Men’s gymnastics practices designed for success at NCAAs


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In his first year as Iowa’s men’s gymnastics head coach, JD Reive has changed the mindset of his Hawkeye gymnastics team, one practice at a time.

Reive changed the system to ensure the Hawkeyes would be at the their peak both emotionally and physically for the Big Ten and NCAA championships. From August to April, Reive has every practice meticulously planned out.

“It’s laid out from the second they get here in August to that last routine at NCAA championships,” the first-year head coach said. “I break things down literally to the minute, every day, all through the year.”

The program entails having higher- and lower-intensity days. With the lower-intensity days, practices are much more laid-back and the gymnasts do not have to go as hard. These days are meant to recharge the athletes. On high-intensity days, maximum effort is expected.

The Hawkeyes work on only a few of the events each day, and always have a schedule laid out they know to follow. The system starts out really basic early in the season with a lot of strength and conditioning. The more difficult routines — the ones with the highest start values and are performed by the end of the season — don’t kick in until the end of December.

Reive said the payoff of the program is just starting to become evident to his team.

“The fun thing is, they are just now seeing the results,” he said.

Ben Ketelsen, one of three seniors on Reive’s squad, has bought in to the new system.

“My coach growing up had a cycle like this, and it really worked well when we needed to peak at a certain time,” the senior said. “I personally like this system way more than we had before.”

Reive said the freshman class was the first to buy into the system, because they didn’t know anything different. However, the upperclassmen also quickly accepted the new routine, he said.

One of those freshmen, Lance Alberhasky, said the program allows them to peak at the right time.

“It’s good to know when your body is going to ache, and when your body is going to feel better,” Alberhasky said. “You don’t want to peak early in the year. You want to be at your best at the biggest events of the year.”

The team has also benefited from a switch to a morning practice schedule, as opposed to the mid-afternoon sessions held last semester. Reive said the team has been able to get more done during practice, and it has even benefited the gymnasts academically because practice serves as a wake up.

Reive has hounded his team about constantly improving. He does this to ensure they are as ready to go as possible for the two biggest events at the end of the year.

“The end-all,” Reive said. “Is that of all the weeks of the year, they are as fit and as ready to go mentally as they can be for those two weeks.”

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