Recruiting 101: Making The Lineup On A College Gymnastics Team

Recruiting 101: Making The Lineup On A College Gymnastics Team
Photo: Jack Lewis
If you watch college gymnastics meets, you will see on each event that six girls compete and five scores count. The goal is to score the highest team total as possible, because these totals are what qualify your team to the postseason championships.

Making the lineup on a college gymnastics team is definitely a new experience for a club gymnast who, in the past, has always competed for herself. In club gymnastics, if you are healthy, you compete on all four events. It can be quite an adjustment for some gymnasts to go from competing the all-around to possibly only making one event or no events. On the other hand, some gymnasts find it refreshing to only focus on a few events due to injuries or strengths of routines. 

Parents often find it challenging to understand how the college coach decides who will make the lineup and what order they will go in. Every coaching staff has its own "secret sauce" as to how it think things should stack up. Some will put the weakest gymnast first every time, and others like to put their most consistent performer up first. Often a coach will test the lineup, and other coaches will keep the exact same girls in the exact same order all season. 

The other interesting piece that ties into the lineup is the exhibition spot. At most preseason meets, each team is allowed one gymnast to compete in exhibition on each event, but the score will not count. This is to give the gymnast the experience of competing in maybe a new skill or just the opportunity of competing in front of a large crowd.   

The bottom line is you have to trust the coach. Every spot in the lineup is usually evaluated for hours by each coaching staff. Sometimes the coaches get it right, and other times they do not. Much is out of their control, so it is best to be encouraging to your daughter but not ask too many questions she won't be able to answer. Whenever and wherever she is put in the lineup is the coach's decision. The gymnast just needs to be prepared to step in and do her job.  

Communication is the key if your daughter is confused about the lineup. Encourage your daughter to go in the coaches office and have a meeting to discuss the reasoning behind the decision with the goal to find out what it will take for her to break into the rotation. Usually gymnasts already know the answer, because it becomes obvious at practice who is hitting and who is struggling with being consistent. Overall, if everyone is healthy it can become a very competitive environment, which in the end is what makes the meets so fun. After working hard to represent her team, that joy becomes all the more apparent when a gymnast hears her named called for a position in the lineup.

Jill Hicks Consulting is an advising business for club parents and gymnast to help them through the college gymnastics recruiting process.  You can go to for more details.
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