Spotting Talent

Part 2

Flexibility

Flexibility works hand-in-hand with strength. A combination of the two in a gymnast is a step towards perfection, as long as they know how to control their body (i.e. using their strength to not allow themselves be too flexible eg. over-twisting in the splits). I often find it more impressive to watch a more flexible gymnast on the beam or floor, rather than a gymnast who is mainly powerful, as some of the moves such as a split leap can be so beautiful to watch as opposed to powerful tumbling moves. Although not every great gymnast is naturally flexible, it is something you can develop over time.

 

Attitude and Dedication

Above all, a gymnast must be determined. Gymnastics is a difficult sport, watching your team mates achieving a move before you can be frustrating. Working for months and months on a move can be so hard, so tiring and frustrating but it’s having the will and determination to carry on that gets you through. Everyone can’t have  a “can do” attitude all of the time, and more than likely, I’d get annoyed with them if they did! With gymnastics you must have an open mind, you need to be able to take risks with a willingness to learn and listen to criticism. It can be tough to be a gymnast.

 

 

 

  

 

 

Other Factors

There are also many other factors to consider when looking for your ideal gymnast. Such as, are the parents dedicated enough and willing to travel across the country for competition or to bring their child to training practice however often they might train?  I have been told about parents who are not willing to help their child progress.

For example, one parent found it inconvenient to bring her daughter to training. he little girl, has the full package, the physique of a gymnast and all of the above mentioned qualities. The child is now training one hour a week in the recreation class, in my opinion wasting her talent. The coach has said that she has so much potential but will go nowhere with her one hour training a week which she appears to thoroughly enjoys. I think it is an awful shame.

 

Personally, from my studies in college, I have found  a common trend in particular body types. I have noticed that gymnasts with a long, leaner body, they tend to be less flexible, more graceful at dance moves and not always as strong as other body types. Smaller, stockier looking gymnasts seem to be powerful and excel in strength, especially shoulders and legs.  Their flexiblity tends to be relatively good but not the best and their dancing and choreography appears to be less co -ordinated and graceful as opposed to the longer, leaner looking gymnast.  This does not deter me from selecting a gymnast to invite into the competitive class but it is something I look very closely at to understand the gymnast better. 

 

 

Have I found the perfect gymnast?

I currently train a small group of 7 – 9 year olds at competitive level.  They are all extremely talented. One of the girls in particular outshines the rest in her approach to training. Although the youngest at seven, she is powerful, strong, flexible, determined and always has a smile on her face. In my years of coaching, I have not come across someone as young who listens to everything I say so intently and then puts this into practice. She is an inquisitive little madam but I am glad she is. I am yet to come across the perfect gymnast but this little lady certainly comes close.

2 Comments

  1. I was lucky that I was always encouraged and given whatever it took to improve my skills, including 35+ hours training some weeks, and while it definitely can be, and is, tough, it’s completely worth, and it may be grueling and seem pointless but when you land that first double layout properly it’s a moment you’ll never forget.

  2. Admin says:

    You’re right Alan, encouragement is always needed when coaching in any sport. It takes a lot of guts to do so many of the moves in gymnastics so I always try to encourage as best I can. The effort and long hours are definitely tough but I agree, the moment you land that move you’ve worked on so hard to perfect, you’ll never forget it!

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