For Coaches Strength vs. Flexibility

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My daughter is turning 10 this month and is competing level 4 at the time. She is of short stature and very small framed. She also seems to be one of those types that builds muscle easily (or maybe it just shows more since she is so small!). She does a simple thing like move her arms to put up her hair, and there are muscles popping out everywhere!! Anyways, one of her prior coaches said that since she is so strong that she may have a harder time staying flexible. She is about middle of the road, as far as gymnasts go, on flexibility right now. What is your take on this?


Jul 5, 2007
I think it's hard to say, I know people of all stripes. The muscles can be tight but if she is reasonably flexible now and continues to work on her flexibility, I suspect she will be fine. The most important thing is to always push it. If oversplit is down on one panel - move up. Work it at the highest level (as appropriate and allowing adequate time for muscle recovery). Flexibility is probably more neglected than strength in WAG programs, although a good program will design a strong program for both. She may have to work harder than others on flexibility to achieve the same results, but everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I have seen girls who are relatively inflexible naturally achieve great results by not giving up.

I did L4 and 5 with a friend who didn't have oversplits at the time, she wasn't as motivated to get them at the time. She left artistic and found out she had many good strengths for rhythmic, well she got her splits and went on to become L10 R. Definitely possible, I think most gymnasts become discouraged on one "front" when they see that someone next to them can do their splits with less work and think they will never get it. Sure you may never be super flexible, but most who make it to a certain point can definitely achieve the adequate flexibility required for high level competitive gymnastics in my opinion.


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Jan 4, 2008
I agree with gymdog, if she keeps working hard on her flexibility she shouldn't have a problem. Her gymnastics training should include regular stretching and flexibility training and she should do a quick stretch at the end of each training session aswell. If she is struggling then streching is one of those things that she can also work on at home quite safely.

Some gymnasts struggle with flexibility and they have to work hard. As they get to the optional levels they can design their routines to contain more skills that show off their strength (like lots of flipping and jumps) and less skill that require flexibility like walkovers and split leaps.

A gymnast without flexibility can survive, but a gymnast without strength will get no where and not be able to perform the higher level skills at all.


Nov 12, 2007
The coach who told you that is making a fairly big generalization. Usually you see strong kids being less flexible, or flexible kids being weak. That i agree with. However this is something that a good conditioning program should quickly balance out. The only real problem with being muscly is that the actual bulk of the muscle can restrict the range of motion. However this is only really a problem for body builders (i can't imagine your kids being like that haha). Also if you do A LOT of partial repetitions with really heavy weight, over years you can shorten the length of the muscle at resting. In gymnastics that is never a problem as full range of motion is paramount in exercises (conditioning).
In short i wouldn't worry about what that coach said.

If she is concerned about her flexibility she should just do a little bit in her own time. Especially if she is not naturally inclined to flexibility. The peak time to develop flexibility is between 6-9yrs of age. After that is progressively gets harder to achieve similar results. Given that she is 10 she is at a good age to work hard at her splits now so that later on she just has to maintain them.


Thanks to everyone!! Your information was very helpful. She does pretty well with her oversplits now, and she usually stretches them before gym. It makes a big difference! Thanks again!!!:)

Shawn Johnson is actually a good role model for this.

she short and got quite alot of muscle, although she does actually not always hit 180 degree split she can seems to survive pretty well considering she won all of her competitions in the first year of the senior division.

i would just have to say that the coach that told you she will have a harder time staying flexible is pretty general. i have a few girls at my gym i coach are pretty muscular and aren't ideally flexible but they have enough that they still do well enough, they stretch every training session and they seem to make it through


i trained for 10 years and i was always strong, during that time i streached every day and never managed to do the splits or have any flexibility but i still mad it to level 10 and did really well in it cause of my power

now being a coach i find that is really depends on the gymnast and they need to work really hard in both areas
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