In my opinion, and those of many others, bars is one of the most difficult events to grasp because of the amount of strength and muscle coordination it takes to be able to perform well. This is why I ALWAYS include a bar rotation at every single workout for a minimum of 45 minutes for our competitive team girls. I feel that bars is equally important at a younger age as well. Start teaching the proper shape techniques and “boom,” you’ll be amazed at how easily and quickly your little hot shot can learn a back hip circle or a front hip circle.
But because bars is such a physically grueling event, and our palms begin to tear and our legs begin to get chapped from rope climbs, just how long is too long on an uneven bar event? I turned to John Geddert for advice on this. The owner and head coach of Twistars Gymnastics and my coaching idol. Here is what his blog says about your bars rotations.
~Ok perhaps the general template outlined above will help with the organization of your Bar plan but some coaches like a little more detail in their plan. Here are some additional ideas to consider.
1- Compulsory Bar rotations – 45 minutes 4 times per week.
2- Beginning Optional Level Bar Rotations- 1 hour- 4 or 5 times per week. Advanced Optional Bar Rotations -1 hour 5 times per week with supplemental time added as needed (Elites add 3 – 30 minute AM sessions)
3- All Bar rotations should be supplemented with specific conditioning as part of a separate rotation.
4- Each Rotation would begin or end with a 15-20 minute complex. I like to alternate between a kipping/casting and a Swinging/levering emphasis. These complexes consist of drills, shaping exercises and skill progressions designed to enhance the efficiency of the basics.
5- Switch up the complexes every 4-6 weeks fro variety and for different emphasis.
6- Hands on Shaping should be the norm especially at the developmental, compulsory and beginner optional levels. Coaches placing athletes in the correct shapes and constantly reinforcing proper alignment and tension is the fastest way to achieve quality results. SO GET ON A SPOTTING BLOCK!
7- For Levels 8-9-10 June-October is generally skill a skill development or refinement period. Late October through December is a gradual progression to full routines. January and February is routine development and upgrade skill work. March through May is championship season where time is devoted to consistency and masterful execution of the routines.
8- The number of routines varies depending on the competition schedule. During down times or when upcoming competitions are less important (not that all competitions aren’t in some way important) the numbers would be 2-3 routines thus allowing time for upgrade skill development and isolated problem areas. During championship season numbers may increase to 4-6 routines or x amount in a row or x routines that score a targeted score etc.
9- Listed requirements assume that the requirement is MADE and not attempted unless stated. If the requirement is 4 routines.. that means 4 routines made to an acceptable standard for that athlete, mount through dismount. Counting routines with falls simply encourages less effort. If you have to lower the requirement numbers NOT the standard of what is acceptable.
10- Chalk Box Time- Chalking up prior to a full routine is certainly acceptable BUT other than that we try to use a 15 skill or 5 turn rule. Most kids chalk up far to much and therefore get used to fresh chalk/water on the hands. Well by the end of a 12-15 skill routine they start to panic cause they no longer have fresh chalk. Learning to work bars without fresh chalk is an important lesson. AND IT SAVES YOU MONEY.
Without a doubt Bars is the most hands on, coach intensive event in gymnastics. Although I wouldn’t say it is the most important (BEAM) due to the unnatural working on your hands instead of your feet, and the amazing amount of body control required, it could be considered the most difficult. Be patient in development, stress quality basics, and shapes and work your tail off and the results will be rewarding.
~To read the full article and all of John’s amazing wisdom on gymnastics, follow the link below