating a strong Level 6 team? (Ways to get the scores up...things that have worked for your team...skills they should learn before moving level 7.)
JBS - congrats on the move... hope your family is doing great and loving the midwest:D I saw (what I thought was great) some great tips from the USAG 4/5/6 video. Perhaps your gym has it or will allow you to purchase it. It really broke everything down and also gave great tips for moving to level 7 skills. Seems simple I know, but I found it pretty educational - we were only familiar with rec and club gym is just so much more complex. If I were a team coach I would also study other level 6 videos, alot of them also post the scores they received, which has really taught me a lot - I think I could be a coach after all of my research - KIDDING!! I know it takes a great deal of experience. I am sure you will be GREAT!! Congrats again...
Many of you know I have been a rec. coach for the past 8 years. My family and I just moved to Wisconsin and I am now coaching Level 6 girls.

Does anyone have any general tips for creating a strong Level 6 team? (Ways to get the scores up...things that have worked for your team...skills they should learn before moving level 7.)

It's not really rocket science. Make sure that the kids have the physical preparation to do the skills that you're asking them to do, first and foremost. Secondly, come up with a good system of progressions (step-wise approach) for teaching the different skills. Analyze the areas that you feel are weaknesses and drill them on a regular basis (i.e. be won't fix in a day/week) until you start seeing the results that you desire to see. Lastly, gymnastics is all about BODY POSITIONS and TECHNIQUE. Take your time and do it right. Don't settle for mediocrity.

Break skills down to as elementary as necessary to ensure that the kids are doing skills with proper technique and the right body shapes. Create a training environment that facilitates such. For example, if a kid can't turn a round-off over properly on the ground, it makes little sense to have them trying do a RO up onto a panel mat. Instead, have them practice their cartwheels and cartwheel step-ins uphill (whatever is appropriate to achieve a good finishing position) while working the actual RO in a downhill situation to ensure that the proper shapes are being achieved.

To me, that's an example of utilizing intelligent progressions. Strangely enough, I've worked with probably 50 coaches in my 10 year career who would sit there and have the kids doing uphill RO's which they aren't prepared for. Meanwhile, the kid would get really good at piking down, landing with the chest down, lifting the head, being arched due to the piking down, etc. etc. I suppose that common sense isn't quite so common. There are a lot of clueless folks in this profession and I've been the unfortunate soul to have worked with many of them. Lord help me! LOL.

Anyway, good luck! By the way, I coached in WI a while ago...mind sending me a private message indicating where you're at and what gym you're at? I'm curious.
Well JBS, this is just a parent weighing in. Daughter competed L6 last fall. 1st thing we noticed was "wow--the judging is tougher." Yup made L5 look like a walk in the park. I would say the toughest event for all the girls was bars with beam in 2nd place.

Here's my parent impressions---take them for what they're worth.
Vault--if it scored in the low 9s as a L5, it'll be in the high 8s as a L6. Piking, arching, bent arms are hammered by the judges. Stronger, higher and farther seemed to make the most sense to me.
Bars--This seems to be the time to show a non stop bar routine. Do casting drills until the girls want to kill you. They lose quite a bit on poor casting and underswings that don't stay in the hollow position. Also tight legs with toe point and no bent arms. I think the best word for the high bar was attack. Go after those elements. Saw alot of girls just run out of steam or be relieved they had gotten through the low bar section and would just flop around the high bar.
Beam--Yeah--you can hold your breath during an enitre beam routine as a parent! Don't let them lose focus after the BWO!!! I saw alot of girls stick the BWO and then fall on the full turn. Also that jump sequence is rather tricky getting the proper form on the tuck jump.
Floor--Most mistakes I saw were on the front tuck and not hitting the required extension in the leaps. The music didn't do anything for me either.

This is what our girls uptrained on during the L6 year---giants(no grips til competition season was over), BHS on beam and then BWO-BHS, cartwheel on beam to back tuck into the pit, yurchenko timers(we don't do a formal L7 team) and layouts progressing to 1/2s on floor.

Overall, my daughter scored higher as a L6 than a L5. May have just been getting a year of competition experience. Most of them ended up loving the bar routine once they got past the feeling they would never get a good clear hip and they wouldn't die doing a flyaway.
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The most major thing with level six is bars. The girls need to have strong kips which allows for a fluid routine. Good casts are also extremely improtant. If each of the three casts get to horizontal or lower between 9 tenths and 1.8 points can be taken off.
Wow...the advice given so far has been impeccable!

Studying the routines is important as is studying the skills. As far as beam routines, I would also reccommend encouraging the gymnasts to use cue words during the routines. Repitition, repitition, repitition....keep doing the skills until the girls want to kill you.

That's about all the advice I can think of on top of what everyone else has said! Good luck and keep up the great work!
Know the angles. Gracefulone mentions casts on bars. 3 casts, up to .3 for bad angles on each. Angle on free hip. Continuity on baby giant and squat on/jump to high bar. Legs together on jump to high bar. Leg angle on leap on beam and fx. All the angles are about 30 degrees more than Level 5. It's not the big skills that add up as much as the technical deductions. Angles and amplitude.
Whoops I forgot to mention the floor pattern. It easily gets a little messed up so make sure everyone knows it perfectly in order to avoid major confusion at meets. our gym had a judging clinic so we could go over the little picky points of the floor and beam routines. It helped a lot; a lot less technical errors were made.
Definitely work the L7 skills sooner rather than later. Drills for them I mean. If you start working the drills early, it'll be easier later. Set up one drill on each event as a station for them on the way back from doing "routine" skills. Bars is one place you can start working some L7 skills now. For example they can compete a cast to handstand if they're ready, or a high free hip/free hip handstand. There is also the option to do a layout flyaway if they are ready. They do not "need" any of these to achieve a good score, in fact it might pick up more form deductions. But for an invitational, I say go for it and get the experience competing it in now. By states, if the cast HS isn't good enough, they can switch to a lower cast and it will be easier then anyway. In early invitationals around here, most of the competitive gyms do encourage the girls to try the cast to HS, even if they risk going over or picking up form deductions, because in the long run it is a learning experience for later development.

There is a cap to the deduction for text errors (doing the routines different from the compulsory book in terms of arm movements and small stuff like that), I think it's .3 or something. Still, that's an unecessary .3 and getting that on beam and floor just set you more than half a point behind in the AA because you did too many arm movements wrong, you know? Definitely watch the text errors.

On beam, the dismount (front HS, 1/4 turn to side HS, 1/4 off) is a killer. HS hold is a big thing you should be working for confidence and proper execution of the dismount. Huge deductions are associated with that darn dismount and that's the biggest deduction for most. You will see a lot of girls do the first 1/4 almost as soon as their hands touch the beam for the front HS. It needs to be held.

On floor, the back extension roll seems to be a kind of ignored silent deduction getter when I watch routines. I see arms wide apart hindering the skill, bent arms, significant arches with head out, stepping out before showing a true HS with legs together. And these are from girls where the routine is otherwise good. I think that it sort of runs by because it is a skill they've had a few years. I won L6 floor at state (old routines obviously) and the difference between me and a lot of people wasn't execution of the skills like back tuck, it was that I did that old tour jete, back walkover, back extension to knee with a lot of precision (hey I had a romanian coach when I was younger). My back tuck was the same as any other good optional tracked 6, decent but obviously a L6 back tuck. Also that part in the new routine before the back walkover (near the end) where they kick forwards and do a half turn to scale, lots of dropped legs there. Another easy thing to fix. Have them do where they lift their leg above a box and execute the turn, trying not to touch the box at all.

Of course the difference between good and wow is the attention to things like strong arms and tight fingers (not straight hands with the thumbs sticking out! My biggest pet peeve). This is kind of my philosophy with girls who aren't optional tracked and are a little weaker skill wise on say, vaulting and bars. They can get more competitive on beam and floor by spending more time just making their routines look super sharp with good presentation.
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