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Daughter level 4 - need advice

Pilgrim06

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My daughter competed level 3 last year. She had a rough start due to a confidence issue with her round off back handspring on floor. But she overcame and ended up placing second in the all around at south state. Our gym trains up - so at the end of last season she had her level 4 skills and was working on 5. In January, she strained her knee and was down a month but came right back and tumbled. And then...she got scared...and stopped tumbling. At all. We got her back to tumbling with a spot in May and I felt like we would be okay. But we’ve had several weeks of regression. Some days she will go for the double bh, some days she is full of excuses, and we can only get one, or two with a spot. And in between there’s lots of balking and hemming and hawing. We’ve tried privates, psychology, praying with her coach about it, all kinds of incentives, flat out bribery, etc etc....she has level 5 skills on every other event. We are all (meaning me, my husband, and her coaches) frustrated because she has lost so much confidence and it’s not that she doesn’t have the ability.

Well here’s the deal. I have to pay for this next competition season (which starts August 17th) in 10 days. I had to be realistic with her today and say I can’t pay for the season knowing she may balk at doing the skills on floor. So we set another deadline for her to be consistently performing on floor by the end of next week. This is the third time I’ve done this goal/deadline setting with her this summer (and she’s made excuses each time for not meeting them)...but now we are in the eleventh hour.

Repeating level 3 this year is not an option because of her high scores at south state last year. My husband says if she’s not going to compete, it’s too expensive for her to just train this year with no guarantees she will ever do the skill - since it’s her choice and she’s now choosing not to.

Are we done at the gym, or what else can we do for her? This is a child that will tell you she loves gymnastics and wants to do it forever...but then has us stunned because she says she’s scared and won’t perform...

Thanks in advance!
 

txgymfan

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Well here’s the deal. I have to pay for this next competition season (which starts August 17th) in 10 days. I had to be realistic with her today and say I can’t pay for the season knowing she may balk at doing the skills on floor. So we set another deadline for her to be consistently performing on floor by the end of next week. This is the third time I’ve done this goal/deadline setting with her this summer (and she’s made excuses each time for not meeting them)...but now we are in the eleventh hour.

Repeating level 3 this year is not an option because of her high scores at south state last year. My husband says if she’s not going to compete, it’s too expensive for her to just train this year with no guarantees she will ever do the skill - since it’s her choice and she’s now choosing not to.

Are we done at the gym, or what else can we do for her? This is a child that will tell you she loves gymnastics and wants to do it forever...but then has us stunned because she says she’s scared and won’t perform...

Thanks in advance!

To quote an old friend, “Yikes”. My short answer is yes, pull her from gymnastics now. I feel like that is the answer you want and are expecting.

The why may not be what you expect. Gymnastics is scary, she risks breaking her neck every time she attempts a back handspring. Her fear is real not defiance. The value in training and competing the other events is in the mental strength it will give her to overcome this fear. By pulling her, you are telling her she can’t get it, you don’t believe in her and you are not willing to support an activity unless she meets your standard of success. If you pull her from gymnastics, will she try something else or not bother in case she isn’t good enough for you?

My suggestion talk to her coach, if they don’t have any ideas how to help her, find a new gym, pay for the season, let her work with her coaches, be supportive, don’t pressure her. No more bribes, or threats, just a calm “we believe in you” “ you will get it” and leave it alone.


If you refuse to let her compete, pull her but don’t be surprised if she resents you for it later.
 

duyetanh

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your daughter actually has an injury, and it can only heal with time.No one can make it heal but herself. Please don’t take this wrong, but it sounds like you are way too involved in the process. And if her scores were that high, and repeating isn’t an option, I would think her coaches could iwork with her and possibly let her do three events and scratch floor until she was over her fears, and this could help alleviate a lot of stress. But blocks truly are a brain injury or a sort. They cannot be forced to heal. It doesn’t work.
 

momnipotent

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@txgymfan said it better than I ever could, but mental blocks happen for lots of different reasons and don’t always make sense. I will add that the pressure involved in the continued ultimatums is most likely doing more harm than good. You need to totally back off and adopt the attitude of “you’ll get it when your mind and body are ready for it.” No pressure, no talking about it unless she brings it up-just totally back off. She doesn’t know why she can’t do it and she can’t make herself go through sheer force of will. If you can’t do that, then yes, you should pull her because what’s happening is not emotionally good for her.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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I'd pay for the season as long as her coaches will let her compete the other three events. Blocks and fears are so hard. Everyone just needs to take the pressure off.

Based on everything you've said about your daughter do you really, actually, believe that your daughter is just *choosing* not to do the skill?If so then you need to pull her because that's going to damage her confidence and your relationship. I've watched girls with blocks and they want more than ANYTHING to do the skill. If it were me I'd ask the coaches to take the pressure off her and then I would stop watching practice and not ask anything about it.
 

Cmumgym

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She’s only at the start of her gymnastics career. And if it is something she pursues. You will have to overcome mental blocks, injuries, puberty, soreness, growth, even repeating a level or two. If you are putting this much pressure on her now then none of you will get through the next few years and levels. Not to mention some gymnasts train all year then get an injury and are unable to compete so then spend another whole year training without competitions. If it is something she enjoys doing and your happy to support her financially then there shouldn’t be any ultimatums in place for competitions. Especially if she is coming off an injury and has a mental block. You need to speak to the coach about what you can do to help instead of telling her you will pull her out if she doesn’t gain a skill
 

GAgymmom

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Maybe a dumb question, but why isn’t she competing 4 if she competed 3 last season? Your post says she had her 4 skills but you didn’t say she scored out. Even if she did, there’s no reason to not go ahead and compete 4 instead of 5. Take the pressure off to jump to level 5, and she may relax and start tumbling again. She may not be ready for level 5, and the balking may be her response to the pressure she doesn’t want to admit to feeling.
 

Gymmom0824

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I agree with others, give her time to rest and heal and when she’s ready see about putting her back in. She can keep up with light conditioning as she’s able at home. Giving her time to evaluate if she misses gym May be what helps her overcome the fears and anxiety and will also give her time to physically heal so that she can have a better future in gymnastics or whatever other activities come her way.
 

amiandjim

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I hate to pile on, but I can tell you with 100% certainty you are handling this the wrong way. Think about it this way, do you have any fears? I’m afraid of heights. Am I perfectly physically capable of climbing a tall mountain or even going up in a really tall building (ex: Willis tower in Chicago)? Sure. Will any amount of bribery, ultimatums, or prayer get me up there? Nope. It won’t. In fact, it only makes me mad and less likely to do it.

Your daughter is not making excuses or hemming and hawing. She is genuinely afraid and probably can’t even articulate why. She doesn’t know why her body cannot go for it.

My daughter is a beautiful gymnast. Strong, flexible, good form on almost everything. She is also pretty much the last kid to get any sort of “scary” skill on her team. She was the last to get her double bhs last year...and went on to be the kid with the highest floor score on average for the entire team. She is supposed to score out of level 5 in about 3 weeks. I’m pretty sure she is the only one without her back tuck on the floor and one of the only ones who hasn’t done a flyaway without a spot. You know what I what to say about that? “You will get it when you get it. Keep working hard. I love you.” That’s it.

So my suggestion would be to stop talking about it and tell her you love and support her. Stop giving her bribes and ultimatums. Have a discussion with her coaches to take the pressure off. If you cannot do those things, I agree none of you will make it through the next few years in the gym.
 

3cats

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Gosh, I wrote out a whole reply. But erased it. I'm so sad for your daughter. This is a really hard sport that is always two steps forward and 1 step back.

Please be patient and kind. It's all we truly have to give in this world. Even if this is the thing that holds you daughter back, or causes her to leave gym entirely. It's not a failure on her part.

She sounds amazing and talented and I hope you all give her the space to see that for herself.
 

bogwoppit

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The "we" part of your post was the red flag to me. This is a little kid and all these adults are piling on her mentally, this is low key abuse. Please stop. If she could do the skill safely, she would be doing it. You are creating a cycle of fear, and that will scar her for a long time.

It seems the coach is not wise enough to know that kids balk on skills for valid reasons, so yes pull her out. But you need to get that whillst you do pay for a kids activity, it should be hers to own and not yours. Threats and coercion are not solid motivational tools.
 

Freddy's Fred

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My daughter competed level 3 last year. She had a rough start due to a confidence issue with her round off back handspring on floor. But she overcame and ended up placing second in the all around at south state. Our gym trains up - so at the end of last season she had her level 4 skills and was working on 5. In January, she strained her knee and was down a month but came right back and tumbled. And then...she got scared...and stopped tumbling. At all. We got her back to tumbling with a spot in May and I felt like we would be okay. But we’ve had several weeks of regression. Some days she will go for the double bh, some days she is full of excuses, and we can only get one, or two with a spot. And in between there’s lots of balking and hemming and hawing. We’ve tried privates, psychology, praying with her coach about it, all kinds of incentives, flat out bribery, etc etc....she has level 5 skills on every other event. We are all (meaning me, my husband, and her coaches) frustrated because she has lost so much confidence and it’s not that she doesn’t have the ability.

Well here’s the deal. I have to pay for this next competition season (which starts August 17th) in 10 days. I had to be realistic with her today and say I can’t pay for the season knowing she may balk at doing the skills on floor. So we set another deadline for her to be consistently performing on floor by the end of next week. This is the third time I’ve done this goal/deadline setting with her this summer (and she’s made excuses each time for not meeting them)...but now we are in the eleventh hour.

Repeating level 3 this year is not an option because of her high scores at south state last year. My husband says if she’s not going to compete, it’s too expensive for her to just train this year with no guarantees she will ever do the skill - since it’s her choice and she’s now choosing not to.

Are we done at the gym, or what else can we do for her? This is a child that will tell you she loves gymnastics and wants to do it forever...but then has us stunned because she says she’s scared and won’t perform...

Thanks in advance!
Pilgrim reread your post. Why are you paying for a sports psychologist or bribing your child? She is young and early in her gymnastics journey. Take a big long break from gymnastics and let her live her life. She can still come back to it if she wants.
 

Racpp

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Mental blocks are not defiance. Treating them as defiance will only cement them.

Your dd is at the very beginning of the sport, mental blocks will happen in every level and will happen in skills she’s been doing for what feels like forever. My younger dd had been jumping to the high bars for years ... and then couldn’t. My older dd had been doing beautiful BHS on beam ... and then couldn’t. Their bodies knew what to do, they just couldn’t get their bodies to do it.

I might be reading way too much into your post, but it almost sounds like now that your dd placed well at states, it’s expected that she always will be at the top of the podium. Were you, your husband, and the coaches okay with her at the start of the season when it was “rough,” did she have this same amount of pressure and nagging then? Why was she allowed to do level 3 less than perfect but you’ve drawn the line at level 4 less than perfect?

This sport is just as much mental as physical. When a kid has a physical issue, most people are fine with the take time off, work your way back in slowly, go back to the basics and drills, and build up the muscles again. The same is true for mental issues. It might take a REALLY long time to get a skill back — and mental blocks will happen again and again.
 

MUTigerMom

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Please consider letting her compete 4 and scratch floor if needed (or just leave out the robhsbhs if the coach will allow it). All of the pressure and bribery is likely intensifying the fear instead of helping it. Trust me... If she could "make" herself do the skill, she would. Understand that she is probably 100x more frustrated than you are. One thing that helps my daughter when she is struggling with something and getting down on herself is to list three things that she is doing well each week. It just seems to help her focus more on the positives than the struggles. The mindset shift helps her feel more confident trying new or troublesome skills. Good luck.
 

duyetanh

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How old is she, out of curiosity? And I hope you understand that we are all saying this because we have been around for awhile...most of us have either witnessed this in our gyms or read about it on here previously.
 
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CuriousCate

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Not meaning to pile on more, but i was reading what @amiandjim wrote and wanted to add that sometimes, like with my DD, the rushing to get a skill actually leads to the fear. Mine was frequently the first to get tumbling skills and this led everyone to push her at a crazy fast pace, which led to a ton of fear and balking when she tried to make do level 5 and 7 back to back. All the skills she was the first kid to get, she started to lose and become fearful of. We ended up switching gyms and I have now seen how damaging the rush really was to her. The new gym had to truly rebuild and reteach everything. Had she just been given her own time to move forward and feel confident and comfortable, I think she'd have been a much happier kid without the level of fear that she has been having to now fight so hard to overcome.
 

cp13

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My daughter fell on her head while balking on a ro bh bt on floor in L5. She was excellent at back handsprings in the early levels but was always afraid of connecting anything after back handsprings. She waited until after her second year of L4 before she forced herself to do the back tuck so she could move up to L5. She wound up injuring her back when she fell and was out of the competition season for over 2 months due to back spasms after her fall. She made it back and competed all events in her last 3 L5 meets and finished 3rd on floor at the state meet. If she wants to continue in the sport, let her do L4 for a year. Then she can just work on the easier back tumbling for the year and improve her L5 skills. Putting more pressure on her will not help and it may make her hate the sport and worse, she could have another injury. My daughter was much more ready to push for L5 skills after her second year of L4 than after her first. This has to be their journey and our job is just to be supportive and sometimes it means putting the money down and hoping it's all going to work out in the end if you know the child really wants to be in the sport. It's a very difficult sport for the parents and the kids.
 

ldw4mlo

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A ton of good advice above.

It’s HER sport. She needs to do things on her own time.

You and your husband need to back off.

And yes gymnastics is an expensive sport.
But if you or your husband think you are paying for specific results, done in a specific time period perhaps gymnastics is not the sport for your daughter.

If she had a broken leg would you force her to walk on it? Do you think bribing her to walk on it and putting a deadline on when she needs to be healed would work?

The more you all push, the longer it will take. If it ever happens at all.
Very sad for your daughter. She should be having fun. She should be hearing things like.....

Don’t worry, you get it when you get it.
Have fun at practice, love you.
Gee that xyz was great
You are working so hard
What was good today

And her coach should be stepping her back too

You all need to back up and back off or be done.
 

GymParent

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A lot of good advice has already been written. My dd is 15 and has been doing gymnastics since she was 4, so a long time. Her heart is completely in this sport and not defiance.

She was doing her back hand back lay on the beam most of season and lost it before state in March with a mental block. Still today 4 months later she can do them beautifully on low beam or with panel mats fully stacked on high beam so not a technique issue. Remove a couple panel mats and no way. It happens. She doesn't know why her body won't do it. She's very frustrated but keeps working at it with her head held high knowing we and her coaches fully support her. She will get it back, but it may take some time. No amount of pressure from us or her coaches will help her as she is giving herself enough pressure.

I've seen a lot of gymnasts (some very talented) fall out of love with the sport because of too much pressure from parents and/or coaches. Give it time. Give her positive reinforcement and support her. Bribes and threats only hurt. This is her sport, not our sport.
 

cmg

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I agree with the other responses to relax and back off. My daughter had to repeat Level 3 and Level 4 due to back tumbling fears. I made a lot of mistakes in worrying too much about this phase of her gymnastics, but she got through it. Luckily for her she is an awesome front tumbler and she is now training for Level 9 and is one of the best front tumblers in the gym. She still avoids back tumbling but she has figured out a way on her own terms to meet requirements. Once you get to optionals you do have more flexibility. In her Level 4 years she just didn't really connect her two back handsprings. She paused and then went for it. She got lower scores, but she did it. Same with Level 5. When she got to L6 she just did one front tumbling pass and got into the 9.4 range and it was great to see her succeed on floor again. L7 has the back layout requirement and she just didn't do it. She got 8.9's on her floor since she started with a 9.5 start value. In Level 8 she got a roundoff back layout with half twist and was back at getting 9.3+ but I am sure she got a deduction for not doing an "up to Level" for that pass. For L9 she may skip the back tumbling again. I believe, but I'm not sure, there is only .1 off for not back tumbling?? I leave things like this up to her and her coach. I don't worry anymore since I know she will figure things out. She has other fear issues with bars but is working through them. There is always some skill fears at every level and all gymnasts have to work through their fears on their own terms. It could take years but they will get there.

The years of her repeating L3 and L4 were some of the hardest times I have been through. It was hard to watch at every meet knowing she was not going to connect her back handsprings, but as others have said I just loved her and supported her. We did try some sport psychologists, but I think in the end she just figured out a way to do her own thing. She has a specialty now with her front tumbling and from what I can see a lot of gymnasts struggle with front tumbling so she stands out.

Pressuring your daughter with "I'm not going to pay for this if you are not going to perform" will really make things worse. Believe me kids know that gymnastics is expensive without you reminding them. I like the suggestions of letting her do L4 and either scratching floor or figuring out a tumbling pass she can do like no connection or with spot? (most coaches don't like to spot every meet since it sets up a dependence). So good luck! I know this is a hard decision. I wondered if gymnastics was really my daughters sport, but now I know it is her sport and she is doing well now, but patience is a virtue....