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For Parents Help with gym/advice

MeghanCo

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Dec 2, 2020
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Hey all. My DD has been at a gym for 3 years now. She’s TOPS and has elite dreams. However, I’ve been disappointed lately in the lack of communication between TOPS and compulsory as well as the ever changing hands of TOPS. I’ve never felt we’ve had clear guidance (this is year 2 for her), and lately her compulsory coaches don’t seem to know what to do with some fears so they seem to shove her at a way lower level that she got upper 9’s on every event in. She’s worked through a ton of beam fears this year thanks to her TOPS coach she has now, but she’s in compulsory practice more than TOPS so I feel she’s not getting the help she needs to excel if they’re at a loss and just put her at lower levels. They also don’t talk to us about it, etc and it all just feels so messy.

With COVID I’m thinking it may be a good time to find a gym that is more used to elite/TOPS/Hopes and a more steady TOPS program with more experienced compulsory coaches that can assist her a bit better. I’m nervous to switch and find myself sure then unsure. First: am I crazy here? Secondly: what questions should I be asking of a new gym?
 

Ty’s Dad

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Aug 3, 2017
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Everyone has their own opinion but I don’t think you are crazy. Questions you should ask is 1) does the gym have an elite program, a lot of gyms say they do but the really don’t. 2) how many of your gymnast qualified hopes/elite just because kids go to qualifiers and compete that doesn’t mean they made it. I wouldn’t really ask that many tops questions because a lot of gyms are removing tops soon, (well I know my daughters gym is and heard of others) the wife and I pulled my daughter from
Tops after she made A camp to get her ready for hopes.
 
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GYM0M

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Jul 23, 2013
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TOPS is a great program for young, aspiring, elites, but IME, it was more about training my dd’s coaches to be able to train an elite gymnast. Many of the established elite programs don’t have TOPS. My DD tested TOPS as a 7-8 year old, but then made invite team at 9 so didn’t test that year, went to HOPES at 10 & kinda sucked a lil bit, didn’t qualify, and she had 9 year old year to prep so I think I’d look more for a HOPES program if I was in your shoes and thinking about a move.
 

CuriousCate

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Jul 12, 2016
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Just playing devil's advocate, is it possible the coaches are moving her to easier things so as not to rush her through fears - to let her work through them more organically? When my older kid was 8, her gym put her on the track to compete level 5 and 7 back to back a month apart. She quickly got all of the skills and then suddenly started to develop a ton of fears of giants and oddly, the full turn on beam. They kept pushing her and she actually quit. She ended up very quickly returning to the sport at a new gym and now, with that stress two years behind her says that she doesn't think she'd ever have quit if they had just kindly moved her down a level. At that time, it seemed like a horrible thought - she was talented and worked hard and had the skills, so why move her back? But with our 20/20 hindsight, that would have been the best thing.
 

MuggleMom

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Dec 22, 2016
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I would be less worried about TOPS if the rest of the program is good as others have said. I would also see if your DD is happy at the lower levels (with less stress) or frustrated. I think the other important factor for the current gym would be uptraining. Is she at a lower compulsory level but has lots of opportunity for uptraining? There is nothing wrong with competing/training down a level if you have some fears to get over but if all they are doing in that training group is working the skills and routines she can do at an upper 9 score then I would be looking for other options. If they have her in that group to take off the pressure and let her uptrain as she is comfortable or at least on the events she is comfortable I would be much less concerned.

It also might not hurt to schedule a meeting about your concerns, they may have a reason for what they are doing and you should hear it. Do they know your DD has fears and what is thier plan to address them? My DD had to repeat level 3 and at the time I was frustrated and through it was a huge mistake. I thought they were going to make her stay in compulsories forever (some gyms around me seem to do that). I scheduled a meeting they explained why level 3 again, they told me their plans for her for levels 4-6 and I was happy knowing we weren't going to spend a bunch of years repeating the same levels and it ended up being the best thing for her. She has caught up with all the girls that moved up "ahead" of her and she is a happy confident optional now.

If after all that if you still want to look for another gym the quesitons others posted are all good and I would also check different gyms meet scores. How many upper level optionals do they have? Do they have any girls competing Hopes and how are they placing? Do they have any girls getting signed by Colleges (Elite is such a small group its nice to have options as well shoot for the moon land in the stars kind of thing). When you do your trials watch the coaches and how they interact with the girls, do the girls look happy? Are the coaches hands on? Do they give lots of corrections? If you do evalutations you can ask them what level they would place her at, what the typical path to optionals is, do they have any gym specific requirements to move up (like you have to get a 39 all around hahaha just kidding...sort of... some gyms have crazy requirements though).
 

MeghanCo

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Dec 2, 2020
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Thanks everyone! I forgot to mention they do have her competing at a lower level to help with the fears and we’re super appreciative of that, but they aren’t even training her at that level. Meaning there’s no uptraining happening if that makes sense. We’ve talked to them and they agree with us to help her work through things but then they just... don’t. She’s gone to clinics and camps where they do take the time to help her and she overcomes her fears and feels amazing only to go back “home” and be put at the lowest level again.
Thanks for the input! Her current gym doesn’t have HOPES and never has so that’s also been my concern for moving up eventually if this is continuing to be what her goals are.
 

Ty’s Dad

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Thanks everyone! I forgot to mention they do have her competing at a lower level to help with the fears and we’re super appreciative of that, but they aren’t even training her at that level. Meaning there’s no uptraining happening if that makes sense. We’ve talked to them and they agree with us to help her work through things but then they just... don’t. She’s gone to clinics and camps where they do take the time to help her and she overcomes her fears and feels amazing only to go back “home” and be put at the lowest level again.
Thanks for the input! Her current gym doesn’t have HOPES and never has so that’s also been my concern for moving up eventually if this is continuing to be what her goals are.
Then I think you should be trying to find another gym. Doesn’t make sense to me for them to have a Tops program and not a hopes/elite. Even though you don’t need Tops or Hopes to try and become an elite, it just doesn’t make sense hopes is like a stepping stone into the elite world. A whole different ball game
 

LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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TOPS is not the be-all, end-all. I agree with @GYM0M who said it's really more beneficial for gyms who are trying to learn how to produce TOPS/HOPES athletes, but not necessarily critical for the gymnasts themselves. I've seen quite a few kids who made the Diamond Team and 8 year olds TOPS A team primarily because they could knock out a million presses and hold an hour long handstand, but weirdly, some kids had level 4-ish/5-ish skills and others were doing level 8-ish skills. So I just don't think TOPS means that much. We had a similar experience to @CuriousCate. My youngest daughter was being rushed to go from level 4 to 7 when she was 8, and it was stressing her out--that gym was also very fixated on high scores, so it felt like a lot of pressure. She was also at the point of quitting. We moved her to a new gym, and they let her compete 6 with her giants on bars, and she was happy as could be. Apparently, the idea of 7 just kind of freaked her out. You didn't say how old your daughter was. I guess if the gym is exclusively doing compulsory training and no uptraining and your daughter enjoys that, I would weigh other options too. If she has fears though, I would try to reduce the pressure, and a "high power" elite gym might actually increase her stress level?? Just my two cents.
 

Flicfliclay

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Then I think you should be trying to find another gym. Doesn’t make sense to me for them to have a Tops program and not a hopes/elite. Even though you don’t need Tops or Hopes to try and become an elite, it just doesn’t make sense hopes is like a stepping stone into the elite world. A whole different ball game
They may only have a TOPs program to use it for strength and development. Lots of gyms have "tops" but they never test or move into hopes training. And a lot of gyms don't do hopes or tops just elite.. so there's lots of variations for sure.
 
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Ty’s Dad

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They may only have a TOPs program to use it for strength and development. Lots of gyms have "tops" but they never test or move into hopes training. And a lot of gyms don't do hopes or tops just elite.. so there's lots of variations for sure.
That’s why I said find another gym
 

Flicfliclay

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That’s why I said find another gym
You actually said it doesn't make sense for them to have Tops but not Hopes.. LOTs of gyms don't do either.. and have Elite. I was just explaining that part. But obviously if that is the case ( that her gym only has Tops as an extra work out ) and no Elite program then yes look into another gym. She also needs to know that her daughter may not even get accepted into another gyms Elite program. Most programs are fairly small.
 
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Ty’s Dad

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You actually said it doesn't make sense for them to have Tops but not Hopes.. LOTs of gyms don't do either.. and have Elite. I was just explaining that part. But obviously if that is the case ( that her gym only has Tops as an extra work out ) and no Elite program then yes look into another gym. She also needs to know that her daughter may not even get accepted into another gyms Elite program. Most programs are fairly small.
You are right about that. Programs are small
 

LemonLime

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Jul 16, 2007
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If you are interested in hopes and elite, go to a gym with a hopes and elite program. @Ty’s Dad is right. Being in a program with those options is not just about your daughter, but it also protects your sanity. Who wants to have meetings with coaches about what gymnastics enrichment she might need, but is not getting? Not me.

I also liked this question from @Ty’s Dad : "Questions you should ask is 1) does the gym have an elite program, a lot of gyms say they do but the really don’t." Gymnastics is a very small world. There's a reason why most athletes come from the same gyms and why certain athletes appear to receive special opportunities when others do not. Judges, club coaches, NCAA coaches, and athletes grew up together. Sometimes their parents too! Outside works, but it's easier to be on the inside. Inside gyms also tend to have 501(c)(3) and money management worked out to keep costs down. They also tend to have better basics, more complete gymnasts, and good conditioning. Machine gyms come with their own problems, but the predictability and politics overall tends to make it worthwhile.

There's also no money right now to develop gyms & coaches. We started at two small gyms. We had national staff help our coaches around the clock in the olden days 10-15 years ago. No one fell behind on bars at our gym because the coaches had free help. We never paid a dime for developmental or NTC camps. I think that's rather rare now.