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Help! New and needing advice!

ChalkTalk1900

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Hi everyone. I'm new to this group, and am hoping for real advice.
Decision-making is so hard! Our daughter, age 9, who is already at the gym 12 hours a week (Junior Olympics Level 3), has been chosen to train in the "elite" program. It's another 6+ hours a week!
To a non-gym parent, this might seem obvious. Why would you put your kid through that? But, she LOVES gymnastics! She is ridiculously driven and would live at the gym if she could. And, obviously, she is crazy talented. But, how much is too much?!?! Don't we want her to have balance in her life? But, if we don't let her, aren't we removing some amazing possibilities for her? I know she's only 9, but this is gymnastics and, when you show real talent, you gotta jump on it young. And, again, she LOVES it. I know it's crazy, but this feels like a very big "butterfly effect" decision.
I know there are no obvious answers here. I'm just blurting it out in hopes of wisdom!
 
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txgymfan

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What are her goals?

Honestly, a nine year old level 3 gymnast has an extraordinarily little chance of becoming an elite gymnast, even less of a chance of making the national team and competing internationally.

Personally, I would leave her at 12 hours and explore different activities that she could enjoy into adulthood and expose her to a different group of friends.

Many gymnast her age do go 18 plus hours but gymnastics is extremely hard on the body ( especially the back) and can be mentally all consuming. I would try to create more balance in her life so she enjoys other activities because she won’t be able to “live at the gym” for most of her life. As a life skill, she needs to find other outlets for her energy and focus that will take her into adulthood.
 

Jjenny

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Most elites were level 5, 7 or 8 by age nine. Of course it can be possible but starting to train elite as "late" as a nine year old level 3 is going to be very hard and demanding. Gymnastics is a lot of fun and rewarding without trying for elite too.
 
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Faith

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I'm going to differ from pp, mainly as I really dislike this culture in gymnastics of they have to start really young with loads of hours to have even a chance. Progressing more slowly does have its benefits, and it's not unheard of for kids to progress to elite without that. To me the reason why more kids don't make elite from a late or slow start is many coaches buy into the early start thing and don't take on the gymnasts who haven't been throwing double backs since birth.

Firstly, look at your program. Do they actually produce elite and/or college gymnasts? How many seniors do they have, how many level 10's?. "elite" is an interesting word and for one gym it may mean Olympics, for another it may just be the best kids in the club, who may never reach higher than level 10.

Same with "level 3"- some gyms have kids training level 5/6 but competing 3. Or she may not even have l3 skills. so no one can judge your dd's ability from your post.

If your program is capable of producing elite gymnasts, and they think your DD has the ability, then I would seriously consider it. If their "elite" is not truly JO elite, I'd probably stick with the 12 hours and have a better life balance.

It also depends on how they arrange the training hours. Mine does 18 hrs, but trains straight after school and is finished by 6pm, so home for dinner, homework etc, plus she has a weekend day off to see friends, shop, rest mentally and physically. Other programs might split that 18 hours into 2 or 3 school nights, a full day saturday and half sunday.

For elite track 18 hours is on the low side for many gyms, but is quite a nice amount in reality. It sound like your gym is on the low pressure side which is a good thing.

Lastly I'd rein in the expectations- it's all very exciting now, but keep it real. It's a journey, a long one :) She may be crazy talented, but there will be bumps, and some days it' will seem like you'll never get to the end.
 

Cmumgym

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I'm going to differ from pp, mainly as I really dislike this culture in gymnastics of they have to start really young with loads of hours to have even a chance. Progressing more slowly does have its benefits, and it's not unheard of for kids to progress to elite without that. To me the reason why more kids don't make elite from a late or slow start is many coaches buy into the early start thing and don't take on the gymnasts who haven't been throwing double backs since birth.

Firstly, look at your program. Do they actually produce elite and/or college gymnasts? How many seniors do they have, how many level 10's?. "elite" is an interesting word and for one gym it may mean Olympics, for another it may just be the best kids in the club, who may never reach higher than level 10.

Same with "level 3"- some gyms have kids training level 5/6 but competing 3. Or she may not even have l3 skills. so no one can judge your dd's ability from your post.

If your program is capable of producing elite gymnasts, and they think your DD has the ability, then I would seriously consider it. If their "elite" is not truly JO elite, I'd probably stick with the 12 hours and have a better life balance.

It also depends on how they arrange the training hours. Mine does 18 hrs, but trains straight after school and is finished by 6pm, so home for dinner, homework etc, plus she has a weekend day off to see friends, shop, rest mentally and physically. Other programs might split that 18 hours into 2 or 3 school nights, a full day saturday and half sunday.

For elite track 18 hours is on the low side for many gyms, but is quite a nice amount in reality. It sound like your gym is on the low pressure side which is a good thing.

Lastly I'd rein in the expectations- it's all very exciting now, but keep it real. It's a journey, a long one :) She may be crazy talented, but there will be bumps, and some days it' will seem like you'll never get to the end.
I agree with starting young as by the time a child is 9 it is much much harder to develope the body needed for the sport in regards to flexibility and strength and also minimising the change in body when they hit puberty. By the time a gymnast hits puberty where there body grows. Changes and gains or looses weight it is a lot harder to maintain what they have gained. We have our level 3s at age 7 as a average so that by the time they hit puberty and are also having to focus more on high school studies and moving towards university that they have the opportunity to take a year off competitions to focus on regaining what they loose through those times and still come back better than ever
 

Cmumgym

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I agree with starting young as by the time a child is 9 it is much much harder to develope the body needed for the sport in regards to flexibility and strength and also minimising the change in body when they hit puberty. By the time a gymnast hits puberty where there body grows. Changes and gains or looses weight it is a lot harder to maintain what they have gained. We have our level 3s at age 7 as a average so that by the time they hit puberty and are also having to focus more on high school studies and moving towards university that they have the opportunity to take a year off competitions to focus on regaining what they loose through those times and still come back better than ever
Not to mention also gives them an opportunity to discover other sports before young adult life if their venture with gymnastics ends
 

Faith

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@Cmumgym yes that’s one approach, and can work well.

Personally I prefer to treat kids as individuals. Some youngsters will have fears that need a bit of time and maturity. Some burn out quickly if you start them fast. Then you have the one’s like o/p’s dd who aren't even in gymnastics at age 7, but have the talent to catch up if a coach is prepared to spend time working with them.

there’s no right way. But i don’t agree with writing off a 9 year old we’ve never even seen do gymnastics on the basis of a post on an internet forum. Her coaches may do things differently, or she may indeed be so crazy talented they believe she can catch up. It has been done before.
 

FlippinLilysMom

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My daughter didn't start training elite until she was 9 (she did 2 years of tops before that but I would not equate that to training elite). She competed in her first HOPES season as an 11 year old. But I will say that when she was 9 she had just completed a very successful level 8 season and was working on level 9/10 skills.
 

Carly

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Has your dd competed yet or is this her first year of competition? If she hasn't even competed yet, I would probably wait and give her a season of competing first. Some girls LOVE gymnastics but hate the competitions. If she is really interested, I'd consider waiting to start the elite training in the summer and see how it goes.

I agree with the poster who was asking about what "elite" really means at your particular gym. How far do your team girls usually go? Lots of level 10s over the years? Girls who compete D1 college? I would worry about overuse injuries and burnout with those hours. My dd started level 3 with 17 girls in her level. Only 4 are still doing gymnastics. (3 are level 9s and 1 is a level 10.)

Good luck with your decision!
 

LJL07

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Not an excessive number of hours for a 9 year old who is motivated and loves gym. My youngest daughter is also 9 for a point of reference and goes 23ish hours a week when I factor in break times during practice. She never complains and is happy but is not at a gym where the coaches push her past her comfort zone. She will be a solid level 7 this season but works upskills. She will never go elite. We simply don’t have the programming here.
I do not think people realize how very difficult it is to do “elite” level gymnastics unless you are at the right gym with the right coaches in addition to the child having talent. Plenty of talent where we live, but no gym programs to produce high level gymnastics. Look at the number of upper optionals at your gym, not the success of the compulsory gymnasts.
I think @txgymfan has some great advice in her post. I am also with @Faith that I’m sick of the culture of 25 hours a week at 6&7 years old. If you spend 5 minute on social media, that appears to be the trend for worse in my opinion. These kids have to stick with the sport through high school, and burn out and injury are both very real concerns.
 

Ty’s Dad

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My daughter is 10 (level 8/9 hopes) and is at 32 hours a week. So I believe you will know when your kid feels like it’s to much.
 

LouLou

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I completely understand your excitement, however, take a breath. Level 3 is such a beginner stage that it's really hard to tell who has what it takes to train elite and more importantly, who is willing to do what it takes to train at that level. For what it's worth, every last one of the "crazy talented' girls (i.e. TOPS girls) from my daughter's team has quit - most a long time ago. None of them ever did anything out of the ordinary - except train an unbelievable amount of hours and sustain tons of injuries. This was at a well respected gym that consistently produces D1 scholarship athletes and has had international elite gymnasts in the past.
 

FlippinLilysMom

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I completely understand your excitement, however, take a breath. Level 3 is such a beginner stage that it's really hard to tell who has what it takes to train elite and more importantly, who is willing to do what it takes to train at that level. For what it's worth, every last one of the "crazy talented' girls (i.e. TOPS girls) from my daughter's team has quit - most a long time ago. None of them ever did anything out of the ordinary - except train an unbelievable amount of hours and sustain tons of injuries. This was at a well respected gym that consistently produces D1 scholarship athletes and has had international elite gymnasts in the past.
That is really sad, all of our top Tops girls have moved onto HOPES and a few are either junior elite or training junior elite. Granted there are only 5 but they are all still in the sport and are thriving and no major injuries or burnout.
 

LouLou

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That is really sad, all of our top Tops girls have moved onto HOPES and a few are either junior elite or training junior elite. Granted there are only 5 but they are all still in the sport and are thriving and no major injuries or burnout.
Yes - the selection of girls and training set up always seemed kind of weird - even at the beginning. The OP's post concerned me a bit because who would say a L3 was "training elite" ? That seems like a red flag to walk away. While I think it's unusual that my daughter's friends are all gone, I think you're very lucky and in an amazing program. I wish your daughter & her team continued success!
 

txgymfan

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OP if you’re still reading this thread, please know that none of this information is meant to put down you or your DD. Our opinions are only opinions, based on years of experience in the sport and learning from the countless parents that have posted on CB over more than a decade. At its best, Gymnastics is a wonderful sport that builds strength, flexibility, confidence and resilience.
 

Flicfliclay

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Thanks, everyone. I am definitely still reading! It's all a bit overwhelming as we are fairly new still to the sport. But, I appreciate all the advice!
I think that we would need more information as to why kind of gym your daughter is at. Questions would be: Do they have any or produced any Elite gymnasts? Since you mentioned "elite track" do they have tops or hopes? Success at retaining high level gymnast? I do find it unusual that they would pluck a 9 year old level 3 out to go on a elite path. I say that not to say your daughter is not talented, but it would be very hard to spot that in level 3 skills.
 
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LJL07

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I completely understand your excitement, however, take a breath. Level 3 is such a beginner stage that it's really hard to tell who has what it takes to train elite and more importantly, who is willing to do what it takes to train at that level. For what it's worth, every last one of the "crazy talented' girls (i.e. TOPS girls) from my daughter's team has quit - most a long time ago. None of them ever did anything out of the ordinary - except train an unbelievable amount of hours and sustain tons of injuries. This was at a well respected gym that consistently produces D1 scholarship athletes and has had international elite gymnasts in the past.
That has been my observation as well. I’m not sure these gyms necessarily focus on true talent, bc it’s pretty hard to identify “elite potential” at 7 years old except in extremely rare cases. The young girls are extremely well conditioned and put in unbelievably high hours. Then they burn out.
 

LJL07

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That is really sad, all of our top Tops girls have moved onto HOPES and a few are either junior elite or training junior elite. Granted there are only 5 but they are all still in the sport and are thriving and no major injuries or burnout.
I am so impressed with your gym so far. I have only seen bits and pieces from posts over time, but they seem like they are doing it right. The coaches are putting in the time, they keep the group small, and there doesn’t seem to be a ton of injuries. You guys are so blessed!
 

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