Q&A with Sarah Korngold and Owen Field

Talk Gymnastics With Us!

Join Today... Members See FEWER Ads


Coaches Sarah Korngold and Owen Field held an AMA on Twitter today. A few bits of this Q&A were posted in the Classics thread, but I copied it all out here interview style to make it accessible to those who don't want to deal with Twitter, and to just generally be easier to read. There was a lot of information in here and it would be unfortunate for some of it to be lost because of Twitter's goofball layout. I split it up into Sarah questions and Owen questions, there's a small overlap where they both answered the same question.

Whoops, the board is cutting me off at 10000 characters. So this will be multiple posts. Sarah questions first, followed by Owen questions.
Last edited:
Sarah K: Good Morning Gymternet!

We’ve seen many questions, assumptions and hot takes going around lately. Here’s your chance to get some answers. Ask me and @CoachOwenField anything!

Q: Are you all actively receiving feedback from USAG leaders regarding routine construction/suggestions or is it something you have to look at yourself with the athlete? Thanks!

Sarah K: I can’t speak for others - I ask for feedback, and so I get it. Everyone receives artistry feedback every camp. Ultimately we are responsible for our athletes and it’s up to us to utilize the resources and staff to help.

Q: Great question, I really want to know this too

Sarah K: You get as much feedback as you want. If you are open to it, they will give it to you.

Q: 1. Is Shi still commited to UF?
2. How you came up with Shi’s new UB composition?

Sarah K: 1. Questions about Shi’s commitment and her future plans are for Shi to answer! But we love the Gators! 🐊☀️

2. Her old routine topped out at a 6.5. She never once did it all in competition - usually doing a 6.3, rarely a 6.4. That’s not enough to medal at Olympics. We wrote out all of her skills and all of the combos she could realistically and reliably do that increased the sv. Then we considered things like number of casts, reliability of connections etc, wear and tear on her shoulder. She chose this one. I like it. It has less casts, less turns, lost the VL which often had minor form deductions. Has a little “wow factor”.

Q: It’s the first routine I have ever seen where the gymnast is facing the direction of the low bar for the whole routine—so cool!

Sarah K: I actually had to double check it wasn’t a deduction! It used to be in the JO code.

Q: Was there any pressure on Shi or other top contenders to pursue international assignments this spring? I’m surprised no one seemed interested. Can you talk about that?

Sarah K: Thank you for asking this! There was no pressure, but there was opportunity. I am only going to speak about our situation. The world cups were very lengthy flights for us. 32 hours one way. Add customs, travel to and from the airport that’s about 40 hours of travel ONE WAY! So 80 hours of travel total. 4 days of lost training, sitting in a plane. We would only do bars and maybe beam, but we would either have to not train the others while we were there, or, train without soft surfaces, which wasn’t our training plan for that time of years. For the European countries those are quick trips in and out. It’s not a big deal. Coming home we would have to adjust for the time change. Brazil goes and spend a month. In the U.S. we all have JO kids that are just as important and need our attention and coaching. We can’t just peace out for a month in the middle of their season! So anyways… that’s why we didn’t do any international assignments this year!

Q: Hey Sarah! Two questions: 1. Does Shi plan on adding the layout step outs in connection with the aerial on beam 2. Has she ever trained any other vaults besides the DTY? I assume an amanar but it’s probably not worth only .4 more

Sarah K: 1. That is the goal, but only if she’s 100% confident. She did it at world trials 2023.
2. Also yes. She competed the tsuk full in the past. Amanar for .4 is a lot.

Q: I have a question about Shi’s arabian - while obviously a great skill, it often incurs a deduction of 0.3 to 0.5 for squat position - have you ever considered taking it out and replacing it with an easier C/D acro such as a back tuck after the switch half?

Sarah K: Yes. But it’s staying in for various reasons.

Q: Is Shi planning on doing another quad?

Sarah K: She’s been saying the door is open and talking about it. Obviously it’s her gymnastics and decision.

Q: Hey Sarah! Love that you’re doing this. Is there anything that happened/a realisation you had that made you be more aware and clever about pacing and how do you plan a season in advance regarding what skills will come when in the season etc (eg saw you talk about the beam dmt)

Sarah K: It will depend on each athlete and their confidence in their skills. Shi has a lot of skill maturity so for her it’s about less hard landings, staying fit and building endurance and the routines will come together. Other athletes need more skills to gain confidence - it varies!

Q: Have you considered a Shushunova (can also be done in tuck form or as a straight 1/1 jump to floor) after E acro to get .1 cv and erase landing deduction? IMO everyone should be doing it. For Shilese, any chance of Double Arabian + stag instead of punch front to Double Back?

Sarah K: No chance. Also… if a 1/1 twisting shusonova out of an E pass was easy - we would all be doing it. It’s giving out of bounds.

Q: 1. UB: Love the efficiency of Shi's routine. How did the strategy of combining the two pirouettes before the Downie come up? Are we ever going to see the Van Leuwen again? 2. BB: The L turn seems like a risky C element. Has Shi trained sideway jumps?

Sarah K: See above regarding routine construction. The Van Leeuwen doesn’t fit in this routine. So not with this routine. And yes - she’s competed turning jumps in the past. We will not be adding one in.

Q: Have either you actually used (or tried in the gym) routine construction ideas that fans come up with on social media, or are they almost all just completely ridiculous since fans don’t know what you know from being in the gym with the athletes every day?

Sarah K: A lot are nonsense, or not feasible for one reason or another. But I do consider them.

Q: Are the broken wrists something that you guys ever talk about, or is it one of those things that is ingrained and not judged, so why bother?

Sarah K: After this many years, the muscle memory involved in hand positions would take so much effort and time to retrain. There is no time for it? We talk about it, but there are way bigger fish to fry.

Q: We’ve seen Shi post training vids of stalder nabs + pak 1/1 and church + pak. Has she ever tried stalder nabs + pak and church + pak 1/1 to fully take advantage of connection bonus?

Sarah K: She didn’t like the pak full last!

Q: Not really related to classics in any way but what actually is the relationship between ascend and pacific reign? is it like a woga situation where it's two locations of the same gym or was pacific reign founded by a former ascend coach?

Sarah K: It’s a little complicated - but we aren’t affiliated.

Q: What do you think is different in gyms w/only 1-2 athletes training elite vs big programs (ex WCC, WOGA). Pros/cons from your perspective? How do coaches make it work with so many elites especially if those athletes have assignments through the year? How do you balance w L10?

Sarah K: I’ve only ever had 1-2 elites and never a big program.

Pros - I can give my full 100%, I believe it’s easier to think outside the box and come up with a plan for the athlete, I in theory could see every turn and every detail (I don’t.. we’re pretty chill)

Cons - it’s a hard road. It takes a special athlete to push themselves that hard every day. Iron sharpens iron and having an elite training partner could make it easier? We do have a great group of athletes in the gym - but none on this exact journey.

Q: With Cecile making the jump to college coaching, do you ever hope that your career goes in that direction? Why or why not?

Sarah K: I’m not sure about college coaching. Unless you are a winning head coach (or under one) it feels a little unstable? My favorite is to coach 9-12 year olds. You help them love gymnastics, they learn a lot at that time… it’s just fun!

Q: I know Shi was training a DLO 1/1 last year on floor, is that something that is looking to be added in this year? Perhaps for trials?

Sarah K: No, not this year.

Q: Shi competes lots of skills extremely well that traditionally are difficult for tall gymnasts (layout on beam, DLO on floor, layout jaeger, etc.). What has the process been for her to maintain these skills at her height?

Sarah K: Honestly… it’s just her? She has great air awareness, very analytical of her skills, etc. Also, this is fully IMO, but having been told she’s “too tall” for things by many, has a little prove them wrong attitude about it?
Q: Is Shi planning on adding in the full in dismount on beam? Have you also considered switching her double L turn on floor for a Memmel instead? Good luck to you both these upcoming months!

Sarah K: No to the full in. The Memmel is very inconsistent (although, my favorite turn).

Q: Should we expect any upgrades on any other event for Shi going forward? Maybe Vault?

Sarah K: Not vault. Bars turn the dismount, beam has many options and potentially a tenth or two on floor.

Q: Will Shilese ever try the Stalder Layout Tkatchev in competition? Or is it not worth the risk?

Sarah K: Not in this final stretch. Maybe next cycle? It’s hard on her shoulder. It needs to be early in the routine which makes routine construction hard, it’s more likely to be downgraded for lack of stretch and then also dinged for lack of pike if it is, which is an execution nightmare

Q: Hi Sarah! What happened to the stalder nabieva? 😭

Sarah K: I posted a long answer somewhere in this thread. Maybe next quad.

Q: How do you plan the pacing and peaking for an Olympic year? I feel like there's so much more that goes into the Olympic year of the quad (especially media obligations) and the timeframes of classics, nationals, trials, camp then the Olympics.

Sarah K: Luckily the last two years we’ve come out late and had a pretty good result. So we kind of stuck to that plan. Shi is in charge of her media obligations and she turns down a lot to stay in the gym.

Q: Artistry deductions seemed to plague majority of the gymnasts. Is there a strategy within the federation to get that worked on or is it up to each coach/athlete?

Sarah K: A bit of both? Staff gives us feedback at camp, we have dance rotations. It’s up to us to take it and work on it. I think USA could benefit from an acting/performance coach?

Q: On beam, does Shilese count a B as one of her 8 skills? If yes, I’d love to hear more about the analysis of counting a B vs. adding another high-valued skill.

Sarah K: Not at classics - generally, Yes-ish? It’s not in the big plan, but it’s in the plan of “I will hit this every time”. Adding a c or d to gain .1 when she might have a shape or landing error, adding more mental stress/fatigue doesn’t make sense to us.

Q: Are coaches often surprised when they get to worlds/other international competitions and E scores drop a lot, or skills get downgraded (like Leanne’s vault at worlds or ring positions)? Are domestic judges doing gymnasts/coaches a disservice by not being stricter on home soil?

Sarah K: Shi’s scores mostly hold up. If she doesn’t get credit it’s because she didn’t execute as well. I haven’t really been shocked going out of the country. The STS site and the code are very clear on the requirements.

Q: Do both of your gyms have a set of Gymnova equipment to help with the prep leading to the Olympics?

Sarah K: We don’t. I looked into getting a beam after worlds and the wait time was months!

Q: Who did Shi’s choreography this year? it’s great to see that unlike so many others that she checks the artistry boxes

Sarah K: She did it with help from Dominic Zito. It’s still a work in progress to work out all the details. Fun fact - she couldn’t hear her music during classics at all!

Q: I was wondering if this was a problem--I noticed that several of the girls' choreography seemed to be off from the music and wondered if maybe the speakers on the floor weren't working properly.

Sarah K: From my vantage it was playing slow - but she said she couldn’t hear it at all and one point wondered if it was off?

Q: Will Shi ever debut the full in dismount or Amanar?

Sarah K: Not likely this quad.

Q: Shilese has always had such beautiful gymnastics, but this quad has really shown remarkable consistency as well. Is there anything you as a coach have done to help with that, or do you think it's just her gaining confidence naturally?

Sarah K: It’s all her. She’s super focused and driven. I do think tour helped. Having to go every night no matter what, put on a show, big crowds, etc.

Q: 1. What conditioning does Shi use to hit her stunning handstand positions so consistently? They are a work of art! 2. Outside of gymnastics, what makes you most proud of Shi? Your relationship is so genuine and beautiful. Thank you for the transparency!

Sarah K: She just naturally makes good handstands. She does the normal conditioning no secret sauce. I’m most proud that she’s a good person, works hard for she wants, takes nothing for granted. That’s a little “i want to hit 4/4” but oh well.

Q: How tall is Shilese? Some people said 5'3 but she looks taller than that. Thank you for doing this.

Sarah K: 5’6”. She would maybe say 5’7”.

Q: Is Shilese working a Korbut out of the switch half? And is she done with the double wolf?

Sarah K: No Korbut. No wolfs on beam.

Q: Shi is a beautiful gymnast. What is her favorite event to train, and favorite event to compete?

Sarah K: Probably depends on the day? Vault to compete because it’s quick.

Q: Can you talk about the decision for Shilese to do a double tuck instead of a double pike on beam? Is this potentially a timer for a full in or does she plan on bringing the double pike back?

Sarah K: She was choosing life. As we said in media - she wasn’t peaked at all for classics. As her endurance builds, it will be a double pike. Aiming to be in top shape for trials and hopefully Paris!

Q: Does Shi design her own leotards? They’re always so gorgeous

Sarah K: She does! 100% her and the fabulous team at Sylvia P she works with.

Q: What is the best way to increase my code knowledge in your opinion?

Sarah K: Read the code! It’s free on the FIG site, read the help desk, the STS website is a great resource.

Q: How has social media changed coaching? We’ve heard coaches say gymnasts let them know how negatively affected they can get with social media comments.

Sarah K: The negativity is rough, the opinions with no knowledge of the situation (why I started this thread!), it definitely can get in athletes and coaches heads. The plus is it’s easy to keep tabs on what others are doing, find results, ideas, etc.
Q: Owen, I’ve always been interested in how you use your hand/arm to follow the gymnast when doing the giants into the double layout on UB. Is that personal preference, or do the gymnasts prefer that? Is there a functional reason? Never coached gymnastics but I’ve always noticed that!

Owen Field: Just something that we’ve picked up with a few athletes that makes them feel a little more comfortable. Also, should a safety spot be needed, it puts me in a position to react as quickly as possible.

Q: Did anyone ever check the bars at Classics 😭

Owen Field: Yup! First thing Seth did when we got to the podium and started moving mats was measure the distance! @spiethamerica has a built in tension meter that gives us a digital readout to make sure the bars are at each athletes individual preference.

Q: Wait isn’t the Olympics on Gymnova? Why was the competition on Spieth?

Sarah K: I’m not in charge of that stuff. I’d guess because Spieth is the sponsor of USAG. We like Spieth.

Q: Do you know if trials will be on Gymnova?

Owen Field: I haven’t seen anything official regarding what equipment will be used.

Q: Is there a preference for the athletes? Do you think they would want to compete on the olympic equipment beforehand or it doesn't make much of a difference to them

Sarah K: At this point they are all pretty good at adjusting? They will have plenty of time in Paris to train on Gymnova vs. here very few of us have it in our gyms. For us, it’s not a big deal.

Owen Field: I agree with Sarah. I think one of the big benefits of NCAA is constantly having to adjust to new equipment and different environments. We might compete on AAI in college, but I promise you the is a HUGE difference in the feel and quality of the equipment depending on where you compete in a given week. Getting 5 turns or so on a new set of bars before you compete in a hostile road environment can be challenging, but teaches you a lot.

Q: @CoachOwenField what was up with the bars at classics? If looked like many athletes struggled with spring and working with the bars. As a casual observer the bars didn't look like they had the spring of the AAI or Gymnova. Also why Speith bars when Olympics are Gymnova?

Owen Field: There were definitely some mistakes on bars during the meet this past weekend, but according to our measurements, they were normal. I’m not sure what goes into the decision as to what equipment is used for each competition.

Q: Trinity has been training a lot of really cool upgrades (chuso, front 1/1 + double layout, dty), were these more for fun or is the plan to upgrade going into nationals and hopefully trials? also what has it been like working with her both as a coworker and now as her coach?

Owen Field: The goal is to see some upgrades in competition! Again, it depends on her comfort level and how she’s feeling come meet day.

It’s truly a blessing to be able to work with her and help her on her own journey. We have a good time in the gym! 😎💙🐊

Q: Owen! I’ve been dying to know if Riley had been trying for an elite return before her recent injury? She seemed to have tease a lot of her previous elite skills in training at Florida

Owen Field: We like to play with a variety of skills at certain points in the year, especially during the summer and fall. It helps to break the monotony and bring some excitement to training!

Q: Does Leanne’s ideal floor routine contain both the Dos Santos and DLO? Is she working any upgrades on bars/beam? Her and Trinity both look incredible congrats and good luck to all!

Owen Field: Thank you! We’ll use practices this week to decide our best plan of attack going forward. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of competitors at the elite level have multiple upgrades they are working. Whether or not they are seen in competition depends on how comfortable the athlete becomes with them and a risk/reward analysis. A lot of times they can even be subbed in and out depending on how they feel in a given day, or how the meet is going up to that point.

Q: Leanne has had some skills downgraded this classics, if possible have y’all gotten feedback from the Technical Lead? And if so, do y’all plan on using the feedback?

Owen Field: Yes, we love feedback! 🤩 We treated this past weekend as a stepping stone to get back into this elite season and will use this week of training at home to reevaluate and make any necessary adjustments. 🤸‍♀️

Q: Great! Also, with regards to both Leanne and Trinity, would the strategy for nationals be going safe and steady to ensure qualification to trials or throwing out all the difficulty or a mixture of both!

Owen Field: It will probably be a mixture of both. Again, we’ll use practices this week as well as the numerous training sessions while we’re in Fort Worth, to help determine the best plan for each of them individually.

Q: Is there an upcoming change in the NCAA rules that you are most excited about? Or most afraid of?

Owen Field: None of the changes that we recently discussed at our convention will be official until they are finalized through the NCAA legislative process. We are just the first step.

That being said, I can honestly say that I am excited about a lot of the proposed changes. I don’t think there is anything that I am “afraid of”. However there are a number of rule changes that are more administrative or internal that do not necessarily directly impact what gym fans see on meet day.

Q: What was the adjustment like for the college athletes going to the fig setting on bars?

Owen Field: We use two separate bar settings for our #NCAAGym competitions, a “wide” and “close”. The “close” is a modified version of FIG, so the adjustment is minor.

Q: How does it work for NCAA coaches to coach elite athletes? It’s still so new that we don’t yet know. Does the school pay additional for you to cover elite, is it just part of your normal job now, or does the athlete pay you?

Owen Field: No extra pay for any additional work or time spent in the gym for elite training. We’re salary positions, so extra hours don’t impact what we are compensated.

To be honest, it might sound cheesy, but one of the most important parts of our job as NCAA coaches is helping our student athletes to complete their careers and be able to truly say “I have no regrets.” If pursuing elite is part of making that possible, it just gets added in to the puzzle and we figure out how to make it work.

Q: Is there any conflict between NCAA limitations on gym time and extra time for elite training? Or is there enough give and play in the rules to make that navigable?

Owen Field: In NCAA, we are allowed a maximum of 20 hours of countable athletic related activities per week. This includes team workouts (in-gym/strength & conditioning), team meetings, competition, film review, etc.

If a student athlete requests additional time beyond the 20 hours it is allowed as long as it is at their request.

Q: Do you enjoy coaching Leanne and Trinity's elite journeys? How does it work with coaching at elite meets? Does the university support?

Owen Field: It’s been an opportunity that I never imagined I would have been been granted being involved in the NCAA ranks. I absolutely love seeing more athletes who are willing and able to continue their careers well beyond the historical “16-18yr old Olympic peak”. It feels like this has the potential to continue to become more popular in the future and I think it’s great for the sport.

The university and @GatorsGym are fully supportive of the athletes who wish to continue the pursuit of their elite hopes and dreams during their collegiate career.

Q: Is Trinity planning to do a clear hip full pirouette after the Maloney? Would add .4 to D.

Owen Field: We have played with it in training. Definitely one of those options that depends heavily on her comfort level.
Q: Do you have any opinions on NBC’s coverage and how it could improve? Unlike ESPN & NCAA, NBC makes no effort to show every routine or even every gymnast, nor all scores. Does this bother the gymnasts? Is there any opportunity for gymnasts/coaches to work with USAG & NBC on this?

Owen Field: Given my involvement in both types of competition, I think there are a few important differences to point out when having this discussion.

NCAA is broadcast as a team competition, which means every routine plays an important role in the outcome. The meet itself is the story that ESPN is trying to tell. Because there are a set number of routines per team, the format and flow of the meet is fairly consistent and predictable. They choose to utilize the 30 second touch windows to add in some story telling segments and interviews which provide some background and insight into the athletes.

In the elite world, especially our domestic competitions, the focus is largely on the individual, teams are not accounted for at all. Oftentimes specifically those gymnasts they project to be in a position to win or have an impactful performance are highlighted. They emphasize telling the story of a select few individuals throughout the broadcast. That is what they determine to be their priority.

A couple things that make elite gymnastics more challenging to broadcast include:
-Inconsistent numbers of routines per rotation due to group sizes.
-Frequent changes in the number of routines per rotation due to scratches
-Increased time to judge routines.
-Less opportunities to practice/experiment with different/new/improved formats each season, as there are only a handful of elite meets to highlight each year.

Those are just a few thoughts that came to mind while sitting on the back porch tonight… anyone else have thoughts or input?

I guess another thing to consider is who each network views as their target audience for their broadcast?

It seems like NBC is aiming to draw in the casual or even non-sports fan, by focusing on the storytelling of the individual. ESPN on the other hand, appears to be more focused on the head to head aspect of the sport itself, while leveraging the rivalry and team sport outcome of each individual meet. This is a big piece of why they have traditionally favored the NCAA dual meet format over quads and recently developed the new “double dual” format that we started utilizing for the 2024 NCAA Championships.

Q: Do you think there’s potential to “bridge” the two audiences schedule select upcomers/underdogs…have a list of designated “fill time” ..I’d love to see more detailed graphics w/explanations of deductions in Elite (handstands on bars), leaps on floor/beam, vault pre/flight/post

Owen Field: Maybe we can get @kathyjohnsongym to help bridge the gap!! She did an amazing job assisting in the develop of our #NCAAGym product and building the broadcast itself from the ground up. Including all the fun graphics, educational pieces and score displays!

Q: For Owen- is the elite code something you knew well before athletes started to do elite along side college or have you had to research it further along with learning from the athletes? Does USAG support coaches with this sort of journey/ COP knowledge and routine construction etc

Owen Field: Coming from an NCAA background, I had little exposure to the elite code previously. A basic understanding is developed by some coaches through the recruiting process and having conversations with coaches and athletes, but for most, the focus is definitely on understanding our college rules.

Q: Any consideration of the Gainer Tuck 1.5 dismount, for Leanne/Trinity especially?

Owen Field: Trinity has trained the 1.5 off and on. It is much more difficult to consistently land well than the full.

Q: What non-athletic (personality, socially, culturally, etc.) qualities are top college coaches looking for in recruits?

Owen Field: I think that varies considerably based on each individual program and the values that they’ve established as being important to their culture. Work ethic, communication skills, grittiness competitive drive, motivation, importance of academics, love of gymnastics and personal standards, are a few that stand out to me.

Q: Is the possibility of continuing elite while in college something that UF markets while recruiting? (like hey this is how leanne/trin managed it & we support our athletes pursuing this)

Owen Field: If an athlete has interest in it we will definitely have those conversations. That being said, it is a difficult road to navigate and not everyone has interest in continuing in that direction.

This past year, we also had Anya compete internationally for Barbados at Worlds and Pan Ams. There are numerous paths for those who wish to continue elite competition, Team USA isn’t the only option.

Q: How does training work while actively competing in NCAA? Do the limitations of training time apply to elite training or is that carved out differently?

Owen Field: The weekly hour limitations that are put in place by the NCAA apply to required team activities. If an individual athlete requests additional time, they are allowed to be in the gym above and beyond what is required.

Q: Will we see a vault upgrade from Trinity?

Owen Field: She has been working an upgraded vault consistently in training! Depends on how she feels on meet day! Health and wellbeing are first priority!

Talk Gymnastics With Us!

Join Today... Members See FEWER Ads