This weekend is the region 4 gymnastics championships in Minneapolis Minnesota. Over the last few weeks the girls have done nothing but get better and better. It is amazing to watch how persistant they all are, and to see most of them looking for every last tenth in their routines. This is what we have been talking about for years, and amazingly it is working.
Over the last few months I had started to work on beam with my assistant coach because she would be gone having a baby during the post season. I wanted the girls to feel comfortable with me working with them so I hung around and started to give corrections. We have come a long way, from no hit days, to now we have maybe missed a routine once each rotation. It is looking like a college workout these day. I remember girls at the U of I that never fell. You knew when they got up on the beam it was going to be a hit. That is what I am seeing now. Girls that I know will put up a great routine and a big score.
The biggest hurdle this year has been the girls mental toughness, I guess that has always been the biggest hurdle. But with our gymnastics improving skill wise, we knew if we didn't strengthen their minds the routines wouldn't come. The biggest issue was the domino effect. If one routine fell, the rest would fall. Over the season I would make my lineup so that our most consistant gymnasts went first. I hoped that this would help keep our hit percentage higher. Some times it worked, some times it didn't. But when we get into the post season we don't have any choice about who goes when. The order is determined in advance. So we had to start making sure that all our girls were the most consistant. That was the hardest part of year. There were a few very tough days when the girls were tired, the gym was too hot/too cold, things just weren't right, and they wanted to "try again tomorrow". I wasn't too happy or nice on those days. But as a coach it isn't my job to be nice or happy. My job is to make these girls the best they can be, and when you are reaching the pinnacle of what you are capable of sometimes it takes being dragged kicking and screaming.
Today was the best day I have ever had on bars though. Every single girls hit their set, and they hit them big. Handstands were on, form was tight, landings were good. I had never been so happy and proud. When that happens this weekend I am going to be delirious with joy. That is all I can ask of these girls, to do their best.
I'm excited about the next few weeks in the gym and at competitions. It is what we all have worked hard for, to go to the National Championships. Here we come.