Building a GREAT Plan Pt. 2 “Preparing for Competitive Season”

by contributing partner Brian Smith, Head Coach Lone Star Gymnastics Ft. Worth, Texas @brianlonestar Twitter and IG


In this series we will be talking about how to prepare a year round lesson plans.  If you missed Part 1 please take the time to catch up before beginning part 2.

It is important that you think strategically as a coach during your planning.  Do you specifically have your plan set up to prepare for your season or are you blindly walking into season hoping you have routines together in time?

This is what I am asking myself constantly when I am laying out my year round plan:

  • When am I starting Short Skill Combinations?
  • When am I starting Long Skill Combinations (Half Sets)?
  • When am I starting Full Routines?

Short Combinations or 2-3 skill combinations that you use to get the athletes comfortable with doing skills in new combinations.  This is commonly done in my gym by cutting routines into quarters. These quarter sets can be done overlapping which means the last skill you do in a quarter is the first skill you do in the next quarter.   You can mix it up or do it any way that you want you as long as the athletes are being serious about putting new skills into some sort of routine.

Long Combinations are basically half sets.  There are a lot of ways you can do half sets with athletes and it is important that we continue to make things interesting so that the athletes stay engaged.  You can do half sets with and without mounts and dismounts or overlap it with the new skills in the middle of the sets so that the athletes get more repetition on those new skills.

Full Routines are just the competition routines that your athletes compete.  Once again we can do full routines with and without dismounts.

You should not be exclusively doing one of these things during your weekly plan.  I don’t like for my athletes to get bored in the gym because you can’t keep athletes who don’t like being in the gym.  I do Long Combinations mixed with Short Combinations and Full Routines consistently in my training plans.

Home Work- Write out your preseason timeline and know when you are starting Short Combinations, Long Combinations, and Full routines.

Planning out your annual schedule can and often will be tedious until you get the hang of it.  You may struggle to see the point of it if you have the mentality that you know what you are doing and writing it down can’t help.  I urge you to drop this mentality and use this as a teaching device when discussing gymnastics with parents and athletes. Nothing shows a parent that you care about their athlete like pulling out a yearlong training plan and saying “this is where you are and this is what we have to do this week to get us to Regionals”.  Yes, you may get frustrated when you are trying to set this up for the first couple of seasons but STICK WITH IT because IT IS WORTH IT.

In order to help you with your first couple years of planning I have written some benchmarks that you can use to make writing your annual plan easier.


  • You should begin full routines six weeks before your first meet.
  • You should begin Long Skill Combinations six weeks before you start Full Routines.
  • You should begin Short Skill Combinations six weeks before you start Long Skill Combinations.

When you are in each phase you are NEVER working routines or skill combinations exclusively.  This means that there is always some sort of skill development/refinement going on during workout.  Failure to do this may cause you to loose traction in new skill development and skill refinement with your athletes.


Stay tuned for part 3 which talks about the Invitational and Championship phase of the season.


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