March 15, 2012
UCLA Gymnastics coaches and team members will be answering your questions every Thursday over the course of the season. To submit questions for future Q&As, CLICK HERE.
Bill (San Francisco): Why do most athletes do the same vault? Do you think the rules should encourage more skills diversity? Why not let the girls compete two vaults?
Valorie Kondos Field: While I absolutely agree that vault is not as exciting to watch as it could be, the reason why we have not devalued the Yurchenko full is to encourage parity. This is the same reason we decided to go from competing two vaults to one vault. If a strong vaulting team is allowed a second vault per athlete and one of the athletes has a fall on the first vault, they more than likely will perform a better vault on the second try. Going to one vault allows a weaker vault team to compete with a stronger team if the stronger team is having an off night.
Jennifer (Burlington): Val, you had a fan mention passing down Kim Hamilton's floor routine to someone, and you asked him who to put it on. Please give it to VANESSA!
Valorie Kondos Field: Hmmmm that might work. I'll play around with some of the choreography with her and see how it goes. Good suggestion. Thanks.
Jess (Irvine, CA): Ohhhhh, as long as we are talking about reviving routines, I put my vote in for Alison Stoner's 1999 freshman floor routine. If Mattie did that omg!
Valorie Kondos Field: I loved that routine, and Alison was such a brilliant performer and dancer. Mattie could do that really well, but so many people have used that music ("My Drag").
Andrea (Boston): What would you say is the hardest skill for you to teach?
Randy Lane: Every coach has their strengths and weaknesses, so I try to learn from people who are really good in an area that I feel I am not quite as proficient. I think that is why, as a coaching staff, Valorie, Chris, Amy and I work really well together. We lean on each other and complement one another in our strengths and weaknesses.
Some skills are easy to teach to some athletes and harder to teach to others. Finding the proper skill selection for an athlete is always key to their success. The hardest skill for me to master in teaching is a hop full (Monique De La Torre's skill on bars). It is one of those skills that I have tried to teach on several occasions to several athletes. I watch videos, quiz other coaches who teach the skill well, and ask my athletes to guide me through what they feel, see and think. I am determined to be able to teach the skill by the end of my coaching career, if not sooner! So, maybe start looking for that skill in future Bruin routines.
Paul (LA): Question for Randy: What are some of your favorite bars routines from the past--college or international? Do you bring anything you've seen in those to the Bruins routines?
Randy Lane: Paul, thanks for the question. First off ... Wow, I have many favorites from the past and the present. I would have to say that I probably can't pick one favorite over the years, but I will include a few names. Heidi Moneymaker was the first athlete that I helped coach to an NCAA Bar championship, so she would have to be included on the list. She was a great competitor and was constantly improving on a daily basis. She attacked the event with such passion and determination that there was never a doubt that it was going to be the best routine ever. She was a joy to coach and a joy to watch.
Other athletes that come to mind are:
Mohini Bhardwaj - such a toughness to her and made everything look so easy.
Those above mentioned were NCAA champions during my last time at UCLA, but there have been so many that I have coached who have made such an impact in this sport.
Doni Thompson was one of those athletes that I could give an idea to and she would try it. So incredibly talented and such a strong competitor on bars for UCLA. I actually taught her a skill that she competed in her junior year that was really nothing more than an easy transition that I had competed back in my competitive days on high bar - a full twist after her Tkatchev.
Lena Degteva was often overlooked on bars, but she worked so hard, and by her senior year finished in the top 3 at NCAA's.
As far as non-Bruins, I would have to say that Courtney Kupets (Georgia) was an amazing bars worker and won two NCAA titles on the event. She did so many releases in her bar routine her senior year that she made it look like she was simply playing.
Secondly, I am very thankful for the invention of YouTube. I love to watch anything and everything with regards to the sport of gymnastics. I have actually watched several videos from the 80's to try to bring back the "old school" skills. It would have been very fitting to be able to do that this season since it was a "throwback" year competing in the Wooden Center's Collins Court. I feel like I can never stop learning, reinventing or becoming a better coach with every athlete.