The Xcel Program: A Complete Guide

The Xcel Program is a competitive gymnastics program that has been designed for gymnasts in the USA who want to take their skills to the next level. This program is perfect for girls who want to improve their abilities and compete at a higher level, but who may not want to commit to the intense training schedule of the elite Junior Olympic program.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the Xcel Program, including its history, structure, and benefits.

Let’s get into this!

xcel gymnastics

Table of Contents

History of the Xcel Program

The Xcel Program was first introduced by USA Gymnastics in the early 2000s. It was created to provide a competitive opportunity for gymnasts who were looking for a more flexible and less intense alternative to the elite Junior Olympic program. Over the years, the Xcel Program has grown in popularity, and it is now one of the most widely used competitive programs in gymnastics.

Some coaches and gyms will choose to use the Xcel program whilst others will only focus on the traditional 10-level Junior Olympic program. Some gyms will offer both.

Structure of the Xcel Program

The Xcel Program is structured into different divisions, each of which offers a different level of difficulty and skill requirements. There are five divisions in the Xcel Program, ranging from Bronze to Diamond. The Bronze level is the easiest, and it is designed for gymnasts who are just starting out in competitive gymnastics. The Diamond level is the most advanced, and it is for gymnasts who have mastered the skills required at the lower levels.

Each division of the Xcel Program has specific requirements for the skills that gymnasts must perform. For example, Bronze requires gymnasts to perform a set of basic skills, while the Diamond level requires gymnasts to perform more advanced skills such as full twists and double backs.

Read the USAG Xcel rules here.

The Xcel Program vs Traditional 10-Level Program

A key difference between the Xcel Program and traditional Junior Olympic 10-level programs is the focus on competition. In traditional programs, the main focus is on winning competitions and achieving high scores, whereas the Xcel Program places a greater emphasis on personal progress and development. This can be a great advantage for gymnasts who are looking for a less pressure-filled environment and who want to focus on their own progress.

While the Xcel Program provides many benefits, it is important to understand the differences between it and the Junior Olympic program. For example, the training schedule for the Xcel Program is typically less intense than that of traditional programs, which can be a huge advantage for gymnasts who are looking for a more flexible option. However, this also means that gymnasts in the Xcel Program may not reach the same level of skill as those in traditional programs.

Xcel Entry Requirements

The table below shows the entry requirements for taking part in the Xcel Program. If a gymnast has previously entered into JO events, the table shows the level at which they would crossover.

Gymnasts who have no previous experience in either Xcel or JO are able to enter at Bronze, Silver or Gold but not Platinum or Diamond.

At the time of writing a sixth division, Sapphire is being piloted by USAG in selected regions.

Xcel DivisionMinimum Age
If crossing from
Junior Olympic
Bronze5 years oldNoneLevels 1 or 2
Silver6 years oldNoneLevels 1, 2 or 3
Gold7 years oldNoneLevels 3 or 4
Platinum8 years old31.00 AA at Gold
Division or 8.0 IES
Levels 5, 6 or 7
Diamond9 years old31.00 AA at Platinum
Division or 8.0 IES
Levels 7, 8, 9 or 10
(pilot program)
12 years old34.00 AA at Diamond
or skills beyond Diamond
Levels 8, 9 or 10
Xcel entry requirements

Benefits of the Xcel Program

The Xcel Program offers a number of benefits to gymnasts who participate in it. Firstly, it provides a flexible and less intense alternative to the elite program, which is perfect for gymnasts who want to improve their abilities and compete at a higher level, but who may not want to commit to the intense training schedule of the elite program.

Secondly, the Xcel Program provides gymnasts with the opportunity to compete at a national level, which can be a great way to showcase their skills and improve their confidence. The program also offers a supportive and encouraging environment, where gymnasts can make new friends and build strong relationships with their coaches and teammates.

Finally, the Xcel Program helps gymnasts to develop their skills and improve their technique. The program is designed to be challenging, but it is also accessible, which means that gymnasts of all skill levels can participate and progress.

Disadvantages of entering Xcel Program

If a gymnast can choose between the Xcel or Junior Olympic program they should consider the pros and cons of both.

If a gymnast only goes through the Xcel program and then wishes to switch to the Junior Olympic program it is not as easy as making the switch the other way.

Even girls competing at the higher divisions in Xcel will still need to go back and ‘mobilize’ the lower equivalent levels in JO.

The JO Development Program will also place more emphasis on achieving the best possible techniques and progressions. Gymnastics is very unforgiving at higher levels if you don’t have the correct building blocks in place.

If you are adamant you want to make the Olympics one day, Xcel will not take you all the way but it can help and it’s certainly better than nothing at all!

How to Get Involved in the Xcel Program

Getting involved in the Xcel Program is easy, and it starts with finding a local gym that offers the program. You can also get in touch with your local USA Gymnastics chapter to find out more about the program and to locate a gym near you that participates. Once you have found a gym, you can speak with a coach to determine which level of the program is right for you, and you can start working towards your goal of participating in the Xcel Program.

Tips for Success in the Xcel Program

To be successful in the Xcel Program, it is important to have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to improvement. Here are some tips to help you achieve success in the Xcel Program:

  1. Set realistic goals. Make sure that your goals are achievable and that you have a clear plan for how you will achieve them.
  2. Work hard and be consistent. Consistent training is key to success in the Xcel Program, so make sure that you are putting in the effort and practicing regularly.
  3. Seek out positive role models. Surround yourself with positive and supportive role models who can provide guidance and encouragement.
  4. Focus on personal progress. Remember that the Xcel Program is about personal progress, not just competition. So focus on your own progress and don’t worry about what others are doing.

Final Thoughts

The Xcel Program is a great opportunity for gymnasts who want to improve their skills, compete at a higher level, and build their confidence. With its flexible schedule, supportive environment, and focus on personal progress, the Xcel Program is the perfect choice for gymnasts of all skill levels. So why not give it a try and see where it can take you?

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