About Age Group programme
An overview of the FIG Age Group Development and Competition Programs
The FIG Age Group Program had its beginnings in the late 1990's with a comprehensive world-wide review of the sport science literature related to the growth and development characteristics of a child as it progresses from birth to adulthood. But at that time the information was used to inform the content, curriculum and focus of the FIG Academy Program.
Beginning in 2011, with the partial support of the IOC, this information has been supplemented with a comprehensive Age Group Development and Competition Program for men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics and more recently for Rhythmic Gymnastics which is currently being introduced and tested worldwide.
The Age Group Development and Competition Programs include a testing and monitoring and development program for MAG, WAG and RG physical abilities and technical skills as well as a complete two-stream multi-level competition program with modified rules for age-group gymnasts and compulsory exercises for all ages. It also includes a variety of additional information related to developing a systematic gymnastics program that can lead to high performance.
The competition program for both MAG and WAG was developed by Hardy Fink, the Director of Education and Academy Programs and the WAG floor routines with music by Lilia Ortiz López of Mexico who has been one of the most active academy and age group program experts. The testing program was developed by well-known coach and clinician Dieter Hofmann and Hardy Fink and for the choreographic and artistic elements, by many-time World and Olympic-coach and consultant to several National Teams, Carol Angela Orchard. The Rhythmic Age Group Program was developed beginning in 2014 under the supervision of Hardy Fink with well-known rhythmic gymnastics technical experts and frequent academy experts Nadya Aleksandrova, Eunice Lebre and Helena Dias.
As of May 31, 2015, the content of the FIG Age Group Development and Competition Program has already been introduced in sixty-one training sessions to 1403 different coaches from 88 countries.
Because of the experiences and learning and input and consultation from these 61 Age Group coach education training sessions, the MAG and WAG Age Group Programs have had more world-wide consultation and testing over a five year period than any other initiative in FIG history. In consequence, the age group manuals have gone through five editions as the recommendations have been adopted and improvements have been made. It can now be considered finished.
All aspects of the programs - Technical Manuals, videos of every physical and technical test and of the compulsory exercises as well as the WAG floor exercise music - will be posted or be accessible from this site as of June 2015. Enormous gratitude is extended to Lilia Ortiz López and Derick Scholtz who spent months to prepare each of the nearly 400 videos with their gymnasts.
The entire program is intended to serve as an athlete centered "recipe" for non-experts and for federations that do not have the expertise or resources to develop their own programs. They are intended to safely and systematically prepare gymnasts towards high performance below the junior level. Our gymnastics sports have evolved in the past 40 or 50 years from being adult based to ones where intensive childhood training has become the norm. It is the adults that tell the children what to do and how much to do and too often the health and safety and care of the children is ignored. The FIG Age Group Programs focus on quality of performance and health of children before difficulty. Higher difficulty can be trained at younger ages under safe conditions, but should not be included in competition exercises.
The Age Group Competition Program
There is no intention that federations must adopt the development portion or the competition portion of the FIG Age Group Program. But it will be an enormously valuable resource and “recipe” for those that have no program of their own.
However, the High Performance Levels 3 and 4 (HP3 & HP4) of the competition program for MAG & WAG is being highly recommended for all international age group competitions and will eventually be required for those international age group competitions that need FIG approval. It is the first time that there is a common set of age group competition rules available worldwide and this has the potential to provide a variety of advantages and opportunities. Many countries will continue to use their own competition rules designed for their own programs within their countries, but will gradually begin to compete with the FIG age group rules when they compete internationally with other countries regardless of level.
Director of FIG Education & Academy Program