This is an updated version of a former post.
Who has questions about the TOPs program? If you’ve already read Post #1 in this series, then some of those questions have been answered. If you haven’t, feel free to visit it now!
Read it? Then there is still one question that is weighing on your mind . . . Is the TOPs program right for YOUR child?
Bad News . . . I can’t answer that question for you. I can however provide detailed information and insight that empowers you to feel confident in the final decision.
This post is #2 in a 5 part series about the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs)
- Who, What, & Why of the TOPs gymnastics program
- How TOPs testing works – YOU ARE HERE
- Is the TOPs program right for your child? – Coming Soon
- How you can empower your TOPs athlete – Coming Soon
- Advice from TOPs coaches across the country – Coming Soon
Now, before you jump to post #3 (coming soon) so you can answer my above question, let’s talk logistics. It’s important to understand how the TOPs program works before you decide if the TOPs program can offer a positive experience for your child.
In this post I’m going to explain . . .
- The different testing phases, State and National.
- The difference between physical abilities and skill testing.
- The scoring system and how Camp Participants are chosen.
The TOPs program follows it’s own testing schedule.
The first step in the TOPs testing process is to attend TOPs testing events at the State level. Athletes must compete in at least one State TOPs testing event to be eligible to qualify for National Testing. Often times athletes attend multiple testing event to alleviate pressure and provide opportunity for improvement.
WHO: Approximately 2,000 – 3,000 athletes across the country test in the TOPs gymnastics program each year. Gymnasts do not have to compete in other programs such as Junior Olympic (levels 1-10) in order to compete in the TOPs program, they must however be a registered Athlete Members of USA Gymnastics.
Athletes are divided into 7, 8, 9, & 10 year old age groups (determined by their age as of December 31st). To understand age groups better, see Post #1: Who, What, & Why of the TOPs gymnastics program.
WHAT: Both Physical Abilities and Skill Routines are tested at the State Level. The TOPs program evolves each year, slightly altering skill requirements and scoring systems. The following information is a general overview of past requirements.
Physical Abilities: Rope Climb (12 feet in a piked position), Handstand Hold (30 seconds), Press Handstand (5 or 10 depending on age), Leg Lifts (20), Cast Handstand (angle determined by age), Flexibility (6 kick/hold sequence per leg).
Skill Testing: Only athlete’s testing as 8-10 year old will perform skill testing. Skill sequences are evaluated on all four events. Routines are determined by child’s age.
WHEN: Most State Testing Events are held during June and July, although some testing dates may extend from May through August as set by USAG.
Related: 2017 Testing Dates and Sites
WHERE: Although not all 50 States offer TOPs testing, a gymnast is not limited to her home state and may attend testing events anywhere in the country. Most testing events are held at in-gym venues.
SCORING: Each Physical Ability is worth 10 points, except flexibility/holds which are a combined total of 12 points. A perfect score for Physical Abilities is 62. Each Skill Routine is worth 24 Points for a combined total of 72 points.
A 7 year-old’s overall score is a total of all points awarded during the Physical Ability testing. A perfect score for a 7 year old is 62 points. An 8-10 year old’s overall score is the combined score of their Physical Abilities (weighted 40%) and their Skill Routines (weighted 60%). A perfect score for an 8-1o year old athlete is 100 points.
*Scoring system may be altered slightly from year to year.
The next step in the TOPs testing process is the National Testing Event. Athletes are invited to attend National Testing based on State Testing results.
All TOPs State Testing scores are sent to the National Office and ranked within each age group. If a gymnast tests multiple times they will be awarded their highest score and ranked accordingly.
WHO: The top 100 athletes (approx.) from each age group, excluding 7-year-olds, are invited to attend TOPs national testing.
The top 50 scores in the 7-year-old age group are named to the TOPS Diamond Team. They are recognized on USAG’s website and receive a TOPs leotard and certificate. The coaches of Diamond Team members are invited to attend TOPs A camp, all expenses paid.
Top 100 10 year olds make National Testing
Top 100 9 year olds make National Testing
Top 100 8 year olds make National Testing
Top 50 7 year olds make Diamond Team
WHERE: TOPs National Testing is held in Texas at the US National Training center, otherwise known as “The Ranch”.
WHEN: September or October
WHAT: Both Physical Abilities and Skill Routines will be tested at the State Level.
Physical Abilities and scoring will mimic State Testing, with the addition of a sprint test.
Skill Routines will increase in difficulty for National Testing and include dance sequences on Floor and Beam.
SCORING: Physical Abilities are scored the same as State Testing
Skill testing at the national level is judges on a 10 point scale system, similar to JO testing.
Vault = 10 points o Bars = 10 points o Beam = 10 points (Beam Dance = 20% and Beam Acro = 80% of the Beam score) and Floor = 10 points (Floor Dance = 20% and Floor Acro = 80% of the Floor score) •
National TOPS Testing Physical Abilities/Skills Percentages are as follows:
8 year olds 50% physical abilities/50% skills
9 year olds 40% physical abilities/60% skills
10 year olds 30% physical abilities/70% skills
WHO: National TOPs Team Training camps are offered to qualified athletes and their coaches.
Approximately 50 gymnasts (ages 8-10) are invited to TOPs A Camp as part of the TOPs national team. About 50 athletes (ages 8-10) who did not qualify to the TOPs National Team will be invited, in rank order from the National Testing results, to attend a training camp (TOPS B) at their own expense.
WHAT: TOPs camps are 5 day training opportunities. Athletes and coaches attend workouts with National Team Staff members, address technique, progressions, and training programs to implement at home upon return.
WHEN: TOPS A and B Camps are usually held the end of November, beginning of December. Additional open TOPs camps may be conducted throughout the year and are available to national testing participants.
WHERE: TOPs camps are held at the National Olympic Training Center “The Ranch” in Texas. The same location as national testing.
- State Testing includes both physical and skill evaluation for 8-10 year olds and just physical evaluation for 7 year olds.
- Upon qualification, athletes are evaluated on physical abilities and skill routines on a national level.
- Top athletes will be invited to attend a several day camp at the ranch with their current coach and the national team staff.