Battling the beam

Katie Corbut

In their last two meets, the Kent State gymnastics team has had a glaring weakness in one event: the balance beam.

In fact, the team has struggled so much that coaches decided after the Southern Utah meet that anyone who fell on beam will not have a place in the lineup this Friday. This week in practice will be dedicated to finding six gymnasts who want to and will stay on the beam consistently.

The beam holds so much importance in a meet because one miscalculation can result in a series of deductions or disastrous falls. The skills the gymnasts do on the beam are many of the same skills they use on the floor, but beam coach Sharon Sabin said gymnasts must have a mental toughness to excel in the event.

“The skills they do aren’t hard up there,” Sabin said. “It’s getting that tough attitude.”

After last week’s meet, Biggin feels the team lacks that toughness and pride when it comes to the beam. He believes that in order to be successful, the girls must be aggressive. Sabin has been preparing the beam workers for the past two weeks for the Central Michigan meet this Friday.

Another concern when traveling to other schools is how the different equipment could affect the team’s performance.

“The floor can be springier in different places, sometimes the bars are bouncier, and sometimes the beam is not in real good shape,” Biggin said. “The kids have nice equipment here; it’s a great setup that we’re proud of.”

While Biggin feels there should be no excuse for them not to be successful at home competitions, he understands that it’s easy to get a little bit off on what they’re doing when they face less than satisfactory equipment.

Even though the beam is considered one of the most mentally challenging events, Sabin still holds high expectations.

“You have to be held accountable for what you do and don’t do,” Sabin said. “Everyone else is expecting 100 percent from you, which they’re capable of doing.”

Biggin plans a hard workout plan this week in preparation for this Friday’s meet. While he feels the girls probably won’t like it very much, he deemed it necessary.

To deal with the problem of competing on foreign beams, the gymnasts will not be allowed to practice on their favorite beams this week. They will also be required to make their routines in pressure sets, where the team gets together and cheers on the gymnast as she executes her routine.

Contact sports reporter Katie Corbut at