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Advice needed for 5 yr old gymmie

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UnoMas

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Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2008
3,736
I really need some opinions about my 5 year old (turned 5 in February).

She's been taking gymnastics for 2 years. In November, she was moved to the "preschool advanced" class (which is a fast track to team). In February, they moved her to L2 and also started her in TOPs. (this is a special program for "talented" 3-5 yr olds...the L2/TOPs combination). There were 3 other little girls, ages 3-4 who also moved up to the L2 team/TOPs a month before she did.

The other little girls have gotten many of their L2 skills (pullovers, back hip circle, headstand, etc.). My daughter is really struggling. She can't do any of the bar skills, kind of dive-forward rolls on the vault instead of the handstand flatback and her floor skills are also way behind the others. She can do a 3/4 handstand, can sort of do a cartwheel, can almost do a headstand, etc but hers just all look different from the other gymmies. She can sometimes stick the forward roll on beam. She is also the OLDEST in the class. She is of course having trouble with the TOPs training skills also.

She has some issues with strength (she has some low muscle tone) but she is VERY flexible. I had concerns about moving her up to team (even though it is only L2), but the head coach seemed to really see something in her.

I know I should NOT compare her to other children but it just doesn't seem like she fits in with the rest of the class. She has fun at gym and tries hard but just can't seem to pull it together like the other girls can.

I am wondering if she should go back to rec classes. I hate to see her struggling so far behind this group of very talented little girls. I

She's been working on the L2 skills since February.

I don't really even know what my question is, just wanted to get coaches/parents/anyone's thoughts on how long it should take a young 5 yr old to get L2 skills. She works out 5 hrs per week with 45 min being TOPS.

She has her first "meet" (in-house only) next Friday and I am just so worried about her being last in everything. She is going to need spots on her entire bars routine. Sigh. I am happy she's been given this "opportunity" to progress, but I am also worried that the coach made the wrong decision...

Advice? Thoughts? Thanks.:)
 

gymalex

Member
Jan 3, 2009
75
Dallas, TX
Hi there. As a coach I will tell you that if your daughter's coach chose her to be in that group, she wants her to be there. She must see some potential in your daughter, and as long as your daughter is enjoying the sport and the coach seems to be enjoying having her in the L2 group, all is well. You wrote that your child started AFTER the other kids-- so it only makes sense that your daughter would be behind, at least in the short term.

However, if your daughter is struggling and frustrated, or if the coach is frustrated with your kiddo, then it's probably time to take a step back or try a different gym. If you need to move back a level for the time being, no worries. She's only five. I'd do the lower level and some private lessons with the TOPS coach, then bump her back up when you all feel that it's appropriate. Good luck!!
 

gymalex

Member
Jan 3, 2009
75
Dallas, TX
Also-- Please, PLEASE don't put any stock in the in-house meet results.
L2 is so subjective anyway-- there are hardly any deductions, the judges are not trained or tested on this level, and frankly, it just doesn't matter. (I am a L10 judge, and I've judged a couple of L2/3 meets...I wish they didn't compete these levels. It's silly). Anyway, what matters at this age/level is form. Does she have straight arms and legs? Nice body shapes? Keep her chin up? Extend through her fingers and toes? THAT is what is important. Instead of watching what she's struggling with, watch for what she has learned. If you emphasize her accomplishments and nice form, your daughter will learn to value what is really important at this stage in the game. Really-- this level means NOTHING. It has no bearing on her future successes, nor does it predict what quality of gymnast she will become.
 

ellabella

Member
May 26, 2008
176
Well my DD is on a developmental team at her gym (they consider it level 2/3, but don't compete those levels) and she was one of the worst when she started. I kind of thought they made a mistake. Then suddenly out of the blue she is one of the best kids in the class. It just seemed to take her a little while to understand what was going on around her. She's also really little so certain things were more difficult for her. She had trouble with vault because she couldn't get any spring from the board and being more than a head shorter than the other girls she had a lot further to go. She really struggled with her pullover too because she couldn't even jump to the low bar on her own.

So I'd say don't worry. Give her some time. My DD was still having fun and that's what's most important. My DD at 4 doesn't compare herself to the other girl's at all. Maybe your daughter is old enough to notice.
 

gym law mom

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Dec 23, 2006
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Is your dd having fun in this class? If she's enjoying it and likes learning the new skills then I wouldn't worry. Remember she's only been doing this for 2 mos and most of those bar skills you mentioned are not mastered in 2 mos.

If on the other hand she is coming out of class frustrated and down on herself, then it may be time to talk with the coach and discuss the realistic goals for her now. Is it possible to not do the TOPS(you said she was struggling with that) for awhile and then as she gets used to this group more, add it back in? Girls don't even do TOPS testing until age 7, so she has plenty to time to work on those skills if thats what she/you want to do in the long run.

I think Gymalex gave you an excellent perspective from the coach/judge side. Don't put much weight on an "in house" meet. Many times at these intro levels, the judges are coaches and its really more for fun----doesn't have a thing to do with how she'll do in gymnastics when she's 11 or 12.
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
Your DD sounds like she's doing just fine as long as she's happy and enthusiastic to practice her skills! In my pre-team groups I'm not looking for a all around awesome gymnast. They simply don't (and shouldn't) train enough to all have equally high levels of strength and flexibility. As a coach of that group it's all about guiding their potential safely, letting repetition aid their coordination, and consistency add to their strength and flexibility. Of course making it fun too, you want them to look forward to practice and the possibility of competing big skills as they grow in the sport.

Don't worry about the in house meet, nobody is there to judge them harshly, even the judges! It's all in good fun, think of it as a friendly chance to show off their skills. Nobody there will be looking harshly at your DD, they are just too dang cute to do anything but smile at to be honest lol. They are seriously just too adorable. Enjoy it! Everyone knows the girls aren't getting the coaching full court press, high pressure or long hours training. If your DD has a smile as she's being spotted on that bar, consider it a success :)
 

marie83

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Mar 23, 2009
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I haven't read all the replies but I did read the first few and can only agree with what has been said - Don't worry too much about your gymmie looking the worst in the group. She may be a late bloomer which is fine! The coach can obviously see talent in her.

However, if you are still worried, then maybe it is best to raise your thoughts with the coach. Ask for an honest opinion. There have been times when as a coach, I've had parents ask and I have had to say whether or not I think it is worth their daughter being in our squad. Usually if the gymnast is happy then there is no problem with them being there - if the coach has put them in the squad it means they've seen potential in them.

5 is still VERY young - don't forget she could be in this until she is 16 or older!! There is no rush to get these skills. Her focus and the coach's should be on fun.
None of my 4/5 yr old gymmies can pull over the bar yet. They don't normally get that until they are 6 at our gym!

Hope that helps!
Marie
 

UnoMas

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2008
3,736
Thanks very much to everyone who replied! I was watching her last week and she does actually have pretty nice form, finishes all her skills with "pretty fingers", that kind of thing. My other DD is also one that can take a long time to get skills but when she gets them, they usually look pretty!

I guess we will see. She LOVES gym, loves it. In fact on days when she is not at the gym and older DD is there, she is running all over the house practicing her routines. So, she is definitely catching the gym bug and she never ever complains about practice. The head coach just tells me that she needs to get stronger, which she does. Hopefully after a few more months those muscles are going to get more conditioned and things will come easier.

It's so funny to talk about being worried about my 5 y.o. not getting skills fast enough. I didn't learn a cartwheel until 4th grade!!!:D

I will let everyone know how the "meet" goes. I am now onto worrying about how to get all her hair up in curls!
 

gymjourneymom

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Mar 9, 2008
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Is your dd having fun in this class? If she's enjoying it and likes learning the new skills then I wouldn't worry. Remember she's only been doing this for 2 mos and most of those bar skills you mentioned are not mastered in 2 mos.

If on the other hand she is coming out of class frustrated and down on herself, then it may be time to talk with the coach and discuss the realistic goals for her now. Is it possible to not do the TOPS(you said she was struggling with that) for awhile and then as she gets used to this group more, add it back in? Girls don't even do TOPS testing until age 7, so she has plenty to time to work on those skills if thats what she/you want to do in the long run.

I think Gymalex gave you an excellent perspective from the coach/judge side. Don't put much weight on an "in house" meet. Many times at these intro levels, the judges are coaches and its really more for fun----doesn't have a thing to do with how she'll do in gymnastics when she's 11 or 12.
You took the words right out of my mouth gym law mom!!! As I read the OP my 1st thought was "is the child having fun?"...if she is...she's right where she should be! Relax mom...the kids' alright:D!!! Please just ENJOY your DD & her love of the sport. Once you start down that road of comparing her to team mates...it's a slippery slope. It's a long road you're on...stop to enjoy the view. She must be adorable at just 5yrs old:cutie:. There's no rush...I know it may seem difficult to believe...but really there's not. Enjoy her efforts as much as she does & be proud of her. Keeping it fun is what will keep her enjoying the sport long term, especially if she does hit bumps along the way. JMHO.
 

kgymn

Member
Gymnast
Aug 3, 2008
324
Virginia
As long as she is having fun that's what matters! You can help her along with building up her strength by making sure she gets enough protein and plenty of calcium! Calcium is very important for strong muscles... guess there's something, after all, to Popeye and his spinach (it's high in calcium!)

I hope your gym has the good sense that mine did as a kid- our in house meets at that skill level were non competitive. We got scores, and everyone got ribbons! How high your score was determined what color ribbon you got, so it was more of trying to do your best to get the blue ribbon versus being better or worse than anyone else.

~Katy
 
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UnoMas

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2008
3,736
I hope your gym has the good sense that mine did as a kid- our in house meets at that skill level were non competitive. We got scores, and everyone got ribbons! How high your score was determined what color ribbon you got, so it was more of trying to do your best to get the blue ribbon versus being better or worse than anyone else.

Katy, I wish our gym was this way but unfortunately the girls are awarded ribbons for events and medals for AA(everyone gets one, but they do 1st 2nd 3rd etc). So, our tiny gymmies ARE competing against each other:(. The good thing is, I don't think at this point my dd will know/care...I think she will just be happy to get a ribbon and a medal (of any color!)

Thanks so much too for the spinach tip. She actually loves fresh spinach!;)
 
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