Compulsory Level Skills are Not Always Used at Higher Levels of Competition.About half of Compulsory level skills, especially bar skills, are never used at the higher optional levels of competition. This means that about half of Compulsory practice time is used on skills that will not be used later in a gymnast's career.
There is More to Gymnastics than Compulsories.The emphasis of many teams, coaches, gymnasts and parents seems focused on doing everything possible on winning at the Compulsory levels, as if that were the best and most important way to develop into a successful high level optional gymnast. Actually, the most important things for a young gymnast are to develop a high level of gymnastics strength and flexibility and to begin to train for the high level skills that will be used later in their career. In the long run, this is significantly more important to future gymnastics success than anything that has to do with Compulsories.How Do We Know This is True?.We know this because most of the gymnasts on the USA Olympic and World Championship teams trained in special developmental programs like the USA Gymnastics TOP program and the USAIGC (United States Association of Independent Gymnastic Clubs) STEP program.
Both of these programs and similar programs developed by top Elite coaches emphasize strength and flexibility development first and the development of future optional skills.Not Enough Years for Compulsory Only Programs.There are seven competitive levels of compulsories and optionals in the USAG program from Level 4 to Level 10. Add 7 years to a gymnast's age and you will see the best case scenario for them reaching Level 10. Add a couple more years for succeeding at the Elite level and you can see that trying to follow the Compulsory path may take you more years than you have left in your career. If you did not start Level 4 gymnastics competition by at least age 7 or 8, you may very well run out of years to successfully compete at the Elite Level before you graduate from high school.
Higher Levels are Harder.And if it takes a whole year to get through the easy Compulsory skills, isn't it likely going to take more than a year to learn considerably more difficult high level optional skills in only one year. This is why successful high level coaches and gymnasts get a head start on teaching and learning future optional skills, instead of spending all of their time working only compulsory skills.The News is Not All Bad.Compulsories are an okay way to learn to compete. The only way to really learn how to compete is to actually compete.
Gymnasts must learn to deal with all the factors that affect competition performances, like crowds of people watching, different gyms, competing after traveling and nerves. So assuming a gymnast is primarily concentrating on strength, flexibility and optional skill progressions, competing at a compulsory level could have some positive benefits.The Path to Elite.There are other ways to learn to compete, most notably, the USAIGC Optional Only Competitive levels. In fact, a number of our female Olympians and World Championship team members have trained only in TOP or STEP programs, competed in USAIGC meets for competition experience and then tested directly into Elite and never used the compulsory system at all.Find a Compulsory/Optional and Present/Future Balance.
None of this is to say that Compulsory gymnastics does not have a place in the sport, but gymnasts and parents should be aware of all the alternatives and what current compulsory gymnasts can and should be doing. Coaches and gymnasts should find the correct balance between spending time on Compulsory skills and routines and training for future optional gymnastics success..For More Information.
For even more of this type of in-depth information about the Compulsory levels you found in this article and other interesting and informative products, see our list of e-Books at: http://gymnasticszone.com/eBooks.htm.
15 Books and Counting.John Howard is the author of 15 books and e-Books about gymnastics, gym design, gymnastics humor and cheerleading. More books are already on the way. He has 25 years experience and has coached State, Regional and National champion gymnasts, international competitors and cheerleaders at the National level in NCAA Division I.Enter the Gymnastics Zone.GymnasticsZone.
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By: J Howard