The competitive program uses the Junior Olympic Program originally developed in the USA. It comprises 10 levels, with levels 1-5 being compulsory and levels 6-10 being optional. In levels 1-5 all the skills, routines and dance are exactly the same and must be performed in a very specific and exacting manner. In levels 6-10 there are still specific requirements that must be met, however, you can perform the skills that work best for each individual athlete to meet those requirements.
During competitions the girls are judged and receive a score out of 10 based on how well the skills are executed. The program is founded on the belief that all athletes must have a solid foundation, regardless of potential. The program is a 12 month commitment, with some flexibility offered during the summer months.
Competitive Gymnastics is an exacting and demanding sport in which the athlete is attempting to attain perfection. The sport takes a great deal of time and repetition to learn skills correctly and increase strength. It really is a sport unlike many others. Gymnasts are among the strongest athletes on the planet who make their sport look effortless. From the very beginning of the sport to the highest levels, gymnasts have to work very hard to learn, perfect and perform consistent skills. To that end, it takes a certain work ethic to really excel in the sport. Those who are extremely intrinsically motivated will do better as gymnasts then those who need external motivation. If your daughter is considering competitive gymnastics or is already in the sport they need to be aware that they must be highly driven from within.
Gymnastics is a sport in which skills and strength can be lost quickly, therefore regular attendance is vital. If skills are done consistently, they also tend to be safer as the athlete is doing them regularly. Ideally, athletes should be attending 85-100% of classes. Issues like illness and injury are acceptable reasons for missing occasional practices. Extra curricular school sports, while fun and exciting, should not consistently interfere with gymnastics practices. If your daughter is choosing to do other sports that interfere with gymnastics and will take training time away, she may not be ready to compete. If several practices are missed (15% or more), it will be up to the coach whether or not to allow the athlete to compete.
Attendance during the summer months is also vital. We do expect and allow for several weeks of vacation time, however,
taking the entire summer off is very detrimental to the development of the athletes, unless there are extenuating circumstances. The summer months in addition to September and October, are the main skill development phases during the year. If an athlete takes the whole summer off, they usually don’t get back to their previous skill level until around November, and by that time we are back to routines. It is vital that attendance at the gym is a priority if you choose to do competitive gymnastics.