Coaches Preteam coaches, some perspective needed!

Parents... Coaches... Judges... Gymnasts...
DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members See FEWER Ads!
Join for FREE!
Not open for further replies.


Nov 16, 2012

I started as a preteam coach in September. There is 11 6-7 year old girls in this group. The gym I coach in has four groups of team girls age 6-8 and they are divided into those groups on the basis of their potential, earlier progress in gymnastics (team or rec), physical abilities and willingness to practice. Mainly because I'm a new coach in the gym they gave me the less-potential group. We are "allowed" to practice 3 hours a week + running practice 1 hour/week. The other groups practice 6-8 hours per week + running or/and dance.

I really like my girls, they are sweet. We have made a nice program with my assistant coach and there is many "fun" things involved in practices: the kids get stickers when they get their goal skills or do their conditioning at home. I have also always tried to make lesson plans that are fun and keep the kids active all the time. But the problem is that the other preteams have same practice times as we and I can't help comparing my group's progress to the other teams. The other 6 and 7 year olds seem to be so hard working girls who never goof around or cheat when doing conditioning... They always listen their coach like she was a God (well I have to admit she is AWESOME) and seem to work well without coach needing to raise her voice. And those kids do TONS of conditioning and they never complain.

Needless to say, they have progressed so much faster than my group. Almost all the others have already competed a few meets but my girls have a long way to go to the point they will master the competitive routines. And there is also kind of big difference of skill and experience level in my group. Some of the girls have started gym at age 2 and been in some kind of pre team for years and others has just started (they were picked to the team last summer with almost zero gym experience).

Some days I'm so happy they all got their pull overs or mastered handstand forward rolls, but then I watch the other groups practicing back handsprings and kips and start to think that my girls will compete against them... My girls are not bad, they are flexible and kind of strong, but their improving is so much slower because we have so little time to focus on conditioning and basics.

Please tell me we are not so far behind! May it be that the other groups just are extremely talented and my girls are average and can become successful gymnast when they'll be older even if they aren't practicing kips at age 7?

Hardest skills my gymnasts have:

- running straight jump to a 50cm mat
- handstand flat back on floor

- backward roll to the push-up position
- handstand forward roll (only few of them can do this with straight arms)
- cartwheels, running cartwheels and hurdle-carthwheels
- round offs off a block
- kick overs on wedge mat

- pullovers with straight legs
- one pull up
- hanging hollow and arch
- one good tap swing off two blocks
- back hip circle (only half of them)

- handstands on very low beam
- basic kicks and walks

I would love to hear which skills YOU are working on with your preteam kids?
I think you're doing great! 3 hours is not a lot... If the other groups are training between 6 and 8 hours, you just can't keep up with them. Don't forget they are only 6 and 7. You have to think long term. I f they love gymnastics, have fun, they'll keep doing it. ANd maybe next year, they will be able to train more hours. Have you asked if it was possible to train a bit more?
Thanks for your nice words! Yes, I've asked more hours but I was told it's not possible because they have already made plans for all the groups. It would also raise the practice costs and there is actually not enough space in the gym for us. I also have rec classes after our practice so it would be very difficult to make our practice last longer than 1,5 hours.

I'm pretty sure that they will give us more hours next fall thought so I try to stay positive!
That's pretty much what my dd was doing age 6-7- those skills, and those hours :)

what I did observe was roughly 50% of each practice was spent in conditioning, form, and flexibility. All done in a fun way, lots of stickers on a wall chart for stuff like rope climbs, little certificates etc.

then when dd moved up to team at 7, the skills just kept coming as she had a good solid grounding in basic shapes.
I think you're doing fine! I started out doing pre-team and have been coaching that level for about five years now. It can be tempting when you're first starting out to really focus on them "getting" all those exciting skills, but pre-team really needs to be about basics and the foundation you're laying for them. You really can't focus too much on conditioning and flexibility! Make it fun. The stronger they are, the easier the skills will come.
I agree with the others, you are doing great! I'm sure if there were a problem the head coach would let you know and hopefully help you out/give you some guidance.
In our gym we like our gymnasts of your group's age to be learning how to do very basic skills and progressions really well in a fun way. We look at the bigger picture and don't worry about where other gymnasts of the same age are at, but more where we want them to be in a certain amount of time. Eg one of our groups of 7 yr olds are hoping to be on our elite pathway next march. They are working on giants and kips on bars, multiple BHS on floor, handspring vault and bwo and BHS on beam. The other group of the same age are working towards a different competitive stream altogether and are working on very basic skills - forward and backward rolls on floor, flatback vault, pullover on bars and basic walking and balancing on beam and the odd cartwheel! Totally different skills but hopefully with the same attention to detail!
Good luck with your group! Try not to compare them to the others but to themselves! Eg where they were at 3 months ago compared with now. I'll bet there will have been a big improvement!
Oh thank you so much. You asked if they'll be competing in the same level with those "other groups" and the answer is yes. But I'm not that worried anymore... Here in my country the minimum age required to compete is 7 so some of the girls are not allowed to start before next September. And I think that It could be realistic to hope them all to compete after one year so we do have time to polish them and learn those harder skills like back hip circles and pull over on high bar.

This is our conditioning program right now:

1. arch hang on stall bars, 40 sec
2. V-ups feet on the wall 25x
3. squat jumps 30x
4. pull-ups with partner 10x
5. hollow hold hands and toes on floor, facing floor 40sec
6. arc-rockers on stomach 30x
7. leg lifts on bars 5 + 3
8. one feet jumps up to a springboard 15 x
9. rope climb
10. straddle press hold 10 seconds + 10 seconds

Do you think this is enough? We do that or another program at the end of the practice every time. They can handle it but because they are so little it's kind of difficult to get to know if they take it hard enough. We also do basic arch and hollow stuff etc when doing warm up. And when we are on bars almost all the stations are about strength (pullovers, wall handstand holds, leg lifts and L-holds...)
No, I don't think it's enough.

For pullups and pushups, I like somewhere between 20-50 repetitions based on Prilepsin's table. It really depends on how what type of pullup they can accomplish and how many they can do.

I like rope climbs more than pullups. Grip strength. Pullups if you don't have ropes, but you can always get small ones to do pullups on instead. Attaching a rope to a set of bars or rings works fine. No legs allowed and I'm not very fond of the squeezing the rope between the legs scissor method either. Simple pullup using the rope alternating hand grip in straddle. If they are weak or fat, they can keep allow the heels to stay on the floor and do essentially a body row with the rope.

I prefer L-hangs to Leglifts. I do like doing leg lifts with a board slanted to the stall bars so they have to do full ROM. No leg lifts are allowed that are partial ROM. Waste of time as it's all lumbar and hip flexor rather than abs.

30 squat jumps is nothing. If anything I would work squat jumps to the point where you can see height is getting lower and lower or slower jump.

I prefer somewhere in between 3-5 hollow/plank/arch holds. Generally about 1-2 minutes of total volume each. For developmental kids these are generally 30-45 seconds, rotating. Hollow, Arch, front plank, rear plank, side planks on each side.

30 arch or hollow rockers is probably not enough. This sort of depends on what they can do. 50-100.
Not open for further replies.