We FINALLY let Sophia perform her full-twisting front without a safety mat. The video is here first one. Her skill is clean, and very confident looking. You wouldn’t be able to guess that this is her first time without a Spotting Mat. To her credit, she never once asked “when can I do it without a mat?” Most coaches HATE that question, and when you ask something like that, we make it twice as long! Our athletes understand that these complex movements take lots of time to master.
“When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way.” – Zen Parable
So, how many reps do you think she did before this? 50? 100? Although we didn’t keep official track of the count, I believe it was realistically in the hundreds. Performed over the course of several months. I recall her training the front-full to corpse-drop landing, at this time LAST SUMMER (so almost 12 months ago!). And in all honesty, we will probably ask her to still do 1 – 2 of them using a spotting mat at the beginning of each practice, for the sake of the athlete’s psychological comfort.
How many reps *should* I do with a Spot/Mat/Harness before I can try it on my own?: It varies for each athlete, and highly depends on the difficulty of the skill you are learning. For difficult skills like somersaults combined with twisting, or double or triple somersaults….the short answer is A LOT, but basically it depends on your Coach. Hundreds or even Thousands is not an exaggeration, and I’m being 100% serious here. And I only typically count the ones that land. So don’t count the ones that you don’t land! That’s cheating!
How is it possible to get hundreds or thousands of reps in a short time??? That sounds impossible!!!: You’re absolutely correct. It is nearly impossible to successfully land hundreds or thousands reps of a new skill in a short duration. So what’s the answer? Start the process early, and SLOWLY. Notice how we started the process with Sophia exactly 1 year ago. She did not rush any part of the process. Success doesn’t come overnight, you must be patient and your instructor must plan ahead. You must attend practices regularly….for advanced athletes, you should be attending EVERY PRACTICE that you can.
ATTEND EVERY PRACTICE! Your peers will slowly surpass you if you do not try to attend every practice! Let’s assume that you miss only 1 practice per week. That doesn’t sound too bad right??? And in those practices, let’s say that your peers are doing 10 reps of their new skills. So they are only 10 reps ahead of you. If you multiply that by 52 weeks (length of a year). You are now -520 reps behind!!! Put it a different way, EVEN IF YOU TRIED TO CATCH UP BY PRACTICING EVERY SINGLE DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, IT WOULD TAKE YOU ALMOST 52 DAYS TO CATCH UP….you are almost 2 whole months behind, and that is assuming that your peers suddenly stop training to allow you time to catch up, which would never happen. It’s as if you took a 2 month break over the summer, while your friends continued to train. That’s what happens when you skip practices! Try to attend as many practices as you can so that your coaches can create a plan of success for you and your progression.