The AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and USA Gymnastics (USAG) are two different organizations in the United States that oversee gymnastics. But why are there two organizations, and what are their differences?
The main differences between AAU and USAG
The main differences are:
- AAU is a multi-sport organization that governs various amateur athletic activities, while USAG is exclusively focused on gymnastics.
- USAG is the national governing body for gymnastics in the US and is recognized by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), whereas AAU does not have the same level of recognition.
- USAG sets rules and regulations for gymnastics competitions and athletes, while AAU offers a more relaxed environment for gymnastics competition and training.
Aims and Goals
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and develop amateur sports and physical fitness programs in the United States. Some of the main objectives of the AAU include:
- To promote physical fitness and health among individuals of all ages.
- To provide opportunities for athletes to participate in sports programs and competitions at the local, regional, and national levels.
- To provide education and training for coaches, referees, and officials.
- To support the development of new and emerging sports.
- To provide a safe and fair environment for athletes to participate in sports programs and competitions.
- To promote and support the Olympic movement.
- To encourage and foster sportsmanship, character, and leadership development among athletes.
USA Gymnastics (USAG) is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Unlike AAU, its sole focus is the development of gymnastics. Some of the main aims of USAG are:
- To promote and develop gymnastics at all levels and across all disciplines, including men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatics, and parkour.
- To provide educational and training opportunities for gymnastics coaches, judges, and athletes.
- To support the selection and training of teams to represent the United States in international competitions, including the Olympic Games.
- To promote the growth and development of gymnastics clubs, facilities, and programs across the country.
- To foster sportsmanship, teamwork, and ethical behavior among gymnastics participants.
- To ensure the safety and well-being of gymnastics participants, and to provide a safe and secure environment for gymnastics activities.
- To support and promote research and innovation in the sport of gymnastics.
- Level of Competition: USAG competitions are generally more competitive, with a higher level of skill and athleticism required, while AAU competitions may be more recreational in nature.
- Judging Standards: USAG competitions are judged according to established rules and standards, while AAU competitions may have less strict judging standards.
- Recognition and Awards: USAG competitions are recognized by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), while AAU competitions may not have the same level of recognition. USAG competitions also offer more opportunities for athletes to receive awards and recognition for their achievements.
- Cost: USAG competitions may be more expensive to participate in due to higher fees and travel costs, while AAU competitions may be less expensive.
In conclusion, USAG competitions are generally more competitive and structured, while AAU competitions are more recreational and may be less expensive.
The benefit of choosing to compete in the AAU route is that at lower levels there are more choices. Whereas USAG events focus on compulsory routines that must be achieved in order to move onwards and upwards.
Greater flexibility in the routines for some gymnasts is a huge benefit at first. Many will start off in AAU events before crossing over to USAG when they are older and have a better skill set.
Are the age requirements different?
Yes, there are age requirements that differ between USA Gymnastics (USAG) and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
In USAG, the minimum age for competition varies based on the level of competition. For example, for Junior Olympic competition, the minimum age is 7 years old, while for Elite competition, the minimum age is 16 years old.
In AAU, there are no specific age requirements for competition, but athletes must be amateur, which typically means they cannot have received payment for their athletic participation.
It’s important to note that these age requirements are subject to change and may vary from one competition to another, so it’s always best to check the specific rules and regulations for each competition before participating.
Are USAG levels harder than AAU?
It is difficult to make a blanket statement that USA Gymnastics (USAG) levels are harder than those of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), as the level of difficulty can vary greatly depending on the individual athlete and the specific competition.
However, USAG competitions are generally considered to be more competitive and challenging than AAU competitions. This is because USAG sets and enforces rules and regulations for gymnastics competition, and athletes must meet certain skill requirements to participate at each level.
Additionally, USAG competitions are judged according to established rules and standards, which often result in higher scoring expectations and a higher level of difficulty. On the other hand, AAU competitions may have more relaxed rules and competition standards, which may result in a lower level of difficulty.
Both organizations have a central role in developing young gymnasts in the sport and the differing philosophies complement each other well. Different gyms will align with one or provide pathways to cross over from AAU to USAG when the time is right.