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Editorials

National Championship Standard

Could and should events labeled as a “National Championships” be held to a higher standard? Ideally each Event Producer would have only 1 National Championship, but since it seems a little late for that should other standards be set. Something that comes to mind is requiring a multi-year history of 100+ teams attending the event, similar to what is required to be eligible to offer Worlds bids. The number of years and number of teams can be discussed, but should there be a standard is the question of the moment.

Another thought is changing the division split standards for National Championships. Currently, for the most part splits require 2 teams to remain on each side of the split, but for National Championships should that number be raised to 4, 8, or even 10? My final thought is to have an enhanced standard for warmups at National Championship.

What are your thoughts on raising the standard at “National Championship” events?

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Switch It, Change It

Another experimental thing I’d like to see some event try is switching panels after day 1. I don’t know that this is a great idea, but I believe it would be worth trying at some events. The apparent downside would be getting inconsistent scores across days when performing the same routine. I believe this is possible and even likely.

I also believe if it would happen when switching panels by day it would happen if switching panels by event and getting the quicker feedback of seeing it happen by day would make it easier to address. Right now it’s rare for a judge to see another judge’s scores for a routine. Would seeing another judge’s scores lead to more consistency across judges and panels? I don’t know, but it would give an opportunity for a judge to see if they are high or low compared to someone else, which would make it easier for the judges that want to be great to look into why.

It would also give the coaches more feedback which I believe would be greatly appreciated at early season events, although I admit it may not be what they are looking for at major events. It would make judges watch day 2 routines with “fresh eyes” because they wouldn’t have their notes from the day before and it would incorporate more opinions into the final results, both of which I believe are good things.

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t know if this is a great idea that would lead to significant positive adjustments, but I don’t see it causing problems so I’d like to see some events try it.

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Editorials

Building Blocks

In recent days I listened to a podcast that led me to the idea of treating each thing I learned as a building block, like a Lego. Each is a piece that isn’t that impressive on its own but can be combined with other blocks to make something impressive.

I imagine the most blocks came from my past coaches. Coaches are there to teach skills and lessons through sport and I’ve had several great ones that I appreciate. I’ve also had some experiences in which coaches showed me what not to do, but those were still lesson that could be used in the future. If blocks came in different sizes the blocks from coaches would probably be the largest ones and used as the foundation of whatever is built on top of them.

Several blocks also came from teammates. I cannot count the number of times a teammate gave me a tip, many of which I later shared with someone.

Teaching summer camps gave me a different perspective of the blocks. I was now switching from getting tips on how to do things to how to get others to do things. I don’t think I could over value the things learned during my staff years. First, learning every part of so many stunts instead of only learning my part. Next, being taught how to teach instead of just do. Doing and teaching are not the same skillset and learning both has been very useful. Third is actually talking skills. In watching coaches work and when I’ve given the USASF credentialing test in the past I’ve seen many coaches struggle with articulating how to perform skills. They can mark is exceptionally well, but using their words to say what’s being done wasn’t easy for them and I feel like this is a key part of coaching.

Now most of the blocks I add come from random interactions with coaches, judges, and athletes. They are harder to come by now that I have so much industry experience, aka being old, but I think I appreciate each block as I get it now more than even.

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Editorials

Perfection Before Progression?

When I started cheering, at least once I moved to the summer camp instructor and coaching side, “Perfection before progression” was a phrase I consistently heard. Although I heard it I don’t remember seeing it consistently on the competition floor.

Fast forward about 20 years and I still hear coaches preaching it. I also feel like I see more teams exhibiting it, but most of the teams actually practicing it had a negative reputation and are called “Sandbaggers”. How did we get from adamantly preaching something to criticizing those doing what was preached?

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Editorials

Hit or Miss

It’s time for another random idea. I’d like to see an event that already eliminates teams each round, like college nationals, which advances about half the teams, or Worlds, which advances 10 teams, give priority to teams that don’t drop.

First guarantee advancement to any team without a fall. This means you and your fans could know that you are moving on as soon as you walk off the floor. If you drop you’d have to wait and see if all the advancing spots get filled by teams that hit or if not and you have a high enough score to take one of the remaining advancing slots.

Second, only make teams without a drop eligible for 1st place. Some details would need to be worked out to ensure teams still performed something that resembled a legitimate routine, like set a minimum score requirement, but the general thought behind this is you must hit to win.

This puts an emphasis on execution over difficulty and competitions would become an execution contest with difficulty as a tie breaker. This method won’t be everyone’s favorite, but is smartest in the long run. Pushing execution means more skills should hit and athletes generally don’t get hurt as often when skills hit. Trying the opposite and pushing difficulty over execution, would have a higher rate of drops, increasing the risk of injury.

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Editorials

Long Live Loyalty

I spoke with some parents that were disappointed their daughter was removed from a team mid season. The team was the type of marquee team that could win any event they attended, including Worlds. Their daughter had been a member of the program for several years, finally making her dream team and deservedly so.

The mom admitted the daughter was no longer tumbling as well or sharp as she when was placed on the team and early in the season. The mom also said she thought the stress of tumbling not remaining as easy was causing her daughter’s stunts to struggle. Still the mom was upset the daughter was removed from the team leading up to major event season, citing the loyalty the coaches should have shown to them given their past together. The mom let me know one of the team coaches was also a coach of her daughter’s last team and another was her main tumbling coach for years and who they were doing privates with to work through the current tumbling frustrations.

The mom reiterated her frustration and couldn’t get over her coaches being so disloyal to remove their daughter from the team when they had been so loyal to the program.

I understood where the mom was coming from. I asked her if I could try to explain where the coaches may be coming from. I wasn’t part of the program and didn’t talk to these coaches about the situation, just spoke from experiences I’ve had and spoken to other coaches about. I pointed out the mom said their daughter wasn’t keeping up with what the team was doing. I then asked if she thought it was possible the coach was really showing loyalty to the team and more specifically the to other athletes on the team. This family’s daughter wasn’t the only one that had been with the program for several years before making the dream team and the coaches could be showing loyalty to the majority of them by only keeping people on the team that were pulling their weight. I don’t think the mom saw it that way, but it seemed like the dad was thinking about it.

As a coach you have an opportunity to give a limited number of athletes a chance to reach their goal. If someone isn’t doing their part removing that 1 may be the best way to be able to give the rest of the athletes the best chance. It may not be disloyalty to the 1, it may be loyalty to the rest.