WAG What are considered normal physical testing / conditioning requirements?

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May 3, 2023
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Hi - I'm new to this forum but am curious to know what physical testing / conditioning requirements are in place at your gyms (requirements that need to be completed before an athlete can move up a level or compete).

At our gym we have two requirements - athletes must get at least a 32 AA before comp season starts and also compete various physical "standards" testing such as doing 10 chinups in 25 seconds, levers, leg lifts, rope climb (straddle up, straddle down a 25' rope in a certain amount of time), etc. If an athlete does not pass their tests, they are not allowed to go to competition. In our gym we have a few athletes who struggle with some of these requirements due to their age, body type and they have not been allowed to compete all season. As a gymnastics mom observing this, it just seems cruel and unusual punishment. I totally understand importance of physical testing and standards, but these requirements do not seem tailored to individual athletes and don't seem to take into consideration work ethic, body type, etc.

Just curious what other gyms require? And if keeping athletes from competition for not passing a rope climb test is normal?

Thank you!
 
This is the case at our gym. Certain number of leg lifts, same rope climb and descent as yours, 2-5 press HS, a timed shuttle run with a cut off of 12 secs (I don't know the distance), etc or you don't compete. I will say, though, that I really haven't seen any of the kids who are skills-ready be unable to pass the conditioning tests as well. Usually the ones who struggle on the conditioning are also not keeping up on skills. So in the end, I haven't see a kid (yet anyway) who had competition ready skills but was unable to compete due to missing conditioning.
 
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Yes, many gyms will have a minimum strength requirement for each level.

While I wouldn’t hold a gymnast back from
Competing if their skills were all solid, It’s not an unusual requirement to have certain levels before moving up a level.
 
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they are not allowed to go to competition
Can you clarify what you mean by this? Do you mean that during the off-season there is a physical evaluation to determine whether an athlete can move up a level? Or are they literally barred from competing a whole season if they don't meet certain requirements? The former is pretty standard; the latter, not so much.
 
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In my experience, changing twisting directions is going to be a frustrating experience for all involved.
It sounds like @CoachPow believes that gymnastics chirality is more fluid than actual "handedness" (i.e. which hand you write with). Are there any coaches in this forum that are more strict about teaching consistent twisting direction?

I am a new coach and curious about the pros and cons of ambidextrous twisting.
 
Can you clarify what you mean by this? Do you mean that during the off-season there is a physical evaluation to determine whether an athlete can move up a level? Or are they literally barred from competing a whole season if they don't meet certain requirements? The former is pretty standard; the latter, not so much.
Yes, if the gymnast does not passed all of the physical testing by the time of the competition, they are not allowed to compete at the level they have been training for through the summer and off-season. This (not competing) is the case even if the athlete has passed their screening and achieved a minimum score of 8.000 on all events. They are still not allowed to compete until they have also met all of their physical testing requirements.

It feels a bit backward to me, to be honest, in that if an athlete has proven their skills are good enough to compete - then why should not being able to do the full rope climb hold them back? I guess this is what I don't feel is "normal." And honestly find it a bit discriminatory. I also realize gymnastics is a tough sport and so I just am not sure what's legitimate for a gym to do or not.
 
Yes, if the gymnast does not passed all of the physical testing by the time of the competition, they are not allowed to compete at the level they have been training for through the summer and off-season.
If they don't pass the physical screening, are they still allowed to compete the lower level? Are they evaluated multiple times per season? Are they allowed to compete the higher level if they pass the physical screening mid-season?

In any case, I think a physical screening can be done effectively (both as a motivator, and as a filter). As @CuriousCate mentioned:

Usually the ones who struggle on the conditioning are also not keeping up on skills. So in the end, I haven't see a kid (yet anyway) who had competition ready skills but was unable to compete due to missing conditioning.
With that said, it really depends on the requirements. You are correct that physical screening have the potential to be discriminatory. I personally don't see the point in using physical screenings to determine competition level.
  • Reason #1: Gymnastics levels are a function of USAG bureaucracy. You should promote gymnasts to a higher level based on USAG metrics (e.g. AA score). Keep in mind, the whole point of the Developmental Program is to assess the ability of athletes at their current level using objective metrics.
  • Reason #2: You are likely training athletes 8+ hours a week over an entire year. You have more than enough data points to know whether an athlete is ready to compete a new level.

I like @Coach Em 's opinion:
strength testing should be used as a baseline to help create conditioning plans
My gym evaluates athletes every day. We have high standards for performance. However, we don't have a "testing day" and there are no immediate consequences to—say—not passing rope climb. A student who can't climb rope is either not strong enough to climb rope or is not dedicated enough to climb rope (or both). These data points inform curriculum, but are irrelevant to USAG levels. Incidentally, a consistently bad rope clime (or whatever physical assessment you use) correlates strongly with low AA scores, so there is no need for the added barrier to entry. Just say that 32 AA is the cut-off and call it a day. Bump it up to 34 AA if you want to be extra exclusive.
 
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Having requirements is all well and good if the gym is providing the coaching and training needed to actually achieve said requirement. Sometimes this also includes being selective about athletes included in the competitive program.

Where this goes wrong...
A weaker gym seeing success of other gyms that have 'requirements' so implement requirements thinking that is what will improve their results.
When a new coach comes in and wants to drastically change the program - creating requirements essentially means gymnasts have to adapt or will be pushed out without the gym actually having to kick them out because their current ability does not mesh with the new team vision. This can result in many hurt feelings for some and drastic improvement for others.

I am not going to agree with the gyms actions as I wouldn't personally hold a kid back from competing if they met the score. I'd be having a re-think of my strength program if the athletes were not up to scratch.
There thinking is probably long term, in order to most likely be successful at the next step gymnasts should be able to do X,Y and Z this year.
You are thinking this year, this comp season, the gym is probably thinking long term, which sometimes backfires because you need to keep the kids in the gym to enact a long term plan.
 
Yes, very true. It’s one thing to have these requirements in place from the beginning.

You coach the classes with the knowledge that these requirements will be in place. And make sure they are built up over time.

It’s another to just decide to start putting them in place.
 
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Hi - I'm new to this forum but am curious to know what physical testing / conditioning requirements are in place at your gyms (requirements that need to be completed before an athlete can move up a level or compete).

At our gym we have two requirements - athletes must get at least a 32 AA before comp season starts and also compete various physical "standards" testing such as doing 10 chinups in 25 seconds, levers, leg lifts, rope climb (straddle up, straddle down a 25' rope in a certain amount of time), etc. If an athlete does not pass their tests, they are not allowed to go to competition. In our gym we have a few athletes who struggle with some of these requirements due to their age, body type and they have not been allowed to compete all season. As a gymnastics mom observing this, it just seems cruel and unusual punishment. I totally understand importance of physical testing and standards, but these requirements do not seem tailored to individual athletes and don't seem to take into consideration work ethic, body type, etc.

Just curious what other gyms require? And if keeping athletes from competition for not passing a rope climb test is normal?

Thank you!
 
At our gym they are required to have a 36 AA at previous level and have all required skills at next level without accommodations of any kind. Strength and conditioning testing does not impact what level they train or compete and is used as information for growth areas.
 
Our gym requires gymnasts to meet a certain amount of flexibility and strength goals before they advance to the next level each season, but if they move they compete.
 
I would say having strength and flexibility requirements are fine and actually good for safety, only If they are the bare minimum at the lowest. like for level 4, they might need to complete some sort of strength drill that shows they have the strength to do a straight arm Kip by end of season if they work at it Even if they have a slightly bent arm Kip now.
 
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Hmm. I don't think using a conditioning test as a pass/fail is a fair way to determine who can compete that season and who cant. However I can say, that getting a bare min 32AA and not passing a conditioning test probably tells the coach that gymnast isn't really ready to move up. In conjunction, an evaluation of the routines and physical fitness tests give a good image of where that gymnast sits compared to the needs of that level of gymnastics.

Overall girls should be having fun. Most gymnasts don't compete college or elite. "Fun" should be part of the equation as well as routines, skills, and conditioning.

If you don't like the philosophies of the coaching staff, it maybe time to seek out another gym. Not all gyms are the same. Many gyms have happy, well-performing gymnasts without strict limits on who moves up. Our gym states if you meet the USAG minimums, attend practice regularly, show growth and a positive attitude, then you can move up. Does it mean every girl is scoring 38s - no. But we do win State Team and Individuals, regionals, and sometimes national placements. Somehow our coaches have blended fun with competition to get a good mix.
 
:( this is a system that makes me sad. My daughter can do endless leg lifts, plenty of pull ups, but she can’t do press hand stands or handstand holds because her wrist flexibility is only around 30 degrees instead of the usual 80-90 degrees.

It doesn’t change her ability to get skills, she may need to take less turns on her beam series but even that she normally just pushes through.

I really hope our gym never moves to that kind of system. Honestly our optionals nearly never even climb rope (which makes my kiddo happy, she has hyper sweaty hands and a fear of slipping off at the top). Our gym is one of the top gyms in the state - our girls have won at Easterns and multiple level 10s will compete at Nationals.

Also: sad for y’all whose gym doesn’t allow competing with modifications.

A lot of these gyms sound like they’re just trying to weed out kids honestly and they’re probably missing out on awesome competitors who just needed a different approach.
 
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Just curious what other gyms require? And if keeping athletes from competition for not passing a rope climb test is normal?

I would say it's pretty normal to need certain physical abilities to move up to the next level. I would say that it's not that normal to hold them back from meets just because they missed part of their strength testing.
 
Hmm. I don't think using a conditioning test as a pass/fail is a fair way to determine who can compete that season and who cant. However I can say, that getting a bare min 32AA and not passing a conditioning test probably tells the coach that gymnast isn't really ready to move up. In conjunction, an evaluation of the routines and physical fitness tests give a good image of where that gymnast sits compared to the needs of that level of gymnastics.

Overall girls should be having fun. Most gymnasts don't compete college or elite. "Fun" should be part of the equation as well as routines, skills, and conditioning.

If you don't like the philosophies of the coaching staff, it maybe time to seek out another gym. Not all gyms are the same. Many gyms have happy, well-performing gymnasts without strict limits on who moves up. Our gym states if you meet the USAG minimums, attend practice regularly, show growth and a positive attitude, then you can move up. Does it mean every girl is scoring 38s - no. But we do win State Team and Individuals, regionals, and sometimes national placements. Somehow our coaches have blended fun with competition to get a good mix.
Thanks to you - and everyone - for their thoughts on this topic. Unfortunately this is the only gym in town, so we have no other options. But it's still really good to know their approach isn't exactly normal. :)
 
Honestly, it sounds like a policy designed to force kids who have challenging body types or poor work ethics to quit the program.

There are no firm requirements for level promotions or competing at our gym. If a kid is in between levels, they look at whether the kid would have a better experience gaining confidence in a lower level or being challenged in a higher level based on their personality. They also look at where they would get along best socially and whether the family has schedule conflicts, especially around siblings gymnastics. Everything is based on what is best for the individual athlete. They care about the kids and want whatever is best for them.
 
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At our gym they are required to have a 36 AA at previous level and have all required skills at next level without accommodations of any kind. Strength and conditioning testing does not impact what level they train or compete and is used as information for growth areas.
This is what our gym does too.