Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Years Resolutions

After a long year it is advisable for all gymnasts and other athletes to look back on the year that just passed and look forward to the year ahead and make some new years resolutions.

We encourage our gymnasts to set realistic goals that are measurable and in their own control. The goals should be their own but we try to steer them into the right direction.

Some of my favorite are:

  1. I will stay positive and productive
  2. I will always arrive to practice on time 
  3. I will stay the whole practice
  4. I will leave problems / disruptions from the outside word out of  the Gym
  5. I will make every round count
  6. I will make every practice count 
  7. I will be better today than I was yesterday. I will be better this week than I was last week 
  8. I will always be ready for any assignment be it a workout selection or competition
  9. I will be a role model for my younger teammates 
  10. I will be .......
Try to make the resolutions be what you want to do not what you do not want to do. Er can then take the best resolutions and use them as weekly goals for our gym.

Of course it is also possible to set specific goals like

  1. I will finish my level
  2. I will make the national team
  3. I will have all the special requirements on all pieces
  4. I will stay on beam 
  5. I will ....
Just make sure that the goals are attainable and realistic. When the goals are set work out how to reach them brake them into small steps and list them also. 

Happy new year 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Stay fit over Christmas break

For athletes working out almost every day of the year staying fit over the holidays may seem difficult at times. For some it is the longest holiday of the year including traveling and a lot of family dinners and other parties. The season is just around the corner and we do not want to return unfit back to practice.
There are a few rules that make things easier without having to miss out on all the fun. The break days might not be 12 but here are 12 easy rules to follow.

  1. Begin the day with a healthy breakfast
  2. Take a brisk walk with a family member every day 
  3. Before a party have a healthy snack 
  4. Eat slowly - enjoy the things you choose to eat 
  5. Pick a seat far away from the candy bowl 
  6. Pick the things that you really want to eat do not eat them all 
  7. Do not stuff your plate have smaller portions 
  8. Drink a lot of water 
  9. If people are dancing join them 
  10. If people are singing join them 
  11. If it is snowing go out to play 
  12. Gymnastics is the living room sport find some space to do push ups, presses handstands some ab work etc
These are my 12 rules for Christmas - have a happy healthy holiday

Merry Christmas 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Now in Local News - GYmnastics nr 4

The Icelandic Sports and Olympic committee has just released its statistics for participation in 2012. A country of about 320.000 yes that is right we are not even a million for those who did not know. Like in most countries Football/Soccer is by far the largest with some 19000 then Golf and horseback riding but finishing just outside the podium Gymnastics with 9656!!! almost ten thousand out the three hundred thousand do gymnastics of some sort and are registered into the Icelandic Gymnastics Federation. I would think that is some kind of a world record.
In the Reykjavik area there are at least 6 specialized gymnastics halls and two being built or planned to supply the demand. Quite a lot for a city of 150.000 inhabitants. The federation has now more staff members including a National team director for all disciplines WAG, MAG and TeamGym and National coaches for these sports although only in a part time positions.
The biggest job for all involved will be to keep those already taking part and increase visibility and international results.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Olympic effect part 2

The legacy created at the Olympics is hard to escape. Since it is the only competition that really matters especially in women´s artistic gymnastics coaches of the high level teams and their organisations make every effort to make a big splash at the games. It even came down to coaches not wanting their gymnasts to take part in major competitions before the Olympics as was the case in 1983 when neither Mary Lou Retton nor Dianne Durham two of Bela´s best hopes of getting medals in the 1984 games. This was of course before the boycott of the Soviets was announced and the medal hopes of these girls were greatly hightened. Not only was there home advantage but also no real competition. In Mary Lou´s case it might have been right to hide her from international judges especially in compolosories where her lack of grace and flexibility were obvious. As we all know Bela managed to prime her to her abilities for this competition and she became a legend not only in the gymnastics world but also in the real world. But she never even competed in a World Championships. Bela did not really want to send his next generation to worlds 1987 but was forced into doing so. He was quoted saying worlds are just another competition with a different format. Maybe realizing that his gymnasts were not in their best shape and far and away from the standards set by the Russians and the Romanians.

In 1991 Kim Zmeskal was the reigning world champion coming into the Barcelona Olympics. She even won two titles at the strangely timed Paris worlds hosted in the spring of 1992. Obviously beaten up by the time of the games Kim and the girls that survived the strangest and in the opinion of many (ask the other Kim) were injured and over worked. Zmeskal the reigning world champion on beam fell off on a back handspring and with it the dreams of Olympic glory fame and fortune.

Few now remembers Kim the world champion of Indianapolis those who remember her remember the girl who didn´t win the Olympics. At those games another American stole the show Shannon Miller but she also lost to an ex-Soviet gymnast. Shannon however won the next two Worlds and becoming one of the few to do so. A fact only gymnastics fans are aware of. By the Atlanta games Miller was past her prime but managing to win an additional gold on the beam to go with her Team medal. The star of the team became as we know Kerri Strug. Not for her great gymnastics but for her courage and fighting spirit. Much to the dismay of her better and higher scoring teammates she became the most famous of them all. Kerri never won an individual world or Olympic medal but her story is maybe the most frequently told and watched on youtube.

It makes no difference that the US would have won the competition without her risking her already injured ankle.
But this is the Olympic effect. If you stand out (although you might not win) at the games it does not really matter what else you do are have done to the common viewer. Just remember Nadia was never the AA world champion nor was Olga or Mary Lou or Nastia but those are the names remembered till this day. This is the unfair spell of the only gymnastics competition that really matters.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Olympic effect - part 1

In the real world there is only one gymnastics competition that really matters. This competition only comes every four years and is televised around the clock every newspaper carries detailed coverage and the cyber media goes crazy.
The preparation time given to the host city is seven years but of course the process of applying for the games takes much longer and some cities or countries apply many times before getting lucky. When the IOC announces the city the work really begins. The host country not only has to put on a perfect show but their athletes also have to be at their best. So funding is pored into every Olympic Sport in the hope that the athletes will be able to bring in the medals at the home Olympics. The problem in artistic gymnastics is that seven years is not enough time to build a world class team. This could be seen in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 when the home teams failed to make an impact in the team competition and in most cases in the individual finals also. I´m not taking into account the very contriversial medal Tambakos got on the rings in 2004. The Greek men seem to be an oddity winning medals before and after the games at the world level in various apparatuses but failing to make an impact as a team.
The interesting thing is how each of these countries "failed" at the games but made a rapid rise afterwards climbing the ladder internationally. The Korean men did not qualify for their own games in 1988 but became a force to be taken seriously in the 1990´s and early 2000´s qualifying for team finals on many occasions and having their best showing in 2004 getting an AA medal. I´m not going into the discussion of the color of the medal (not now anyway). The Spaniards had fine Olympics but not braking into the medals but in the aftermath their teams have been close to the podium specially the women. They have even won gold both in the men´s and women´s apparatus finals at worlds and coming close to doing so at the Olympic games.
In 2000 there was much talk about the Aussie WAG team. They were by some considered medal hopefuls in the team competition although this was an over estimation of the capability of the team. In the competition they even failed to make the top 6 which advanced to the team final at those Olympics. But three years later in Anaheim they came away with the bronze medal and in 2005 Russo won the AA bronze.
This shows us that building a competitive team takes more than the seven years given by the IOC selection process. It takes more like ten years showing in the stories of these three team. If funding is continued and enough interest in the sport has been lit the performance of the teams will continue to rise after the home Olympics.
This could make the future of the GB teams very exciting both for the MAG and WAG teams. The men even managed to get a team medal. But the sad thing could be the stories of the teams that did well at home US in 1984,1996 and China in 2008. After the home Olympics the performances and results declined for some time. Lets hope and I am sure based on the build up and recent results of the British gymnasts that they have not reached their best results yet but will continue with their great work they showed in the Olympic build up.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Success of the US women´s program

In recent years the dominance of the US women has been phenomenal. The team has won almost every title possible at the World and Olympic stage. Of course this did not happen overnight and the team won some very important titles in the 90´s and had some outstanding gymnasts. Most people would point to the presence of the Karolyi duo as the main ingredient and their implementation of the training system begun leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. This gives little credit to personal coaches and all their hard work molding gymnasts from when they are little. A key factor to the success and number of elite gymnasts has to have something to do with the sheer number of girls doing gymnastics in the US. I remember reading that about half of the worlds female gymnasts lived in the US. That may be exaggerated but not to far from the truth. With so many gymnasts and clubs it becomes a system of survival of the strongest. In fact quite similar to the old system of the USSR if you have high enough number at a young age train a lot of hours and numbers you could and probably will end up with a group that survives the system and becomes the champions.
The typical product of this system is quick compact and unbelievably strong. She might or might not have the best technique, grace or toe point on the planet but consistency is a lethal weapon. She is highly competitive and most of them have survived the TOPs program which tests a lot of physical abilities but as I´m told mostly power, quickness and strength.
The typical US girl who has survived the selection process for a major competition  is not very likely to miss a routine. She is though likely to have a injury of some sort (like most of elite gymnasts) but her toughness gets her through the most important part of it all the competition. They are lucky to be accompanied by doctors and physios that take care of them between competitions and training sessions. Using ice, massage, electrotherapy is a favorite pastime of the gymnasts.
It will be interesting to see how many of the last Olympic team will try to make the next one, taking on the new generation whose bodies are more likely to survive the next four years of the most physicly testing training program in the world. All we know that whoever makes the 2016 team will return home with a medal most likely the GOLD.
After those games it will be interesting to see if the USAG will be successful in finding Martas successor in this challenging job and continuing the tradition of the worlds best gymnastics team. If they fail the system might fall apart. We have seen dynasties fail before like in the case of the Soviet Union. Or will the little emphasis the US seems to put on artistry compared to other top nations be the failing of the system and other nations will catch up in the hunt for world domination.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

FIG Academies level III - ten years later

It was almost exactly ten years ago I headed to the famed Lilleshall National training center in England not far from Telford. Based on the success of Runar Alexandersson Iceland got an invitation to attend the first level III Brevet course held. When invited to attend even on very short notice a jumped onto the oppurtunity. The experience was for a somewhat inexperienced coach was thrilling and even live changing. FIG under the guidance of Mr Hardy Fink had gathered some really experienced and famous coaches. The experts were great Leonid Archiev, Octavian Bellu, Bruno Francesettu, dr Salmella, Adrian Stan, Keith Russel, Peter Bruggermann, Brian McVey Vladimir SMOLEVSKI and Eduard Yarov.
The nice facilities  well equipt gymnastics halls huge and the dorms housed in an old Victorian Palace.

The days were filled with interesting lectures but the evenings and meal times were maybe the most interesting part of the course. Most countries in attendance sent their most experienced coaches or coaches with some world class up and coming gymnasts. The conversations ranged from details of techniques of all kinds of elements to the ever ongoing thoughts on talent and talent identification. Me as clearly the newcomer in the group tried to listen in on all these people whom I felt were exploding with wisdom and insight into the great mysteries of world class gymnastics. Most had coached gymnasts to world, european or olympic teams or at least they had competed in on or all of these. I had just months before attended my first world Championships in Anaheim as a judge. 
So many things I learned there I have used both in coaching my own gymnasts and also when lecturing in local coaches coarses. I had the luck of redoing the practical part in 2007 that time listening in more on the coaching of female athletes. There I had the great luck of listening to Valeri Liukin just a year before his daughters triumph in Bejing. 
At the final Banquet my table mates included Ms Nelli Kim and Kim Zmeskal both of whom made me feel quite star struck
These days in mid England ten years ago taught me a ton of things not to mention all the people I got to know many of whom I still meet at major and other competitions. I urge all coaches young and old with much and little experience to attend the FIG academies to further their knowledge of the sport and to make some great contacts in the world of international gymnastics. 

Time passes fast I cant believe its already been ten years so now I think it´s time to attend another academy since our sport never seems to stop evolving. Just hoping my good friend Mr Hardy Fink will make a level 4 I will be the first one to sign up

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Gymnasts that really move you

Once in a while a gymnast comes along that really catches your attention and imagination. This gymnast might not always come out on top in every competition but of course sometimes does. The first one to catch mine and my teammates attention was the Chinese legend Li Ning. One of the teammates had access to a VCR and we would watch his genius over and over again. Sure other gymnasts did similar tricks scored better but Li Ning was the gymnast we wanted to be, We would copy his moves and memorize his routines and argue why the Chinese were so superior to the Soviets.
Of course Li lost the 1983 world crown and the showdown that would have been never took place in LA because of politics.
Li then blew his chance at the gold on one of his easier moves but still we didn´t abandon him. In our minds he was the greatest the best gymnast we had ever seen. Light on his feet, made everything look easy and even the fact that he blew his competition did not break his spirit.

Li never really got the hardware or titles he could have with his immense talent but his legacy lives with us who grew up in the early 1980´s. Now people might argue that Mr Kohei is the greatest gymnasts ever but maybe because I was young when Li was at his best or the fact that he made me want to be a great gymnast (which I didn´t become) in my mind Li Ning is one of the greatest gymnast ever to grace the podiums of gymnastics competitions.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Fun use for skipping ropes

Every once in a while a coach stumbles on a fun way to use a household object to make an old exercise more challenging and fun. Last summer we use to do a lot of rope skipping inside of our gym simply due to the fact that our outdoor running was disrupted due to the coldest summer in 30 years in Iceland. Not only was it cold outside but also raining and not wanting to use to much time changing out of wet clothing we had them all buy skipping ropes.
Then trying to make more use of these ropes we made a few exercises that we could use them.

This was taped on the second day we did these so the form and execution is far from perfect but most of them got a lot better as the summer went on. But this is what you might see the first week of using these exercises.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Coaching girls vs boys - apples and oranges

Even though the politically correct thing is to treat girls and boys the same way believing they like the same things doing things in the same order and in general are the same only difference being that girls are neater and wear pink leotards. 
Being a coach for now close to 25 years I believe that nothing is further from the truth. I sometimes jokingly say that I did things the wrong way round. As a young inexperienced coach I worked a lot with rowdy energetic boys and then later on I switched to older more experienced teenage girls.
But looking at the young generation a lot of things have to be different. A lot different. Young girls come into the gym usually wearing pretty leotards with their hair put up ready to listen to the coach and behaving nicely. These girls are usually patient and ready to repeat pretty little things making things perfect stretching and doing these things to perfection. Then they are ready to do some body work and then over to the apparatuses. They are ready to make everything perfect. Being a cute little gymnast is a cool choice for a young girl. 
The boys on the other hand need totally different program and treatment. Not to say things have to be crazy and undiciplined. Picking gymnastics is not always the coolest things they can choose at least not in every area. 
The program given to boys has to be much more fast paced and structured. Not spend to much time on each event or activity so in a session of 60 minutes there have to be 4 -6 different activities that they attack every session. There can be limited time between activities / events so there is no time to wander off and doing something disruptive to the other gymnasts training in the hall. 
The coach has also to be very clever in tricking the boys into doing a lot of repetitions of the same or similar skill / combinations. The way to do this is to use the imagionation and change a few things that do not really matter but make the boys believe they are doing something totally different. Switching sides on circle work, not always starting in the same corner or going the other way doing pommel work in the beginning and middle of the workout. 
The other important thing in boys training is getting them stronger this is something the boys like and most boys want to get stronger. Make that also into a game measure make records (personal and within the team). We used to make named "clubs" for the amount of circles they could do 15- 25 - 50 - 100. They get to write their name and date on the wall the day they make the allocated number of circles. This can be made  in so many other ways with skills like back tucks, giants etc.
For the boys I feel it is also extremely important that in the end of every practice they have to be allowed to do something exciting. Something fun and different that they can tell their friends who do soccer, track and whatever other activities that are cool in their area. Not to mention if you do something exciting you are willing to come back not knowing which new and exciting things you get to try the next time you show up. 

To centralize or not to centralize

In the late 1980 and earlu 1990 there has been a lot of discussion of which system to adopt in each country to maximize the results of the gymnasts and thus try to secure government support. Looking to the system of USSR and even more so to Romania where gymnasts lived, trained, slept, ate and studied together seemed to be the way to go. Many countries tried this system we have Australia, Belgium, Switzerland and most of the former Eastern  Block nations. There were even talks in other national teams to move the whole teams across countries to have them train together full time. The centralized system sure showed some great results in  some areas specially in Russia and Romania. In other areas results were mixed and even quite meager looking on the resources given to these expensive programs. Most countries have now abandoned these centralized systems and returned to some modified versions of these now the latest the US and France.
To settle the debate I have made a list trying to figure out the pros and cons of each system

Benefits of centralizes systems

  1. Gymnast constantly train with other gymnast of similar level year round
  2. Gymnasts live together, sleep together and are easy to monitor. Nutrition and rest can be monitored but not everybody needs the same treatment. 
  3. In most cases access to the most knowledgeable coaches in each field
  4. Usually there is good access to great facilities which are not over crowded
  5. The possibility of building a strong team unit with gymnasts being around each other 
  6. The National coaches know each gymnasts strengths and weaknesess and have the chance to fix them 
  7. Constant access to medical care physios, doctors,masseurs and others. 
  8. The educational system can take into account the program of the gymnasts like hours of training, competitions and training camps. 
Draw back of centralized system / benefits of decentralized system
  1. Gymnasts are sometimes the only ones in their gym/area of an advanced level. But in most clubs there are younger gymnasts constantly pushing and supporting the elite athlete. 
  2. Living with other athletes and only socialize with them can make live one dimensional and there seems to be no way of escaping the gym even for a short period of time. Also living away from home is not the best way of living for an young adult. Living with a supporting family is the best way for a developing individual. Parents can be educated on nutrition, sleep and other wholesome ways of helping their athletes. 
  3. Even though the national teams try to gather the best coaches it is not certain that the personalities and styles of the gymnasts/coach match. Furthermore giving to few coaches the chance to work with advanced athletes shallows the pool of knowledge. More people with advance knowledge gives more chances of educated discussion of technique and direction of the program. 
  4. In some areas there are no decent facilities although this seems to be changing. In these cases it might be necesarry for an talented gymnast to switch clubs. It is also worthy to remember it is not the facilities that make the gymnast but the work between the coach and gymnast and support of the administration of the club. 
  5. Spending all day every day with gymnast working towards same or similar goals can create friction between gymnasts and thus destroy the team unit.
  6. If only the national staff (which is usually not big in numbers) a small flaw can be overlooked and personal coach who is by now out of the picture has no way of identifying the growing or emerging personal or technical problem. 
  7. In a centralized system there is the possibility of specialized gymnastics based medical team. The answer might be is to contacting a sport oriented clinic educate them about the demands of the sport and be in constant contact with them. In a smaller community it is wise to first contact similar sports such as athletics, swimming and other individual sporting clubs and start a health program with these. 
  8. Education which should be the center aspect of a young adults life can usually be modified to accomondate the schedule of a young persons life. In some cases it is wise to try to take the work load of two years over three years to be able to fit everything in and not loose the athlete. 
Taking the above points into account it seems wise in most countries to stop the centralizing of national teams and try to work in a different way which seems to be the way most countries are working towards. 
These systems will be looked upon in following posts. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Five Favorite Antwerp moments

The recent World championships although slated to be unimportant had some great moments and lots of excitement and fun.
5. The British girls on bars. I was very impressed as most were with the ability of the British ladies to continue with the tradition of the great Beth Tweedle. Their routines were innovative, original with great amplitude and style

The fact that both of these girls main coach is a woman (and so was Beth´s) shows us that it in not vital for a man to coach the bars in these cases it seems better to have women do it. This debunks one of the main myths of gymnastics coaching.

4. Vanessa Ferrari back on the podium. Not only with her usual great tumbling but finally with choreography and presentation that finally matching the world class routine. Her best routine to date.

3. Mustafina. One of my all time favorites and before her injury in 2011 looked to dominate the World scene. Now almost fully to her old self and of all event came up on top on beam not her greatest events. Showing immense inner strength and confidence in her own abilities. Watching her training nervously up until the final this was a true show of character, her greatest strength.

2. American women on vault. Not surprising but pleasing to watch no the less. The block these girls get from the table seems impossible. In the warm up gym it was fun to see the other coaches trying to get pointers and ideas listening in on Akopian coaching Maroney. Now it is only a question who will be the first one to do the illusive TTY.

1. Mens all around. Even though it would have taken a disaster from the king not to come out on top these finals were nail biting from start to finish with great gymnastics from all involved. Personally I was impressed with Sergio Sasaki from Brazil who should at his current improvement rate challenge for an AA medal in Rio The Brits continuing their progress even coming down from their home Olympics. Not to mention the great second coming of the ever popular Fabian Hambuchen

Friday, 6 December 2013

The problem of too much Depth - US women

Looking back over the history of modern Artistic gymnastics there have been very few teams with real depth of talent. Without a doubt the USSR had the most depth on the mens side and the Soviet women almost rivaled the men. Other great teams like Japan, China, Romania, GDR and others have always relied on a relatively thin pool of great gymnasts with the "B" squads being almost average in ability compared with the stars of their teams.

This brings us to the unbelievable number of competitive female gymnast now competing for the USA. At the recent Worlds in Antwerp the US decided to use only Kyla Ross, Maroney og Simone Biles leaving the very talented Brenna Dowell on the sidelines training right up to the last minute literally. The girl was in the warm up gym doing full world class routines until Maroney left for the competition hall next door. To us sharing training time with Brenna and her coaches it seemed very strange not to use her at least on bars where she had by far the most innovative and interesting routine of the whole US team. A real medal contender whom I hope will be representing the US in future major competitions.

Fully worthy to be shown on the podium and reach a final but this can be the problem of representing a to good nation.
Another gymnast which was close to making the US squad the non travelling alternate as I understand is Elizabeth Price a crazy powerful gymnast with tons of difficulty but like so many of the US ladies lacking in polish and artistry. It will be interesting to see how she will do this weekend in Scotland after her impressive but rather nervous showing in Stuttgart few days ago.
There are numerous other gymnast lurking in the shadows in America and surely tons of talented juniors ready to jump into the senior ranks in January. The fight for RIO is starting now.
It is although a worry how few top notch gymnasts survive the massive training load of the Americans. It was at least obvious during the last few major competitions no team trained as hard and with as many repetitions as the US girls. Lets hope the current generation of will stay injury free and history will not repeat itself. The sport needs heros who can last longer inside the sport so we can keep fans interested and grow the following.

Random thoughts on artistry

There is a big dilemma in including artistic component to the judging criteria in Artistic Gymnastics. Most agree that artistry has to be included in the scoring especially to differentiate between gymnasts of similar acrobatic abilities. The problem will always be that the "big" countries with history of great results will always score higher than the none gymnastics nations even though there are very artistic and astheticly pleasing gymnasts from the lesser nations. These will always score lower due to the subjective notion of these scores / deductions. Even when a special price like the Longines Price for elegance is awarded it is usually a nice gymnast with good form and execution who is close to winning the overall price but doesn´t.
Gymnasts such as Kyla Ross and Carly Patterson certenely very nice gymnasts with a lot of power, good form throughout their routines and in both cases it could easily be argued should have won the overall price in  2003 and 2013 respectively. Neither gymnast is though overly artistic their movements and choreography are rather robotic and the choreography well rehearsed is not particulary innovative.
As for the American women why should they change what they are doing. Being so dominant in difficulty, form and power using a lot of time to fix the artistic presentation seem like a waste of time. They are anyway not being deducted in a way that the lesser nations would be if they would show up with artistry of this level. Don´t get me wrong the US girls are great. Powerful and technical but don´t really stand out with personality that is unforgettable.

Kyla clean and precise but to me not very artistic

Afanasieva at the 2012 Olympic games maybe not a lot of difference but to me a really artisticly pleasing routine with some great choreography. A really memorable routine.

I am sure that artistry can be taught just like any part of our sport how else could the soviets have gathered 6 unbelievable gymnast on their 1987 world and 1988 Olympic teams both for the men and the women. And with Moguilny and Omelianchic as team alternates their depth is unquestionable.
Mens soviet team great variations of styles all with great technique and power. One of the greatest mens team ever to put on the competition floor second only maybe to the soviet 1988 team.
The bottom line seems to be the more skills you have to pack in the less time for detail and artistry. The bigger nations will always score higher in a subjective scoring system.
So is it possible to score this important part of our wonderful sport.

Bank - the sticking game

One post season me and my team feeling a little under the weather with the bank collapse and all we decided to make up a game building team spirit and trying to get people to stick their landing under pressure. The idea is simple stolen from the TV show the weakest link. Works very similar but nobody gets voted off.

The gymnasts are split into two teams of equal abilities. A mat/box about 30 cm is put into the middle of the floor and either the coach or an injured gymnast serves as a judge and writes down and calculates the score.
There is no skipping rounds. 
The first gymnast does a back flip (front flip, full, simple jump anything works)
The first jump gets 1 point the next 2 then 4 - 8 - 16 etc. 
But if a gymnast breaks the line and does not stick the line is broken and the team goes back to zero. The only way out if to yell "BANK" before the next jump is made the points already gathered go to the sum but the next stick only gathers one single point then two and so forth. 
The game can either be played on time or until a certain number has bees reaches (for example 200). 
It is also very interesting to see which gymnast always Banks regardless of his /hers ability to stick a landing. 
We even once had to put in a rule that you could not Bank in every round. And always somebody tries to skip his/hers turn. 
The teams tend to be very clever in which order they put their gymnasts up so randomizing the teams is not a bad idea. 
In my experience the kids are crazy about this game maybe because it both challenges them physically and mentally. 
This is a Bank that wont collapse

Preparing for the "off" season

For some the end of season is a dreaded time full of uncertenaties but most gymnasts and coaches look forward to this time in many respects. This should be a time looked forward to and used wisely.
After the last gymnasts last competition every gymnast is on the same page and not preparing for different obligations which can sometimes seem endless.
As we know in artistic gymnastics there never really is an off season but we should try to make the most of the different times of the year to keep up interest and make the most of the time we have in the gym.
Here are some of my ideas on how to use this time most effectively. By making it fun and
1. Gymnasts are usually in top physical shape and have mastered their "old" skills thus ready to try out some new ones. Use this everybody likes to try something new and exciting.
2. It is a great time to reflect on strengths and weaknesses to do even better next season. Start to think about the upcoming season tests, competitions etc
3. Try to communicate with every gymnast individually about their feelings on the past season and their hopes for the next one. Then talk to the group as a whole talk to them about the upcoming season and what to expect,
4. Very often new ideas for skills and physical preparation have emerged but there has been no time to try them out. This is the perfect time. Some are great and will fit into the program others are fun but of little use and others are not usable at least not in the context we are looking for in streamlining our program.
5. In this time period it is great to try out some games and competitions and measure physical abilities to better quantify next seasons program and reflect on the previous seasons strengths and weaknesses
6. Let the gymnast play with new skills and combinations. Teach them the fundamentals about the COP so they understand how best to maximize their scoring potential regardless of their ability or skill level.
7. Take a field trip to a friendly club either for a joint training or swap facilities for a day or a weekend.
8. Bring in a guest coach. In most gyms the coaches never get their full holiday due to many competition obligations and this is the perfect time to give some of the coaches well deserved time off and do something totally different for the group i.e. yoga, sprinting, dance, ballet, aerobics.
9. Swap day. for one day swap your class with somebody else. Or combine classes of different levels or even genders.
10. Christmas or spring show. After a grueling season shows involving all levels is a great idea. The benefits are greater feel of belonging to the club. Gymnasts of all ages and abilities work together for a common goal. The younger / less advantaged gymnasts get to work with the elite team and the elite team gets to perform for  a much larger crowd than at the normal national / regional competition. The programs used for this can for example be used as new warm up program, basic dance training (which never seems to be time for), laying some ground work for next seasons comp. and optional routines.
If from a small / developing club get some more advanced gymnasts from the nearby gyms bring in a name gymnast from your area if possible. And don´t be shy to offer to bring an act to your local mall or charity it is a great exposure for your busyness and great for your gymnast to show off their hard work for some strangers some of whom have never even heard of gymnastics.

So don´t be afraid of thinking outside of the box. Everybody including the coach has a great need to charge his/hers batteries for the upcoming season which is as we know it just around the corner.
Use your time wisely.... Boredom can be the end of a career both for the gymnast and coach.