Anon Form vs Skills

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Anonymous (2164)

Would love opinions please? We’ve just moved gyms. Skills my daughter can do aren’t being worked on at the new gym and they’ve gone back to basics with her. She is happy which is great although sore from conditioning and more practice opportunities due to an increase in equipment. She can also tell the difference in coaching - her rebound from her ROBHS is double the height now but hasn’t been allowed to tuck back which she has competed twice already. I’m worried the skills she has gained will fall by the wayside or will they just be there when they decide to work on them with her? She was considered one of the better gymnasts at the old gym in terms of learning new skills, keeping them, no mental blocks (yet) and good form and we moved due to her being held back, coaching level, lack of equipment and large squad to coach ration (and her coach telling me that) and I guess possibly questioning whether this was the right gym to move her to. What’s most important would you say? Form, skills? … we are still quite early in the transition and I’m trying not to overthink it but she came home from training last night saying she did her front somi off beam and it was marked as a new skill when she has competed it in competition already. New gym were made aware of her skill set before the change but the one major point of consideration of moving her was to see what she is really capable of. Is it better to work on form before skills or gain skills and nail form? Or is that just a coaching preference overall?
 
Form for sure. This happened to my kid when we switched gyms as well. She was training level 7 and had already done L5 (competed BT) and L6 (competed back LO) and they took her back to RO-BHS to correct form so she could get better height in the salto skill. They said that she could do the saltos well but that she was not getting enough "rise" when flipping. They wanted her to still be rising up in the air all the way until she was mid-flip I think. Within one season she could land a back LO onto a blob mat and could easily twist.
 
Form, bad form prevents skill progression. Meaning you build on one skill to a newer more difficult skill. If one has bad form, more likely she will hit a ceiling with a skill set, versus with strong form, the potential is always there.
 
Form and basics.

The longer I've coached, the more firmly I've come to view skills not as a focus, but as a happy incidental side effect of building strong basics, strength, technique, and body control. A back tuck is a perfect example: if you build a clean and efficient backhandspring, understand proper set technique, and understand how to orient and control your body while tumbling, then a back tuck becomes so trivially easy that it barely even feels like a skill at all. And this can be said of most skills; the best approach in most cases (especially at the low levels) is not to train the skill, but to train general technique and body control and basics and strength and form, and then when you want any particular skill, you just take the basics you've learned and Frankenstein them together to build the skill.
 
This happened to my daughter when we first started at her first gym. They moved her up the levels 3-6 in a year, and told us “we will fix her form when she gets to level 10.” Her form was horrible, we switched gyms and for almost five months they cleaned her up for level 7. Her scores went from 8.2s to 9.7s all off of form, leaving thy first gym was the best decision of her life.
 
Form and basics.

The longer I've coached, the more firmly I've come to view skills not as a focus, but as a happy incidental side effect of building strong basics, strength, technique, and body control. A back tuck is a perfect example: if you build a clean and efficient backhandspring, understand proper set technique, and understand how to orient and control your body while tumbling, then a back tuck becomes so trivially easy that it barely even feels like a skill at all. And this can be said of most skills; the best approach in most cases (especially at the low levels) is not to train the skill, but to train general technique and body control and basics and strength and form, and then when you want any particular skill, you just take the basics you've learned and Frankenstein them together to build the skill.
Thank you for your reply, very interesting … she can do the tuck back without thinking about it and has done for over a year so was a surprise to learn the new gym are fixing her BHS, the sticking point now being she gets so much rebound she struggles to ‘stick it’. Also In her new squad, none of the other girls have attempted a RO-BHS-TB perhaps something I should mention… I’m happy to go with the flow with how they are coaching presently, just managing my daughters questions about her skills and practice.
 
Form for sure. This happened to my kid when we switched gyms as well. She was training level 7 and had already done L5 (competed BT) and L6 (competed back LO) and they took her back to RO-BHS to correct form so she could get better height in the salto skill. They said that she could do the saltos well but that she was not getting enough "rise" when flipping. They wanted her to still be rising up in the air all the way until she was mid-flip I think. Within one season she could land a back LO onto a blob mat and could easily twist.
Sounds very similar, the ‘not bad but could be better Aalto’ and I guess in competition, the ‘could be better’ definitely matters! Thank you for sharing your experience, helps ease the slight feeling of unease, time will reveal all.
 
Go slow to go fast.
It is easier to correct those skills now before the muscle memory of doing them incorrectly is really set. There are certain athletes who can make impressive changes to skills later on but they are rare.
With great basics she will be able to obtain the skills again and will likely progress faster through some points as her technique will help her not hinder her progress. Sounds like she feels like she is improving even if it is not by obtaining skills yet.

Regarding the front somi, I am sure the new gym really doesn't put too much stock in what she was able to do at the previous gym as different gyms have different standards. The list would not have meant much, they would more be assessing based on what they can see with their own eyes.
 
Go slow to go fast.
It is easier to correct those skills now before the muscle memory of doing them incorrectly is really set. There are certain athletes who can make impressive changes to skills later on but they are rare.
With great basics she will be able to obtain the skills again and will likely progress faster through some points as her technique will help her not hinder her progress. Sounds like she feels like she is improving even if it is not by obtaining skills yet.

Regarding the front somi, I am sure the new gym really doesn't put too much stock in what she was able to do at the previous gym as different gyms have different standards. The list would not have meant much, they would more be assessing based on what they can see with their own eyes.
You are so right. Given this gym has girls score highly with more basic moves, I knew it would be a good move for her, for her long term goals. Thank you so much for your reply, especially about the moves she has done but the new gym hasn’t seen! Let her enjoy the praise as I’m sure it’s with far better form now than previously.
 
It sounds like your daughter is in an excellent gym now. Perfecting the basics before moving on to new skills is a hallmark of professional coaching. They are laying the foundations for her future sucess.
Thank you for your reply, all the replies echo the same sentiment which has completely removed any uneasy feelings! Very excited to see her progressions now.
 
So glad to have read this thread as my daughter is going through the same thing and it's about to make her quit. She's completely lost her love of the sport because she came from a "throw the skill as soon as you can, we fix form along the way" gym - where she was picking up skills like wildfire and now her new gym (which we knew was better) is taking it waaaay back to the ROBHS. She's miserable with the 16 hours a week of shaping and form. Literally miserable. I am going to show her this and hope it helps.
 
This is good coaching, enjoy it and stick with it knowing it will benefit your gymnast in the long run. We have the opposite situation - form that was allowed to degrade over the years because the gym stopped emphasizing proper form and drills to build progressions. It was ok for a while because the skills were still coming, but now my gymnast is an older upper level who struggles to find good form on her own to figure skills out. It is very hard to change years of muscle memory, and she is very frustrated with the coaching, or lack thereof, that she's gotten.
 
We are at a slow and steady, basics every week, form above everything else type gym. The slow pace was frustrating at first, but we see the benefits now. My dd has really taken off getting new skills in L7/8 and has not had to repeat because of the slow progression. And the gymnasts in optionals all look very similar with their tightness and form. It's cool to watch because even the not so talented ones look very well-trained.
 
We are at a slow and steady, basics every week, form above everything else type gym. The slow pace was frustrating at first, but we see the benefits now. My dd has really taken off getting new skills in L7/8 and has not had to repeat because of the slow progression. And the gymnasts in optionals all look very similar with their tightness and form. It's cool to watch because even the not so talented ones look very well-trained.
Exactly this. Parents worry that their kid is going slow but miss the big picture. Slow is multiple years repeating lower optional levels while frustrated that your skills get deductions, can't connect, or generally don't work. While my daughter may not have the greatest form, at least she has great persistence though; she's still working hard to fix things and get skills. But, the systemic lack of progress is a major factor that has driven many teammates to quit, and that's really not cool to watch.
 
Thank you for your reply, very interesting … she can do the tuck back without thinking about it and has done for over a year so was a surprise to learn the new gym are fixing her BHS, the sticking point now being she gets so much rebound she struggles to ‘stick it’. Also In her new squad, none of the other girls have attempted a RO-BHS-TB perhaps something I should mention… I’m happy to go with the flow with how they are coaching presently, just managing my daughters questions about her skills and practice.
Coming back to this, a few more thoughts:

The question isn't necessarily "can she do a back tuck," or even "can she do a good back tuck easily." The question is "can she do a back tuck that is useful as a building block for bigger skills." So if her backhandspring has some flaws that make it inefficient, then the back tuck is more or less irrelevant. She could have a beautiful and technically flawless back tuck out of an inefficient backhandspring, or she could have a terrible-but-survivable back tuck out of an inefficient backhandspring; either way, the next step would be to go back and optimize the backhandspring.

I have a group of level 5 boys I'm helping out with right now, and they are in exactly this position. All of them can land RO BHS Tuck on floor, but their backhandsprings are loose and inefficient, so that's all they work on with me. I figure if I already know the next step will be to optimize the backhandspring, why not just skip straight to optimizing the backhandspring?
 

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