TRAINING to COMPETE

Information for parents of gymnasts in NDP Squads or Development Programs

ALL gymnasts who are accepted into an NDP Squad or Development Program will begin ‘Training to Compete”.

The purpose of the NDP programs is to prepare gymnasts for Competitive Gymnastics and therefore if this is not something you or your child want, please ask about other programs.


It takes at least one year to prepare a gymnast for their first County or Regional competition. Once the necessary elements have been learned and understood we begin the process of perfecting and refining the performance of these skills. Then the elements have to be put into a routine(s), which the gymnast needs to know inside out. As well as all this we are preparing the young gymnast psychologically for the event so that they can be as comfortable as possible to enjoy their experience. As you can imagine this all takes a great deal of care, attention and importantly, time... and whilst we are preparing them for their first competition, we are also building into the program the necessary preparations, progressions and exercises to enable them to gain the next level of skills for the next years event... This takes us all a fair few steps away from the days of attending a Recreational class once per week, in terms of commitment from gymnasts, coaches and of course parents!
Gymnasts who can be described as those “Training to Compete” are those who we hope may be able to represent the Club at County or Regional events within the coming 14 months.


TRAINING COMMITMENT

Gymnasts who wish to enter competition must ensure that they are committed to training all the hours made available to them particularly in the run up to the event. In the 8 weeks prior to the event, it is expected that gymnasts do not miss any training sessions in order to ensure maximum possible physical and psychological preparation. This includes all training sessions made available to them including sessions during school holidays and any additional sessions that the coach marks as compulsory.

INJURIES & ILLNESS

Injuries and illness happen, it’s a fact of life and we recognise that sometimes the gymnast is not well enough to attend training. This is why it is important to take regular attendance seriously at all other times.
Minor injuries can be dealt with by resting the injured part of the body whilst still working on other aspects of training and therefore in the run up to a competition gymnasts should be prepared to attend training in spite of minor injury. Psychological readiness is as important as physical readiness. HOWEVER if the gymnast has a minor injury it is imperative that the coach be made aware of it!

CLUB COMMITMENT & EVENTS

As per guidelines set out by British Gymnastics, when a gymnast is training to compete at a club, it is NOT appropriate for him/her to train at another club without the express permission of the head coach of the primary club. If your gymnast participates anywhere else, it is important that this is discussed with us. This does not need to apply to school classes/clubs unless they are competing for the school. If you are thinking of moving clubs then please read the guidelines regarding this very carefully as they are designed to protect the children from any negative issues arising from the move.

For gymnasts on the Competitive and Performance programs, Club events such as the Club Championships and Annual Display are regarded as compulsory. If you find that your gymnast is otherwise committed on the dates of these events you must inform the coach as soon as possible. Coaches reserve the right to review the place for any gymnast who declines entry to competitions outside or within the club without good reason.

CHOREOGRAPHY OF ROUTINES

Choreography of Floor routines when needed for competition or performance is charged separately from regular fees as it requires a couple of hours of specific preparation and one to one teaching. There is more information about this on the Routine Choreography page. The routines will continue to be polished and altered where necessary by the coach after the initial choreography is completed.

TRAINING UNIFORM & ATTIRE

Squad Training leotards should be worn for Tuesday Training every week, and any other time that the coach requests that the group do so.  Please check the NDP Uniform page for details.  Gymnasts are expected to follow the club rules regarding dress and jewellery and to attend all training sessions with their hair neatly and securely tied up.

COMPETITION ATTIRE / KIT

Competition attire and Kit should be ordered and purchased by any member of a program who is Training to Compete in good time for their competition. Please check well in advance that all items fit so that you can re-order or make other arrangements if not.
Competition attire / Kit includes:

  • Competition Leotard (and shorts for boys)*

  • Club Tracksuit

  • Squad/Discipline T-shirt

  • Club Bag

  • Plain WHITE socks

  • Any other items that the coach in charge of the team may wish them to wear in order to define the identity and spirit of the team.

Please refer to the details that your coach gives you for how and when to order or purchase Competition Attire / kit however as a general guide...
Club Tracksuits, Bags and T-shirts can all be ordered from the Club Website under Uniform & Kit (delivery time is between 2 and 4 weeks).
Competition Leotards are usually ordered through the Coach and need to be ordered well in advance.

*For Acrobatics and some Regional/National Artistic Competitions it is required that they have the Training Leotard to competitions as they will warm up in that ant then change into their competition wear before their performance. Gymnasts should check this with their coach.

WHAT GOALS DO WE SET FOR COMPETITION

Individual goals are set for competition to give the gymnasts something to aim for. The first goal is simply to be ready and have as many of the skills under their belts as possible to as high a standard as they can. After this we may set a goal for children to simply pass a grade, if we think it is realistic we may say the goal s to achieve a top 10, 20 or 30 placement at the event or to get a Distinction. It may be to get an overall average mark higher than the one in their practice event. Ultimately when it comes down to it on the day we acknowledge how hard the gymnasts have worked to get there in the first place and accept their performance as the best possible for the day. What counts most of all is the hard work they put in to get there.

We believe that competition should be character and confidence building, not traumatic, I’m sure as parents you would agree totally with this! Children will learn how to deal with nerves, and be able to feel proud of their own abilities to get up and perform in front of a crowd. It can be a wonderful, exciting and rewarding experience and there are many life-skills to be gained from it.

HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT YOUR CHILD

The obvious ways of supporting your competitive gymnast are to get him/her to training on time and regularly, feed him/her well, support any home practice and communicate with their coach to maintain a good and open relationship.

Some parents find it beneficial to reward gymnasts for their performance by way of gifts or treats... If the gymnast is self-motivated, bribery as such should not be necessary but it can be a nice way of recognising their hard work. I don’t think there is any harm in this in theory...

after all when we as adults work hard we reap the rewards, but as far as possible, try to reward the effort rather than the result as so often the results are not in the control of the child. In addition, any rewards offered should, as far as possible, not be time-limited or limited to one event.

Gymnasts can have bad days and they can make errors. No child should be allowed to feel less because they do not achieve a set goal at a certain time so saying, “You can have a new xxx if you score xxx at this competition”, may not be the most appropriate way to phrase it.
It is much better to simply say, “When you achieve xxx you can have xxx”...

If you want to offer rewards for a particular competition performance make sure there are at least two ways of them getting the ‘prize’ and encourage them to set the goals themselves. Above all, please remember that it is a really tough challenge to perform in front of a crowd and your child will be aware of the coaches and the judges monitoring the quality of their performance and technique. Acknowledge any mistakes in a positive, forward-looking way but always ensure they know how proud you are of them, regardless of the result at any competition.  There is more information about how you can support your child in their competitive Gymnastics journey on the 'How to Support your Gymnast' Page

WITHDRAWING FROM A COMPETITION

Coaches reserve the right to approach the subject of pulling a gymnast out of a competition, regardless of any payment having been made, if it is evident that the gymnast is under- prepared for what-ever reason. It may be in the best interests of the gymnast not to enter the particular event. In any case such as this it is important that it is discussed in full with the parent before any decision is made. All gymnasts are unique and such decisions will be made on an individual basis with the best interests of the child at the absolute forefront of the decision. We ALWAYS put the child first, and would hope to combine our own experience in the sport with the parent’s deeper knowledge of the child in order to make the correct decision.