Over the past two weeks, USA Gymnastics held the Junior Olympics National Championships in Trampoline and Tumbling. Competition ranged from young beginners to experienced elite level athletes and everything in between, with corresponding levels of mastery displayed along the way. As the proud parent of a competitor – my younger son Ian – I’ve seen firsthand the process of mastery as he learns new elements and then how to put those elements together into a routine. And that’s where the real work begins.
At the lower levels, each competitor performs one routine that consists of ten elements. Each element is judged, as is the overall performance (things like staying centered on the trampoline). It is the little things that cause deductions from the overall score – bending your arms or legs, coming out of a flip too soon/late, etc.
That is where the process of mastery, life on the plateau, is so important. Repetition, repetition, repetition, to get it just right. You are then prepared for that one, 20 second time to shine and show the judges what you’ve got. (Did I mention that if you fail to complete an element in the routine, judging for the routine stops at that point? That adds just a bit more pressure.)
As I said, I am very proud of Ian for his accomplishments. Not just his performance at Nationals – he placed 9th on trampoline and 12th on the double-mini tramp (missing top ten by only 0.4) – but his dedication to learning and improving throughout the season.
I must also give credit to Ian’s coaches – Gene Kohler, Eric Miller, and Kevin Scott– from St. Louis Elite Tramp and Tumble. When we moved to St. Louis last summer, we were very fortunate to find them and the team at Gateway Kids World in Hazelwood. If you live in St. Louis and are interested in a Tramp and Tumble or other gymnastics for your kids, give them a call.