In a sport as complex as gymnastics, things aren’t always going to go as intended in either practice or competition. It goes without saying that in order to deliver a ‘hit routine’ in competition, the athlete would have ‘failed’ at delivering the routine hundreds of time prior in training.
This phase is inevitable as the athlete not only rehearses a new construction of routine or incorporates new elements, but as they build the physical and mental endurance to deliver a routine from start to finish.
This has never been as important as when constructing, practising and performing BAR routines, due to the long series of elements required in a competitive exercise.
No two bar routines are EVER the same and a coaches role is to develop athletes who can adapt and be comfortable with the subtle differences that each routine will have. This might be a short upstart (kip) handstand, or maybe even catching the bar too close (or far) on a flight element.
Enforcing a rule that routines should always go from start to finish is important also. Too many athletes are given the opportunity to recommence their routine after falling early on in the performance. This doesn’t happen in competition, and shouldn’t happen in training. Enforce a ‘get to the end by any means necessary’ policy, and make use of switch glides and turns from both handstands and giants to allow an athlete to get back on track if they fail a handstand or alternative skill.
If you want to be really smart, you can construct a routine which lends itself to an escape route, allowing the athlete greater room for error without being overly detrimental to the final performance and difficulty if required to be used.
If your athlete hasn’t practiced this ‘persistent’ approach to performing a routine cleanly in training, then don’t expect them to be able to perform it in competition. Desperation to perform clean will wreak havoc if unfamiliar, not to mention the fact that performing a routine of greater length is more physically demanding and requires preparation for.
Routine errors happen at the very highest level of our sport, but many times go unnoticed. Experienced athletes are accustomed to disguising their errors with clever escape routes, one’s which they have practiced several times in training when things hadn’t gone to plan!
Nick’s Top tips for preparing your athletes for a non- perfect routine:
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