The four events in women’s gymnastics (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise), each require incredible strength and flexibility. As such, parents and gymnasts must remember that while most sports have seasons, gymnastics is a year-round commitment for athletes at the competitive levels. USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, provides two avenues for competitive gymnastics at BRAG; the Junior Olympic Program and the Xcel Program.
Junior Olympic Program
The Junior Olympic program was developed with the belief all athletes, regardless of their potential, must have a solid foundation of basic skills in order to advance safely. The program allows the gymnast to advance at her own pace, on occasion, competing in more than one level in a year. BRAG's Women's Junior Olympic Program is divided into two groups; Compulsory (Levels 3-5) and Optional (Levels 6-10). The Compulsory Levels are progressive in nature, building upon the skills required at the previous level. Competitive opportunities are provided up to and including the USA Gymnastics State Championships. With Optional Levels 6-10, Levels 6, 7, 8, and 9 have difficulty restrictions, while Level 10 has no restrictions in the skill choice. Levels 6 and 7 have competitive opportunities up to and including State Championships. Additional competitive opportunities are provided for Levels 8-10, with the Level 10 competitive season culminating at the Junior Olympic National Championships, Level 9 at the Eastern Championships and Level 8 at the Regional Championships. Generally, to be considered for a collegiate scholarship in the sport of gymnastics, a gymnast has competitive experience as a Level 10 gymnast.
The Xcel Program is designed to offer a broad-based, affordable competitive experience outside the traditional Junior Olympic Program. The Xcel Program has five competitive levels; Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. There are USA Gymnastics State Championships at each Xcel level.
Xcel is a great program for gymnasts that:
• Are at a variety of levels, abilities, ages and commitment levels and want to enjoy all the benefits that gymnastics has to offer while having more flexibility than the Junior Olympic Program.
• Have a passion for gymnastics and want to stay involved in the sport for the long term, while not striving for the goal of being a Level 10 or Elite gymnast.
• Cannot be in the gym the number of hours the Junior Olympic Program requires because of other activities or sports but still want to be a competitive gymnast.
• Have fears of skills the Junior Olympic and Compulsory Programs require. In Xcel, the skill requirements are more flexible.
Women's Artistic Gymnastics Program
BRAG's Developmental Program is the link between recreational classes and entry into our competitive program. It involves a selective process designed to identify young female gymnasts who have the ability to excel in the sport at a competitive level. While we look for such attributes as natural talent, strength, flexibility, and work ethic, we also consider other factors like social development, listening skills, coachability, ability to make corrections, and the athletes support for fellow classmates/teammates in our selection process. If your child is invited into BRAG's Developmental Program it means we have identified similar attributes in them that we have seen in other children who have become successful competitive gymnasts.
Family support of the young athlete plays a major role in our selections as well. The importance of a family's efforts to ensure the athletes follow a proper diet, get adequate sleep, and develop proper study habits cannot be understated. Also, families must ensure the gymnast attends every practice to maintain placement in the Competitive Developmental Program. We simply ask that parents provide a nurturing supportive environment that parallels our nurturing and supportive training regimen.
Our Developmental Program helps prepare the athletes for the rigors of competition as the hours in the gym and intensity of the workouts increase incrementally. Physically, the gymnasts will be challenged to improve their strength and flexibility, while at the same time they will overcome fears and build the mental toughness needed in competitive gymnastics. At times, we may try to develop a cohort of gymnasts with similar ability levels and prepare them progressively as a group or we may move an individual from one class to another based on the speed of their individual development. Each child is wonderfully unique, so there is no cookie cutter approach we can use in developing them for competitive gymnastics. Simply stated, our objective is to help each individual reach their maximum potential and that the lessons learned in gymnastics are transferable to their future pursuits in life.
The invitation only classes we have designed to prepare the gymnasts for competition include: Super Tots, Mini Team, Developmental, and Pre-Team.
This class focuses on the same three building blocks as Super Tots (strength, body shapes, and flexibility), but for an older age group (6 years old and older). The class meets two days a week for one and a half hours each day.
Junior Olympic Prep is an invitation only class that teaches the skills needed to continue to the JOP competitive levels. It introduces the skills necessary to compete the four events in Women's Gymnastics (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise). This class will prepare gymnasts for competition by training proper techniques for each event. Once ready the gymnast will enter the Junior Olympic competitive program.
This class is for 4-5 year old gymnasts and meets two days a week for 45 minutes each day. The instructor will be focusing on the three building blocks of gymnastics; strength, body shapes, and flexibility.
Xcel Prep introduces the skills necessary to compete the four events in Women's Gymnastics (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise) at the Xcel Bronze level. This class will prepare gymnasts for competition by training proper techniques for each skill. Once ready the gymnast will enter the Xcel competitive program.
Competitive Developmental Program
All Star cheerleading is a competition sport that involves boys and girls performing a 2 1/2 minute routine composed of tumbling, stunting, pyramids, dance, and cheer segments. The routines are judged by their level of difﬁculty, precision, creativity, and entertainment value. Each routine is performed and scored against other competitive teams at various local, regional, national, and worldwide competitions. Teams compete based on age and difficulty level ( Levels 1-6, 6 being the most difficult). These levels are designed to make sure each team competes and is judged on how well they demonstrate a standard set of skills expected for every team competing at that same level. Higher level teams will attend 7-10 competitions a season while lower level teams will attend 4-6 competitions a season.
Normally, the competitive cheer season begins with tryouts in the spring with light to heavy practices in the summer, followed by a competition season running from fall to the spring of the following year. Practices can be 2-3 hours long and as often as two to three times a week. These practices are usually mandatory since many elements of a routine cannot be done without everyone present. Also, we do encourage additional tumbling classes or other private lessons to help improve individual skills.
All Star cheer team members are athletes in every sense of the word. They can be solid, well-rounded athletes or those who have particularly strong abilities in certain areas (strong dancers or jumpers). The coaches integrate each athlete's abilities into a competition routine that has elements of tumbling, stunting, jumping, dance, and other skills set to music. For an All Star cheer team to be successful each member must be dedicated to the sport, willing to commit many hours each week to practice, and a consummate team player.
Currently, the BRAG All Star Cheer Team has the following competitive options:
All Star Cheerleading (COED)
Trampoline & Tumbling Program (COED)
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BRAG's competitive Trampoline and Tumbling (T&T) Team focuses on three of the four USA Gymnastics T&T events — trampoline, power tumbling, and double mini-trampoline. Both men and women can participate in all the events. Some gymnasts choose to focus on just one area, while others participate in multiple events.
As a sport, trampoline varies greatly from recreational bouncing. International competition trampolines are larger and more powerful than traditional “backyard” models, propelling trained athletes as high as 30 feet in the air during performances. During two competitive routines of 10 skills each, upper-level athletes can easily demonstrate a graceful array of double, triple, and twisting somersaults.
Power tumbling is performed on elevated runways, generally designed with fiberglass rods underneath, that help tumblers propel themselves higher than a basketball goal as they demonstrate speed, strength, and skill while executing a series of acrobatic maneuvers. Explosive somersaults with multiple flips and twists are performed by the top-level contenders.
Double mini-trampoline combines the horizontal run of tumbling with the vertical rebound of trampoline. After a short run, the athlete jumps onto a small two-level trampoline to perform a rebounding trick immediately followed by a dismount element onto a landing mat.