You have an interest in competing in collegiate gymnastics, but how do you know which school is the best for you? This primarily depends on your skill level. The higher the skill set, the more likely you are to be recruited for a Division One school, where as the lower the skill set, the more likely you are to be recruited for a Division Three school. Let’s break it down.
Division Three: Although D3 is considered competitive, this division strives to have successful athletes who involve themselves in academics and other clubs around campus. Gymnasts competing at this level do not have to dedicate their entire lives to the sport, but aim to be well-rounded. Not many difficult skills are thrown during gymnastics routines, including uneven bar release moves, combination sets on the balance beam, or more than 2 tumbling runs on the floor exercise. You will see significantly less difficulty, twists, and flips in colleges like Ursinus. A team like this will typically score a 189 in the NCAA rankings.
Division Two: D2 is considered the middle range: athletes are more dedicated to practice times and preparations for meets than D3 athletes typically are. More money goes into the funding for the gymnastics team, and more practice hours are allotted in the gym. Slightly more difficult skills can be viewed from a college like Southern Connecticut State University. Landings are cleaner, more risk is taken, and there is less help from coaches on the floor during the competitions as far as spotting is concerned. 192 is the average score for a D2 team to receive.
Division One: The most competitive and time consuming D1 presents challenges to athletes across the nation. While it is extremely rewarding to receive the highest budget from school athletic programs and higher chances of generous scholarships, D1 athletes pour their hearts and souls into the sport. The highest level of difficulty is performed by teams like UCLA, with crisp, stuck landings, maximum consistency, and D/E skill elements (the most advance). Teams can bring scores around the 197 range in the rankings.
It should not be assumed that a D3 athlete is worse than a D1 athlete. Although their level of difficulty might not be as high, perhaps that D3 athlete did not want to dedicate 25+ hours a week to gymnastics during their college years. They could have picked up an injury along the way that prohibits them from throwing D1 skills. There are advantages and disadvantages to competing at each division level, but picking the right one for what you are capable of physically and mentally will be the most important decision you will have to make when recruiting for college gymnastics.