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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
If you had the option to rewrite the rules/CoP yourself, what would you change? What do you wish the rules did differently?

Here are mine (with reference to the USAG women's program):
1) Less emphasis on straight/hollow position in casts on compulsory bars. I've written at length about this before, but here's the short version: I think teaching a straight cast should start with a heel drive to handstand, and kids should hollow as they reach the top. This is how almost every elite does it, and for good reason; it's easier and more efficient. And for kids who will be doing straddle cast, the shape of their straight casts will eventually become irrelevant anyway. So why waste time training hollow casts at compulsories?

2) No landing deductions for overrotation on vault up to level 7. In order to learn strong upper-level vaults, kids need to learn to get two things coming off the table: height and rotation. Deducting them for doing one of these too well is counterproductive.

3) At level 5 there should be an option to do the back salto on floor in either a tuck, pike, or layout, and an option to do the front salto in either a tuck or a pike. Tucks, pikes, and layouts all have different roles to fill in terms of back tumbling development, and different coaches have different preferences regarding which they like to emphasize more at this level. If a level 5 gymnast can show a good back layout or a pike-open, why not let them compete it? As for the front salto, I think a pike is only slightly harder than a tuck, and much more developmentally useful (specifically as preparation for twisting).

4) No landing deductions resulting from overrotation on the backhandsprings at level 3 and 4, and the front handsprings at 4 and 5. When a kid gets so much power that they can't control and stick the rebound after these skills, that's generally a good thing, and should be rewarded -- or least, it shouldn't be actively punished. I frequently have to tell my level 4s and 5s to deliberately dial back the speed and power in their handsprings (both forwards and backwards), though doing so always makes me cringe internally.

5) Handstands in compulsory beam should have the legs split, not together (though a full 180 degree split should not be required); being able to keep the hips square while the legs split is an extremely important developmental skill on beam. I would also love it if level 4s had the option of competing a BWO instead of a cartwheel.

6) In level 3 bars, kids who compete a kip should be allowed to cast after the kip (before the front hip circle) without deduction. I like to look at a kipcast as a single skill; in upper-level gymnastics, you will almost never have one without the other. To me, if you kip and don't cast, then you didn't really do a proper kip.

7) The code should specify that a slight arm bend while transitioning between a kip and a cast is an acceptable technique, and no deduction should be taken for it as long as the bar stays at the gymnast's hips and does not go any higher on their body. Again, I've written about this at length in other threads, so I won't go into detail here except to say that pretty much all elites do this, and unless you have very short arms and a long upper torso, it makes perfect biomechanical sense to do it this way.

8) Level 4 bars should finish with cast, 2 back hip circles, cast off to stick. I think being able to do two consecutive back hip circles is EXTREMELY developmentally important, and should be a compulsory skill. Once a gymnast masters this, it then becomes considerably easier to develop a strong undershoot (for level 4) and a strong free hip (for level 5).

EDIT: Fixed a couple typos
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Yes, I agree with so many of your points Geoffrey Taucer. A lot of this doesn't apply to our levels here in Australia, but a lot does too. I am very surprised that you guys have a deduction for doing a cast out of a kip, that makes so little sense. We do not have that, a kip is first required here in level 5 and out of it you cast and back hip circle.

While I agree that a double back hip circle is such an important skill for young gymnasts working towards under swings and clear hip circles. I don't know if that means it should go into a routine. Coaches should be drilling these skills as a part of the bar program if they are in the routines or not.

What would I change in the COP? Well I would love more emphasis on creativity and artistry in routines. This has really disappeared from the sport in recent decades and routines can become very repetitive!

More options for young gymnasts to replace skills in the lower level. Instead of a back walkover in the routine, why not have this as the minimum requirement and they can do a harder skill instead. This will encourage earlier introduction and development of optional skills and it will allow gymnasts to extend themselves on apparatus they excel on and not just be held back by the ones they don't do so well on.
I agree with the kip cast in level 3. I had a couple of level 3s this past season who had good kip casts, but I wasn't going to sacrifice the kip cast for a kip front hip that becomes useless after that level.
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hmm to me a good kip + front hip circle leads directly in to a good kip + cast. In fact our level 3s that can kip + front hip have fantastic kip + casts in comparison to those who can not kip + front hip. I am happy that the front hip circle is out of the level 4 routine though....
In our country kids never even learn a front hip circles or a stride circle. They are never part of any routine. I do teach mine front hip circles at the same time as working kips but just as a drill.
hmm to me a good kip + front hip circle leads directly in to a good kip + cast. In fact our level 3s that can kip + front hip have fantastic kip + casts in comparison to those who can not kip + front hip. I am happy that the front hip circle is out of the level 4 routine thou6. gh....

The opposite happened at our gym. I had a couple do kip front hips for an XCEL alternative organization and now those are having trouble keeping their shoulders up on their casts.

I also didn't coach this level prior to 2013 so I missed any drills that were taught to keep shoulders up when moving from old level 5 to 6.
Hmm, I don't know what you mean by the casts. I think there is an emphasis on a heel drive that maintains a straight hip line with a neutral spine, which in reality most kids do not achieve and are deducted for (I have no problem with that). Most kids simply due to lack of strength and awareness at the compulsory level show some closing of the hips while attempting to extend their shoulders (which naturally rounds the upper back at full extension and is correct technique). I think the misunderstanding of "hollowing" is mostly among a lot of coaches (because I have had coaches tell me "but that looks arched" when I am holding a child in the correct open hip casting position) and not actively propagated by the compulsory materials.

However I would suggest the following changes to compulsory bars:

Level 3: kip as a substitute for front hip - either do the routine as written with glide swing pullover, or kip cast shoot through mill etc. basically the kip cast substitutes for the front hip cast. I think this would increase the number of kip cast attempts we see in this level which I think is a good thing.

Level 4: routine is developmentally too easy compared to the following levels. I would have them do kip cast horiz, kip out immediate squat on, and then the high bar as written.
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I'm not from US but if you don't mind I'll write about some of my concerns with our levels. Actually the routines change every 4 years (after Olympics) so we are getting new routines in 2017.

The dance in all the routines is optional but there needs to be some. No music on floor in compulsories. I would add music in level D floor routine or at least an option to have it.

This is our first compulsory level, level B:

VAULT: Straight jump. Run and punch are judged also. I think this is too easy vault. There's so little deductions on vault that basically everyone scores over 9. I would add a kick up to handstand flat back to the the straight jump.

BARS: Metal bar with gloves and straps. Pull over, two cast over the bar height, pike hold, three tap swings. This is a good routine except the lack of back hip circle. I think it's a important skill to learn out of cast. In the next compulsory level they do have a back hip circle but it comes out of baby giant so no cast.

BEAM: This is okay. If I could decide I would add some handstand progression, something like in the JO level 2 routine.

FLOOR: This is okay. Maybe add a round off instead of cartwheel or both.

This is our second compulsory level, level C:

VAULT: Handstand flat back, but good block is required. This girls in the video doesn't show it. I think this is okay for this level.

BARS: On wooden single bar. Pike hold, 0-2 tap swings, option to do a kip or a long hang pullover with a 0.5 deduction, cast (no height requirements) long hang pullover, back hip circle, under swing, release the bar in the back swing. This is pretty hard routine to do very well, especially the long hang pullover out of cast with straight arms and immediate back hip circle without piking. It's nice that they have added an option to do a long hang pullover instead of a kip. It's nice that there is that pike hold at the beginning. It adds some strength training to our routines work ;) I would maybe take the cast long hang pullover out and put just cast back hip circle in there.

BEAM: Mount, option of doing split jump, sissone or split leap (180 split required!), releve full turn position, handstand, straight jump, cartwheel, backward straight jump dismount. You can connect the straight jump to the handstand and/or the cartwheel but it's not required. I would make the handstand - straight jump connection mandatory. Otherwise the routine is okay.

FLOOR: Front handspring, round of rebound, backward roll to push up position, dance passage (split leap and one other jump or leap from code of points), back walkover, split jump, full turn jump.
Well, the scores are usually pretty low because of the split requirements. You have to hit 180 degrees in all your leaps and jumps with a split. I would make those requirements a little bit lower. Maybe 135 degrees like in level B. And I would it mandatory to connect your leaps/jumps. Now it's optional. I would also add an option of doing a back handspring step out instead of back walkover.

Next, level D, the last compulsory level.

VAULT: Front handspring up to stacked mats. No deduction for over rotating. I would add a vault table in front of the mats, minimum height 100 cm.

BARS: Kip, cast, free hip 45 degrees above the bar, land on hollow, pull over, pike on (the girl in the video does a squat on with a deduction), kip, cast (no height deductions), long hang pullover, back hip circle, underswing, a flyaway OR kip cast (height requirement of 45 degrees below the bar height) and straddle or pike dismount. You can also do a long hand pullover instead of the first kip on the high bar with a 0.5 deduction.

BEAM: Mount, jump series with two different jumps or leaps from code ( one has to have a split or straddle position, don't need to be connected), back walkover, handstand, straight jump (not required to be connected), half turn, cartwheel, front or back tuck dismount (not required to be connected). There's a a lot of skills in this routine. I would maybe take the handstand or cartwheel away and add an option of doing a back handspring instead of back walkover.

FLOOR: Round off back handspring rebound, backward roll to handstand, full turn, full turn jump, front handspring, front tuck (they are NOT required to be connected and you can add a run before the front tuck), dance passage with switch leap and one other jump or leap from CODE. Nice routine, but I would add and option to do a back tuck instead of back handspring OR do a back handspring - back tuck. Back handspring is pretty easy skill for gymnasts this level. I would also take away the over rotating deductions of the front handspring and front tuck.
Obviously I don't agree on the arms in casts, simply put the kids who actually do have straight arms, (or at least it's so small that the judges don't see it) should get a reward, No? They really have to, or it undermines the very premises of our sport, which is "better wins". Same with the casts, and the judges do look the other way if a slight arch is created in a straight cast, they just take off for excessive (which varies).

L3, bars, should get ride of the front mill, and make it same routine with 3 successive casts into the dismount, each must be higher than the last.
L3, vault, turn the vaulting mat sideways and let them actually vault over it.
L7, yes yurchenko or Tsuk timer on mat stack
L9, extra bonus point for having all .3 bonus, and include the 10.1 vault scale for any 10 flipping vault that is not yurchenko lay.
L10. Change the code to allow an additional .1 to be added onto all events, providing it is earned and requirements are fulfilled, and that .1 bonus has to be earned with tumbling not dance or leaps.
Example vault, It's already done
Bars, must have a major D-E release and an additional D release, earn .6 bonus and get them all. 10.1 value.
Floor, 2 D tumbling passes equals .1 bonus
Beam, I have no idea... don't coach it. :) But I guess again 2 D tumbling elements equals .1 bonus so long as it's earned.
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Obviously I don't agree on the arms in casts, simply put the kids who actually do have straight arms, (or at least it's so small that the judges don't see it) should get a reward, No? They really have to, or it undermines the very premises of our sport, which is "better wins". Same with the casts, and the judges do look the other way if a slight arch is created in a straight cast, they just take off for excessive (which varies).

I agree that the better gymnast should win. I disagree with the assumption that locked arms in a kipcast and hollow body in a cast are "better."
I agree with the split handstand on beam for lower levels. Training a partial handstand actually makes it harder for them to learn to get vertical, in my opinion. I want them to learn to get a higher kick from the beginning.

Level 5 beam dismount should be a cartwheel (or backwalkover), backward straight jump from the end. Why not encourage training timers for connected salto dismounts in level 6?
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