Val has mentioned a few times lately that she will pull people from the lineup who don’t warm up well right before the competition. I like this strategy for a deep team because it keeps everyone on their toes and ensures that the most likely hits get to compete (you’re not putting in a clunker just because she usually hits in practice), but it brings up an interesting coaching question. In the past, Val has been very adamant that she won’t pull a gymnast from the beam lineup just because of a fall the week before because she doesn’t want the gymnast to think that the coaching staff has no confidence in her. This new attitude seems like a clear departure from that philosophy. How is a gymnast going to believe you have confidence in her if you’re yanking her right before the meet because you’re afraid she’ll fall?
It’s important that Rhonda is resting some of her gymnasts this week. That foresight will be important in keeping everyone healthy, and it goes hand in hand with the new strategy to peak later. They can’t peak if they’re not intact. We haven’t seen too much variation in lineups so far, so getting to see gymnasts like Wang come back into the lineup will help us see how much depth this team has and whether they really do have those reliable backups or whether there will be pressure to hold on to the six who are currently converting in competition. A big road score will help them close the RQS gap with Oklahoma.