Considering the fact that it is literally mentioned in the rules that a young gymnast has to be at least 9 years old in order to compete as a level 10 gymnast, it is perfectly possible for a 9 or 10 year old to be a level 10 gymnast and to know all of the skills of that level.
That being the case, there are a long list of skills that a young gymnast can do at this age, so picking the top 10 skills for this age range is more of a matter of picking the top 10 skills that might qualify as the most needed.
These are some of the skills that both look amazing and are ones that a gymnast will need to know how to do to get to level 10. These should be done with care, however, since a 10 year old’s body is still growing and if they are over-taxed then they are much more prone to being injured.
1. Aerial Cartwheel
An aerial cartwheel is most often simply referred to as an aerial and is quite literally simply a cartwheel that is done without using your hands. These are very difficult sometimes to learn how to do, but they are something that most 9 to 10 year old gymnasts have learned how to do long before they reach level 10 in gymnastics.
One of the key parts of this move is momentum, especially since you will not have your hands beneath you to support yourself with when you are upside down and must therefore land as quickly as possible. To start this move you should first get into a position with your arms up in the air and one foot a distance in front of the other on the ground. This is sometimes called the mountain climb position.
The next part is to go immediately into a needle kick which is where you kick your back leg up and into the air so that your legs form a split while throwing the top part of your body down. You should do this as hard as you can so that you have enough momentum to keep that kick going as your other foot lifts off of the ground as well, putting you in a position where you are upside down and with your legs apart at a very wide angle.
Your leading leg lands first, followed by your other leg as your torso comes up so that you are facing the opposite direction than you were when you started. During this move your legs should be at the same angle as they are when you are doing a cartwheel.
2. Backwards Salto
While you start working towards the forward saltos at the lower levels, it is arguably even harder to learn how to do a salto backwards. However, by the time a 10 year old gymnast reaches level 10 they should already have this mastered since it is one of the moves in gymnastics that is literally everywhere.
It is on the floor in various combinations, on the beam and as a dismount off of the beam, as part of the dismount from the bars, and almost always as part of the end of the vault. These backwards saltos can have twists, turns, or both, and can be done in layout, piked, or tucked positions.
In order to do a back salto you have to flip yourself backwards, usually when you are first learning you do this in the tucked position since this is perhaps the easiest position to do it in. Then you have to do one complete rotation in order to land on your feet again.
When you are learning, starting with something like a round-off is a good way to get your momentum going in the right direction since it is a lot harder to get a really good jump going backwards and up than it is to jump forward and up. Also, another option is to use a bar and swing off of it and into a backwards salto so that you can not only get used to the momentum but also work on your landings at the end.
3. Switch Leap
A switch leap is sometimes called a switch split leap, since that is the most common leg position to do the switch with. However, this same leap can have a few variations to it and is used fairly commonly even in the higher levels in order to get the dance moves needed in the routine on the floor and on the balance beam.
In order to do this basic leap you start off doing a regular split leap where you leap into the air and put your legs into a split position with one leg behind you and the other leg in front of you. Once there, however, instead of landing you have to switch your legs so that whichever leg was pointing back now points forward and whichever leg was forward now points back into a split the other way and then you can land.
As mentioned, this move can have variations to it. For example, one option is to do a switch ring leap where at first you do the splits but when you switch legs you tilt your torso back and raise your new back leg higher so that you form a ring shape like you do with the ring jump.
You can also do this same thing with some of the other leaps by putting them in either the first or the second part of the switch leaps. Other options are the stag leap, the wolf leap, and any of these can be done as either a jump or a leap.
4. Illusion Turn
This is a turn that looks really hard and lovely and is equally difficult to explain, but once you know how to do it then this move is not something that is too difficult for a young gymnast to do. This can be done as a full illusion which is one complete rotation, or it can even be done as a double illusion which is where the gymnast does two complete rotations.
In order to do this move the gymnast has to start on one foot with the other leg raised a little in front of them. Then that foot gets thrown down to right next to the other one as the gymnast shifts their weight from the foot that they were on to that foot so that they can throw the foot that they started on back and up behind them.
While the gymnast is doing this, she also throws her torso down towards the ground as the leg comes up behind her to the point where it is straight in the air and forming a full split with the leg that she is on. Meanwhile, the gymnast is turning on the foot that her weight is on so that when her head comes back up it is on the other side.
The foot that was pointing in the air comes down in front at the same time, going all the way down to the floor with the other foot so that the gymnast is exactly like she started and in the same exact spot as well.
5. Butterfly Jump
This is a fairly simple jump but is also one that looks quite nice like you might imagine with the name of butterfly jump. This move starts out facing one direction with the gymnast’s arms slightly above horizontal and with one leg a distance behind the other.
The gymnast then lowers her torso to be horizontal while she turns away from her forward leg, her arms staying horizontal with her torso while she does so. As she turns her forward foot swings up to just above horizontal so that it is pointing in the air some and then swings over in the same direction that the gymnast is turning in.
Meanwhile, the back leg follows the front leg, and as the front leg lands the gymnast’s torso comes back up and the back legs then lands back behind. If done correctly a gymnast should then be just a couple of feet behind where she was before and facing the same direction.
This move is one that is done solely on the floor and is not one that you will see often. However, in order to make it more difficult a complete or a half turn can be added to it.
6. Shoot Through
This a gymnastics move that is done on the bars and it is one that can be used in a variety of different ways. This gymnastics move requires the gymnast to swing down and forward enough to bend her legs only at the hips so that her legs are all the way up against her body. As she swings back her feet should “shoot through” her hands on the bar to be in the middle of her hands, the bar, and her torso.
Once she is in this position there are any number of things that a gymnast can do. For example, if a gymnast has enough momentum going to swing herself back and up she can us this as a bar change to get from the low bar to the high bar.
How this works is that the gymnast will press down on the bar with the backs of her legs. once she reaches the top part of the bar, literally launching herself at the high bar by doing so as she also lets go of the bar she is on to grab the other one.
7. Stadler Swing
This gymnastics move is one that is fairly easy to spot even though it is not nearly easy to do. For this move the gymnast swings back with her body straight and then as her body starts to swing forward she has to split her legs apart so that her feet go up under the bar to be on the same side of the bar as her torso is.
This can lead into a few different moves, sometimes the legs go together and up at the end of the swing as the gymnast goes into a handstand position and fairly often this move is started in a handstand position with the gymnast returning back to a handstand position at the end of the swing.
This move can be done both forwards and backwards, and it can even be done in the pike position similar to a shoot through instead of having the gymnast’s legs split apart to the sides as they swing. More common that that, however, is the addition of partial or full turns on the bar at the end while in the handstand position.
A giant is another bar move which is almost exclusively done on the high bar since it takes a lot of room in order to do it. This move is most often started in a handstand position on the bars, then while keeping the whole body straight and the legs held together the gymnast lets herself fall backwards, staying in this same position while doing one complete rotation of the bars.
In order to avid hitting the low bar, the gymnast spreads her legs apart for a moment, but her arms and torso should stay in a straight line and other than opening her legs a gymnast should not be bending at her hips.
There are a few variations that can be done with this move, including doing it backwards and there is even the option of doing turns on the end, anywhere between a half of a turn and a double turn. This is used even in the highest levels of gymnastics.
A Tsukahara is a gymnastics move that is exclusively used for the vault event for the first part of the vault which gets the gymnast onto the vaulting table. While in the highest levels of gymnastics there are often various twists, turns, and saltos that can be added to it at the end in order to increase its difficulty, this vaulting move is still used in all of the highest levels of gymnastics and is therefore an important skill for a young gymnast to master.
To explain how to do this move is simple enough, it is actually doing it with the precision and the speed that this is done with that is the hard part. The springboard that you bounce off of helps with the momentum, as does the running start that you get to have for all of the vaults.
This vaulting move combines a handspring vault with a half of a twist onto the vaulting table. Getting the half twist onto the table is the hard part since you have to twist in the air as you jump off of the springboard so that when you land with your hands on the vaulting table that you are facing away from the runway – in the exact opposite direction that you would normally be facing if you did a handspring.
After this you usually do a salto or something to land, which can be difficult since you already have the twisting motion going and you then have to stop it during the very brief moment that your hands are touching the vaulting table.
This another gymnastics move that is used exclusively for the vaulting event. It is taught in the middle of the gymnastics levels and can have either a half twist or a full twist added to it in order to make it more difficult with twists, turns, and saltos added to it at the end. It is used even in the elite and Olympic gymnastics.
In order to do this vault you have to know both the round-off and the back handspring, since this move is essentially a combination of both of these moves. The round-off comes first after you get a running start down the runway.
The round-off, if you do not know or remember, is a variation of the front handspring where the gymnast does a twist as she gets into the handstand position, by the time she makes it to back on her feet this twist has her facing the opposite direction than she was facing when she started.
When this is used as a part of this vault, the round-off is done so that the gymnast lands on her feet at the end of the round-off on the springboard which is in front of the vault. Since the gymnast now has her back towards the vaulting table as she jumps up, she has to bend backwards in a back handspring in order to get into the handstand position on the vaulting table.
In order to do this you have to know exactly how far ahead you need to start in order to land at the end of the round-off on the springboard, and you also need to make sure that you have enough room to do your back handspring without hitting the edge of the vaulting table.