confusion over gymnast's progression to level 4

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Claire

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Jun 12, 2009
55
My DD tried out and was placed on team last year. The girls were asked to make goals, which I thought was a wonderful idea. They were told no goal was too high if they were willing to pay the price in terms of time, money, and hard work. My daughter's goal was to compete compulsory Level 4. She was placed on a prep opt team, even though there was another team with girls at my daughter's skill level and age who were specifically training for level 4. She competed last season as a prep silver which is basically a combo of level 4 & 5 skills with bonuses awarded for the higher level skills. She competed with almost no bonuses which brought her start value to a low 9, but still placed 5th in the state competition. The girls who were being trained for level 4 did not get their level 4 skills and also competed prep silver along with my DD. My daughter's scores were better than most in this group. I asked my DD's coaches on many occasions if she was progressingg on track for her goal, if her goal was attainable for her, etc.. I did this because she is very serious about this goal. She has made up her own conditoning schedule that she does every day, and she always gives her all in practice. She has given up birthday parties, sleepovers, and was willing to give up a trip to the amusment park for the sake of her gymnastic's practice. She is so serious about this. When I asked her coaches, they always told me she was doing great, she was on track for her goal. After the season ended, I inquired if she would be moved to a level 4 team. They said, "no". When I pressed them about it, they told me she would stay on her current team and train for level 4. We got registraton forms for USAG and my DD's team is listed as an introductory athlete which is only for prep op. I talked with her coach about it and he said maybe they could change it later, but he didn't know for sure. He said they still didn't know if she would compete compulsory and she was still considered a prep op. He said it was really up to another coach. I'm so confused. It doesn't matter to me if she competes prep op or compulsory, but my heart is breaking for her. I mentioned causally to her that she might consider competing prep silver again now that she has some of her bonus skills. She gave me a deer in the headlights look, like don't crush my dreams. She now has all her level 4 skills (a couple still need to be perfected), plus she can do ROdoubleBHS, ROtripleBHS, front tucks in the resi, cartwheels on the beam, jumps to the high bar, and is very close to getting her kip (muscled one up today!) I love our gym and the coaches are great. I am just confused and don't know what to do. If they had just told her from the beginning that prep op was a great fit for her, she would have been fine. But they keep encouraging this goal for her and then saying she can't do it. Any wisdom on how to handle this?
(Sorry this is so long)
 
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mariposa

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Hi. Welcome to the Chalk Bucket.

Sorry to hear about the issues your daughter is having at her gym. It would be very frustrating to make a goal, be working towards it, but not be able to reach it and not even be given a reason why.

Are there other gyms in your area that are close to you? If so, I would check some out and have her try out for their level 4 team and see what they say. See how she likes it and go from there.

We don't have prep-opt here, but I know some gyms do offer both in certain states. Many gyms offer them as a compliment to each other, giving girls that freedom to have their own routines for prep-opt and still work through the compulsories. Others have certain girls they want in their USAG compulsory/optional teams and then different girls on their prep-opt teams, they have certain ideas of who goes where based on age, skills, body type, form, etc. It is sad, but it does happen.

You want your daughter to be somewhere she is happy. If she is happy there, maybe question them to exactly why she is not going to do level 4 and what they see in her future there. If it doesn't match up with your daughters goals, and you can try other gyms, that is what I would do. If you have no other gyms to go to, then maybe try to somehow bring out all the positives of the prep-opt program and go from there? It is hard to know what their motives are. I would explain to them how hard she has worked for her level 4 goal and that you want to know what it will take for her to reach it at their gym.

Good luck to you. Hope you get some more advice from the more experienced gym mamas here.
 

Chalky

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It sounds as if you are dealing with a familiar problem that sadly occurs in a lot of gyms. Every gym has the right (IMHO) to decide their own team philosophy and move-up requirements, but you also have the right to take your child elsewhere if you disagree with the gym. I think the main issue here seems to be that the gym is not being CLEAR on what their requirements for being on level 4 are.

Some gyms and some coaches may feel that a child is simply not cut-out for their USAG compulsory progrm. The problems seem to occur when they are not forthcoming in communicating that to the parent. However, sometimes kids who seem so-so at Level 4, but LOVE gymnastics can be the ones who stick with the sport and end up as good optionals. Hard work beats out raw talent any day. Please understand, though, as a coach, it's hard to tell a parent that their child is not quite good enough or ready for the next level, but sometimes that really is the case.

I think that Mariposa's advice is excellent. In addition, if you are interested in staying at your current gym, I would schedule a meeting (w/o DD), between you and the owner or head coach. Ask what the specific requirements for being on that Level 4 team are. I don't think I would accept just the coaches opinion. That's important, but I think their should be some other measurable goals. At some gyms that would be having the skills, at others strength, flexibility and body type might play a role.

Good Luck, and let us know how it goes.

PS: Your DD sounds like one very hard-working and determined young lady.
 

gymjourneymom

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Welcome to CB!!! I think Mariposa has given you some excellent advice already, I don't have much to add to it. It sounds your DD is on track with her L4 skills & even some L5 skills. Congratulations to her on her state win:D! She sounds like a very dedicated young lady! I may have missed it...did you mention her age? Sometimes that plays a factor in what "track" they put a gymmie in(Prep vs USAG). I think the coaches owe you some clear cut answers to your questions. Your questons are valid. If your DD(& you) have expressed that her goal is L4. And she is progressing well toward her goal. They should tell you what their reasoning is for keeping her from attaining it. Maybe they have a valid reason, maybe they don't. But I think you are owed some answers, so you can make an informed choice for your DD. I think you should ask to schedule a meeting with the coach that decides about team placement. And ask him/her what they see as a reasonable goal for your DD & what their plans are for her furture in the sport. You need straight answers. They should have a "plan" for her & they should be able to verbalize it to you clearly. If you don't agree with their plan, it may be time to try out some other gyms & see where they would place her. Good luck! Your DD obviously LOVES the sport...that love needs to be given a chance to grow, JMHO:D.
 

bogwoppit

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I totally agree with Maroposa, and she has some great experience in the field of L4 move up. I would def having a private meeting and tell them that your DD was asked to set a goal, and that she feels let down as she feels that she has all the skils and is not being given the chance to try. This is L4 and there is no reason she shouldn't be given the chance, evry kid should get to try when they have the skilld. Some gyms have such stringent policies that parents are left on the dark and confused. DO ask the gym to explain exactly what their requirements to move into ( I won't say up) L4, that way you will not be confused.

Perhaps taking your DD to other gyms to be evaluated for their teams might help too, that way your DD could see what other coaches thing about her abilities.

How old is she?

Good luck with this, one of parents biggest complaints in the gym is lack of communication and progresssion to the next level.
 

dunno

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if we could all have a crystal ball...):
 

Claire

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Jun 12, 2009
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Thanks for all the kind responses. My daughter is 9 and will compete as a 10 year old next year. I have been told by her coaches that at our gym, prep op is for those with less talent/form or for those who just want to do it kind of part-time and just have fun or be less serious. This is the complete opposite of my daughter. She wants more hours (she only goes 4 hr. a week right now), she wants to perfect her skills and sometimes I think she is too serious. Her coaches did say that she needs to work on her form, She keeps her legs straight and toes pointed, but just needs to work on keeping her tummy sucked in and keeping everythng tight, was what I was told by her coach. They told me that she has improved greatly in her form. There are no other gyms in our immediate area and I don't want to drive 45 min - 1 hour.
My daughter loves this gym and her coaches (I don't tell her eveything they say). Oh, the joys of being a gymnastic's parent:)
 

bogwoppit

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if we could all have a crystal ball...):
How true Dunno. But wouldn't it be easier to have clarity.

Perhaps a skills book that is marked with the skills needed for team or the next level and the where the gymnasts is at with it.

Just getting a kip isn't enough, but getting a kip with straight arms and legs and with a solid cast out of it is. Parents want to be educated and that's what they come here for.

How can the coaches help with this? What can parents do to approach the coaches in a constructive and non confrontational manner?
 

bogwoppit

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Thanks for all the kind responses. My daughter is 9 and will compete as a 10 year old next year. I have been told by her coaches that at our gym, prep op is for those with less talent/form or for those who just want to do it kind of part-time and just have fun or be less serious. This is the complete opposite of my daughter. She wants more hours (she only goes 4 hr. a week right now), she wants to perfect her skills and sometimes I think she is too serious. Her coaches did say that she needs to work on her form, She keeps her legs straight and toes pointed, but just needs to work on keeping her tummy sucked in and keeping everythng tight, was what I was told by her coach. They told me that she has improved greatly in her form. There are no other gyms in our immediate area and I don't want to drive 45 min - 1 hour.
My daughter loves this gym and her coaches (I don't tell her eveything they say). Oh, the joys of being a gymnastic's parent:)

Sometimes our girls will not be good enough for certain gyms team. I think my girls in a different club would not be on team, we take time off when we want, they do not have the perfect gym bodies and youngest has issues with tightness in handstands (though she works hard on it). We also have only one gym to choose from and that's where we'll stay.

Now here in Quebec our gym system is like your prep op, base routines with bonus skills thrown in. Really the USAG system is good for progression to L10 etc, but if your DD gets the skills and can compete bonus ones as she gets them why would you want her constrained by the USAG as she is not likely to looking at a L10 college career. She can have her own music/routines and enjoy all that the other girls do.

I have often thought if I moved to the States that I would only allow my girls to do prep op as the USAG system bores me silly and my girls are not the kind of kids who will make L8 or above. Perhaps you need to be more positive about the prep op system and show your DD the benefits of not getting stuck with L4 and alll of its constraints.

Of course this is just an opinion and you know your DD best, but if the coaches are not letting her do L4 she will be much happier if she feels she can still be a great gymnast without USAG.
 

Claire

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Jun 12, 2009
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I would be happy for DD to do prep opt. The problem at our gym is that it is not a lot of hours, not really serious, and they are not given the higher level coaches. If our gym's prep were more serious it would be a good fit for her. But the philosophies of our gym for prep op do not fit my daughter's goals. I have heard of gyms who only use prep opt and then straight to optionals or use it for girls between levels. In that case it would be great.
 

gymjourneymom

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I'm sorry that your gym seems to have your DD pigeonholed as prep op against her wishes. Prep op does sound like an interesting option, if that is what her goal is & if realistically, that is the best option for her. Doesn't seem like she's getting a fair chance to even TRY to attain her goal of L4 though, IMHO. How can they expect her to improve form, skills, technique, etc. with just 4hrs/week with 'lower level' coaches???? Sounds like she is happy there & you don't have any gyms in a reasonable drive to check out. Soooo--how about some private lessons to get her some more gym time, with 'higher level coaches'???? I think that would give her an opportunity to prove her dedication & determination too:).
 
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gymdog

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Schedule a meeting with the coach who gets to decide (probably a HC). Don't just talk to coaches after practice - this rarely produces satisfactory answers - you need someone who can give you a straight answer in a scheduled, sit down meeting. Inquire about a private lesson with one of these "higher up" coaches - can they tell your dd specific things she needs to work on, etc. It is kind of working the system, but sometimes you need to push because they will overlook a kid they aren't following closely.
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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Thanks for all the kind responses. My daughter is 9 and will compete as a 10 year old next year. I have been told by her coaches that at our gym, prep op is for those with less talent/form or for those who just want to do it kind of part-time and just have fun or be less serious. This is the complete opposite of my daughter. She wants more hours (she only goes 4 hr. a week right now), she wants to perfect her skills and sometimes I think she is too serious. Her coaches did say that she needs to work on her form, She keeps her legs straight and toes pointed, but just needs to work on keeping her tummy sucked in and keeping everythng tight, was what I was told by her coach. They told me that she has improved greatly in her form. There are no other gyms in our immediate area and I don't want to drive 45 min - 1 hour.
My daughter loves this gym and her coaches (I don't tell her eveything they say). Oh, the joys of being a gymnastic's parent:)
Hi Claire!! My dd was in the exact same position last year. She was a 10 year old competing on the Mason Dixon Level 4 team. The coach thought that this would be a better fit for her rather than USAG because it is less hours, less competitions and the program is more patient with "kids with mental blocks" or tend to more emotional and not as serious. I thought that it wouldn't be enough for dd because she LOVES the gym and loves working hard. She is very self motivated and a perfectionist. But she has a fear issue with some skills, especially the ROBHS (round off back handspring). After this past year I actually love the flexibility with the less hours of training and the 6 meets a year is actually enough for her and me. All her time isn't consumed in the gym and she is free to do other sports and activities that the USAG program doesn't allow. She is moving to Level A which is the optional program for MDL. She is actually very excited to be able to have some creativity with the routines and she has many skills that she can switch in and out of the routines. To be honest, I don't think my dd would fare that well in USAG just because it is very competitive and the fear issues woud definitely end up stressing her out and she would lose interest fast. Dani still works extremely hard and is very motivated and has a lot of fun.

Some of the kids at our gym start out in the MDL and do eventually switch over to the USAG program. And then you have the kids that switch from USAG to MDL because they want a lighter schedule because of school but still want to compete in gymnastics.

I would go wit what your dd wants and feels comfortable doing. With her drive and dedication and work ethic, she could really do awesome with the prep-optionals. If she really wants to go USAG, set up a meeting with the coaches, like other posters suggested, and see how it goes.

I hope this helps and good luck with everything!!
 
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momof5

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We experienced a similiar issue at our old gym. Two years in a row DD tried out for the team and 2 years in a row she ended up in a preteam program. She was very discouraged because she really wanted to be a part of the team program. The first year they felt she didn't have the form but in the preteam program they hardly worked on this at all. I am not sure how they felt this would get ready for team since they didn't stress it. The 2nd time she tried it I was very surprised that she wasn't chosen since she had all but 1 of her level 4 skills. We scheduled a meeting with the two head coaches and they reason they gave us was that they didn't think that she could memorize the routines. By the second year we really felt that they were just giving us excuses and we left for a different gym. We feel that DD wasn't their type and they just didn't see her as team material. She then enjoyed the next year beating the girls in her age group that were chosen over at the old gym:D. I hope you guys can work out a solution.
 

gymjoy

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Jan 31, 2009
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We experienced a similiar issue at our old gym. Two years in a row DD tried out for the team and 2 years in a row she ended up in a preteam program. She was very discouraged because she really wanted to be a part of the team program. The first year they felt she didn't have the form but in the preteam program they hardly worked on this at all. I am not sure how they felt this would get ready for team since they didn't stress it. The 2nd time she tried it I was very surprised that she wasn't chosen since she had all but 1 of her level 4 skills. We scheduled a meeting with the two head coaches and they reason they gave us was that they didn't think that she could memorize the routines. By the second year we really felt that they were just giving us excuses and we left for a different gym. We feel that DD wasn't their type and they just didn't see her as team material. She then enjoyed the next year beating the girls in her age group that were chosen over at the old gym:D. I hope you guys can work out a solution.

I love the justice in this! I hate gyms that like a "type" of gymnast, it's unfair. Hard work and desire should be enough to let a girl try to do the team, especially level 4. If the girl is not cut out for the upper level gymnastics she will catch on to that in good time, but at least she had the chance to try and to learn from the experience of being on the team. We've been through a similar situation twice before - once when a gym didn't want to put my dd at 5yo on the pre-team because she "didn't have the attention span needed," so they put her in a class with 10 and 11 yo. Made no sense. Second, at a different gym she was not the chosen one on her squad. She received very little attention or instruction. At third gym (only because we moved across country, not because we are a gym-jumpers) dd is on the elite track because of her hard work ethic. She is doing awesome. When we went back to visit her old gym they were astounded at her skills and form.


I think all the advice here is good. Go and talk to the next person up from the coach. Make them give her a chance.
 
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mariposa

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Given the position you are in, I agree that you should schedule a sit down meeting the the owner/head coach. Find out exactly what she needs to do to make the level 4 team and I think you will get an idea of whether it truly is a possibility or not at this gym. Some gyms, sadly, consider a 9 year old too "old" to start gymnastics for their team. Very silly, in my opinion. If the vibe you get from them is that they do not plan on having her on the compulsory team, then I would really try as hard as you can to help your daughter to see all the wonderful positives of the prep-opt system. Individuality, more time to do other sports, getting to work on different level skills all the time, etc.

I am very open with my daughter and would also explain to her honestly that each gym has their idea of who they want on team, that it doesn't mean she isn't a wonderful gymnast, that it is unfair, but that life sometimes is unfair.

I definitely would schedule a meeting and talk to them about your daughter and how much she wants this. Maybe they will give her a chance. I certainly hope so. Hard work and dedication are just as valuable as pure, natural strength and ability in any sport. Love of the sport, too. My daughter has already experienced having friends that have much more natural ability/talent than she does, but she has also seen that hard work pays off and that all she has to do is be the best gymnast SHE can be.
 

dunno

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I totally agree with Maroposa, and she has some great experience in the field of L4 move up. I would def having a private meeting and tell them that your DD was asked to set a goal, and that she feels let down as she feels that she has all the skils and is not being given the chance to try. This is L4 and there is no reason she shouldn't be given the chance, evry kid should get to try when they have the skilld. Some gyms have such stringent policies that parents are left on the dark and confused. DO ask the gym to explain exactly what their requirements to move into ( I won't say up) L4, that way you will not be confused.

Perhaps taking your DD to other gyms to be evaluated for their teams might help too, that way your DD could see what other coaches thing about her abilities.

How old is she?

Good luck with this, one of parents biggest complaints in the gym is lack of communication and progresssion to the next level.
bog, this is a great response.^^^ i can expound if you can tell me the age of your daughter.
 

bogwoppit

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bog, this is a great response.^^^ i can expound if you can tell me the age of your daughter.
Her girl is 9 years old and trains 4 hours a week at prep op level and has her L4 skills. Please illuminate us, parents love the inside scoop. THanks ahead of time.
 

gymalex

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Jan 3, 2009
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If your gym is really competitive, 9 almost 10 is too old for the level 4 group. Super competitive gyms have mainly 6 and 7 yr olds in their level 4 groups. It stinks, but that's just how it is. Even if that is the case, maybe you could ask the head coach for a "trial" period in the L4 group for 2-3 weeks. Let your daughter wow the coaches with her hard work ethic...maybe the problem is just getting her foot in the door.
Another suggestion would be to schedule weekly (or even more frequent) private lessons with the head coach or head compulsory coach. That way they feel invested in your daughter's progress and might decide to give her a shot after seeing how hard she tries and how well she progresses.
Either way, I agree with the other posters. You owe it to yourself and your daughter to sit down the the head coach(es) and figure out a plan.
Good luck to you!
 

Pineapple_Lump

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I think you have had lots of great feed back about how to deal with the current gym. If the situation turns ugly and your daughter really wants to be on team, maybe consider that drive. Had I got to this thread before it became known that your next gym was a fair drive away I would have said shop around. Your post mentioned that they chose girls for Level 4 but they were not ready to compete. This speaks volumes about the coaching to me. They have either made a poor selection of girls or lack the ability to prepare gymnasts for competition.
 
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