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“Count” Your Training, Not Your Medals

Training Log #8:

By: Greg V Roe

When I was a young athlete in gymnastics, my coaches taught us a simple “Hit or Miss” system of counting our trainings. They gave us a small book that I would carry around with me as I trained on each apparatus. As I did routines or skills, I would write “H” or “M,” to represent if I had hit or missed the targets I and my coach had set for that day. It was a very easy way for my teammates and I to track both daily and long term progress, since we did it every training.

One thing I have noticed is that acrobatics does not have many tests that measure athlete or coaching ability. Sure you can count your medals or look at your score to see how you are doing when you have a competition, but since these are only sparsely scattered throughout the year for non-NCAA athletes, how well are you really standing up to your own goals on a daily basis? The best athletes are not the ones who win medals necessarily; the best athletes are the ones who truly understand what they are doing and leave a new concept in the industry, not just regurgitate what others have done for decades.

This “Hit or Miss” system was a way for us to not measure how good the skill was, but how that training went. If I was on fire that day, I could get 7-9 hits out of 10 for a skill’s progression. It gave me confidence with that skill. Before a competition, we would have to do 6 routines on each event (36/day) everyday for two weeks before competition. This built confidence as well, as I had daily accomplishment goals to focus on, not just the score. This way, I knew what place I would be in before I even got to the competition, based on my little H & M book that had nothing to do with pointed toes, but my personal progression.

So many coaches are focused on scores and not on the athletes who go up and down in both their trainings and competition results, like they are on a rollercoaster ride for 15 - 20 years as they progress through the sport. I suggest athletes look at this H & M system and see if they can apply it to their training. Keep track of your training, not your individual medals.

One thing I have also noticed is there tends to be two types of athletes. There are the young athletes who do really well at the lower levels because routines tend to be more compulsory and very systematic. These athletes tend to not stick around for the bigger skills because they tend to be more analytic, holding back when they really need to "go for it" in that moment to win. Then you have the athletes who are not always on the podium at the lower levels of competition, but win the bigger competitions later on. They are more exploratory in nature, not so analytical. They tend to focus on trying new things and not so much about perfecting every aspect of their routine in the younger years. I notice the latter group tends to have long term success If they stick with it for the long haul.

The moral of this trend - - athletes and their coaches should focus on the development of the athlete, not the competition results. Competitions in the younger years are still valuable, but not for the results, for the additional training they provide; such as, performing under pressure, learning to focus and giving athletes something to strive towards. Results will come if you stick with it long enough, but if an athlete doesn’t build confidence in training itself, they will tend to fall off the path before they even get to competition.


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