The Road To NCAAs: AJ Jackson, Sooners Aim To Stay Within Themselves

AJ Jackson and the Oklahoma Sooners enter this year's Super Six with a little more pressure than previous seasons. The Sooners are the defending national champions and Jackson looks to help her team secure its second consecutive title.

The junior is dynamic on floor exercise and vault where she brings power and can bring in the big scores that Oklahoma will need. She has not posted a score below a 9.875 on vault in 14 meets this season. Ten times she has scored a 9.900 or better for her Yurchenko one and a half.

Jackson's floor routine is a crowd favorite. While she can only mime the chalk blowing in her routine now, she typically has all of her teammates and even some of the Oklahoma fans in the stands doing the chalk blowing at the start of her routine.

Oklahoma aims to defend its national title at Saturday's Super Six against LSU, Florida, Alabama, UCLA and Utah. Last year, the Sooners came out on top by 0.225.

FloGymnastics: What is your favorite event to perform on and why?
AJ Jackson: I love floor because you get to show your personality and because KJ [Kindler] does such a good job with choreography and it's just really fun to show it off.

What is your favorite skill to perform on any event?
My favorite skill is my full-out on floor. It just feels like I'm flying through the air.

What is the most challenging skill that you've learned and what made it challenging for you?
Actually, my full-in on floor is probably one of the most challenging skills I had to learn because it just takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to understand the basics of the skill to perform it well.

What was the biggest thing that you took away from regionals that you'll apply to nationals?
My biggest thing is that we worked really well as a team and we need to continue pushing like that and just keep growing as a team in general.

Going in as the defending champions this year, is there a little bit of added pressure and how are you all handling that?
There is a little bit of pressure but we just try to stay within ourselves and focus on what we need to do to perform at our absolute best.

How does the adversity that your team faces in the regular season help you prepare for the postseason?
It helps us realize what we need to work on, what little minor details that have to be fixed and just overall as a team how we support each other and how we go about doing that.

How do you bounce back from a fall?
We just all have each other's back. We know that if we fall, our team will have our back and support us no matter what. Everybody makes mistakes and you're not always going to be perfect so you have to keep that mindset?

Is there any added pressure to hit your routine if there is a fall in front of you and if so, how do you handle that?
Usually I don't really know what happens to the people in front of me. I try to stay within myself and do what I know how to do. Even if I do there's a fall ahead of me, I know that I can trust my training and go out there and do what I know how to do.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Kind of goofy, a little shy and very protective of those I care about.

What are you most looking forward to about competing next week at nationals?
I'm really looking forward to being able to compete in front of my family and my friends and just being able to compete for my team on this big of a stage.

What's The Difference: The Tkatchev Family

You know those skills where the gymnast swings around the high bar, lets go of it, flies impossibly high in the air with her legs perfectly positioned and her toes perfectly pointed and then catches it on the other side? Those are the Tkatchev skills, a family of skills done on the uneven bars with a seemingly exponential number of names and nuances. Here’s the gym-nerd’s guide to knowing your Tkatchev from your Ray, Galante, Ricna and all of the rest of them, because knowing those tiny, tricky differences makes watching gymnastics even more of a delight. 

SEC Gymnastics Preview: Individuals To Watch In 2019

The SEC is known for having the top gymnastics teams in the NCAA, and with that comes some of the top individual gymnasts. Now that the NCAA Championships will only include eight teams instead of 12, some teams that are used to contending and advancing to NCAAs will end up sending only individual gymnasts to the national postseason. Therefore individual competition may be more competitive than ever before, especially in the ultra-competitive SEC.

2019 Cancun Classic Offers Michigan A Chance To Bond, Start Season Strong

The Michigan women’s gymnastics team couldn’t have picked a better way to kick off its 2019 season. The Wolverines will join Iowa State, West Virginia, and Rutgers at the Cancun Classic in Cancun, Mexico, on Jan. 4.

6 Ways For Gymnastics Coaches To Better Prevent Injuries

For any high-performing gymnast, injuries are essentially inevitable. But there are ways that gymnastics coaches can approach their training program — both physical and mental — that can help prevent the injuries that are potentially avoidable, and to create an environment where gymnasts are both safe and empowered. We spoke to some of the country’s top coaches to get their philosophies, their methods, and their strategies.

SEC Gymnastics Preview: Traditional Powers LSU, Alabama, & Florida Reload

As always, the Southeastern Conference is loaded with talent — traditional powerhouses like Florida and LSU, but many more top teams in the nation. This year you'll be able to catch a few of these teams, and much more, right here on FloGymnastics. But before we can start watching the meets, let's dive into each team's standing, who they added and lost, and what may be to come in the 2018-2019 season.

Big Ten Power Michigan Starts Their Gymnastics Season Strong At Exhibition

The University of Michigan Women’s Gymnastics team is usually the team to beat in the Big Ten, and if their exhibition meet on Saturday, December 2, is any indication of how their year will go, this season will be no exception. The team squared off with three other Michigan teams at 2 PM in the Crisler Center, marking the fifth year in a row Michigan has competed against Eastern Michigan for an exhibition meet in this location. The Wolverines competed against Central Michigan as recently as last spring but has not faced off against Western Michigan since 2011.

USA Gymnastics Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

USA Gymnastics has filed a voluntary petition for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. USAG posted the news in a press release along with a post outlining frequently asked questions.

10 Gymnastics Skills From The Past That Aren't Performed Anymore

In gymnastics, it’s no secret that skills go in and out of style faster than you can say “Tsukahara.” Between upgrades that make simpler skills obsolete, changing trends, and banned skills, gymnastics fans know the skills they love seeing performed today will likely become irrelevant down the road.

5 Of The Most Common Gymnastics Injuries & How Best To Prevent Them

We’ve all heard the horror stories: the pop! from a too-short vault, the head-first crash from a beam dismount, the terrifying falls from a release skill on bars. But the majority of gymnastics injuries — 65–70 percent of them, in fact — aren’t dramatic; they happen from years and years of over-use. 

NCAA Gymnasts To Watch At Elevate The Stage Birmingham

Just over one month is left until the NCAA gymnastics season begins, and teams all over the country will compete weekend after weekend in dual meets, quad meets, and even meets on podium — like Elevate the Stage. The 2019 NCAA season includes two Elevate the Stage events with the final one happening in Birmingham, Alabama.