USAG Rhythmic Gymnastics Elite Gym In Miami. Training Boot Camp

USAG - rhythmic gymnastics

Rhythmic Art: Training Elite Athletes

Rhythmic gymnastics in the United States is in the middle of a very exciting time right now. The sport itself is quite new, relatively speaking, in this country compared to other parts of the world. Because of this, we have the opportunity to work with a fresh approach to a traditional model.

As per the National Olympic Committees, only two individual athletes per country can qualify to represent her nation in rhythmic gymnastics. Athletes must obtain one of the top twenty-six individual all-around scores in the world to be able to achieve the honor of competing in the individual program at the Olympic games.

From the beginning of the Rhythmic Art program in 2011, we have seen our girls rise through the ranks and claim titles in the top positions in the United States. Not only do our athletes hold State and Regional Champion titles, but we also have the U.S.A. National Champions, as well as several national team members.

Our History and Approach to Coaching

How we arrived in the position we are in today has a lot to do with the history of our club. There have been many paths for us to choose from along the way that have helped us to understand what it takes and create a winning organization from the ground up.

We build on our championship club by examining all our past and current choices, both positive and negative. There are many contributing factors that help us in our progress, and when we look back with a thoughtful perspective, we are able to pick out everything that has worked for us as a club, and everything that has not.

Our combined experiences have shaped what our overall goals are, and how to function on a daily basis as a business whose aim is to train athletes from lower levels all the way up to elite.

Originally from Samara, Russia, head coach, and founder Elena Nikolashkina arrived in the United States having already earned the Russian classification of ‘Master of Sport’. Although Elena’s dedication and strong will toward the art of sport started early on at the beginning of her own rhythmic gymnastics career in Russia, her love of learning is what has sustained her enthusiasm for the sport and allowed her to continue coaching at an extremely competitive level.

Rhythmic Art was founded in 2011 in the surrounding Miami area of Florida. Starting out with only ten children of past USSR descent, these children began on their rhythmic journey in levels three through five along with Coach Elena, who in many ways, although already having come so far, was still just beginning her coaching adventure.

However, team Rhythmic Art understands that simply opening doors to a building and telling children what to do for several hours a day will not generate champions. On the contrary, there are actually quite a few aspects to leading and contributing in all areas that will positively affect and shape a team.

Learning and using the ability to explain ourselves so that each individual athlete can understand the information is not an easy skill. We do this by breaking down complex ideas into more simple terms.

Sometimes it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for certain coaches who are set in their ways to adapt to an individual athlete.

Not every child comes to a club with the same natural abilities. One of team Rhythmic Art’s main intentions always is to recognize each member of the club as her own person, to work toward figuring out and correcting her weaknesses while at the same time, growing her strengths.

This type of coaching requires more thought and energy because you must believe that every girl is “coachable”. We believe as a club, that adjusting the workouts to the athlete, and finding a common communication style between her and the coach is priceless. This type of individualized coaching can only work if you are operating with a strong foundation, a deep understanding of basics, and an ability to instill a strong work ethic in your athletes.

While this concept sounds easy enough, for many coaches, putting this idea into action can actually be extremely difficult. In order to make this work, a coach must check her ego at the door. Again, this working style is a lot easier than it sounds.

We Adapt as Rhythmic Gymnastics Evolves

We have been working with a high caliber of professionals throughout the years. Some for a shorter amount of time for things like trainings, workshops, and masterclasses. Some we have obviously worked alongside for longer periods of time, our working relationships spanning years. Through all of this, one principle always stays the same, if for any reason we begin to observe that a member of our extensive team is losing motivation and no longer operating at peak performance without spark, and is unable to accept help to develop past this than they must move on from us. Coaching without energy has always been a non-negotiable for Rhythmic Art. The only way to inspire the athlete is to feel inspired yourself!

Changing and adapting have always been two of the most important elements of progress. Without these factors, innovation is lost, and you run the risk of dying out completely.

Worldwide, Olympians all the way down to level 3 athletes are scoring higher than they ever have. The rules and judging criteria are constantly moving and shifting. The level of difficulty is increasing at a rapid pace and it is up to the coach and athlete, working together as a team to keep up and stay current with all new changes. If not, you will wind up with a club that falls behind the curve quickly. Change is the only thing that is permanent.

Early on, in the Rhythmic Art journey during the 2011 season, we had a club that was doing well. Our gymnasts were executing their routines at competitions without drops and with elegance. Unfortunately, the results our girls were receiving were not reflecting this. The scores were low, and this was confusing.

Elena got immediately to work studying and analyzing what could be the reason behind the results not matching what she was seeing. The only thing that was clear was that there was quite a difference between the performance versus the actual results being given by the judges, but we still had to figure out why.

Elena soon reached the conclusion that a large reason for such an obvious contrast in performance versus results was that the U.S. rules had some minor and major differences to those which she had previously known and been working with. The foundation and tools that the club had already put into place could remain, but now, examining the U.S. specific code became very necessary. This acted as another major building block that would play a large part in the success of Rhythmic Art.

With the strong belief that acquiring knowledge is the backbone to great advancement, Elena decided to go to the source. What is the best way to fully understand all the criteria being employed by U.S. rhythmic judges? Become one yourself!

After studying and taking the judge’s course, Elena earned herself National Judge status. Soon enough, after receiving National Judge status, she was invited as a judge for competitions across the United States. This experience was a huge help to her. Now Elena had created for herself the opportunity to observe and recognize common mistakes.

While judging, Elena began to pinpoint and figure out solutions to these common errors. She was able to bring back this information to the Rhythmic art gymnasts, and coach in a way that would ensure these mistakes were avoided. Here is where she really began to add creativity to the performance aspect of the routines that enabled each girl to stand out from the crowd.

There are just so many moving pieces and layers that get built on top of one another to create such a fully developed program. To make this run smoothly, a team of people is needed.

For instance, if you ask any rhythmic gymnastics coach about the importance of ballet to our sport you will find that they all respond in the same way. It is without exception, extremely important to almost all areas of rhythmic gymnastics.

A strong ballet technique is a must for any program that wishes to be successful because it gives the girls, physical strength without adding bulk, cleanliness of lines, and of course artistry.

When a gymnast has a firm base in ballet, it means that she now has a style so fluid that while performing her routines, judges don’t get the sense that they are just seeing a series of raw or unfinished movements, but rather a fully polished routine performed by a gymnast with grace and potential.

Our Strength is in Our Team

Because Rhythmic Art understands how valuable of ballet training is, having ballet coaches who are dedicated professionals has always been a priority. We have been so lucky through the years to have a great number of ballet professionals work with us and willing to share their understanding, expertise, and love of ballet with us.

In 2016 we added to our team, Maria Pellejero from Spain. Maria changed her ballet program in order to fit with Rhythmic gymnastics. Because although the base is the same, the specifics can be quite different.

We also have been able to work with Tatiana Pomerantseva, ballet coach of Olympic Champions and choreographer to the Russian National group, working with gymnasts such as Aleksandra Soldatova, Polina Shmatko, and Lala Kramarenko.

Our gymnasts also continually have the pleasure to learn from Sofia Tomilina, a personal ballet coach to the queen of rhythmic, Yana Kudryavtseva.

Rhythmic Art conducts its business and training with the understanding that in order to grow and continue as a high scoring program that attracts and maintains athletes and high caliber of professional coaches, we must keep learning and working with an innovative approach to style and strength of craft.

For this reason, we have made it our top priority to get as much information as possible together in one place, educating ourselves from some of the best in their fields in order to build a program with the highest possible standards.

Team Rhythmic Art has built and maintained friendships over the years that have been extremely beneficial. For instance, a very good life-long friend of Coach Elena, and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Bronze champion from Russia in the group, Evgenia Bochkareva began helping early on during the years of 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Another close friend and Samara teammate, Ekaterina Pirozhkova has worked with our team. She is now a group coach of Team Uzbekistan.

It’s so important to remain open and respectful when working with such very accomplished friends. This gives us a reputation for being easy and good to collaborate with.

For three years in a row, Rhythmic Art has had the privilege of conducting its March training camp with a very good friend of coach Elena, Olga Nazarova. Nazarova is the personal coach to the 2019 two-time World Champion, Ekaterina Selezneva

In 2013 Irina Belasheva began as an assistant coach at Rhythmic Art. Irina holds a Master of Sport from Russia and was a member of the group team when she was an active athlete in Russia. Bringing in Irina allowed us access to her deep knowledge of apparatus training which has grown our program immensely.

In 2018, Rio Olympian from Brazil, Emanuelle Lima joined the Rhythmic Art team. Lima came to us as an accomplished athlete with a very high skill set, as well as a willingness to continue her own advancement.

The education of our coaches never stops. It is no secret that in order for our methods to work at the top level, people have to operate with the same goals in mind. We have to stay fresh by continuing to examine information, question it, and employ what is working in our favor. Of equal importance is our ability to adjust and pivot away from tactics and ideas that have lost momentum.

Patient Coaching

There exists no good reason to allow ego to get in our way. Massaging your ego as a coach wastes a tremendous amount of time, of which we do not have much to spare.

In gymnastics, time is extremely valuable and we will always use this to our advantage rather than allow it to push us into making poorly thought out decisions that could potentially harm the quality of our gymnastics.

We cannot allow ourselves to worry too much about immediate results. As with anything, peak performance requires patience and dedication. If we were to make the mistake of focusing on fast results, we would lose track of the big picture and our quality would suffer. It is not difficult to show immediate results when you overwork everyone.

Some programs and coaches get caught up in chasing the latest “fancy movements”, so often convincing themselves the harder the better. This is not exactly the case. Focused work through a vigorous backdrop of basics training is the only true way to ensure the outcome is flawless. Consistency is the key to success. Without implementing the classical fundamental pieces, the composition is flimsy and creates many gaps that will be identified by a trained eye.

We have all watched a gymnast with a lot of potential have her career fade much too early because instead of building her up layer upon layer which provides her a strong framework, she has been only training singular movements that are for current routine purposes only. Unfortunately for these girls, this tactic will inevitably bring on major burn out and they are at much higher risk for injury.  The reason is obvious. Shortcuts don’t work. We are building from the bottom up so that we have increased mobility when needed, which it always is.

Success, whether it is about an individual gymnast or an entire club, means you have staying power. The process and journey are the true measures of achievement. How long can you stay fresh while still accomplishing long-term advancement?

Rhythmic Art chooses not to measure itself by small markers, but instead, we look toward other indicators of success. Are we staying consistent with healthy and positive growth?

We Aim High

In 2016, U.S.A. had its debut on the Olympic Games program with Laura Zeng. This was a major milestone for rhythmic gymnastics in the U.S. Four years later at the very next qualifier, along with Zeng, we saw our second athlete qualify for the Olympic Games, Evita Griskenas. Now we had claimed both of our allotted country’s spots!

In the United States, our rhythmic gymnastics program is skyrocketing at an incredibly fast pace and Rhythmic Art has put itself in the position right now to seize the opportunity. We continue to develop a unique and distinctive plan that will produce an athlete after athlete that is rooted in our multi-layered system. We are very certain that as we continue on down our path of knowledge and constant growth, we will help train and guide, ongoing generations of new gymnasts as they reach their goals and claim some of the highest-ranking national and international titles.

We also wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to every member of our team. Three women who have greatly contributed to making the program a success, are Ms. Yafit Gitterman, Ms. Moraima Cadenas, and Ms. Patricia Gonzales. Their commitment and hard work have helped team Rhythmic Art in attaining all the goals we continue to set.


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Competitive programs : Rhythmic Gymnastics