What Does It Take To Become An Elite Gymnast? | Gymnastics GL

What Does It Take To Become An Elite Gymnast?

In American artistic gymnastics there are levels 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10. A gymnast is not allowed to skip a level, but may compete in more than one each year. These levels were designed to train gymnasts with specific skills that prepare them for elite competitions. It is from the elite level that Olympians and international competitors are selected.


Can Anyone Be Tested For The Elite Level?

Any gymnasts can ask to be tested for the elite level. Every region hosts one or more annual Elite Program Qualification tests. The test consists of a physical abilities test, compulsory, and optional test. If a gymnast succeeds by testing, they automatically qualify to compete in one to four elite meets per year.

The Tops Program

Many gymnasts train in the Tops program for a few years before testing for Elite. The Tops, or Talent Opportunity Program, is for particularly talented girls between the ages of 7 and 11. They are selected by their instructors on the basis of talent, flexibility, speed, agility, and strength. After having been recognized by their coaches, they are required to take special training classes which concentrate on specific conditioning exercises. Every year, in June or July, the girls are tested on several skills they have worked on. If they are able to perform them at the highest level, they are invited to participate in a national test.

What Are Some Of Conditioning Exercises?

Some of the strength and flexibility exercises are: vertical jumps, leg lifts, rope climbing in the pike position, bridges, right and left leg splits, press handstands, cast handstands, and handstand holds.

Becoming an elite gymnast requires focusing on long-term goals. Quite often instructors focus their training efforts on the present competition year, instead of also concentrating on developing the necessary skills that lead to high level optionals. On the other hand, there are many coaches who understand the extra time and effort needed to reach the elite level and are just happy to have a good level 10 gymnast.

Video: Elite Gymnastics Training-GL

Some Tips

Even if you never mange to reach the elite level, there are still many things that you can do with your gymnastics. You can still compete and learn exciting new skills. You could even reach college-level gymnastics.


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