WAG Preteam conditioning and shaping

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I started in a new gym a few months ago after being in my old one for 8 years, and now I have a group of preteam / lowest compulsory level kids in my hands after not coaching this low level in a while. This new gym doesn not have very good previous results in making gymnasts strong, flexible and polished in the preteam or lower compulsory level, and I'm kind of starting from scratch with them. More than anything else I would really like to chat a little bit with other preteam coaches and ask what are your "go to" things to do with your pre-team gymnasts. I've coached and I am currently coaching higher optional levels as well, so I know what I want them to learn early and right from the start, but sometimes I just feel like I've forgotten some good stuff when not working with the little ones in a while. Especially I would like to know how to make conditioning super exciting but still stick to a program and not just doing something different every time.

My group has only 7 kids currently, and they are 7-10 year old. They practice 3x2,5h a week, which I think is good amount for them right now. I started with them in January, and they came from different groups. None of them had really done that much conditioning before. I know the importance of conditioning, and my current job is to make them love it too!

What we currently do for conditioning:

Day 1:
Warm up:
- Game for 5-10 minutes, usually involves conditioning, like if you get caught in the tag game you have to do one chin up pullover to get back in the game
- Lines 15-20 minutes focusing on presentation, dynamic flexibility and form, meaning kicks, chasses, walking on toes, passe...
- 5 minutes of climbing the rope without legs, making it a group challenge to always get more steps than last time

- Holds always for the first 5 minutes, meaning 2 rounds of holding tuck, pike and straddle hold on beam for 10-15s
- Normal beam stuff for the rest of the time meaning 25 minutes, doesn't include conditioning

- Usually holds first on men's bars for the first 5 minutes, meaning holding chin up holds, pike hold, L-hold, tuck hold, arch and hollow and front support for 10-15s. Might not do all of this every time.
- Side stations usually include pull ups with elastic and cast shape holds
- "skill work" is tap swings shaping, chin up pullover, casts, back hip circle, some beginner kip drills

- Running technique for the first 5-10 minutes and partner relay races to work on speed
- Side stations usually include some kind of jumping assignement

- about 15 minutes of doing handstand / presses circuit. We do this together with "big girls" to motivate them a little! This includes 6 stations, 2 rounds, 30s each station. Mostly statitc holds.
- Stretch for 10 minutes
- Freetime 5 minutes

Day 2:

Warm up:
- Game for 5-10 minutes, usually includes some conditioning
- Lines for 10-15 minutes focusing on core and upper body, meaning inch worm walks, log rolls, planche rolls, wheel barrow walks, press drills, back rolls to pushup position
- Dynamic stretch with sliders for 5-10 minutes

- Basic jumps on two big trampolines for 10 minutes, always doing straight jumps, straddle jumps, split jumps and full turning jumps, added with jumps to back, stomach, butt...
- Skills work for the rest of the time, doesn't really include conditinioning

- Holds like on day 1
- Normal beam stuff

- Strap bar day, so we do mostly tap swings and chin up pullover, casts + back hip circles on metal bar, also including side stations that they can do with gloves on, so leg lifts on incline, handstand hold, cast shape hold, "butt lifts" on horse...

- Hollow rocks 2 x 10
- Arch rocks 2 x 10
- Tuck ups 2 x 10
- Push ups 2 x 15
- Tuck ups on wall bars 2 x 10
- Chin up hold on wall bars 2 x 20s
- Arch hold on wall bars 2 x 20s
- Handstand holds

Then stretch for 5 minutes and freetime for 5 minutes as well

Day 3:

Warm up:
- Game for 5-10 minutes
- Running/agility drills with hurdles, meaning running and jumping over them in various ways for 10 minutes
- Presses conditioning for 10minutes, meaning straddle sit leg lifts, pike sit leg lifts, holding pike and straddle, straddle ups from knees and some spotted presses

- Strap bar day, same stuff as on Day2

- Holds as always and then same stuff as other days

- Same stuff as on day 1

- "roll the dice" conditioning for 15 minutes, includes pull ups, rope steps, leg lifts on wall bars, jumps up and down a box, calf raises, V ups...

Then stretch and freetime like always

How does this sound? Would you do more of something, less of something? Do you do something similar?

We have a goal sticker chart, that they can get stickers when they make certain conditioning things like certain number of pull ups, leg lifts...

We kind of started from close to zero, but now they can all do 2-7 pull ups (most are somewhere in the middle), 1-6 leg lifts, 2-15 steps in rope, 15ish push ups with good form and everyone can hold a nice stomach to wall handstand for 30 seconds and straddle hold on floor for about 10 seconds. 2 of them can do chin up pullover from hang without bending the legs, 2 can do it with bent legs and 3 of them can't do it yet at all. They are obviously not very strong yet, and I'm wondering if you think we do enough of conditioning with them? Or do you think that this is enough?
You didn’t mention what level of compulsory they are training for, but it seems that the bar curriculum might need a refactor. You are missing some circling basics like sole circle and undershoot. What about squat-on preparation? I don’t see the point of training tap swings until they know how to jump to high bar from a cast squat-on.

Suggestions for bar conditioning (which will help them in a lot of other events):

  • Hanging V (pike compression) hold
  • Inverted hang “candlestick”
  • Forward roll chin hold back to pullover
  • Cast position holds on an unstable surface to get them engaging their core in an unpredictable setting
You might be spending too much time swinging on strap bar and not enough time on perfecting fundamental bar shapes.
For pre-team we would be doing primarily strength... flex... shapes... and the exact skills for the first level of the team program at that club. We do Xcel Silver and then move into Level 4 and up. Our Xcel Silver routines are basically very easy "compulsory" routines. Our coaches would try to help the athletes achieve these skills with form and technique.

Examples would be...
  • pull-up pull-over on the low bar
  • back hip circle
  • straddle on sole circle dismount
Thank you both!

We are located in Europe and the first competition level is done on strap bar, and it includes swings. That's also why we do those a lot. And I also think it's such a fundamental skill to learn how to swing!
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We are located in Europe and the first competition level is done on strap bar, and it includes swings.

Interesting... men's gymnastics is much more swing intensive at the lower levels in the US... women's gymnastics not so much... more strength / casting / circling elements.
Yes that's a big difference between the programs here and there!

Our first competition level has this routine:
- chin up pullover from hang
- two casts to horizontal
- forward roll to pike hold 2s
- L-hold 2s
- hollow-arch-toes up to bar to start a swing
- 3 tap swings to horizontal

The second competitive level is done on single wooden bar and has:
- hollow-arch-toes up to bar to start a swing
- 0-2 swings
- long hang kip (or if they don't have it, they can do long hang pullover from swings and take 0,5 deduction) - cast to horizontal - long hang pullover - BHC - underswing
- 2 swings, release the bar at back swing and dismount

The third one is almost the same as USAG level 5, but they don't need to have clear hip circle connected to kip yet, they just land the clear hip (45 degrees over horizontal) to a block or spring board and then pullover.

I see the benefits or doing it our way, but also the benefits of doing it the USAG way. I think that our way prepares the gymnasts better for giants and flyaways, and the USAG system prepares better for kip and clear hip.
I don't see the benefit of the USAG way at all. I have said for years that our routines should have a second component of 5 tap swings.
Very cool. I didn’t realize strap bar was part of the official curriculum. At my gym it takes the girls like 15 minutes to put of their straps, so I am grateful I don’t have to teach strap bar to lower levels 😂
Yes it's a bit of a struggle sometimes to get the straps on, but on the days we do straps they have their gloves on the whole time so all the side stations can be done with gloves on. That helps a bit! And we help them with the straps. We have the luxury of having an in ground pit strap bar, so one of them can get ready on the other side when one of them is swinging. And we also have another separate high metal bar. They learn to put them on quite fast when they get used to it. Putting on grips takes longer, but you only have to do it once ofc!

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