Split Pressure Is Half Pressure

Simone Fust
07. May 2024

This year, the Swiss Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships (SC) will take place on June 1st & 2nd, in the AXA Arena in Winterthur. The Winterthur-Weinland Rhythmic Gymnastics Association (RGWW) has been supporting gymnasts for over 40 years and is organising this year's major event. KELLER believes that sport is fun and builds character. We are therefore extremely pleased to support this promotion of young talent.

The RGWW club is hoping that three individual gymnasts, who train at the regional performance centre on a daily basis, and one group, who each complete three training sessions per week, will take part. They must first qualify for the SC at two upcoming competitions. We are keeping our fingers crossed!

The young gymnasts, but also their organising committee, do not take the Swiss Championships lightly. A certain amount of pressure is necessary to achieve good results. In this interview, the president of the RGWW club and the OC president of the SC, two gymnasts and their mothers, who are also part of the organising committee, provide interesting insights into the preparations required for the Swiss Championships:

Katarina Sola is 11 years old and has been training with the RGWW since she was 5 years old. 9-year-old Melina Frei has been training at the club for 5 years. The two girls train in the G1 group (group of five gymnasts, most of whom perform synchronised gymnastics).

What fascinates you about rhythmic gymnastics?
Katarina: I really enjoy doing gymnastics with hand apparatus to the beat of the music and practising the elements of flexibility.
Melina: For me it is the combination of dance and music in connection with hand apparatus that I like. I would love to train all day long.

Do you sometimes feel pressure during RG training?
Melina: I feel challenged in a good way, but not overwhelmed. It's easy for me to keep at it and do my best because I simply love this sport.
Katarina: If an element doesn't work, I must repeat it in training until I can do it. This sometimes puts me under pressure and then unfortunately it doesn't work at all. If I then try it again later, I usually succeed. With this knowledge, I can deal with the pressure a little more calmly.

How does the pressure make itself known before or during the competition?
Melina: It's different before every competition. The sweaty palms before the performance are part of it, but they usually make me a bit «antsy».
Katarina: I put most of the pressure on myself to keep the hand apparatus devices within reach. Because if I don't manage this, I have to fall back on replacement equipment that I don't know so well. I'm under pressure because I'm afraid I won't make it.
Both: We are very grateful to our trainer for not putting any pressure on us. On the contrary, she tries to take the pressure off us and motivates us before we step onto the RG carpet. We usually put a bit of pressure on ourselves because we want to be good. It's easier for us to compete in a group than individually. We support and spur each other on.

What happens after the competition when the pressure drops?
Katarina: I'm very relieved when I've done the programme. The applause from the audience motivates me. The pressure is released immediately after the performance. There's still a bit of tension when I'm waiting for the result, but I can always judge in advance how it went. 
Melina: For me, the pressure usually lifts during the performance on the mat. I'm just happy to present my routine.

Poor performance or loss of hand apparatus can sometimes lead to tears. It's important for Katarina and Melina to have their mums with them. They always find the right words for a good result.

Does pressure improve your performance?
Melina: Pressure motivates me to keep at it. At home, I practise small movements with my hand apparatus that I'm not so good at yet. Stretching every day is also essential.
Katarina: I regularly dream about my freestyle routines, which I find beautiful. Sometimes I wake up and find myself doing the splits in bed in the morning.

What is your biggest RG dream?
Both: Our biggest dream is to take part in the Swiss Championships.

Katarina and Melina have built up friendships in the RGWW, enjoy the great team spirit and note: «We motivate, praise and comfort each other. If someone makes a mistake, we don't berate them. We realise that we are a team and that we can only be strong together.»

Simone Fust was one of the youngest gymnasts to join the association when it was founded in 1984. Her further training as a rhythmic gymnastics coach and her work on the board earned her the honour of becoming club president in 2013. Simone is the organising committee chair for the Swiss Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. Josipa Sola and Corinne Frei are the mums of gymnasts and also help with the organisation of the SC. Josipa is responsible for the media and press and Corinne for the staff and ceremonies.

How much pressure is there to organise an event of this size?
Simone: As we organise an RG competition every year, I can look back on a lot of experience. This allows me to take a more relaxed and enjoyable approach to organising such an event. Of course, the pressure is on to find the right people for the organising committee and we must adhere to all the regulations. We want to give the gymnasts an unforgettable experience and offer the audience and volunteers an exciting programme with good procedures. I am very lucky that we have a very good team spirit among the parents in the club. My chosen OC has already organised smaller events together. So I know that it will work. Nevertheless, we are always faced with new challenges which we have to overcome as a team.

Your daughters are preparing to take part in the SC. Do you feel any pressure from your children? Can you relieve this pressure?
Josipa: I don't perceive the pressure as a burden, but as great anticipation of the competition. There is also a certain sense of obligation towards the other girls in the group. No gymnast wants to fail.
Corinne: There is pressure not to fall short. Thanks to the group unity everyone is motivated to perform well and be successful as a team. That helps relieve some of the pressure. For my daughter, the focus is on having fun. The pressure before the competition is part of it. However, as soon as the music starts, it quickly turns into something positive.

In your opinion, what are the positive aspects of pressure?
Josipa: The children must perform in order to stay in the group. As a result, my daughter is very conscientious, for example with homework. This has to be done promptly so that she can complete all the training sessions. 
Corinne: The pressure motivates and spurs on a good performance. The pressure before the competition strengthens the team spirit among the group gymnasts. It's nice to see that the coach doesn't apportion blame for mistakes. I would like to thank the coach for this because there has never been any blame. The training is demanding, time-consuming and rigorous, but always positive.

Do you feel any pressure when organising the SC? What does the pressure do to you? Corinne: My biggest fear is that I won't be able to cover the volunteer hours. We are a small club that cannot provide enough staff. We are reliant on the support of other clubs and all our members. Everyone on the board has a club background. However, we have many parents who are not familiar with club life as they have never belonged to a club. Now their children are doing gymnastics with us, most of whom are still very young, and we are hugely dependent on the support of parents when it comes to helping out. We realise time and again that club life, helping and pitching in, which benefits the gymnasts, is not a matter of course and that some people don't want to deal with it. That challenges me, but it's not a burden. It's exciting to build up a network and be part of an organisation. As I also grew up in a club, I already know the groove. However, this is my first time helping to organise a major event in elite sport.
Josipa: My work is not yet tied to time. I can work on my tasks whenever I find time. I like being able to find a balance between work and family life. The biggest challenge will be completing the programme booklet at very short notice, as we can only compile and print a lot of information about gymnasts, judges and start lists after the final qualification. Club life is new to me and thereforeI am even more pleased to be taking on part of the organisation.
Both: We find the cooperation in the OC and with the regional performance centre to be very positive and valuable and are delighted to be part of this event.

Be part of the Swiss Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships on 1 and 2 June 2024 in the AXA Arena in Winterthur. Information about the SC and the RG Winterthur-Weinland club can be found at www.rgww.ch.

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