Development Program

The Development Program at Alton has been through various incarnations over the years, with changes being made according to the competitive disciplines we offer, the rules of the NDP for each disicpline (which change every few years) and the needs of the club as it develops as a whole.  The information of this page describes how the Development Program will be running from September 2016.

Children with natural ability or aptitude for gymnastics need careful guidance to help them understand correct technique and lay solid foundations for more advanced skills later on.  It is important to build neural pathways in the correct way and as early as possible to avoid the formation of bad habits.  Our Development Program aims to tackle this in order to grow coachable gymnasts for the future.  It is important to note that natural ability alone does not make a successful gymnast and that the recipe for success includes coachable attitude and attention to detail all of which our Development Program aims to foster.

From September 2016 Gymnasts on our Development Program will be given training appropriate to ALL of the competitive Disciplines that we offer at Squad Level.  This means that ALL Development Gymnasts will be trained in the basics on Bars, Beam, Vault, Floor, Tumbling and Acrobatics.  Gymnasts will therefore receive appropriate training to prepare them for a variety of pathways.  Those who are likely to be ready to take the Club (Generic) Grades 6 or 5 at the time of the County Grading Competition (usually late February/early March each year) may have more focus on preparation for that event during the Autumn and Spring Terms.

The Club (Generic) Grades are part of the Women’s Artsitic NDP and cover work on Floor, Vault/Rebound, Bars and Beam as well as Range and Conditioning.  The work for these grades is a sound basis for all competitive gymnastics disciplines (hence they have named them ‘generic’).

It is important to note that at Alton we do not train at Elite level Gymnastics.  There are relatively very few clubs who do although some may have one or two taking that pathway, most gymnasts will take Regional or National Level Grades and Voluntary Levels 5 - 1.  If gymnasts show the potential to take the elite route or we feel they would benefit from more training than we can offer, we are able to guide you on how to transfer to a club that may be able to offer what you are looking for.  Gymnasts aspiring toward an elite pathway would be looking at 20+ hours training per week from a fairly young age and they have to be ‘built’ for it psychologically as well as having outstanding physical abilities.

The Development Program is open to both Boys and Girls and the skills that are developed will transfer to all of the disciplines we offer at Alton (Women’s Artistic, Acrobatic, Floor & Vault).  Boys wishing to follow a Men’s Artistic pathway are welcome to seek advice from our team as to where to go for that.

Development A - Gymnasts aged 5 to 9 years: 6 hours per week (over 3 sessions)

Working toward Club (Generic) Grade 6 and Acrobatic Grades 1 & 2

Development B - Gymnasts aged 8* to 10 years: 8 hours per week (over 3 sessions) *or 7 years if turning 8 in the year

Working toward Club (Generic) Grade 5 and Acrobatic Grade 2

Please also see the Training Schedules page for Competitive & Performance Gymnastics.

Our Development Program is first and foremost a program to prepare young gymnasts with the desire and potential for a furture in a Competitive NDP Gymnastics Squad.  Therefore, all performance and competition opportunities that arise whilst in the Development Program should be taken up by the gymnast unless they are away on holiday or unwell.

Gymnasts on the Development Program are expected to maintain a high standard of conduct, and often show self discipline beyond their years.  This is a necessary component in order to facilitate their progress in line with the demands of the sport.

A level of parental commitment is required to ensure gymnasts attend training regularly.  The program is structured to include different work each session and thus all sessions in the week must be attended.  Gymnasts who routinely miss certain sessions or miss more than 25% of training in a given period may be asked to transfer out of the program if we have others wanting to come on board.

Parental support includes working together with the coaches to help your gymnast handle success with sensitivity, bounce back from disappointments and generally learn to rise and fall with the highs and lows of gymnastics.  Development and maintenance of relationships within their peer group and attitude toward other members is another important factor to nuture, particularly if your child is naturally ‘competitively minded’.  It is worth getting to know parents with gymnasts who have been in the program for a while as they will have insights as to how to guide your gymnast.

Parents should read carefully all of the information that is given to them as well as becoming familiar with the clubs policies and codes of conduct particulalry as they apply to parents and gymnasts.  Please visit the Rules and Policies Page!

Entry Requirements for Development Program - Development A

Please note: The acheivement requirements for Development A are a guideline only…, particulalry for the youngest gymnasts. Depending on the age that the gymnast starts at the club, they may or may not have had the opportunitiy to learn or be assessed for all of the different core levels.

At age 5 or 6:

  • Completed minimum of one term in CORE Academy Plus
  • Achieved Level 3 on ALL Core Award Schemes
  • Assessment for suitability for development towards competitive gymnastics which includes assessment of general strength, flexibility, appraisal of progress so far, understanding of basic shaping and coachability.

At age 7 or 8:

  • Completed minimum of one term in CORE Academy Plus
  • Achieved Level 1 on ALL Core Award Schemes*
  • Assessment for suitability for development towards competitive gymnastics which includes assessment of general strength, flexibility, appraisal of progress so far, understanding of basic shaping and coachability.

*It is possible that gymnasts may be offered a trial period in development when they have achieved Level 2 if they did not start with us when they were under 6 years however they will be expected to complete Level 1 during the first month of the trial

At age 9:

  • Completed minimum of one term in CORE Academy Plus
  • Achieved Intermediate level on all Core Award Schemes***
  • Assessment for suitability for development towards competitive gymnastics which includes assessment of general strength, flexibility, appraisal of progress so far, understanding of basic shaping and coachability.

***If the gymnast has Intermediate Floor and Rebound but not Bars or Beam, he / she should consider the Team Gym pathway.

The upper age limit for the Development Program is 10 years (or 11 in the year) so Gymnasts joining 'Development A' at aged 9 can expect just a short stay in this group before the coaches have to start the process of making a decision about the most appropriate discipline and pathway for them.

It is important to note that entering the Development Program at aged 9 years the most likely and realistic outcome is to aim for Acrobatic or Floor & Vault Squad.

Entry Requirements for Development B

  • Completed minimum of 12 months in Development A
  • Achieved a Pass, Commendation or Distinction at Club (Generic) Grade 6
  • Assessment for suitability to continue in Women’s Artistic OR Acrobatic Gymnastics which includes assessment of skills needed for Club (Generic) Grade 5 OR Acrobatics Grade 2 as well as flexibility, quality of shaping, understanding of basics and coachability.
  • Demonstrated ability to work ‘on task’ and follow programs set by the coach

* If the gymnast has not taken the Grade 6 exam at the County competition she may complete an assessment judged by a qualified Regional Judge to establish if she has the requirements to have passed.  In order to move into Development B this must be before the gymnasts 10th Birthday.  Gymnasts not achieveing this level before their 10th Birthday should continue in Development A until they are found suitable for an Acrobatic Partnership or are offered a place in the Team Gym Squad.

Please read the more detailed information about selection for the Squad and Development Programs HERE

Pathways after Development

Transfer to the NDP Acrobatic Squad: Gymnasts in either Development A or B may be offered a partnership (Pair or Trio) in Acrobatic Gymnastics any time after their 8th Birthday.  Gymnasts can choose to take up this offer or remain in Development.  The partnership will be tested for between 3 and 6 months with the gymnast remaining in the Development Program and ideally enter a competition or event during that time.  After this trial period, if all goes well and partners are willing to continue, the Development Gymnsat will then be invited to Join the Acrobatic Squad.  This depends on suitable partnerships being available.

Transfer to the NDP Women’s Artistic Squad:  Selection for the Women’s Artistic Squad occurs after the Gymnast has achieved a Pass, Commendation or Disctinction at Club (Generic) Grade 5 at the County Grades Competition.  For more Details on entry requirements for the Women’s Artistic Squad, see the page dedicated to that discipline.  Occasionally gymnasts may be offered a trial in the Women’s Artistic Squad without having taken the Grade 5 - but this would be rare and in exceptional circumstances.

Transfer to Floor & Vault Squad: All Development Program gymnasts will be given the opportunity to train toward the age-related targets required for Women’s Artistic and/or Acrobatic Gymnastics.  However not all gymnasts will achieve these targets by the required age for those disciplines.

Floor & Vault and associated disciplines have more relaxed and flexible targets which allows more gymnasts to take a competitive pathway upon achieving certain targets at different ages.

Gymnasts who have not acheived the elements required for Club (Generic) Grade 6 by the time they are 9 years (or 10 in the year) are usually recommended to take the Floor & Vault pathway unless they are suitable to begin training in an Acrobatic Partnership (Pair or Trio) as a Base.  They can, however sometimes remain in the Development Program for another year if that is the most suitable option and there is enough space.

Similarly, if a suitable partnership is not available for a Development Gymnast by the time they are 10 (or 11 in the year) and they do not meet the requirements for Womens Artistic Gymnastics, they may be transferred to the Floor & Vault Squad.  Floor & Vault gymnasts may transfer to Acrobatic Gymnastics at a later stage if they become strong enough to perform as a Base in a Pair or Trio at Grade 2 or above (depending on age) and if a suitable partnership is available.  Floor & Vault Squad can offer a variety of Competitive opportiunities including GfA Floor & Vault, Team Gym, Micro- Teams, Acrobatic 6’s and Club Grades Tumbling.

Transfer to Intermediate or Advanced GfA Program: Not All Development Program Gymnasts will wish to continue on a purely competitve pathway when they age-out of development and some may wish to transfer back to a program where there is less pressure to perform and achieve age-related targets.  Others may wish to persue other sports but would still like to keep their hand in gymnastics to keep learning new skills and have fun.

The GfA Intermediate & Advanced programs offer more flexibility and more freedom to work on specific elements or focus on the areas of gymnastics the gymnast enjoys the most.  From the GfA Advanced Program, gymnasts may find they are offered opportunities later on to move toward more competitive training again and there are also a range of GfA events that the CLub regularly participate in.