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Learn the Ropes!


Could your child be the next American Ninja Warrior? Could they conquer the daunting 75 foot climbing rope on Mt. Midoriyama? To date, only two competitors have ever finished Mt. Midoriyama’s harrowing course. Isaac Caldiero, who trains full time to compete on the show, earned himself a cool one million by climbing the 75 foot rope in 26.14 seconds!

So maybe, your athletes’ goals aren’t as crazy as becoming the next American Ninja Warrior on national television. Perhaps, they’re aiming for success as a gymnast in the USA Gymnastics TOPS program (talent opportunities program) which includes its own, much more modest, rope climbing.

In TOPS testing, gymnasts in age groups 7 & 8 and 9 – 11 must climb 6 and 12 foot ropes, respectively. They may not use their hands and must hold as close to a perfect 90 degree piked position, as possible, using only their hands.

Outside of TOPS, the rope climb is no longer a gymnastics competition event. It used to be, though. Mike remembers meets where they would clamber up a 20ft. rope with the hopes of being the first to touch the “tambourine” (basically a wooden disc with no jingle).

Up until 1932, the gymnastics rope climb was part of the Olympic Games where athletes climbed for speed while maintaining the same heels together piked position in today’s TOPS. The world record for the 20ft climb was first achieved in the 1950’s by American Don Perry who hit the tambourine in 2.8 seconds. Let’s say that again: Don Perry climbed a 20 foot rope in 2.8 seconds!

Even if you’re not climbing competitively, rope climbing makes an excellent conditioning practice. Climbing ropes works the upper body and the core, especially when you  maintain a gymnastics’ 90 degree piked position as you ascend and descend.


By GMR on the Spot!

They’ve mastered the the round-off-back-handspring, now they want to do the really BIG stuff. You can see they’ve got that fire in their spirit, but they’re a little afraid. What do you do?

Strap ‘em in and string ‘em up! One of the best sets of training wheels is the gymnastics spotting rig!

Over-Head-Spotting-RigA spotting rig is a set of ropes and pulleys suspended from the ceiling that are attached to a spotting belt which a coach uses to support gymnasts as they learn and execute flipping and twisting moves. Spotting rigs help gymnasts incorporate advanced elements that are used as part and parcel of a gymnast’s routine or as end bits that put the bang in a dismount for all sorts of gymnastic events such as uneven bars, beam, parallel bars, trampoline, floor and rings.

In addition, to your spotting rig’s many merits instilling flips and twists into muscle memory, spotting rigs are worth their weight in gold for what they do for your gymnasts’ mental state. Fear is a factor when it comes to gymnasts taking their first flights forwards, even more so, backward.