It takes three things to make a great gymnast; coaching, talent, and work ethic. There are a number of other factors that can effect this, but in the end it boils down to these three. Any one of the three can make a kid stand out; the question really is order of importance. I would rank work ethic first, coaching second, and talent third. This is not to say that some level of talent isn't required; I've seen some kids who could probably spend their whole life working their butt off with the world's greatest coach and would probably never be able to do so much as a cartwheel, and I've seen kids who can learn all their level 4 and half their level 5 skills within an hour on their first day in the gym. But in the long run, assuming their talent level reaches a certain threshhold that allows them to progress, hard work will be the greatest deciding factor in my opinion.
I am just starting coaching really but I have already seen a 4th factor which has stopped more kids in my gym than anything else - fear (especially tumbling backwards on floor and beam) I have seen 2 insanely talented kids stop who have coaching, talent and work ethic but cant get past the fear of back tumbling. It seems not to kick in until BHSBT on floor and BWO on beam. I can make a kid stronger, I can make a kid faster, I can make a kid more flexible, I can even make them work harder but how do I make them braver?
My approach is sort of a blend of the two. I drill the hell out of basics when they are first starting (and I mean FIRST STARTING -- we're talking first time rec kids). Once they get the basic idea to the point where form comes naturally, then I essentially switch; I focus first on training the concepts and the spacial/kinesthetic awareness of the skills, and then gradually clean them up as they get comfortable with the skill. In short, I accept nothing less than flawless before moving ahead with a really basic beginner, but once they get past that first stage I will accept some lapses in technique provided they don't hinder further development. This allows me to still take advantage of them being light enough to spot the big skills.
I like your reasoning here.
I dissagree -- and this, by the way, is why I don't do any TOPS or Future Stars stuff. I don't believe in talent identification at an early age. I've seen tons of kids who looked extremely talented when they were young hit a certain point and simply stop progressing -- and I've seen gymnasts who seemed moderately talented go on to become spectacular gymnasts. I have been surprised so many times that I've long since given up trying to predict a kid's future abilities when they're young.
Amen to that.
Part of this is work ethic; the kids who are extremely talented sometimes get too accustomed to having everything come easy -- and when they reach the level where they really have to work at it, it's something completely foreign to them. They get frustrated and quit. However, the tier just below that, the kids who have spent the years working their butts off to keep up with the talented ones, they keep right on going. Hard work is nothing new to them.
I so agree. Unfortunately I also see those 'easy come' kids get better more focused coaching and a lot (and I mean a huge lot more) attention and individual coaching.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are elements of "talent" which simply don't have the opportunity to manifest themselves at the lower levels. I had one girl who was insanely strong and flexible and had flawless form when she was young. Could knock out a set of 10 press handstands from straddle support without breaking a sweat when she was 6. First on every event at almost every meet up through about level 5. Then she reached the level where she had to start flipping, and ran into an issue; she simply had no aerial awareness. None whatsoever. And no matter what we tried to teach her to spot the landings, she could never get any handle on where she was at in the air. After two frustrating (not to mention scary) seasons at the equivalent of level 6, she quit. She simply couldn't get past that point.