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Holding back level 4's

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Blackie6

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Seriously, I am just throwing this out there to anyone who wants to comment. I am curious as to why level 4's are held back for 2 or even 3 years. I can tell you about my DD and why she was held back. She went to L4 without having very many L4 skills and thrown into her first meet after only 6 months being on L4 and barely knowing the routines. She did good for a 6 yr old, qualifying for sectionals her 2nd meet and qualifying for States after only 1 sectional. She competed at states as a 6 yr old last year and got a 31.700 (I think). It was obvious she needed to repeat to fine-tune and mature. We are fine and in no rush. While at states last year there were some outstanding 6 yr olds. From highly competative/TOPS gyms these girls at age 6 were already getting 35's and 36's at states! In the 7 and 8's last year there were also some huge scores like 37's and 38's and even higher. Some girls were 1st timers and some were on their second year. Records were broken. Can you believe that some of these girls were back again this year at states? I mean the girls that broke the records last year actually broke their OWN RECORD this year again? There were scores like 9.9 and 9.85 all over the place...huge scores! There were parents saying this was their DD's THIRD state meet? I mean, with a 6 yr old, maybe a repeat year because of age, but the 7's,8's and 9's that were already obviously capable of near perfect routines? It was a smash to our gym who really doesn't believe in holding back for 38's. As a parent though I am not sure I would be willing to have my DD held back again. The one 3rd year girl that I knew didn't score all that much higher than last year states so maybe even she didn't benefit from that extra year? I see that this year she even competed for a different gym, maybe her parents were tired of L4. We also heard that one gym doesn't allow their girsl to compete until after they score at least a 35 at an in house meet. Wow!

Are these gym rules? Coaches? Maybe more girls would stay in gymnastics if they didn't spend so many years perfecting L4. L5 seems much harder, I would think that is the level girsl get held back in more. Why level 4? Isn't it better to keep the girls moving up towards optional levels as long as they are doing well? Is a 38 such a big deal as a level 4. Wouldn't it be more impressive to score a 38 as a level 7 or level 8?

Just curious, even last year I did not see scores anywhere near as high as these this year, which means that more gyms seem to be holding L4's back. Why?
 
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gymnut1

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Im from the UK so I don't know but that seems mad. Those girls were obviously ready to move up for a new challenge.
 

gymkat

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Jun 24, 2008
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There are tons of reasons to hold kids back. We have 3 37-38 AA L4s that were in the 35s last year that just weren't ready to compete L5 vault and bars (these are pretty little kids). We have a 3rd year L4 who misses so many practices that she still doesn't have all of the L5 skills. Of course, she looks great doing L4 by this point, so other coaches wouldn't know that she misses close to 50% of the practices. If there is a very, very small L4, some gyms might also hold her back for safety reasons-- we had a super small 7-year-old who just wasn't safe jumping to the HB or swinging because her hands were too small. She would have been a great L5 that season, but it wasn't worth the risk of peeling. Some of the younger L4s also have trouble blocking off the table. Other kids are scared to jump to the high bar, vault over the table, or do cartwheels on beam.
 

gymgal

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Gymkat gave some good examples. It's hard to envision these situations when you see the girls do so well in competition but as you said before, level 5 is so much harder. Many girls just aren't ready to compete it. Some never will be but the girls still love gym and want to compete.

OTOH, I know in my state of NC, there definitely is the thought process to keep girls in level 4 (or rookie for prep op) for 2 years. First year is to get the girls ready for competition - learning the process, getting out the nerves. Then the 2nd year is their competing year.

My dd will compete rookie for the 1st time this year. Our gym almost always keeps the girls in rookie for 2 years but in NC they separate new and veteran rookies (1 and 2) so that the new girls are competing amongst other new girls. I like this plan much better. More of an even playing ground for that first year of competition. So while they are still in the same level (same criteria), there is a higher competition factor the second year. And since it's prep op, the gym is able to change the level's routine to make it more difficult for a better starting value.
 

gymdog

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It is rare to see L4s scoring that high here, but I agree there are a lot of reasons why someone might repeat a level. I think it's strange if it seems to be a constant thing for the gym, but there's also the whole kip and vaulting table issue in L5 where a kid could theoretically get a 35 in L4 and not be ready for 5. Also in my state, although I haven't noticed much "sandbagging," sometimes I have heard people complain about this, but when I look through the actual results (for my state) you will see the girls winning states are either first year or did not place well the previous year (regardless of what they scored, sometimes scoring is inflated and doesn't tell the whole story). So it can be hard to go by scores. In some meets a 34 AA will be middle of the pack or lower and the girl could very well conceivably not be ready for L5.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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There are lots of reasons to potentially hold back a girl who is scoring well. Some of these reasons are good and understandable, and some are completely idiotic and border on cheating.

But there's no way to tell without seeing the kid in practice on a regular basis; you can very seldom judge these things from meets.
 

jasmine196

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You would think this is a pretty easy question. But its really not. As some of the posters said most of the girls that I've seen held back from level 5 were because they didn't have the skills. Most of the gyms here in Illinois rarely hold back Level 4's for more than 2 years unless they don't have the skills. In Illinois the level's that we see repeaters are level 5. However, there is one team in particular that I'm thinking of this year that at the first level 4 meet had their 6-7 year old level 4's score 37-38. 3 were 6 years old, 3 were 7 years old. The 7's should have competed Level 5 if they have the skills and I'm sure they do.

Last year we had 10 repeat level 4's. By the end of the season they scored 36-37's and won the senior team title. It sounds like we are one of those teams that hold the girls back. But these girls barely had their level 5 skills by the beginning of this season let alone last season. In their cases holding them back was the right thing to do.
 

Blackie6

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Thanks everyone for responding! You all have brought up great reasons, especially about some of the skills involved for L5 and not being ready for it yet. I think I am still in shock about some of those scores from yesterday. We saw some great gymnastics but it just seemed like some of these girls seemed to belong in L5 already, like maybe even last year.

Being this was our second year in L4 though I think we are ready to move along. My DD can't wait to learn other skills now. She wants to practice those kips and is trying like heck to get her cast handstand.
 

Emma's mom

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Sep 9, 2008
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In our gym we do not have many repeaters in level 4. Infact, I was leary of Emma moving to level 5 because she was only 7. Our coaches were very good about explaining to me why she needed to move up. Our coach makes the move based on skill and maturity. I know in my DD's case, she would have been bored to stay another year as a level 4. She loves learning new skills and is having a blast in level 5. She is not having the "success" that she had in level 4. Meaning, that she used to place top three/four pretty routinely at meets last year and this year is placing more in the 6th - 8th place in the AA. She has yet to get a 36 AA and did it pretty regularly last year. I am proud that she does not even care what place she is in. Not that she does not try to do her best. She is just happy to compete. If she comes home with some bling, it is a good day. Now, as she gets older will she begin to notice more? Will she want to stand on that top podium? I am not sure. I do know, she is already learning level 6 skills and is loving it.
 

Panda-girl's Mom

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My daughter and one of her teammates are repeating level 4 again but they were the only ones who did not qualify for states last year, they are also the youngest ones on the team. My daughter sounds alot like your daughter she did not have all her skills last year and kind of was pushed into competing before she was ready. She still needs to get her kip and improve her level 5 skills before she moves up. I have seen it both ways in our gym some kids move up before they have their skills for the next level and do not compete all around and I have have seen them move up when they are ready. It seems to be a very individual based on each gymnast which I think is how it should be not based on a score. Isn't their a rule that says once they compete states they have to move up? I am kind of grateful that they kept my daughter at 4 for another year she is much happier and is doing much better at meets. It does seem unfair to group all the new 4and old 4 together.
 

sportyspice

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It is compulsory at our gym to have all girls repeat level 4, even if they placed at Nationals. The reason given by our coaches is that unless time is an issue (if the girls are already 11 or 12 they will move up), then it is more important that they get the basic skills perfect, as technically it will serve them better in the higher levels. In other words, the more time they spend getting the perfect handstand, etc., the better foundations for future skills to be added.
 
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BlairBob

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at one of our gyms, they had to hit a high standard to go into L5, like 36AA in L4.

at some gyms, it's merely a matter of numbers. what happens if you only have one girl who can do L5? or if there is no room in L5?

to end, the step from L4 to L5 is huge and many girls don't make it. they don't get their kip or squat on jump to high bar or vault over the table or have tumbling problems/fears.
 

Aussie_coach

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I'd have to say its the skills. These kids may have near perfect level 4 skills but that doesnt mean they can do the level 5 skills at all. Perhaps they can't kip, or jump to high bar or get over that vault or do a front handspring. level 4 to level 5 is a big step and many may just not be ready and not have the skills.

It
 

Granny Smith

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Blackie,

Remember in NJ L5 is in the Spring and a lot of these repeaters will go straight to 5 now. It is very common and you will see it again at L7. You will see very high scoring L7s and wondering why are they doing it again. Then you will see them go straight to 8. Some gyms like to compete a lot, using the Fall and Spring season and other gyms do not.

I know we have a girl next week at 6/7 States who will compete at 7 even though she has already done a couple of 8 meets and has done very well. She had only competed in Invitationals and not a 8 Sectional yet, so that is why she can go back to 7 States. At the beginning of the summer the coaches didn't feel she was ready for 8 and they held her back. She progressed well over the summer but still competed a 7 invitational and then a 7 Sectional. The coaches then felt she was ready for 8. Child decided that she still wanted to do 7 States though. Funny thing is that she is having a hard time re-adjusting her vault back down to a HS and then also watering down her floor again. So, who knows how she will do. We are hoping well though as it is dd's best friend! :p

Just thought that I would also add that repeating doesn't always give an advantage either. My dd was AA State Champion for L7 last yr and she was a 1st yr L7 and topped out some repeaters.

But, just thought that I'd add my insight from the NJ perspective.
 

Gym-Nice-tics

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May 14, 2008
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I know you're shocked, but that is the norm around here. Sometimes 36 AA's don't place at meets, or come in tenth or something. At the meet we attended this weekend I had a gymnast get a 9.75 and place eighth... It's pretty rough.

Some gyms do hold back for certain scores because they want to win meets. As other people mentioned, some gymnasts just aren't ready to move. I have a tiny nine year old who scores 9.5 or higher on three events, but she is a terrible vaulter and could never get over the level five vault. She scores fine at level four vault, but it just doesn't carry over. Another of my kids who gets 37's can't kip to save her life. It often depends on the kids. I've had several third year fours because they can't get it together for level five.
 
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flippersmom

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Some gym determine what is best. At oldl gym, they wanted to hold two girls back. One did, one went to L5 and said she wouldn't compete until ready. The L4 never seemed to get much better, and they didn't help her try to train L5 at all. I think she lost interest, which didn't help her. She has since quit. The other competed in the 2nd meet of the season. She didn't have the best year, but got to train all of her L5 skills. She is repeating L5 at new gym with my daughter, and is doing very well. She just got her first 2 9's out of L4 or L5. If the gym will continue to train them on whatever is holding them back, then that is great. If they only need help on on event but don't continue to work on kip and vault, how will they achieve it?

My DD had a 34.75 at states last year as a L5, and is repeating this year at a new gym. She would have loved to do L6, but wasn't given the option. She did not have all 3 splits and really needed to work on flexibility (and her vault!). She has much progress, and is learning to perfect some of her skills. Sometimes I feel bad when she does well and will beat someone if their 1st year, but it's something we dealt with in L4 and first year of L5. Plus, it is early in the season and she knows these girls could be beating her by the end of the year. We feel that she truly will be ready for L6 with all she has learned this year.
 
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bigtiny

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I have been told that our Level 4's can't move to Level 5 unless they score a 37 or higher at states AND have their kip by the start of the next season. :rolleyes:

I agree that there are some valid reasons for repeating a level, but there are also some reasons that may not be so valid. I am waiting to see what the gym's plan will be for my 6-year-old at the end of this year. I do not want her to repeat Level 4.
 
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gymjuice

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Holding back L4's

Scores are so subjective and not a good way to determine readiness in my opinion. L5 requires so much more upper body strength than L4 and most kids just are not ready to make the jump unless they have been training L5 while competing L4. It's a build, not something you can just start doing because things are going well in L4. It took my DD a year and a half to get, and maintain, her kip...mainly because her coach moved her from L2 all the way to L5 and she didn't have the opportunity to build up strength and skill through the levels. So she spent 2 seasons at L5 and will compete her second season at L6 next season. It takes a while to build up the strength required for L5 bars and vault, and the stability needed for L5 beam. We're ok with taking it a little slower. She just turned 9 and spending a little extra time at the compulsary level will help her build up the body strength and tenacity she'll need for optionals and TOPs.

I do feel however, that too much time at one level can be detrimenal to a gymnast who gets easily bored with routines and training. Her self esteem will suffer because she feels like no one believes in her ability to achieve new skills.
 
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GymmomOR1127

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Just thought that I would also add that repeating doesn't always give an advantage either. My dd was AA State Champion for L7 last yr and she was a 1st yr L7 and topped out some repeaters.

I agree with you on that:)! There were quite a few level 4 repeaters at our gym this fall season, for different reasons. Some scored in the 31's the year before and turned around this year and were in the 36 & 37's! But, on the other hand, we had some that scored in the 35 & 36's last year, and did about the same this year:rolleyes:! Some of the level repeaters are really bored and tired of doing the same old thing, and don't really understand why they are still on the same level.

I think alot more than scores need to be considered when moving up. Factors like the child's personality, and whether she would be crushed if she did not score well on the new level, and be better off repeating, or if she is the type personality that would get too bored repeating and would welcome the challenge without being too crushed about lower scores.:)
 

Linsul

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This question has been answered from every angle pretty much, but I'm going to throw in reasons why I have held L4's back. It's 99.9% of the time over off season work outs when L5 skills are introduced. L4 is hugely close to what some rec kids are close to or can do, L5 is HUGE from a skill standpoint.

The biggie is the huge skill difference between L4 and L5. That's been said. From a workout perspective, it's a new world. It's the first big 'culler' of gymnasts, a real taste of what it's like from going to the fun of meets, to an off season where they will have to WORK. Vault for example. Many of them think that the matstack is all the prep in the world they need to get to feet. It's a progression, absolutely, but actually getting over the table, and blocking because you HAVE to in order to land, it's a reality check to some.

Kips. Working those, and drills, over and over and over, til your hands rip, and you think you can't lift your legs for one more try. Then to go from that to swinging relentlessly on the high bar, where there's nothing to relieve the feel of holding your own weight. It makes L4 a relatively comforting thing, familiar. If a gymnast that can look at L5 as a new challenge, rather than looking back at L4 because it's comforting, is one that can hang for the mental long haul. Additionally one who sees the physical demands as part of the process rather than a drawback has an edge too.

From a coaching standpoint as well, what a new L5 hears is different than a seasoned L4. Can they go back to hearing a lot of corrections and be ok? Especially after an awesome competitive season of hearing how great their routines are?

Kids are so young, and the difference in workout is so big. If it takes a couple of seasons to get there there's no shame in it. Keeping them happy and physically sound is the #1 priority. Even introducing L5 skills gradually, the leap from doing them in the offseason just to try it, to going to a workout that's exclusively those skills, is asking a lot physically and mentally. There needs to be very little doubt as to if they can handle it before making that leap.
 
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