Perhaps you have just recently started gymnastics are wondering what you have to do in order to graduate to level 2 of gymnastics. If you are already quite flexible, level 1 might seem far too easy and make you long to jump right into level 2.
While there is no specific age you need to be, in order to be a level 2 gymnast you must first be able to prove that you can do all of the basics that you learned in level 1 of gymnastics. This is because the basics that you learn in level 1 lay the foundations for level 2.
But getting to level 2 of gymnastics is really just a stepping stone to get to level 3 of gymnastics. This being the case, knowing as much as possible about level 2 ahead of time can be quite beneficial. Not only will this help you know what to expect, but it will likely help you come up with things you can start working on ahead of time so that you can move on to level 3 all the sooner.
What Do You Learn In Level 2 Of Gymnastics?
Once you reach level 2 of Gymnastics, there are a lot more things that you have to learn compared to the amount of maneuvers and positions you had to know for level 1. While some of these are pretty simple and only involve adding some details to existing skills, others will be completely foreign.
Here you really have to work on your splits, your flexibility, and your balance. It can be helpful to do a lot of exercises that help with these and you should especially start working on as much as you can at home outside of your official lesson time.
On The Floor
One of the first things that you might learn in level 2 of gymnastics is something called the straddle roll. Eventually you should even be able to do a straddle roll into a straddle stand. Basically it is a form of a roll where you hold your legs and feet apart as though you are straddling something the whole time.
While this may seem awkward and feel a bit ridiculous, it is more of a conditioning maneuver to get you used to strange movements more than it is actually used later on. The backward roll can also feel somewhat strange at first, though adding the pike position at the end comes easier once you have the roll part down.
The pike position is standing straight with your arms pointed straight up as well. The V-sit is another position that is usually practiced on the floor in this level. For this you keep your legs straight and pressed together as you pull them up to make as close to a V-shape as possible with your body.
You have to have the correct form when doing a level 2 cartwheel and must be able to do a round-off. A round-off starts off in the same way as a regular cartwheel but ends by landing on both feet together while doing a quarter-turn to face the spot on the floor that you started from.
Also required during this level is the ability to do a good backbend with ease and you have to practice getting into both the handstand and headstand positions and holding them steady. In addition, something new for level 2 is learning different dance moves, including split jumps and various leg balances and leg pivots.
The heel snap turn is practiced during this level, usually starting off with a toe snap turn at first to make it easier. Finally, you should be able to do split jumps and split leaps with the legs ideally having somewhere between a 60-120 degree of separation.
On The Beam
On the balance beam it is time to really start focusing on being able to hoist yourself up onto the beam, even if you are only 4 or 5 years old. You especially want to be able to jump to a front support mount position with your arms straight up and down on the beam and your legs off of the floor.
Once on the beam, a half-cartwheel is one of the things practiced, which simply involves doing a cartwheel into a handstand without falling off of the beam. You should learn how to do an arabesque on the beam at a 30 degree angle and hold it for a moment.
Walking around on the beam and turning around on the beam in particular is worked on in this level and is added to the side releve which is perfected more. You also work on doing a tuck jump while on the beam, like you worked on in level 1 on the ground. A tuck jump dismount will be one of the ways to get off of the beam at the end.
Sometimes a coach will have you start working on the V-sit position on the beam in this level to prepare you for level 3 where you will be doing more with it. At the very least you should be comfortable with doing a forward roll on the beam by now, and in addition you should also be comfortable doing some pivot turns.
Finally you should be able to take your round-off and put it on the beam as your way of dismounting. This is practiced until you can land off of the beam being perfectly lined up and without wobbling, having to take a step to balance yourself, or falling over at the end. This is referred to as “sticking” your landing.
On The Bars
Some of what you learn on the bars depends on your age and size at this level. If you can reach the bars you will often start learning in level 2 how to pull yourself onto them. Should you be unable to reach them, however, you are allowed to have a “spot” and be lifted until you can grab them.
You will work more on hanging onto the bars for longer during this stage and work your way to being able to lift yourself into a straight-armed support position without aid. This is the most basic of the bar positions and is where your arms are perfectly vertical holding your whole body up.
The maneuvers such as the back hip circle will be worked on and a way to dismount will be added that is often called the cast straddle on sole circle dismount. The straddle sole circle will also be worked on some, though it is doubtful that you will perfect either during this level.
A straddle sole circle involves placing the soles of your feet on the bars by your hands as though you are straddling something in between your legs. It takes a ton of practice and torso strength to lift your legs into this position and even more to be able to do a full circle with your feet on the bars.
The simpler dismount you learn here before you learn the other is the under-swing dismount. Like its name suggests you simply swing under the bar and let go to land on your feet.
You may also start to practice doing a half-turn swing on this level of gymnastics if your coach thinks that you are ready. To do a half swing you first have to let go with one hand as you swing and turn so that you are facing the opposite direction of where you were facing before. Then grab back onto the bar so that you are once again holding it with two hands.
Another maneuver that will depend some on your skill level is called the single leg basket swing. To do this you have to place one leg over the bar, keeping it straight at first but then bending it at the knee as you let the top part of your body fall backwards and down to towards the ground. The bend in your knee will form a “basket” that catches the bar and you can then use your leg along with your arms to help pull yourself back up.
The last maneuver which you will start to practice is most commonly called the mill swing since it can make you look sort of like a windmill turning around. In order to do this maneuver, start with one leg on top of the bar and with your arms straight. Both of your legs should be held straight at the knees with the lead leg that is on top of the bar being parallel to the floor and the other leg being vertical.
This should give you as close to a right angle as possible to start with. To begin, push yourself forward to start rotating around the bar. Ideally your lead leg should not be pressing up against the bar at all at this point, but your rear leg should. Keep this position stiffly until you are completely upside down and try to swing into it in order to get more momentum for the up-swing.
During this whole time both your arms and your legs should be held straight. When you are fully upside down, however, you can move your legs a little closer to around a 45 degree angle. Start widening them back apart again to help with your upward momentum as you pull on the bar with your hands. Your goal is to get back in the upright position that you started from.
The mill swing is probably the most difficult maneuver of level 2 and you usually will start by simply doing leg cuts. Leg cuts are simply the act of getting one leg over the bars. But, while this might sound simple, moving one hand, getting a leg up, and then grabbing the bar again without losing your position is something that requires a lot of practice.
Finally, you will also be exercising by doing chin ups and leg up to pikes as you get stronger on the bar. These will strengthen your core and the muscles that you will need for the more complex maneuvers on the bar that you are learning now.
On The Vault
Now that you have been getting comfortable around the vaulting table a bit, this is the level where you actually start practicing how to vault. To start with this is done with a simple jump into a handstand where you usually land on a stack of mats, and then you let yourself fall backwards onto a thinner mat.
This helps you get used to the right motions, and later on you will work on landing on your feet instead of letting yourself fall backward onto a mat. For now though the falling motion is enough to have to get used to.
What Are The Differences Between Level 1 And Level 2 Gymnastics?
As you may have noticed, one of the main differences between levels 1 and 2, besides the difficulty of course, is the sheer number of new things that there are to be learned. This is the level where you learn most of the basics and the foundations for almost all the things you will learn in the future levels of gymnastics.
Comparably, the first level of gymnastics is more of an introduction to the art of gymnastics as a whole. Level 1 is also a good way to see if you have what it takes and more than a few stop with level 1 and are weeded out before they get to level 2.
Therefore, by the time you get to level 2 you already have a good idea about what you can expect from both yourself and your lessons and you should know if it is something that you are cut out for, or even if it something that you enjoy. You also know by level 2 the areas that you need to work more on and this is helpful since you can start focusing more on those things.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Gymnastics Classes
Now that you are hopefully settled into the groove of your classes, you can start to focus more on getting as much as you possibly can out of them. To help you with this, I will go over 3 ways that you can get the most out of any gymnastics class. These ways can be altered and even used for other kinds of classes besides gymnastics if you want.
1. Practice at Home
Did you know that there are positions that are called gymnastics shapes? Holding these positions and even just practicing getting into and out of them is a great way to specifically work on the muscles that you need for doing the various gymnastics maneuvers.
One of these positions is the splits, which tends to come in handy and help you do split jumps and things of that nature. A couple more positions that are directly used in gymnastics are the bridge as well as the handstand. Tuck jumping several times in a row is a great exercise all on its own too.
While it might not seem like much of an exercise, a good position to try to hold is standing straight up with your arms straight up towards the ceiling. In the proper gymnastics form your buttocks should be tucked in and your torso muscles should be tightened. Once you try this for the first time you may be surprised at how tiring it can be!
Other exercises like planking and lunging are also great exercises for gymnastics. If in doubt, you should always ask your coach which exercises that they recommend for you to do at home. Most likely they will assign you ones that would help you improve in the areas where you are the weakest at.
2. Set Yourself Some Goals
Setting yourself some goals is great for not only helping keep you focused on what you are trying to do, but it can also be quite encouraging. You should divide up your goals into smaller and more achievable sections and write them all down.
One way you can do this, for example, would be to take a skill you want to learn like a leg cut or something. Have four boxes by the word leg cuts. Check or X out the first box the very first time that you can do a leg cut – even if it is not a very good one and you can’t seem to do it again.
Mark the second box when you get better and can do a leg cut about half of the time when you try to. The third box can be marked when you can not only do a leg cut almost every time you try it, but when you also feel that you are getting pretty good at it. The last box gets marked when you feel that you have fully mastered the skill.
In this way you get a lot more encouragement and see more results than you would if you just had one box by each skill you wanted to learn. This is a really simple thing to do that leads right into number three on my list…
3. Reward And Motivate Yourself
The first way that you can do this is to reward yourself with a treat of something that you enjoy after every few boxes that you can check off of your goals. Also, every time that you master a new skill you should show it off to whoever out of your friends and family that you can get to watch you.
Performing for other people can not only be fun but it can also make you feel good about what you have accomplished. It can also be a great way to get over any stage fright that you might have since performing at a competition is in some ways just a few steps more difficult than performing in front of people you know.
Another way to motivate yourself is to watch professional gymnasts either by attending competitions or by watching YouTube videos. Seeing the different things that gymnasts can do when they work hard at it can be awe inspiring to say the least. Many times after you watch them it will motivate you to put even more effort into your lessons so that you can work up to being able to do those things too.
Take this last idea with a grain of salt, however. If you are discouraged and feeling like you are getting nowhere during your gymnastics lessons, then the thought might cross your mind that you could never do something like that. This would never be a good thing for obvious reasons.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you are already plenty motivated, then you should not overdue it by watching other gymnasts. This can make you too impatient to learn more difficult maneuvers instead of perfecting the simpler ones that you should master first. Getting ahead of yourself in gymnastics is a great way to get yourself hurt, and if you break a bone you will probably not be doing any gymnastics at all for a while!
What Are Some Of The Most Important Things That Gymnasts Should Have?
If you have made it to level 2 of gymnastics then you probably are beginning to feel the need for a few things. However, knowing what you need and what might simply be handy to have around can sometimes be a bit of a challenge when you look at all the different things that are available for gymnasts to buy.
First and foremost is chalk of some form to chalk up your hands and other areas that might need it. This is by all accounts a necessity for even many casual gymnasts. It comes in different forms and is fairly inexpensive, some gyms providing it free for their clients and others having a corner where they sell it at.
Along with chalk, two other key things that it is good to have are tape and grips. Tape can come in a variety of colors and over the years has become more of a statement, with many gymnasts wearing tape that is the color of their team.
Tape is a great way to help protect your joints, especially those of your hands and ankles, and is used along with grips to help protect your hands when doing routines on the bar. Doing a number of quick spins around the bar without these can potentially cause friction blisters on your hands.
While it is something that is not talked about nearly so often as other things, nude underwear is actually something that you will likely need for gymnastics. Any underwear showing in a competition is not only cause for a deduction, but it can be really embarrassing!
Another thing that can lead to a deduction is to have nail polish on your fingers or toes. For this reason many women gymnasts who wear nail polish on a regular basis tend to keep a bottle of nail polish remover and some cotton balls in their gymnastics bag. That way if they forget to take off the nail polish before they get to the gym they have everything that they need to take it off there.
At least one or two icepacks is vital for a gymnast to have. Even if you didn’t sprain anything, it can still help sore muscles to recover if you put something cold on them after a thorough practice. This helps you feel better faster, to be ready for your next lesson, and it helps any strains or pulls that you might not feel yet to not hurt so badly later on.
While most of the time the coach keeps the floor music for the whole team on the same device, it is a wise idea to have a backup. There are plenty of options for different devices that can have music on them and making sure that you have this backup can be really important if something should happen to your coach’s copy.
Hair spray is often needed to keep your hair in place. Trust me when I say that you do not want to feel the need to re-straighten your hair at the last minute if you have already chalked up your hands! Straightening your hair in between events is also something you will likely want to avoid doing if possible since it can be troublesome to have to wash all the chalk off your hands and then re-chalk them afterwards.
Finally, snacks of some form and a water bottle or sports drink are very important parts of making sure that you stay hydrated and have plenty of electrolytes. Gymnastics lessons and competitions in particular can last a really long time, so it is good to have these on hand to help delay hunger pains so that you can focus on your performance.