Recruiting 101: Do Specialists Get Recruited To College?

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In the sport of gymnastics, you automatically think of the gymnast as doing all-around. Competing on four events is typically the desire of the young gymnast and this is often what they work for throughout their club career. 

Ideally, the college coach will want to find recruits that are strong on all four events, because they are getting “more bang for their buck,” so to speak, in regards to scholarship offers. But realistically, in college, most gymnasts are not competing on all four events for four years and there is a place for specialists. 

Recently I had a client who is a specialist. She had to drop floor and vault because of injury and surgery to her shins. I recommended that she focus on beam and bars and do them really well. Initially, it was hard for her mentally, to go from working on four events to two, but it was best for her body. She had a good season on both beam and bars, but of course, never qualified to J.O. Nationals.

We then sent out her information to coaches and the response was incredible. The college coaches could see that she was very talented, clean and will score in college. Within days we had four Pac-12 schools and one SEC team interested.  

This recruit had a strong GPA and was looking for the right fit, not a scholarship. She went on her visits and had a great experience and ultimately ended up choosing Alabama. She felt honored to have all these coaches come watch her at practice and then offer her official visits to campus. She met amazing gymnasts, coaches, and academic advisors. Being a senior in high school and knowing the ramifications of this big decision, she took it very seriously. We processed things along the way and together came to a great final decision.  

Unfortunately, the J.O. system is not geared towards specialists, so it can be shocking at first to even consider this option. With injuries or the fact that not every gymnast is strong on all four events, you should not be afraid to specialize in regards to the recruiting process. Some gymnasts have to take this option and others often continue to work four events even though they know they are weak on an event or two. Either way, remember you can still be very wanted by the college coaches. The college coach who can find a recruit that can score 9.8s on two events will be very interested in you, but this may not transfer into a scholarship.


Jill has an advising service called JH Consulting which helps parents and gymnasts navigate the college recruiting process. You can contact her for more information by going to www.jhicksconsulting.com and call for a FREE consultation. 

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