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'If I knew then what I know now' - interested to see views from UK parents.

UGA2016

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Mar 21, 2016
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The Parents thread had a post with the same title and I assume most posts were from parents in the US. There are 2 clear difference between the UK and the US at the top end; the money involved through sponsorship deals when competing on the Olympic Team and the pursuit of college scholarships. It would be interesting to hear parents views from Britain where the stakes are not so high to reach the elite pathway and a majority of gymnasts compete at lower levels.

All views welcome :)
 

Faith

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Aug 17, 2011
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I have mixed feelings.

Personally i don't like the compulsory vs. grades pathway, I think it leads to "them and us" mentalities within clubs. I also don't like the "in age" thing- it again separates the kids.

when I did gym there was one NDP route all the way to World Sets, back when elite had compulsories! Even the kid at the back had a "view to the olympics", iyswim. Club grades, then regional, then national, then worlds. Especially in a sport like gymnastics, where the first comment out of most people's mouths is "ooh we'll watch for you in the olympics" because a kid can do a BHS.

I realise the vast, vast majority will get no where near that level. But I'd like to see more kids, especially late starters, given more of a shot. I've met a lot of frustrated parents/kids who start at their local club, or sit on wait lists for rec, but by the time they know enough to look around at their options they are 9 or 10 and compulsory coaches won't look at them.

As for would I do it again? I don't think I could not, iyswim. DD2 is/was easier in may way as it is unlikely she would ever be more than a club gymnast, so she has fun, and it doesn't matter if she's not doing x skill, or y level, or the club can't do elite etc.

DD1 it has been hell in many ways. There are things I would have done differently, there are mistakes we made as parents switching clubs etc. but even with all the difficulties, DD still loves training, is relatively sound in mind and body. It's what she does and I don't think she could have stayed at club level when she has the potential to go much, much further. Although had she stayed in gymnastics all that talent would likely not have been realised- for the above reasons.
 

duyetanh

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Feb 21, 2015
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I have mixed feelings.

Personally i don't like the compulsory vs. grades pathway, I think it leads to "them and us" mentalities within clubs. I also don't like the "in age" thing- it again separates the kids.

when I did gym there was one NDP route all the way to World Sets, back when elite had compulsories! Even the kid at the back had a "view to the olympics", iyswim. Club grades, then regional, then national, then worlds. Especially in a sport like gymnastics, where the first comment out of most people's mouths is "ooh we'll watch for you in the olympics" because a kid can do a BHS.

I realise the vast, vast majority will get no where near that level. But I'd like to see more kids, especially late starters, given more of a shot. I've met a lot of frustrated parents/kids who start at their local club, or sit on wait lists for rec, but by the time they know enough to look around at their options they are 9 or 10 and compulsory coaches won't look at them.

As for would I do it again? I don't think I could not, iyswim. DD2 is/was easier in may way as it is unlikely she would ever be more than a club gymnast, so she has fun, and it doesn't matter if she's not doing x skill, or y level, or the club can't do elite etc.

DD1 it has been hell in many ways. There are things I would have done differently, there are mistakes we made as parents switching clubs etc. but even with all the difficulties, DD still loves training, is relatively sound in mind and body. It's what she does and I don't think she could have stayed at club level when she has the potential to go much, much further. Although had she stayed in gymnastics all that talent would likely not have been realised- for the above reasons.
I am confused. Is your oldest still doing gym? From what I can gather from mere threads on here, she is quite talented.
 

UGA2016

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Thanks for the reply Faith.

I too have mixed views. My daughter went down the compulsory pathway and reached a decent level. She had a number of injuries which set her back, a few of which were not handled in the best way and prolonged her return to full fitness. She spent a number of years almost making into the British Squad but not quite getting there which I was ok with but her coach not so much!

So the important question for me is, did she enjoy the 6 years she spent in gymnastics? If you ask her now she would tell you no. She would say it became a job that she felt she had to do but didn't wake up each morning looking forward to doing. Every near miss at a squad place, every injury, every time her coaches shouted at her, belittled her, sent her out revoked privileges tore away at her a little bit. She attended 3 clubs during her 6 years and at each club the environment was the same but with differing intensities.

I thought she was doing fine as she rarely said anything negative about her gymnastics. I knew she was disappointed when she just couldn't make that step up to national squad but had no idea that there were any coaching issues at the last 2 clubs. I removed her from the first club as I had heard there were problems from other parents and wanted out before it affected my daughter and we moved from the 2nd club due to relocation.

When I ask my daughter now if she would recommend gymnastics to her friends she says no, it's not worth it. Her view is you get so caught up in it that it becomes your life and you have no opportunity to try other things so cannot make an informed choice at to whether this is actually the activity you would like to do.

From my perspective, I would do it again but make different choices. I would make sure my child had opportunities to try other things and not specialise in one sport too early. I would not go to a gym where parents are discouraged from watching. I would give my child the tools to know which behaviours are acceptable from a coach and which need to discussed. Above all I would make sure my child was able to speak to me about the hard stuff. I tried to keep communication open between us but the further she went she less she actually talked to me about the things that mattered.
 

Faith

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I am confused. Is your oldest still doing gym? From what I can gather from mere threads on here, she is quite talented.

No she hasn't been in gym since age 9. Club wouldn't let her train her other sport alongside, and she had to choose.

I thought she was doing fine as she rarely said anything negative about her gymnastics. I knew she was disappointed when she just couldn't make that step up to national squad but had no idea that there were any coaching issues at the last 2 clubs. I removed her from the first club as I had heard there were problems from other parents and wanted out before it affected my daughter and we moved from the 2nd club due to relocation.
Mine was the same. She was 11, doing fantastically well due to the high hours and intense coaching. However I was a gymnast and saw warning signs from one of the other coaches- even more hours, negative comments, throwing kids out regularly, comments on weight, tears most sessions, as well as the general ethos of the club and their "all parents are idiots" mantra. So I hauled her out of there. Unfortunately there aren't many high level clubs in the UK and the one we chose fell to pieces after 2016 when all the high level coaches left.

It took DD a long time to forgive us. But the kids from the old club have caught up with her now so she is seeing them at comps, seeing how the coach speaks to them (calling them **** on the competition floor!) and seeing how many injuries they have, how often they have to withdraw, how injuries aren't tolerated, and how the focus is on two or three kids, everyone else is ignored. Unfortunately the ones that have stuck it are doing quite well, and they and the coach are being selected for GB. Which leaves us between a rock and a hard place- no way were we having her treated like that, but by not allowing it it may mean there is nowhere else she can reach her potential.

Oh and at that club the parents were encouraged to watch, so the coach could throw them out and have the parents insist they went back and did as coach said.

But, DD may have dropped off the front of the race but she is still firmly in the front pack. She is uninjured, happy, and keeping up on half the hours. If she does get support of the NGB to step up to HPC hours (the high level coaches are paid by NGB and can only coach who they are told to) she has a lot of room to improve.

I have always told DD that there are other coaches, other clubs, other countries (NCAA for example). She should never have to put up with being mistreated, and it may seem to get results, but more easily it can destroy your body and mind.

There used to be a large UK contingent on here for discussing all things UK but it has fizzled out in recent years as peoples kids got older and moved on from gymnastics.
 
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Learning Parent GB

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There used to be a large UK contingent on here for discussing all things UK but it has fizzled out in recent years as peoples kids got older and moved on from gymnastics.

Or quite simply that the UK gym world is still quite small as you move up the levels. 'All parents are idiots' seems to be quite a typical view in the gymnastics world so who would risk having an opinion on a public forum?
 
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Annikins

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No, we wouldn't do it again. But she's hooked now so there you go!
 

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