Monday, July 5, 2010
Q: Gymnastic camp goals?
Ah, tis the season for gymnastics camp. Yay! By Kat's request, I'm going to go over a few goals for compulsory and early optional level gymnasts to work on while they're at camp. Obviously it depends on where you're at with your gymnastics and how prepared you are for the upcoming season, so this will be a very general overview, keeping in mind that most girls enjoy learning upper-level skills during their time at gym camp. Obviously you're going to need to listen to your coaches and do only the skills that they feel you're ready for in order to avoid injury.
Rising Level 4s: The most important thing, for ALL levels, is to make sure your skills are solid for your next competitive season. To be honest I don't know a lot about the level 4 requirements, since I began competing at level 5. But once you've got your skills and routines down well, I think the next most important thing is to start working kip drills. Kips take quite a while for some girls to learn, so starting early will never hurt. Fun new skill for level 4s to try: dive rolls.
Rising level 5s (for you, Kat!): Once you've gotten all your level 5 skills down (cartwheel on beam, front hip circle, RO BHS BHS, a strong vault, and glide and long hang kips being the most important skills in my opinion), start working on connecting great casts to your kips. If you can get a kip cast-handstand, or just a cast-handstand alone, that would be an awesome step to serve you well in future levels. Maybe you could work back handspring back tucks on the tumble track or into the pit, and you could even start twisting if your coaches think it's a good idea (though level 5 is pretty premature for twists). If you can get a roundoff back handspring with a great, high set at rebound, you're already preparing well for level 6. If you're like my new gymnast friend, Kat, starting to work back walkovers on a straight line to prepare for level 6 beam wouldn't hurt. I would also suggest doing a few clear hip drills - but don't go overboard with all this new, high-level stuff. I know it's exciting to learn new skills, but the most important thing is that you're totally ready to compete come October (or whenever your season begins). You might think your routines are perfect, but there's always something you can polish up. Camp is going to help you with that, since you'll have new opinions and perspective from different coaches. Fun new skill for level 5s to try: aerials.
Rising Level 6s: For me, back walkovers on beam were always an issue. Camp will be a great place to perfect that move. Again, the various opinions from different coaches will help you to figure out where the problems are stemming from and how to fix them (that applies to everything you'll learn). Work baby giants, your tumbling pass on floor, of course your handspring vault - maybe even a half-on or something of that nature to mix things up, etc. Things you can start working on to get ready early for optionals of course are your giants and your back handspring on beam, which you can practice on floor beam. This is also the perfect time to get a teeny bit of experience with twisting your tumbling passes. Try that into the pit, on a tramp, or whatever your coaches suggest for you. Fun new skill for level 6s to try: arabian fronts and tsuk drills.
Rising Level 7s: This is where it gets tricky, since not everyone competes the same exact skills in this level. You're going to have to use your own judgment to determine what exactly you need to learn. Typically, giants connected to layout flyaways, back handsprings on beam, and layout fulls will be good things for 7s to work on at camp. Tsukahara drills may not be necessary for all gymnasts, but for a lot of you it could be great preparation for level 8. This will be a really exciting time also to try interesting new beam mounts and dismounts. I competed a gainer dismount in level 7 and really enjoyed it. The cool thing about going to camp as a new optional is that even if you already have your routines set, you can always find a way to add more difficult skills (of course within the requirements) that you've learned at camp into your routines. Fun new skill for level 7s to try: double back flyaway into the pit.
Rising Level 8s: In my personal opinion, it'll be very important to work on connecting your new tumbling series on beam and polishing your tuck, handspring, etc. Those deductions get a lot of level 8s, so perfecting that now will give you an edge during the season. Whatever vault you're planning on performing during level 8, make it bigger and better right now. If it's a tsukahara, yurchenko drills might be fun. Definitely work on transition moves on bars (pak salto, shootover, staddle back, whatever - for me that took a long time to learn) and cleaning up your pirouettes. Fun new skill for level 8s to try: front giants.
Alright, that's as far as I'm gonna go with that. It all gets too complicated in the upper optional levels, since there is so much variation in the skills gymnasts compete. But if you're going to camp or just doing some fun new stuff during summer gymnastics practice, I hope this has been helpful! And have fun at camp!