I know of many gyms that never taught a mill circle went right to training the kip, and the gymnasts had beautiful bars for their entire careers from L5 on up. Many elite level coaches (especially if they train from pre-team up) do not spend any time on skills that will not benefit a gymnast, meaning no time spent on the mill circle. It is a fact that the mill circle is not necessary - not an opinion. It is my opinion it is a worthless skill. I am sorry if it offends you, but your opinion is otherwise, so it is irrelevant. We are both entitled and have our own reasons.
Most elite coaches don't teach L3 where I'm at, so I agree they don't spend much time on the mill circle or any other L3 or 4 skills. I don't know why you would think it offends me. I just don't agree or see exactly why the skill is being deemed completely "worthless." I don't understand why people would come in a thread started by someone excited their dd was working on something for the first time, and then say the skill is just useless and imply that good gyms and elite programs don't teach this. I think it's great this little girl is working on her mill circle and I'm sure she'll have it down like a pro by L4. It sounds like she is having fun learning it too which is great.
But, I would rather a gymnast spend more time on the kip that they will use throughout, rather than a skill they will never see again. The majority of clubs now a days train and compete L4 and most girls will spend countless amounts of hours learning the mill circle, and will still go on to compete higher levels and do wonderfully. Good for them. I really wish that more clubs would work kip drills at the same time as training the mill circle.
Do a lot of gyms not? That's not my experience. I work kip drills when the girls can do a couple pullups and ~10 leg lifts. And probably 3-5 decent glide swings with a stretch on the front swing, not just whacking their legs together. Before that I usually don't have much success at formal kip drills, although I have a couple shaping things I do with L2+ and of course the glide swings which we require competence on (increasing numbers) to pass L1 onwards.
In L4, The mill circle survived the last cycle, because it was easy. The kip did not, does that mean the kip is not necessary? As J said, L4 is more watered after this last cycle. Which is all fine and good, it leaves competition open to more I suppose.
I don't mind the glide swing that much anymore because I would rather see a good glide swing than a bad glide swing cut off in an attempted kip, which having sat through many hours of L4 sectionals, I have definitely seen. I was so-so on the just glide swing idea at first, but I've warmed up to it because I've seen a lot more focus on getting that part of the skill really swinging and stretched out. It's tempting to focus a lot on "just get over the bar however you can" when they're *thisclose* but having a good glide swing be second nature is really good.
You teach the mill circle in L3 to prepare gymnasts for the mill circle in L4 - but your club competes level 4. I wish that more clubs would do the same in L4 and start doing more kip drills in preperation for L5. Some do, but many still don't. btw, a skin the cat is not worthless imo. It is strength and flexibility - more time should be spent on flex and strength as well.
I don't see a fundamental difference between skin the cat and mill circle though. You could never learn skin the cat and do just fine if you had the skills. I like skin the cat for the same reason I like mill circle, because its one skill the girls can do and because they need to be able to do a variety of movements in order to learn harder movements. All gymnastics is a bunch of different movements. The more movements they can competently do, the better in my opinion. I coach a lot of beam and I do all sorts of odd stuff that's technically going nowhere on there to get them in different positions doing the same thing. A mill circle is forward circle in different positions. Personally I don't think of it as very close to the FHC so I don't care much about it in that respect, although I guess it gets them going forward. I just think of it as another type of circle altogether I guess. FHC I like for different reasons, the sustained pike and shoulder "sandwich" at the end of it when done correctly for one. End of a correct kip should be kind of similar.
And when done correctly, it does make them push their elbows forward. I work on the end part a lot and I like that it makes them really shift their wrists and push forward and up. No hand switching, not the first time, any time after, not ever. That's a really hard habit to break them of so it can never happen as far as I'm concerned. Also lets me eradicate looseness where it rears its head real easy because looseness becomes very obvious. I don't even let anyone go forward if they don't have their legs straight and it makes me want to cry when I see kids doing it with their leg practically already hooked at the start and then just falling straight down. I really like the leg cut over they have now too, that's a good weight transfer exercise.
I guess it must depend regionally on what gyms do in L4. Most of the gyms I have been at are doing kip drills in L4. Most of the 4s at the gym I went to can kip or are close, certainly at least drilling it...kip was always "optional," when I did L4 I was the only one in my group who competed it, although I only did two L4 meets anyway. I'm like a huge fan of circuits so I work a lot of different exercises in wherever possible. Depends on the stuff I have available though.
so, what I like about mill circle:
1. push elbows forward. even if we didn't have mill circle I'd be making them hold pike (front support and I pull their feet forward so they have to push hard through their arms to stay straight) in the other grip anyway. I really think you need to work that early and often for the wrist flex and strength. It's too bad they can't have an alternate grip skill in the other levels but honestly it just doesn't fit in the routine. It can get neglected if you're not careful to work it in but they really need to get familiar with it.
2. wrist shift - good either way. Wrist shifting is our friend.
3. requires tight body and core strength on the way up
4. makes them get comfortable with aiming "out" rather than just crunching in close to the bar which is the natural inclination of many. Positioning and head movement is important too here.
5. control - have to push up and out to stop, rather than falling forward at the end.
Also the confidence of gaining another skill. You should have seen one of my girls face after she got it for the first time (last L3 skill she needed). She was so happy. When they aren't ready for kip on their own, it's nice to have something else they can have the experience of being really close on their own and finally getting it.