What is TOPs?
TOPs stands for Talent Opportunity Program. It is defined by USA Gymnastics as "a talent search and educational program for female gymnasts ages 7-10 and their coaches.”
The program is designed to identify and develop young gymnasts while training them to achieve higher levels of flexibility, strength and body alignment. These fundamentals serve as building blocks to learn more advanced gymnastics skills in the future.
What is TOPS testing?
During the months of June and July, gymnasts age 7-10 are evaluated on physical abilities at the state level. From there, qualifying athletes are invited to participate in the national TOPs test that is conducted in the month of October at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch, in Huntsville, TX. During the state and national testing, gymnasts are evaluated on both physical abilities and skills. Top performing gymnasts at the national testing become members of the National TOPs Team and are invited with their coaches to participate in the National TOPs Training Camp, which takes place in December of each year. This is an educational experience for the coach and the gymnast to learn skills and training techniques from National Team coaches.
If you’d like to learn more about the TOPs program and the skills and physical abilities that are involved, the USAG website is a great place to start! Here are some helpful links:
Why do we offer the TOPs program?
Our goal at Gym-Kinetics is to create well-rounded gymnasts. The TOPs program helps us achieve that goal by developing both the physical and mental characteristics of a strong gymnast. Although we have only been training TOPs for 2 years, we have already seen a noticeable improvement in the overall performance of the gymnasts that participate in the program. We have also qualified to participate in national testing two years in a row and look forward to continuing to grow this successful program in the years to come!
Is TOPs for everyone?
Since TOPs training tries to accelerate a gymnast’s progression, it can be very demanding. This is why coaches recommend a small percentage of athletes to train for TOPs. Selecting the wrong gymnast for TOPs training could have a negative impact on the gymnast’s confidence and enthusiasm for the sport. However, the right gymnast in the TOPs program can experience increased confidence and motivation. Gymnasts are usually invited into the program based on observation by coaches. Practices are separate from team practices and require a larger time commitment.