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Planning & Running a Masters Meet: the adult gymnastics class at Capital reports in

21 Feb

The adult class at Capital in Virginia planned, hosted and held a masters meet on October 1st 2011. As often happens in the masters community, with our DIY, never-say-die attitude,  the gymnasts plan and execute the events. We asked organizer, Gymnastike correspondent and adult gymnast, Marina some questions about organizing and competing in the meet. Gymnastike covered the event, creating a wonderful library of interviews and routines that can be viewed here.

1. Looking back on the experience of planning your first masters meet, how far in advance should the date for the meet be set?

I recommend setting the date as far in advance as possible.  We set the date approximately two months in advance.  We set the registration deadline for 10 days before the meet.

2. Your methods of publicizing the meet proved very effective. What methods did you use?

Thank you very much!  We tried to publicize the meet as broadly as possible.  You were very helpful in posting the information on your Masters site.  In addition, we:
(1) posted meet information on Gymnastike ( ), including on Gymnastike’s adult page ( and on its social media feeds, (2) created a Facebook event and sent it to everyone we knew who may be interested, (3) contacted gyms that we knew had adult classes based on Gymnastike’s list of adult classes (see the full list here or on our “find a place to workout” page) throughout the east coast, and (4) contacted the local press – newspapers and television stations (this was not particularly fruitful, but I’d try again in the future).  We found that although more time consuming, calling gyms led to better results than emailing them.

3. How many competitors did you have?

We had 26 competitors.  They came from all over the east coast – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.  One competitor dropped out shortly before the meet, but then we had a walk-in on the day of the meet, so he took that spot.

4. What costs did you have to cover (e.g. awards, judges, gym time rental fees)?

Our anticipated costs totaled approximately $900, for the following:
(1)  Awards – 1st through 6th place for AA and all women’s and men’s events in all three age groups.  We had medals for 1st through 3rd AA and ribbons for all other places.  We also gave a participation medal to each participant.
(2)  Judges – we originally planned to have two judges, but shortly before the deadline, the meet grew significantly, so we doubled this to four.
(3)  Master of Ceremonies.
(4)  Pizza and drinks for the pizza sale, most of which we hoped to recoup (we also provided pizza for the volunteers; also, an incredibly generous birthday party in the gym just prior to the meet donated left over pizza to us).
(5)  Cost of coach.
(6)  Gym rental.

These costs would have been adequately covered by our entry fee of $40 per person, with a modest surplus for our donation to the Special Olympics.  In the end, however, just about everyone involved who was to be paid kindly asked us to donate their pay to the Special Olympics.  This generosity, along with a successful Special Olympics fundraiser approximately one month before the meet, and our bake/pizza sale during the meet, allowed us to donate more than $1200 to the gymnastics program of the Special Olympics of Virginia.

5. Were there any unexpected costs incurred for the meet (announcer, electricity, snack bar)?

We anticipated all of the costs above.  The one thing we did not anticipate, however, was that we may need to give out multiple medals/ribbons in case of a tie for a particular place.  After calculating the scores, we found we had a number of ties.  Luckily, we had enough extra awards to be able to give out multiple ribbons in the correct color for each place (e.g., three blue ribbons for a three-way tie for first).  Next time, I would try to order additional awards in anticipation of ties.

6. What rules did you use, if any? Did anyone ask for specific guidance about how to construct routines?

The meet was very laid back, and we did not go by any official rules.  All routines started from a 10.0, regardless of number of skills or difficulty.  One of our judges put together an amusing set of rules, see below.  In our flyer, we also specified that gymnasts could use extra mats and/or have a spot for safety on every event; for floor routines, gymnasts could tumble on the rod floor into the resi; for vault, gymnasts could use the vaulting table or the resi (i.e., USAG level 4 vault); and for pommel horse, gymnasts could use the pommel horse or the mushroom.

[ MG note – Here are the “Rules” that their judge made up, we think they are fabulous! Especially the .3 deduction for “just plain ugly” and a full point for “scaring the judges”.” FIG are you listening?!]
Rules & Guidelines Governing Adult Gymnastics Competition
Rules will strictly follow the 1948 FIG Code of Points with the following modifications, clarifications & exceptions:
  • All routines start from a 10.0 regardless of the number or difficulty of skills performed
  • Virtuosity will be awarded at the judge’s discretion for really cool stuff.
  • +0.1  Stick bonus
  • Spotting is preferable over injury.  No deduction will be incurred for the gymnast, however +1.0 will be awarded to the coach.
  • Uniform requirements:  Whatever makes you and everyone around you comfortable.

Table of Deductions:



Minor form errors -0.1
Sloppy execution -0.2
Just plain ugly -0.3
Fall on or from apparatus -0.5
Falling on the judge -1.0
Out of bounds -0.1
Landing entirely off matted area -0.911
Scaring the judge -0.5
Scaring the judge enough to pee their pants -1.0
Height requirements and deductions See “Scaring the judge”

7. Did you have certified judges or did you use fan judges?

One of our judges is a men’s judge and coach.  The others were coaches and had been gymnasts, but I don’t believe they are official judges.  One of the judges was a last-minute addition, after we learned two hours before the meet that one of the         scheduled judges was unable to attend.

8. Did you have to add judges because you had such a great turn out?

Yes.  We originally planned to have two judges, but as the meet grew to 26 gymnasts, we added two more, for a total of four.  This allowed us to run four events simultaneously.

9. How did you run warmups and one touch?

Originally, we had planned to have warmups for 1.5 hours, and then begin the meet.  After hearing concerns that this would result in too much time between warmups and the competition, we changed the schedule so that we had a 30-minute general warmup, followed by march-in and introductions.  After this, prior to each rotation, we had a 15-minute warmup on each event immediately before competition on that event.  We also considered a “capital cup” format, in which a gymnast would compete an event and immediately move to his/her next event for warm-up.  We decided against this, however, because we thought it would be better to keep gymnasts together in their rotations so they could cheer for each other.

10. What events did you offer for people to compete in? Tramp, floor, men’s events etc.

We offered the traditional four women’s events  and the traditional six men’s events for men, with the exception of one male who did an exhibition on beam.  He had trained beam as part of an acrobatic troupe and had a full routine that he’d spent significant time practicing.  We decided against allowing women to do men’s events and vice versa because of concerns that this could significantly lengthen the meet.

11. Did you have any non-gymnastics competitors compete/exhibition?

No. Everyone who competed was an adult gymnast who had trained for the meet.  Levels of gymnastics varied from beginners to a former elite.  At the start of the meet, we also enjoyed a great exhibition floor routine from an athlete who participates in the Special Olympics (

12. Did you give awards? If so, what kind (medals, ribbons, booze) and for what categories?

Yes.  We gave awards for 1st-6th place in the all-around and every event in three age categories (18-29, 30-39, and 40+).  We gave medals for 1st through 3rd place all-around, and ribbons for everything else.  Every gymnast also received a participation medal.  A number of competitors had participated in meets where awards were given only to the top few places overall, without age groups.  We felt strongly that we wanted to see more awards, broken up by age group.

13. What people, materials and planning documents did you use to run the meet?

We had approximately 26 volunteers, including 4 judges, one master of ceremonies, and 4 Gymnastike videographers/reporters.  Our volunteers were the key to the success of the meet.  As you very helpfully advised me at the beginning of this process, it’s very important to have someone who can run the meet on the day of the meet, so that the competitors who planned the meet could concentrate on their routines.  We had a team of three people whose job was the run the meet as soon as warm-ups began.  All three were gymnasts who were not competing in the meet, but had prior meet experience.Another thing that proved to be very important was that, in running a meet for the first time, we anticipated that we couldn’t possibly anticipate everything.  To address this, we designated two volunteers as “Jacks of All Trades.”  Their job was to step in to fill any last-minute role that may come up and/or to fill in in case of a last-minute cancellation.  Having this designation proved extremely useful when we learned two hours before the start of the competition that that one of our judges was unable to attend at the last minute.  One of our volunteers then stepped in and became a judge.

For planning documents, we had a running spreadsheet of each task that needed to be accomplished, starting from 2+ months before the meet.  The document tracked the status of each item, who was responsible for it, interim steps, deadline, and completion.  We also had a spreadsheet that tracked our contacts with gyms in the area.  In addition, we had a separate document that described the role of each volunteer.  Prior to the meet, we sent several emails to the volunteers explaining their roles, telling them when to arrive and what to expect, and answering basic questions.

Other helpful documents that we created included the meet flyer and entry forms (which included the standard liability waiver); meet roster and line-up sheets; score sheets for each judge; score cards for each competitor; separate sign-in sheets for gymnasts, coaches (and coach liability waiver), and volunteers; meet rules sheet (as referenced above); and master meet schedule and script for the announcer.  We also created credentials for all gymnasts and volunteers, and handed out gymnast bios based on information the gymnasts had submitted about themselves.

14. Did you run the events simultaneously or one at a time? How did that workout in terms of time frame for the meet?

We did four events simultaneously, but for some shorter events, like bars, we also added a men’s event at the end.  For example, five people would be on bars, and once that rotation was done, the 1-2 men in that rotation would go to high bar, with the bars judge.  The bars judge would then judge the men on high bar while the rotation was proceeding.  This way, we were able to do all 6 mens’ events even though we officially had only 4 rotations.  This worked mainly  because we had a relatively small number of men (6), and only one of them competed in all 6 events.  This led to very efficient rotations and kept us moving smoothly.

15. How long did the meet take from start to finish?

I believe it was approximately 3-4 hours from the beginning of warm-ups through the end of awards.  The initial warm-up was 30 minutes, and march-in was approximately 15 minutes.  We then had a 15-minute warm-up before the first event, and started the competition shortly thereafter.  From this point, I believe the actual competition was a bit under 2 hours.  We then had handstand contests while calculating scores, and held the awards ceremony.

16. Is there anything you would do differently next time or anything you’d like to add for next time?

First, although it went incredibly smoothly, I’d suggest trying to avoid playing the role of meet coordinator, competitor, and media reporter at the same time!

Second, I’d ensure that teammates are in the same rotation to the greatest extent possible.  We put a lot of time and effort into the lineups, and ended up splitting up members of a couple of teams in the process.  Although we made sure that everyone had at least 1-2 people from their team in their rotations, we learned quickly on the day of the meet that it was important for people who came as a team to compete as a team in the same rotation.  In doing line-ups in the future, I would prioritize keeping team members together above any other considerations.

Third, I’d be more clear in advance with the vault judge so we’re on the same page about whether we would be averaging scores or taking the higher of the two.  I had been under the impression that we’d take the higher of the two vaults, but learned in the last rotation that scores were being averaged.  This did not end up being an issue for anyone, but in the future, I’d like to be able to be more clear about this up front in case this changes anyone’s strategy for vault.

Fourth, I’d let the designated media people handle all the post-meet interviews.  I had prepared for and planned to do two longer interviews for Gymnastike with competitors who had particularly interesting backgrounds.  Unfortunately, because of unanticipated time constraints at the end of the meet, I was able to do only one of these.

Fifth, as mentioned above, I’d order extra awards, to be sure to have enough in case of a tie.  It turned out that we did have enough awards, but this was something we had not anticipated in advance.

Sixth, I’d buy more water for the pizza/bake sale.  We inadvertently ended up with a number of other beverages like soda, but we lacked water, for which we had a high demand.

Finally, I’d want the same exact group of dedicated volunteers.  We had a tremendous group – our announcer, who had previously been one of our adult class coaches at Capital, was wonderful, funny, and kept the meet running very smoothly; our judges were excellent and the head judge was extremely quick and organized, which kept rotations moving at a perfect pace; and all our other volunteers were spectacular in each of their designated roles.  We had a very successful pizza/bake sale, which our volunteers ran.  Competitors and volunteers donated baked goods, and we had designated volunteers who purchased and brought paper goods and other necessary items for the bake sale.  We had a wonderful group of volunteers who signed in gymnasts, coaches, and volunteers and kept us organized.  We had several fantastic child volunteers who sat with the judges, flashed and ran scores, and helped present awards (and beat us all at the handstand contests!).  We also had a great adult volunteer who served as master scorekeeper and photographer.   Our media volunteers for Gymnastike were phenomenal.  They filmed every routine and did a number of post-meet interviews with great professionalism and poise.  We had fabulous volunteers who brought their entire personal sound system to the gym and organized and played all the music throughout the meet.  Finally, we had our master organizers who took over and ran the meet from the moment warm-ups started, and our Jacks of All Trades, who were ready to step in at a moment’s notice when unexpected issues arose.

17. Are you planning to do this annually? If so, when is the next meet?

We hope to have additional meets in the future.  Although we have not yet set any firm dates, I’ll keep you posted!

18. When are the adult classes at Capital offered and what is the cost?

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 9-10:30pm.  Each class is $20.  In July and August, classes are 8:30-10:30pm.


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