Why compulsories can be entertaining

The Couch Gymnast explains compulsories and lists some reasons why they are cool.  I totally agree with all the reasons.  It also warms my heart that CG doesn’t mention the tired myth that compulsories force gymnasts to focus on basics.  This is simply not true.  Compulsories give a huge edge to gymnasts who have coaches that focus on basics but they don’t force gymnasts and coaches to work on them.  

One thing that CG doesn’t get quite right.  

You could tell who hadn’t been doing their homework. Apparently the compulsories were set after each Olympics, so gymnasts had a long, long time to practice them. But that doesn’t mean they did! Watch the 1996 Compulsories and see the U.S.A fall apart on the beam. You have to wonder if they were putting in the hours. They weren’t the only ones either. A lot of gymnasts were tripped up by their compulsories.

The US team paid a lot of attention to those compulsories starting from the beginning of the quad and by 1996, the US was one of the best compulsory teams.  From the start of the quad, the elite coaches and staff got together and developed a long term plan to make great elite compulsory gymnasts.  As I recall, each year, they focused on different parts of the compulsories and scored for different things.  In meets the girls were almost competing drills instead of actual skills.  As the quad progressed, the girls were gradually competing more and more compulsory skills perfected through those drills.  I remember an interview in IG  with Murial Grossfeld, I believe.  She stated that they almost dropped the ball on compulsory vault by introducing the whole vault into competition too soon.  

What happened on beam was unfortunate but it wasn’t for lack of preparation.

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