Over the latter part of the current cycle i have both listened to discussions and read articles about how the code of points has created a stage for hard, dangerous gymnastics. And, as a result, have seen many injuries to both domestic and world class athletes.
Although i tend to agree in the main i cannot help but worry about who’s error it really is. Last year a very wise coach said something to me that in an instant changed the way i coach gymnastics. He was watching one of my gymnasts perform a longswing full turn on parallel bars and he made the same mistake several times in a row. On turning to this coach i asked him to advise me on what to do as he had been making this mistake quite a lot during the skill. He looked at me and said that every mistake that my gymnast makes is MY MISTAKE. By that he meant that if my gymnast makes a technical mistake then it is because i haven’t done something right in his preparation. I now take every error personally and try very hard to prevent and correct them in my coaching rather than blaming the gymnast. If the skill is not 99.9% ready then it is not even contemplated in his routine.
Taking this theory in to account i cannot help but wonder as to whether all of these injuries are partly the error of the coach pushing the gymnast too far and too hard just to achieve (on paper) a great ‘D’ score. Would it really be unproductive to take an extra swing, lose a tenth in connection bonus or stick to a vault that is 99.9% consistent. How many ACL and Achilles injuries have we seen pushing for that extra somersault or 1/2 turn. Especially in the older juniors or younger seniors. For me the coach should be strong enough to say no to the system and do what is best for the long term development of the gymnast.
I understand that gymnasts get injured and accidents happen but surely clever coaching and preventative physio exercises will reduce the amount of injuries next cycle. Id rather see my gymnast have a 0.6 lower D score over a competition but compete injury free for the whole of their career than have a huge D score an injury themselves. The bonus and extra turns will be achieved when the gymnast is I) ready II) prepared enough. Just because a gymnast is classed as a senior gymnast on paper and in competition does not mean to say that they have a senior body performing the skill. This is something we need to remember.