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!


  1. I'm a level 3 and have ALL of the skills down, I have all my level 4 skills except the bhs. I have my punch front on floor, cartwheel on beam, front hipcircle, squat on jump to highbar, and tap swings with the level 5 dismount, and on vault I almost have my front handspring, on tumble trac I have double front handspring front. What should I work on in camp beside my back handspring, and back tuck?

  2. I think somebody needs to talk with their coaches about skipping level 4... lol. Goodness, girl! You only need a few more skills (granted, not easy skills to learn) before you'd be level-5 ready. At camp, focus primarily on getting your back handspring and especially your vault. You can't move forward without them, but other than that you've got so much down. Do you have a back hip circle? Kip cast squat on? Front handspring? Level 5 beam dismount and full turn? If not, those are all great things to work on. I'm assuming that you have some of these skills already and just didn't tell me every single thing you can do. Keep in mind I'm focusing on level 5 skills here, not level 4. Getting ahead won't hurt as long as you feel like your level 4 routines are solid. Good luck!

  3. I'm working the kip! It's really hard for me to do! And I do have my back hipcircle. I've got my front handspring I just have to work on the form. I'm working on the beam dismount, I'm getting better! I have my full turn I just have to get it to where its not sloppy(: My back handspring is primary focus this week! I really hope I'll be able to skip level 4 because I'm 12 and I got a tremendous late start but my goal in life is to become an elite gymnast. That's why I've worked my butt off at the camp! I pulled a muscle in my hip a camp and I still pushed through the pain to stick my punch front! I'm determined to work on my bhs, then better fhs, and then kip cast squat on and then the beam dismount! Thanks so much for the advice you're a big help! Pray for me that I get to skip 5 hahh!!! Thankss sooo muchh!!!!!

  4. Don't work so hard that you get hurt!! Just so you know, it is possible to skip ahead one level mid-season. You could begin by competing level 4 and possibly move to 5 during that season once your coaches think you're ready. Talk to them about that! :)

  5. Hi!(: Well, I have a question about this camp I may go to...I currently am enrolled in this 4 week summer session at this gym that i like, but it is very small and not very competitive. I was thinking of going to this "sampler" camp in august, for three hours a morning for one week. (5 days) At that same gym, I was looking at their competitive program, and they have the regular USAG teams like most gyms I've seen do. But then I saw a club team? It said that boys and girls from kindergarten to high school could join, and would compete against other club teams, what is the difference between this and the USAG teams? Do I have to be in a certain level to join? Cause I'm only in level 2. :/ And there were only like 8 people that joined it last year. Would this be better for me, or not?
    Thanks so much!!(:

  6. To be honest, I'm kind of confused about that. Usually when people refer to "club gymnastics" they mean that it is a private gym like the one's you've seen, and there is usually a team program within that gym. When you join a gymnastics club it's like you have a membership there, so it's not exactly like a summer camp - if you take lessons at a club you can sign up for different sessions throughout the year and continue to move up through the levels in that gym.

    But I'm really not sure what they mean, differentiating a club team from a USAG team. It may be really popular but I just never experienced it, so I have no clue. Sorry I couldn't help you out! I would just call the gym and ask, or have a parent do it. They'll be happy to let you know :) And good luck with your gymnastics!

  7. ok, thanks.(: haha, ya...i have no idea what they mean either. I'll have my mom or dad call or something. Thanks though!