U.S. Pommel Horse Problem

Uncle Tim:

When the current U.S. National Team averages a 12.938 on pommel horse, it’s time to panic …

Pommel Horse

Not So Sexy Data: The U.S. Pommel Horse Problem

Published by

coach Rick

Career gymnastics coach from Calgary, Canada.

3 thoughts on “U.S. Pommel Horse Problem”

  1. The following post below I posted in 2008 on an online forum, not to be named – I believe we are STILL seeing repercussions from previous developmental eras…

    “It is very apparent that going into this Olympics the weakest event for the US will be Pommel Horse…Having gone through the US Junior Program in the early 90’s I believe this problem is deeply rooted in the routine structure at the very basic levels. The JO Program pushes leg work (Group 1 Elements) far too early in my opinion. But, I wanted to examine this phenomen and get some thoughts and comments from the forum on it…

    Having beginning level gymnasts learning leg cuts, is well, contradictory to the pathway of demands the event encompasses.

    Think of it this way, there are 5 element groups on Pommels, four obtain particular progressions rooted in the basic circle. Simple arithematic tells us that 20% of the work will involve leg work(scissors)
    , and 80% will involve circle work. Why is it that the JO Program emphasises 50% leg work and 50% circle work in the beginning stages, levels 4 and 5? Has it proved to work?

    We can look at these questions two ways:
    1. What are the ultimate benefits from working leg work at a young age? – Gymnasts develop good support strength in the shoulder area and necessary leaning technique in a side to side manner. The development of the hip flexor area becomes highly defined.
    Definately key areas of development, but are they really beneficial to the longterm development of good Pommel Horse basics? Surely spending 100% of the time on circle development would prove more beneficial in the long run considering 80% of the skills in the FIG book are devoted to the basic circle and its advancements…
    Look at the Junior Program in Britain, at the early levels, circles and only circles are developed in compulsory routines. One handle circles, floor mushroom circles and Magyar Sivado’s on low level no handle pommel horses, are all evaluated and competed at the 7-11 year old’s stage of development. There are two GB gymnasts at the moment in the top 20 in the world according to the FIG rankings.
    The junior program in China, the same, pushes circles on handleless horses, floor mushroom, one handle mushroom in its junior programs…They have three gymnasts in the top 20…

    2. Are the Group 1 element groups highly rated skills, and if so are they appearing in the structures of the US Men’s routines on Pommels today?
    There are 0 F’s, 0 E’s, 9 D’s, 10 C’s, 8 B’s, and 6 A’s to choose from that involve the Group 1 structure. According to the current FIG rules, if a gymnast were to choose four Group 1 D’s that would comprise 1.6 + .5 = 2.1 of difficulty possibly from this element group…
    Compare that to the 6 F’s, 28 E’s, 47 D’s, 38 C’s, 52 B’s, and 22 A’s to choose from that all are rooted in the basic structure and composition of the basic circle. The plethra of combinations to choose from is on going and substantially more beneficial to the A jury tally for FIG routines.

    To me there are two gymnasts that have benefitted from the push of the JO Program with regards to making young gymnasts use leg work as basic progressions, Kevin Tan and Artemev. Tan utilises the Group 1 elements well, and Artemev has obviously benefitted from the hip flexor development the leg work at an early age provided him by mastering the flair and its variations (Something I believe the judging community has slightly considered one sided routine construction).

    So I guess the question is open to the forum…should leg work comprise a large chunk of developmental time at an early stage of the learning process with regards to the Pommel Horse?
    My feelings are it shouldn’t. Please feel free to comment.
    Reply Reply With Quote Blog this Post
    04-21-2008 #2

  2. I agree Nick. Leg cuts are also significantly easier to learn. Circles require a LOT of repetitions and should comprise the majority of pommel work for young gymnasts.

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