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Changes and lack of communication

Fierystar

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Aug 19, 2019
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My DD started at her current gym last September and moved to their pre team in November. However, communication has been really lacking from them. They say we can always speak with the coaches, but when I have asked about DD's progress, all they ever really say is she's doing fine and making progress. They gave us a handbook to go through, but nobody spoke to us (or the other parents) about what to really expect going forward.

So fast forward to today. They have been practicing all summer 6 hours/week, which was upped from 4 hours/week during the school year. Their coach sent out emails about fall practices, and they will be doing 7 hours/week. No other information, just these are the days and times assigned. At their practice the next day, we asked them if this means they are moving up to their team (they do Xcel and JO), and the response to everyone was a vague they were moving in that direction.

Last night we all get email about purchasing their leo, jacket, and bag for the upcoming season, with the order due in a week and money due in 2 weeks. One of the other parents sent a question and in the reply, learned about the commitment fee that would also be due. They also haven't told us what the inc cost will be for practices this fall.

Now, none of us are under any delusion that gymnastics is not expensive, but we (the group of parents for the pre team girls) feel blindsided by this. They essentially want ~$1000 in 2 weeks. Our complaint is not really the cost, it's how this was handled and communicated with us. There is information in the handbook about some of this, but none of us were expecting this on short notice.

I know they can't truly predict where a gymnast will be at the start of the summer (I think) but IMO, it would have been nice to be forewarned a few months ago, that IF they decide to move them up to team, that we should expect to see these fees which would be approximately x, y, z. This would at least give a chance to budget for it.

There is also apparently a booster club that we will be expected to join with a fee for that, which we haven't officially heard about yet. However, this booster club is pretty non existent. I saw no fundraising efforts on their part during the entire year.

I'm wondering if I'm overreacting about all of this? I did see in a few threads that other gyms also lack communication. Are these red flags that should have us looking elsewhere? I'm stressing over this so much. I'm saddened and angry because it really affects DD and the rest of the girls on pre team as well. Should I expect more than this, or is this truly par for the course? Any insights or advice would be most welcome!
 

GymDadWA

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Our experience has been similar to yours, I don't think the gyms mean to be like this but in many cases the owner is also the head coach so they have to balance running a business, running a team, coaching, and having a life outside the gym. I feel like they just take on too much and aren't always the best at delegating or disagree with how the delegated tasks are done.

What has helped us is talking with other parents especially ones that seem to have been there a bit as well as trying to find a coach that we can talk to. We do communicate with the head coach as well, but sometimes we are waiting a couple of days for answers.
 
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ldw4mlo

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Sadly good communication skills are not required for gym ownership or coaching.
 
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kendo348

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Aug 5, 2019
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I don’t think all gyms necessarily are like this or have to be this way, so if it’s upsetting many of the parents I think it’s worth trying to have a respectful discussion about it with the gym. Your complaints and preferred expectations seem reasonable. One of the main reasons I have kept my daughter where she is is because good communication is something I value heavily and our gym does a good job with it. In addition to an annual parent meeting about expectations, we get a monthly newsletter that lists upcoming fees for the next two months as well as expected schedule changes, etc. From what I’ve read on here I don’t think this is the norm, but it seems like a reasonable expectation to have from a business taking so much of my money!
 

Fierystar

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Our experience has been similar to yours, I don't think the gyms mean to be like this but in many cases the owner is also the head coach so they have to balance running a business, running a team, coaching, and having a life outside the gym. I feel like they just take on too much and aren't always the best at delegating or disagree with how the delegated tasks are done.

What has helped us is talking with other parents especially ones that seem to have been there a bit as well as trying to find a coach that we can talk to. We do communicate with the head coach as well, but sometimes we are waiting a couple of days for answers.
Well, in our case, the owner is not a coach at all. We have heard there is also someone who handles the financial decisions aside from the owner. Unfortunately, nobody in our group has really had any contact with the the other parents. None of them really stayed at any of the practices. Plus, there was apparently a coach and team parent meeting that none of the pre team parents notified of, though they did send us the email about what occurred.
 

Fierystar

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Aug 19, 2019
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I don’t think all gyms necessarily are like this or have to be this way, so if it’s upsetting many of the parents I think it’s worth trying to have a respectful discussion about it with the gym. Your complaints and preferred expectations seem reasonable. One of the main reasons I have kept my daughter where she is is because good communication is something I value heavily and our gym does a good job with it. In addition to an annual parent meeting about expectations, we get a monthly newsletter that lists upcoming fees for the next two months as well as expected schedule changes, etc. From what I’ve read on here I don’t think this is the norm, but it seems like a reasonable expectation to have from a business taking so much of my money!
I'm jealous! I would love a newsletter about what's going and what to expect! I replied to another comment that there was apparently a coach - team parent meeting, but none of the pre team parents were apparently invited to it, although we did get an email about what was discussed during it.

Exactly what you said about them taking so much money too. All of us are working families and this is a terribly painful amount of money they are asking from us on incredibly short notice. A portion of it has to cash or check only too. It feels disrespectful for them not to communicate this earlier/better, as a parent and as a customer.
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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May 6, 2013
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No gym I've been at (3) would drop $1000 on parents in two weeks! We have always had a minimum of 3 months to make payments.

I feel like as crappy as some gyms are at communication, money is the thing you can't do that with. It's a huge stressor for most families and people have to know what they're going to be in for. I think at some places the coaches/owner have been doing it so long that they forget there are new people every year who have no clue.

But someone needs to take them to task of the lack of communication here. Not knowing if your kid is going to compete, or what level, or how much it will cost or when it is due is beyond normal bad gym communication.
 

Fierystar

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Aug 19, 2019
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No gym I've been at (3) would drop $1000 on parents in two weeks! We have always had a minimum of 3 months to make payments.

I feel like as crappy as some gyms are at communication, money is the thing you can't do that with. It's a huge stressor for most families and people have to know what they're going to be in for. I think at some places the coaches/owner have been doing it so long that they forget there are new people every year who have no clue.

But someone needs to take them to task of the lack of communication here. Not knowing if your kid is going to compete, or what level, or how much it will cost or when it is due is beyond normal bad gym communication.
I am relieved to hear this concerning payments. I wasn't sure if this was a case of "oh well, you knew gymnastics would be expensive and this is just the norm" in regards to the expense. I could handle the increased cost of longer/more practices because I was expecting that. All the gear and commitment fees all tacked on though and all at once is just pushing it though. Plus all of this is due despite nobody specifically stating that yes, they are going to be on the team. Their coach says she is passing along the information as soon as she gets it, but this doesn't seem good enough because these fees aren't new to them.

Sadly at least one girl is dropping back to rec because of it and another may drop down or look elsewhere. I think I may contact a few of the gyms close by to see about their financial expectations and if they can eval her if they have room on their pre team/team. I'm not sure they will be flexible on this. The email replies have not been very helpful and the owner hasn't gotten back to anyone either, despite them saying in the handbook that they are always available for any concerns.
 

LouLou

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Our first experience was similar to yours. It doesn't say anything about the coaching. We were at a very highly respected gym. We knew fees were coming (just from talking with other parents), but were shocked that it was essentially $1,000 in a few weeks. This was old level 3 so a ton of money for my 6 year old at the time. We eventually switched to another program that was run by the owner who was no longer coaching. He really had his stuff together and knew how to run a business (which of course included communication). Those kinds of fees didn't even exist and they tried much harder not to buy crazy expensive leos.
 

Cmumgym

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Could it be lack of organisation with the coaches in regards to uniforms etc they did not know which girls would need or were still deciding whether they would move up from pre team or were busy and now have to organise to order the uniforms quickly and in that need parents to make payment for this quickly. Is your gym a large gym and are the coaches and people in charge of the communication such as emails to parents dealing with a large number of children or just involved with your team? Is the commitment fee sent out at the same time each year or term and they have just expected you would know about it and forgotten to send out an email as your team is increasing hours they should notify you an increase of fee. One hundred percent communication is lacking however it could be for numerous reasons if it is a large gym are there competitions coming up for others teams that those coaches who are also in charge of your team focusing on. Is this a common thing that other parents who are on other teams experienced or is it just really bad timing and a one off due to transitioning. They could have a lot on their plate. Not demoting the lack of communication however there are steps that you can do Before looking for another gym. I know our gym fees are sent out at the same time each month and due two weeks after they are sent out however if there is ever an increase in hours when that happens the coaches email us with an expected cost before the fee comes out however is always due in two weeks. I would email them and ask for a breakdown of what financially will be expected approximately with this transition and what dates.
In regards to finding out progress I know that if parents try to speak to the coach at the end of a lesson the coach a) doesn’t always have their progress charts on the individual gymnast at the time to be able to explain in detail and b) doesn’t have the time at the end or start of a lesson to discuss each individual gymnast. With that aspect I would email again and ask for a meeting so the coaches can get their programs and your gymnasts profile ready and be able to organise a time that suits both of you to have a in-depth conversation about their progress

I think that your not over reacting there is a lack of communication but can be reasons for it that the coach is unaware is affecting you and other parents. It’s best to email so the coach can have time to give ur concerns one on one time and then go from there
 

Fierystar

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Could it be lack of organisation with the coaches in regards to uniforms etc they did not know which girls would need or were still deciding whether they would move up from pre team or were busy and now have to organise to order the uniforms quickly and in that need parents to make payment for this quickly. Is your gym a large gym and are the coaches and people in charge of the communication such as emails to parents dealing with a large number of children or just involved with your team? Is the commitment fee sent out at the same time each year or term and they have just expected you would know about it and forgotten to send out an email as your team is increasing hours they should notify you an increase of fee. One hundred percent communication is lacking however it could be for numerous reasons if it is a large gym are there competitions coming up for others teams that those coaches who are also in charge of your team focusing on. Is this a common thing that other parents who are on other teams experienced or is it just really bad timing and a one off due to transitioning. They could have a lot on their plate. Not demoting the lack of communication however there are steps that you can do Before looking for another gym. I know our gym fees are sent out at the same time each month and due two weeks after they are sent out however if there is ever an increase in hours when that happens the coaches email us with an expected cost before the fee comes out however is always due in two weeks. I would email them and ask for a breakdown of what financially will be expected approximately with this transition and what dates.
In regards to finding out progress I know that if parents try to speak to the coach at the end of a lesson the coach a) doesn’t always have their progress charts on the individual gymnast at the time to be able to explain in detail and b) doesn’t have the time at the end or start of a lesson to discuss each individual gymnast. With that aspect I would email again and ask for a meeting so the coaches can get their programs and your gymnasts profile ready and be able to organise a time that suits both of you to have a in-depth conversation about their progress

I think that your not over reacting there is a lack of communication but can be reasons for it that the coach is unaware is affecting you and other parents. It’s best to email so the coach can have time to give ur concerns one on one time and then go from there
We are not at a large gym and the coaching staff is made up of the head coach, two team coaches, and several assistant(?) coaches. They only do 6-7 competitions a year, which doesn't seem like a lot to me, but maybe that's okay to start out with. Several of us have asked in person and emailed about costs and have usually been told they don't know the numbers yet and will let us know as soon as they find out.

I have no idea if the coaches have progress charts or any kind of papers about each gymnast. I'm sure they keep track somehow (I hope) but I have never seen or heard of it. They don't meet with us.

So this is where I feel at a disadvantage. I'm new at all of this and have no background in the sport myself. I have no idea what my expectations should be. We have been, for the most part, happy there the past year. The coaches are nice enough and DD loves her teammates. Personally though, I want more information, and at somewhat regular intervals. I think a bare minimum progress meeting at the beginning and end of season and maybe one in the middle isn't asking too much. I want to know how they think DD is doing and what the plan is for her training, etc. I watched practices until the summer started so I haven't really seen her on the floor for 2 months now, but still, I don't what I'm looking for. Should she be learning skills faster? Is this point in time really more focused on conditioning and gaining strength to be able to do more skills? I want to know she is in a good place, getting the attention she needs, and that I'm not just throwing money away. Honestly, we don't even know much about their coaches themselves or what their training philosophy is.

I've tried making inquiries but feel brushed off, though those usually are after practices. I haven't tried reaching out to set up something more formal, mostly because I don't really know what to ask other than how is she doing. I haven't wanted to cause trouble or be "that parent" either, but I do want to try my best to make sure she is in the right place. I want DD to be happy and to do well and to go as far as she wants this and is able, and I feel responsible to make the right decisions for her. I don't want her to lose time or lose whatever her possible future is in the sport because I made the wrong choice about where she should train.
 
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John

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@Fierystar I was trying to stay out of this thread.

Thoughts and Anecdotes:
Gymnastics is expensive and frustrating, I get it. I do not like either but I beleive the positives outway the negatives for my daughter. Starting out in this sport is hard and you can feel lost, I truly did. I thought my daughter was doing gymnastics for fun with friends, one day the gym owers says to teach her more she needs to join the "Team". I had zero ideas what that meant, 8 years later and a second gym it is a large part of my daily life.

I try to give DD's coaches the benefit of the doubt because they have been doing "gym" for years. They tend to forget what it is like to be "new". They also have seen so many athletes come and go that I am sure it has numbed them to the experience. The cold hard truth is very few pre-team kids make it to optionals and beyond. I can personally think of many kids no longer in the sport and some of those were like family. I like to think that the gymnasts know how they are progressing, and I like it when my 12-year-old owns her gymnastics, it shows me she is still committed. This should not give the business a pass, every parent deserves an update. DD's coach chooses to give his updates and thoughts after every competition. He finds you before awards start and offers his thoughts and plans for the next month, "the next competition".

6-7 competitions. I would feel this to be a normal amount for many gyms.
Have you been told what the $1000 includes? Does it get the Leo, Warm-up, Gym bag, and competition fees? I pay $150 for ten months and that just covers competition fees and coaches travel and fees. Just for easy math think each athlete's competition entry fee is between 85 and 110 then add coaches salary, transportation to and from the event, and food. Leo, warm-up, gym bag, grips, tiger paws, etc are all extra.

Find a gym that works for your DD and your family. Be serious in the search because if she falls in love you will be in this for the long haul. You need to feel comfortable with the way your chosen gym does gymnastics.

As a final thought, I want to say that it sometimes feels I have no say in DD's gymnastics. As your athlete matures as a parent you get pushed from the driver's seat to the back seat. This is not all bad it is more something to consider and ponder.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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5-7 competitions a year is pretty average.

OK, if she's happy and you're usually happy, this would be my plan. I would grumble about the cost, but pay it, or ask for an extension because you were only given 2 weeks notice. (Uniform money might actually be needed right now, but surely the commitment fee could wait a few more weeks.) Then I would make a mental note that this money will be due again this time next year. It sounds like there IS a team meeting yearly, and they just forget to invite preteam. :rolleyes: Whenever you have the opportunity befriend moms farther down the line than you, do it! The info that they have is everything.

We are lucky, all the coaches DD has had have been willing to talk before or after practice for quick questions. If I want a run down of how things are going - like a progress report - I would book a private lesson and make it clear I wanted to work on X but I also wanted to talk to them about how everything is going. (Talk first so that the lesson doesn't run out of time before you get to it.) When DD's done privates, her coaches have always been very chatty, but that could be an anomaly. My view of it is that if I am already paying for their time, it is the perfect opportunity to get all my questions answered.

As for whether the gym is good, you can get a bit of a picture by looking at their meet scores. Do their girls usually do well at meets or not? How high up do they go? All the way to level 10? Sometimes though, gyms don't do great in the lower levels because they don't spend a lot of time on the nuance of the compulsory routines, instead focusing on uptraining, which pays off in the higher levels. There's a lot to consider, but the number one thing is if your daughter is happy and gymnastics is a positive thing for her. It outweighs everything IMO, including crappy communication. It's getting close to competition season, so I would compete with them. You'll see a lot including how you place and how your girls' skills look vs. other gyms. If you can, sit next to friendly moms from other gyms and chat them up. I have learned SO much of other area gyms' dirty laundry that way!!! You'll have a much more clear picture after a season of meets.
 
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kipnastic mom

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5-7 Meets a year seem to be pretty standard, I think we have 7 plus our in house meet.

At our gym, we don't get any feedback on our gymnast unless there is a major issue usually. Occasionally in passing a coach will say, how good something is looking or that she had a great practice. I pop in at times and can see the progress my daughter is having. We also can ask for a meeting if needed and they usually accommodate pretty quickly. I have not asked for one of these for my daughter. This is pretty much in line with what we have experienced in other sports for both my son and daughter.

As for cost, we have a few different fee's we have to pay and they all seem to show up at the same time. We make monthly payments to the booster club which pays the meet entry fee's and coaches fee's. As a level 7 this year, I have 4-5 payments (can't remember) of about $300. Now this amount can be less if we have any money left over from the previous season or have earned money through fundraising or volunteering at meets.

We pay the gym every couple years for competition leo's, practice leo, warm-ups, etc. We usually only have 2 weeks once it comes out to pay. When we first started, it was a complete shock. I now know and can expect it. Again, this is similar to my experience with competitive soccer.

Floor Music we pay the gym and they get the copy writes, and music cutting.

Then we have to pay the choreographer directly that the gym has asked us to use.

Floor Music and choreography happens to also be due around the same time that our apparel is due and one of our booster club payments.
 

Gymx2

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All of your questions are very thoughtful and reasonable- unfortunately this sport doesn't always seem to be those things! Generally, communication from gyms isn't great- the same skills that make a good coach are not the same skills that make one good at communications, and coaches are often the gym owners. It sounds like it's worth looking around for other programs in your area. But, big fees can come be dropped on you out of the air in this sport- over the summer we had about 24 hours when we were informed of the travel meet and had to book the expensive hotel before it sold out, and then they also needed the first installment of meet fees within a week. As others have said, talk to parents who've been at the gym for a while to get some insight into what to expect in the future. Good luck!
 

Cmumgym

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It sounds as though and is completely reasonable that you are just wanting some help to guide you through what is expected as a gym parents and want to know how your daughter is progressing and will be progressing. We have parents meetings once every three months with this however it is as a whole team and the coach doesn’t go into individual gymnasts progress just what they are looking at in the future. Ur deffinatly not that parent in asking for a meeting about your daughters progress. I ask at times also. However note that every other parent in the team probably wants the same and between practice programming and taking care of the gym it does take time for the coach to be available for every gymnast and their parent one on one. I would email to ask for a meeting about your daughters progression and see what they have to say and if they have a progress chart for her. In regards to learning how to help and to see yourself when you are watching her. On top of waiting for a meeting a lot of our parents have gone to do a judges course so that they can learn what the judges are looking for themselves and also gives the gym judges so we are able to have practice competitions at the gym where the parents are legitimate judges. If they have parents meetings once or twice a year at minimum that is a great start. If they don’t then that is a problem. But a lot of the times to find out individual questions you do have to be the one to ask first especially if the coach is the owner or has other gymnasts to program for aswell then it will go past their thoughts to keep you updated as they would then have to individually do the same for each gymnast and I mean on top of coaching that would end up a plus 40 hour work week for them. With coatings for competitions it is normal for coaches not to know final numbers until the entries are due as other gymnasts could get injured or get placed in last minute etc. then once entries are due the fees are sent out pretty quickly and unless the gym forts out the cost out of their pocket and then waits for parents to pay it’s a tricky schedule that needs to work like clockwork because then parents might not pay or pull out for whatever reason then the gym looses out what they put up front.
 

OrchidZ

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Your experience is roughly what happened to us in ShortOrchid's first gym. We had one pre-team member/friend quit because the lack of communication (the timing was unfortunate and they weren't prepared. They had no choice as they had unexpected life expenses and couldn't handle both surprises at once). There was no warning from the gym on the amount (even roughly) that would be due or when, and we also were given about 2 weeks notice. There was also never a "Ok, she's officially on the team." Thankfully, a few of us had asked parents of upper level gymnasts in the months prior regarding fees, and we all spread the news. As such, we had an unofficial ballpark, just not the timeline or certainty. It was frustrating at the time, but we all took it with a "what can you do?" attitude. At the time, I figured it was like taking a weeder class in college. If that's going to be a deal breaker for you, it might not be the best gym for your family.

I think that, at least with DD's first gym, the problem was when you were outside of the norm. Kids who were on team were already were part of the system and got information more consistently. Kids who were new to the team or on pre-team weren't part of the system. Until they were integrated, they flew blind or had to get info from other parents. Is that the way it should be? Preferably not. Sometimes, it seems, it's just the way it is.

I wouldn't assume that just because communication is rough now, it will always be like that after they are officially on team. But it might. It'll take a season to get adjusted as a team. DD's first gym did like to play things close to the chest. Your DD's gym might be like that, so be prepared. For us, it ranged from coaching changes to "which level will she compete this year." Sometimes even "Will she compete this meet?" was decided the week before or the week of a competition (not fun).

For some gyms, just understand that your money, time, energy, holidays, and kids go to that gym. Be prepared for surprises if you want her in that program.
 
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