Tracking Student Progress

During weeks 10 and 11 of our regular class session, Tri-Star instructors complete a skill evaluation for most of the pre-school and recreational Gymnastics classes. These evaluations help both instructors and parents to measure the student’s overall progress during the session and identify areas for improvement in future classes. Each student receives an individual progress report for the session which serves as a “roadmap” for their development as they continue to progress through Tri-Star’s gymnastics curriculum.Evaluation%20sheets%20(updated)

What do the evaluations mean?

Tri-Star’s instructors use the “whole-part” method. This means any difficult skill or movement can be “broken down” into several smaller movements that a student will learn separately before combining the parts into the whole skill. Some movements and body positions are common across a wide range of skills and continue to be relevant even at the highest levels of gymnastics competition. In the same way, certain gymnastics skills that incorporate many of these basic movements become foundational skills that can help students progress to more advanced skills later in life.

This way, each new skill serves as a milestone in a student’s progress. Once a student achieves a particular skill, they continue to work to improve those skills while also beginning to learn movement patterns for the next skill in the progression. Even our newest and youngest students receive instruction that will eventually lead them all the way to the most advanced skills in our program!


Basic Skill Progressions

Floor Exercise and Tumbling

  • Forward Roll is often the first and most basic skill students learn. It teaches the important “tuck” position, as well as helps students gain core control and become more comfortable with the sensation of spinning/tumbling.
  • Backward Roll follows from forward roll. The skill shows improved body control and upper body strength as well as the ability to partially support the body weight with the hands, arms and shoulders. Newer gymnasts, as well as Young Mini-Stars and Tiny Tots, may only be able to perform this skill using a downhill mat until they become strong enough to do it on a level surface.
  • The Baby Handstand is a crucial step towards tumbling skills. It requires a student to reach a partial handstand in the “inverted” position with all of the body weight momentarily supported on the arms. As strength improves, gymnasts will be able to maintain this position longer and longer, keep good posture and shoulder flexion. Baby handstand and backward rolls both help to progress towards a full handstand, in which a gymnast reaches a complete inverted position, with both legs together and with all of the weight supported on the arms and shoulders.
  • Cartwheels are achieved when a student shows even greater ability to support and control their weight with the arms and shoulders. This skill also requires greater body awareness and the ability to incorporate complex arm/leg movements while still maintaining body control. Cartwheels, in combination with mastery of handstand skills, progress eventually to round-offs, which develop once students are able to add speed and power to their tumbling techniques.


Balance Beams

  • Walking on the balance beam seems simple enough, but for young children who have only been walking on a level surface for a year or two, it can be extraordinarily difficult. Beginner-level gymnasts practice maintaining their balance while moving across the beams, and in later stages, help to gain confidence in their footing and their ability to land safely from a fall. Confidence is almost as important as any other skill for the balance beams.
  • Straight Jumps or “stretch jumps” are achieved when students learn to trust their lower body and core muscles to push away from the beam rather than crouch towards it. Younger gymnasts learn the straight jump at first by jumping from the beam and landing on a surface next to or below it, while older and/or more advanced students learn to perform the straight jump while landing directly on the balance beam. Still more advanced students improve this skill by jumping higher, and also improving their starting and finish posture. A good straight jump will progress eventually to tuck and split jumps as well as leaps and straddle jumps.
  • Bear Walks are achieved when students are able to support part of their body weight on their hands while still keeping their balance on the beams. The bear walk is a milestone of confidence as much as it is of strength, where gymnasts begin to learn to transfer more difficult skills and movement patterns from the floor to the balance beam. A student with a strong bear walk will be able to work towards baby handstands on the low beams and eventually to cartwheels and full handstands on the low and high beams.
  • The Teeter-Totter is a balance and weight transfer movement that demonstrates gymnasts’ ability to transfer their weight forwards and backwards while still maintaining balance. The teeter-totter also shows some understanding of hip control and the use of the legs and hips to counter-balance during the weight transfer. Like the bear walk, the teeter-totter is an important step on the way to learning handstands and cartwheels on the low and high beam.


Uneven Bars

  • Chin holds or “bent arm hang” shows a student’s arm and upper body strength. This basic technique is important for many bar skills, and gymnasts never cease to improve this skill; a very young/beginner gymnast may only be able to hold this position for two to three seconds, while a more advanced gymnast might be able to hold it stably for ten or twenty seconds. The bent arm hang is very important for students attempting to learn an unassisted pullover.
  • Front Support shows gymnasts’ ability to support their own weight on top of the bar. A good front support develops from shoulder and abdominal strength and will eventually allow a student to master proper casting and hip circle techniques. Very young students often perform exercises meant to improve their confidence with the front support position first before they can begin to improve their technique in the movement itself.
  • Glide swing or “L-swing” uses a gymnasts’ abdominal and hip muscles to hold the legs in a “piked” position while swinging forwards and backwards on the bar. The glide swing is many gymnasts’ first introduction to the swinging motion on the bar, and will eventually progress to more powerful swinging skills as well as glide kips in the higher levels.
  • Tap swing is the fundamental swing technique used on the uneven bars, men’s high bar, parallel bars and still rings. Gymnasts will use this technique at almost every level of competitive gymnastics, from GIJO/AAU levels, all the way through high school, college and elite competition. The basic tap swing can be performed on a low bar or a set of parallel bars with legs in the “tucked” position, allowing gymnasts to learn the timing of the movement. As strength and core control improves, students learn to perform the tap swing in a “hollow” position, keeping the knees together and the legs completely straight. A strong tap swing forms the basis for a multitude of gymnastics skills on the uneven bars, even for gymnasts who are not yet strong enough to perform truly complex, high-level techniques.



  • Basic Straight Jump is both a basic movement pattern and a crucial motor skill. It shows the gymnasts’ ability to jump by extending the legs and leaping vertically without bending at the hips or drawing the knees upwards. This technique requires a certain amount of leg strength, which improves with constant practice. In many ways, the straight jump is an important progression towards many skills both on the vault as well as the floor and balance beams.
  • “Stick” landing is a gymnasts’ basic landing technique. It shows students’ ability to control themselves as the feet impact the floor and maintain balance at all times. Young students and beginners will first be introduced to this skill by practicing a basic straight jump from a panel mat or 6-inch surface onto a landing mat or spring floor. As students gain more skills, they eventually learn to use the “stick landing” technique from a wide variety of vault and tumbling skills as a matter of standard practice.
  • Straight Jump From Springboard combines the basic straight jump with the stick landing skill and shows a student being able to repel vertically from a spring board. For many young gymnasts it is their very first experience using a gymnastics springboard. Exercises on the trampoline, tumble track and mini-trampolines are all used to prepare young gymnasts for this skill.
  • The Straight jump vault is a very important foundational technique that demonstrates a combination of running, jumping, bouncing from the spring board and “stick” landing on a soft mat. Many different movement patterns are combined in sequence for this technique which makes it surprisingly difficult to master for a beginner gymnast. As students improve their running form and body awareness their performance of the straight jump vault improves, which can open the door to handstand-to-flatback vaults and handspring progressions.


Advanced Skills

The Four Foundational Skills on each event progress naturally to Advanced-Beginner and Intermediate-Level skills, which follow a similar progression to even more advanced techniques in USAG/GIJO compulsory competition. Each level of achievement flows immediately into the next. The progression of gymnastics skill is so tightly integrated that many times an advanced new skill can actually be improved by practicing and improving a foundational skill. Tri-Star’s instructors are trained to encourage their students to seek the maximum proficiency in all of their skills, from first-time beginners to advanced optionals and everything in between!