Why Are We So Bad?

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Jun 26, 2009
I've been going to my gym for about three years, and I love it. The coaches are nice, it's close to my house, I have a lot of fun there.

However, for the life of me I cannot figure out why my team is so bad at competitions. We go roughly 12-18 hours a week, we work on our skills for a long time before the season, and we work hard. Yet when meet season comes around we are content with 32's and thrilled with 34's.

This isn't my first gym, and I don't exactly have the same attitude towards meets that they do. I am extremely competitive, and it kills me to see my name at the bottom of the score sheet.

Also, our boys team is fantastic. Most of the boys only work out 9 hours a week, yet they all do really well at meets. Last year they had two people make it onto the All Stars team.

Maybe I'm overreacting right now, but I just want to know why. What does your gym do to get higher skills? What are your coaching styles?

Thank you so much, this isn't exactly a question I can ask my coaches.
What level are you? Higher scores are harder to get when you go up in levels. How often do you do routines, and condition? Sometimes just working hard on skills isn't enough. In any case, if you are trying your hardest, you should be proud of yourself no matter what the competition results are. 34's are good!
What level are you? Higher scores are harder to get when you go up in levels. How often do you do routines, and condition? Sometimes just working hard on skills isn't enough. In any case, if you are trying your hardest, you should be proud of yourself no matter what the competition results are. 34's are good!

Conditioning is the main difference between the poor-performing gyms and the high-achieving gyms from my observations and discussions I've had with other parents in my area.
At our current gym if the girls aren't "ready" they don't compete, the girls score between 36's and 38's but they do a LOT of conditioning and stretching. If you don't score well at the mock meets then they make you wait until the next meet or whenever you score better. DD's gym trains 25 hours a week, and they do an hour of conditioning every day. M,W,F they do an hour of cardio each day, (they actually go to a near by track and run about 3 miles and then do squats,sprints, etc....) and then T,Th are an hour of strength. Then at other events during the practice they will add in conditioning drills/stations. They stretch for 20-30 minutes a day and go to each event for 40-50 minutes I believe. During competition season they do about 6 beam routines, 5 bar routines, 10 vaults, and 2-3 floor routines every day.

They have already started doing 1/2 routines while still uptraining. Maybe the practices aren't being run efficiently or there aren't enough pressure routines? What are the requirments for moving up?
Having been to two gyms, where one is 32-35 scoring and one is 34-38 scoring, here are a few thoughts.

  1. The higher scoring gym coaches perfection. The other gym had coaches that could teach the skills, but you would get a "good job" from the coach even if the skill was executed poorly. The higher scoring gym tells the girls every little detail and works it over and over.
  2. Success begets success. Strong girls motivate other girls to double their effort to keep up. Success at meets encourages transfers from girls who perceive the success to be evidence of good coaching.
  3. You're only seeing scores. The high scoring gym may be so much pressure that girls burn out and leave the sport.
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You say that the coaches are "nice", not that they necessarily know what they are doing or are motivated to push you guys. That could be the problem. Your hours may also be low for upper-level optionals, especially that 12 over there. I know that fewer hours that are very efficient can produce better results than more, less-efficient hours...but if your 12 hrs of x quality work is compared to 20 hrs of x quality work, the 20 hrs might win (except where fatigue/stress injuries are concerned).

Rather than hours, you really want to look at numbers. How many routines are you doing in preparation for competition? If your numbers are lower than other gyms around you, those gyms are going to be better prepared for meets. My gym is always in awe of the GAGE girls when we go to training camp...their "light/day off" numbers the day before meets are higher than our regular numbers! 15 vaults to hard mats as a light number, can you imagine?

Then again, those girls doing the 15 vaults have a very different goal from you. You say that the gym is convenient, people are nice, and you have a lot of fun. Having fun is the point, right? I know it's hard to be so competitive and feel that your environment doesn't match...but if this gym is what fits your life right now, you can't do much to change that except talk to your coaches about ways you could improve your stuff for the coming season.
This is worth a sit down with your coach to let him/her know how you feel and that you want to score higher. Ask for ways to improve. Ask for them to give you corrections so you know what to do to improve. Form issues play a major role in lower scores. So if you have the skills but you are still scoring low, then look at your form in the skills.
You can't compare the girls team to the boys team. Boys meets would have a fraction of the number of kids as a girls meet, it's much easier to place in boys gymnastics, also they have 6 apparatus to place on while girls have 4. In general boys tend to do lower numbers of hours than girls of the same age/level so their competition will also be doing less hours too.

Do your coaches have judging qualifications, perhaps they are not fully up with all the things judges are looking for.
What level are you? Sometimes I see gyms where they score really well in the compulsory levels, but have a hard time putting together higher level teams. It makes me wonder if they're burning them out too young? It concerns me sometimes that our gym has fewer hours than most others in our area, but our optional girls do really well for the most part, so something must be working. Also, I think some gyms keep kids back until they are close to perfect at the next level. Good for scoring, not always best for the gymnasts. So it could just come down to the philosophy of the gym.

I also agree with those who talk about conditioning being important to higher scores. And that's something you could probably add to on your own if you feel you're not getting enough in the gym.
gymnastbeth: I am going into my first year of level 9. During meet season, practically ALL we do is routine, or our skills in our routine. We condition every day, or every other day. I know that 34's are decent, I just really would like to do college gym, and most Division I schools won't even consider anyone under a 36. (At least this is what I've heard)

cbone: I don't really think the quality of our conditioning is great. We don't do a lot of cardio, actually, we do no cardio. All we do is lift weights. Don't get me wrong, we are all very strong, but I wouldn't say that any one on my team is in the best shape they could be in.

RennaDanGym: Your gym sounds like it's high intensity! Our gym is nothing even close to that! The only prerequisite before we compete is that we get the mobility score from the previous level. Of course they make us get our skills for the next year, but a lot of us have done the next level with "slacker" skills (cartwheel cartwheel for series in level 7, fhs for vault in level 8). We've done pressure routines maybe twice?

wallinbl: One of my coaches gives false praise. All. The. Time. Honestly it drives me crazy. I actually really appreciate criticism, and I only want praise if I know that I earned it and the judges score me well. Otherwise, I don't want to hear that my vault was good if I landed on my butt. I want to hear how I can block higher or flip faster so I can land on my feet to MAKE it good.
I have very supportive teammates, so they aren't part of the problem.
Lots of girls on our team leave to do cheer instead. Ironically they sometimes work out at my gym.

Mack_the_Ripper: Most of the coaches are nice (save the head coach but I still like her), and to be honest it's not for a good reason. The town that I live in is very sheltered, and NO ONE messes with the parents here. The coaches are so nice because they wouldn't even DARE make a child upset, that would release the wrath of the parents upon them. The head coach is stern with every one, but she yells at me a lot. Not because she hates me (I hope), but because my mom gave her permission to. It sounds weird, but when she's coaching me I can be SURE that if she tells me my skill is good, it's good.
My coach says that after 3 hour workouts, you really don't get much done that's productive. I personally don't agree. Right now we have 24 hours of available gym workout. It's always been that way during the summer. However, once school starts the hours drop down the 18, or 6 available workouts.
Although I will be an incoming junior, and it's great to have homework time, I'm also an incoming level 9, and I REALLY need extra hours.

gymgal: Another teammate and I have discussed asking if they could extend workout hours, or if there would be more possible practices that we could attend. She is home-schooled and I get out early every day, so we are definitely more open to longer workouts than most girls.

Aussie_coach: Thank you for clearing that up with me. I've always noticed the difference, but never put together the reason why.

Krystan: I am going into my first year of level 9, and I've been with this gym since level 6. I did level 8 twice. We don't score super well in the compulsories either. We score better than we do in optionals, but not by much.

Another point I should add is that my gym falls, a LOT. It is very common to fall sometimes 3 times in a meet. We hit our feet on the ground on bars, we barely stay on it our series on beam, and our flip connections on floor are a nightmare. To be honest I would have scored into the 35's easily if I never fell at a meet.

Does anyone have any good conditioning assignments I could do on my own? I have already done Insanity and am about to start Insanity Asylum, so I have a chin-up bar at home.

Thank you so much for the answers, they are all very helpful.
As said before, conditioning is the key. Also, it might be your confidence level. You sound like you know your team is going to get low scores. Just throw yourself out there and have fun, because if you do, the judges will see that and it'll make your scores higher. Remember to smile!
I'm adding little to the conversation, but you have an impressive head on your shoulders. Gym is great in and of itself, but it really gets you ready for life after gym. You seem to be well on your way.

To answer one of your questions, you could do a plyometrics routine to help with cardio and strength. P90X has a good routine, but it doesn't have a lot of the heavy duty stuff like box jumps that would really help. Let your coaches know that you want to add a little extra conditioning and ask their advice. Good luck!
Getagrip, I think I have talked with you via PM before. In fact, I think I know your gym and your coaches and tried out coaching there for a spell besides when I used to drop in for adult gym or open gym on Saturdays. I was just a compulsory coach that didn't much back then.

WAG is way different than MAG. Just is.

I don't want to cause hell for you and your coaches. But seeing as you are a jr now, you should be mature enough to handle what I might have to say. I'd ask you not to repeat it to them and keep it to yourself and I won't pull any punches and I could spell out what is going with the gyms in your area.

Private Message me again via PM. If need be, I could probably throw together a rudimenty S&C program for you if you filled me in on a few of the details of what you are capable of. 12-18hrs is on the light end. The gym I was at recently had the L10s doing 20 or 21 but that's still on the low end. Mainly that had to do with the fact that practice couldn't start really till 4PM because of getting all the kids there and trying to get them out of the gym by 830. Less of an issue in summer but a big issue during school.

Also bare in mind, California, Region 1 is a tough region. It's tough down in Socal, very tough, and it's still tough up in Norcal with Airborne, ByersSac and Roseville, HeadOverHeels, PacWest, some of the EastBay gyms down by Livermore, etc. 34s there are 36s elsewhere in the country. Yeah, go Region1! Unfortunately that also means a kid in a backwater state and region that scores higher out there gets looked at higher than being in a tough area. Them's the breaks.
Thank you everyone for all the advice! It's really helpful, everyone has great ideas.

Put quite plainly, my teammates aren't super competitive. Most of them are just in gymnastics for fun, and prefer to keep most days open to hang out with friends. Almost all of them have been raised from this gym.

I guess I'll just try to up my conditioning in my free time and see if that can help me at least a little.

Thank you so much!
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