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i'm new and my head is spinning!

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sheplaysinthechalk

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Hi. I'm really new to this site. A really wonderful someone recommended it to me via youtube message last night.

I must say that my head is SPINNING! These forums have been very informative, yet they have me a little concerned...

My little girl is 4. working on level 3, 4. I'm not really concerned about that part, but rather this: i've read in several of these posts that children under 5 should not work on back flexibility, splits, back handsprings, etc due to risk of injury to growth plates, joints and spine...my child is doing all of those things on a regular basis and doing them quite well unassisted...i.e...front and back limbers, front and back walkovers, bridges, splits, front and back handsprings....

Currently, she competes in tumbling because she wont be old enough to compete gymnastics for 2 more years. She competed advanced beginner this year and won the state championship for 5 and under. She is currently working on novice passes and whips and tucks on trampoline, but will compete sub novice tumbling next season. This is way too much, isn't it...

After having read some of these posts, i'm wondering if i should have a discussion with her coaches. I understand that my daughter is talented, but she evidently shouldn't be working on skills of this caliber.

And then i was reading some things about burnout. All of it makes sense, but i never in a million years imagined that my girl would get sick of going to gym. She loves it and never stops flipping. She cartwheels and rolls around the house, walking on her hands everywhere she goes and climbing on all of my furniture (using the couches as balance beams and parallel bars). No one is making her do those things, she just does it, i guess because she thinks it's fun. I can't get her to stop.

I guess i'm just wondering if it's okay for her to be doing all of these things. Is it normal or abnormal?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks everyone!
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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I love your username, btw--so cute!!!

My dd didn't start any type or organized (more than 45 min a week) class untill she was 6 years old so I can't really speak on any issues my dd had with back flexibility or anything like that before the age of 6 or so. Since your dd is only 4 I would just let her have fun right now. If she wants to try back walkovers or back bends then that is fine as long as she is not "training" them for hours on end imo.

With the tumbling, I would be a bit concerned just because a 4 year old doesn't have the coordination, air sense and body control that older kids do. I am not an expert or coach or anything, I am just speaking from my experience as an observer parent. I would talk to the coaches and see what they have to say about it.

Good luck and welcome to the Chalk Bucket!!!
 

sheplaysinthechalk

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thank you!

i'm really more concerned for her joints at this point in time. my child has uncanny body awareness for her age which i know can't be normal, as most children are learning to skip and run and jump at this age... I'm just afraid that i'm going to end up with a child plagued by pain and injuries before she hits the first grade...that's why i'm wondering...:confused:
 
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starmaker

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Hello I feel like I already know you. I've seen your videos on youtube.

Welcome! This place is full of information. Its a great place to discuss concerns, or just bounce ideas around.

My daughter doesn't tumble like your dd but she does do the front and back limbers, bwo, bhs etc. I am under the impression that if their bodies are able to do it than it must be ok. As long as it's not for hours and hours on end. When dd was 2 months old she would tighten her legs and stand while you were holding her. She hated sitting and would always pull up to standing. My grandparents and other old people were like: "she's too little, her legs are not strong enough to bare weight on, her legs are going to become bow legged etc. Well the little girl was walking by 8 months and isn't bow legged. Another example is the headstand. Olivia can be in a headstand for 5 minutes easily. Its how she watches TV. She can do it on concrete, asphalt, tile doesn't bother her any. Now Julia (my 4yr old) attempts a headstand and I think she is going to break her neck. Headstands are off limit for Jules. Some children are more capable than others. Every child is different and there are exceptions to every rule. Just keep an eye on her. She'll be fine!

Janelle
 

mariposa

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Welcome! It is definitely scary to read all about the back injury, etc, when young ones do excessive back skills. I worry about my DD and she was over 5 when she first started doing any back stuff besides the occasional bridge at gymnastics once a week. I don't think that it lessens the danger any just because they CAN do it or are flexible enough. Overflexibility can be an issue as well as they use that flexibility sometimes instead of the proper way, to do the skill.

It all comes down to decisions we have to make as parents. I am still uncomfortable with my DD doing gymnastics sometimes, and she will be 6 next month. Even now I cringe watching them work on back limbers, front limbers etc. The risks are high and it is a tough decision to make.

I would just read everything you can and go from there. Good luck! She is a cutie.
 

gymdog

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I don't think that it lessens the danger any just because they CAN do it or are flexible enough. Overflexibility can be an issue as well as they use that flexibility sometimes instead of the proper way, to do the skill.

I agree, ability doesn't seem to play much of a role in overuse injuries. I know someone with a very talented young daughter (Diamond athlete, very strong and flexible) who had to pull her out as a 7 yr old L6 because of chronic overuse injuries in her back. She had been able to do everything but it didn't make much difference. Her daughter was extremely talented and after an extended break took up trampoline which was easier on her body and then eventually (with supportive and aware coaches) got into tumbling. It's not a given, but it's impossible to predict the consequences down the line and even anecdotally I think we have pretty good indications that we want to limit certain movements with preschoolers. However from a medical and scientific standpoint, it is a pretty good argument as well that all gymnastics is not necessarily compatible with the development of a preschooler's body.

Everyone has to evaluate their own situation, but I would limit such movements on hard or unforgiving surfaces because of the impact on growth plates that haven't stabilized. Unfortunately it is impossible to predict what the effect will be but we are urged to err on the side of caution because generally what's been found is that with talented young gymnasts, after proper lead up exercises that are not considered as risky, these skills can be developed quickly anyway. Therefore you can argue that the cost/benefit ratio is favorable on the side of caution, because the potential costs outweigh potential benefits. I would at least probably limit bridges and tumbling skills at home and encourage her to work on other stretching or silly movements such as different animal walks, making up dance routines, turns, etc.
 

ellabella

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May 26, 2008
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Anyone on this board who has coached for many years or had a child who has done gym for many years and reached a high level can tell you how much it doesn't matter what they can do at 4, 5 or 6 years of age. Gymnastics isn't a race. I have seen so many little wonderkids and they are never the ones that end up making it in the long run. Of the kids I've watched grow up and become elite gymnasts and/or get college scholarships none were the little amazing 4 year old. They were mostly average kids who have put in years and years. I think if you have hopes for a little one to go far it's best to limit their training until they are older.
 

Ingymmom

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Jul 12, 2007
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Welcome shesplaysinthechalk (very cute name) - I am so thrilled you decided to join!

I think its important to remember that no 2 children are created equal :p. Your daughter is obviously very athletic & doing fantastic. She clearly loves what she is doing. I know (and know of) quite a few gymnasts that tumbled at your dd's age and are still doing gymnastics today - many are now Level 8's or above, a few are elites. Sometimes you just can't stop a child from advancing:D. Just take it one day at a time.
 

gymdog

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Gymnasts certainly succeed after showing talent young. To be honest, I have seen basically no rhyme or reason as to who is "left standing" at the higher levels and older ages. In my experience, it's basically been a mix of kids who at 5 could do everything you asked, kids who showed potential but lacked some refinement, and kids who kept moving along by sheer enthusiasm and somewhere along the way started to look really good. There are usually some kids you can pick out as having something, whether like they look like the best one in that group or not.

But a lot of the girls I trained with at the end who did higher levels at younger ages were definitely plagued with more overuse injuries than I was (started late, L4 at 11.5 and then moved up quickly). We're lucky because we've been getting softer floors, better equipment really and more pits and resis. I think we do need to limit repetitions on the harder surfaces for talented young gymnasts who are pre or early competition age (under 8 or so). I've witnessed classes of young pre-team or early team gymnasts doing BHS after BHS on floor with no mat, and I think we need to question the necessity of this. I like to see at least a sting mat and I am in love with 4 inch mats for the purpose of RO BHS or BHS reps for the little ones.
 

gym law mom

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What scares me about the OP dd is that it was stated she was 4 and had won her state title in tumbling. This means she was starting to do these skills when she was 3! This is ridiculous and the coaches should really take a reality check on what they're trying to get this very young child to do.

Why does she need to compete at age 4 or even 5 in tumbling? If the goal is artistic gymnastics at age 6(as a L4) then focus on an appropriate pre-team class where she gets work on all 4 events and doesn't have the constant pounding of all that tumbling. The tumbling not only stresses her back, but also her wrists, ankles, knees and hips. Can anyone predict which kid will have growth related or overuse injuries---not really. We can't see them grow(talking about length in bones etc), young ones really don't even know what is "hurt" or pain yet. Most of these injuries are slow to develop and may not be noticed until this little one is 7 or 8.

Ingy--I do have to disagree that you can't stop some kids from advancing. With a 4 or 5 yo, who has the car keys and checkbook? The parents do. If you think its too much, then back off. Will your dd be upset? Maybe/maybe not. They may find other activities to try or just enjoy the extra time to be a little girl. Remember, they only have 1 spine, 2 knees etc. that has to last them for a very long time.
 

gymdog

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USTA has competitive tumbling at these ages. From what I've heard the little kids usually zero out by bouncing too many times (tramp) or putting their hands down (tumbling), etc. The tumbling routine is like several consecutive forward rolls.
 

Ingymmom

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Ingy--I do have to disagree that you can't stop some kids from advancing. With a 4 or 5 yo, who has the car keys and checkbook? The parents do. If you think its too much, then back off. Will your dd be upset? Maybe/maybe not. They may find other activities to try or just enjoy the extra time to be a little girl. Remember, they only have 1 spine, 2 knees etc. that has to last them for a very long time.

I know what you are saying completely. There is much controversy surrounding this issue, I was trying to avoid that part of it:)... I really just wanted to welcome the poster to the group. :D While I was typing my thoughts wandered onto my nephew who was such a dare devil kid (he is probably the scariest in a long list of dare devil members of our fam:eek:) and was flipping by himself at a very young age - on the grass, off the porch, to this day he is still unstoppable (terrifying to say the least) and has never taken any organized class of any sort, T&T, gym, skateboarding or anything, they don't even have a tramp - His mom could not then, and can't now stop him from experimenting the craziest things. I have no clue if this is the case of this parent or gymnast.

I referred this parent because I knew that she would find a wealth of info here, better to always stay informed - all of this info is fantastic & I am certain will help her be as aware as possible;)
 

mariposa

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Ingy--I do have to disagree that you can't stop some kids from advancing. With a 4 or 5 yo, who has the car keys and checkbook? The parents do. If you think its too much, then back off. Will your dd be upset? Maybe/maybe not. They may find other activities to try or just enjoy the extra time to be a little girl. Remember, they only have 1 spine, 2 knees etc. that has to last them for a very long time.

That is what I was thinking, but couldn't figure out how to say it. I still struggle with my decision to let DD do team and she is almost 6. She started at age 4 and there would have been no way, but then again, my DD isn't super talented so I didn't have to face the decision. She took almost a year to learn how to do a cartwheel. LOL. And at almost 6 she still can't do a BHS by herself except on a 4" mat, so I haven't had to tell a super talented kid no. Probably easier said than done, especially once they have tasted all that time in the gym and love it.

I do think that if her goal is to do L4 at age 6 that I would skip the tumbling competition and have her do preteam/team and limit her hours in the gym.

My DDs best friend only goes 3 hours a week at almost 5 (in July) and she is in a gym that does very well and has L10s that get college scholarships. She will be going 5 hours a week in a few months. She is still progressing rapidly because she is naturally talented, but she is going the hours a 4 year old should be doing in the gym. She still teaches herself tricks at home, things they don't work on at all in her current preteam class, but it is playing around and that is hard to stop. She has taught herself front walkovers, BHSs, BWOs, etc all at home playing around. It goes to show that talented kids can still progress without going overboard.

This is always going to be a hot topic because it is a controversial subject, especially with the younger children. The OP expressed her concerns and I think wanted both sides and she is definitely getting that. :)

In the end, we as parents have to make our own choice. We have to research everything there is to know, consider the risks and benefits and then make our decision. We all have different comfort levels and will see risks/benefits differently. Some of us would happily jump out of a plane with a parachute and others would never even think of it. We all have different perspectives. That is why I love this board. :)

To the OP, I hope you can learn as much here as I have. It really is a great place!
 

sheplaysinthechalk

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okay. I feel a little bit like i opened a can of worms. That wasn't really my intention. Yes, USTA does have competitive tumbling for young ones. Yes, most of the really young children do zero out - especially in the sub beginner category where most of the children are 3 or 4 years old and doing a series of front rolls. Beginner tumbling is a forward and backward series combination of front rolls, straddle rolls, handstand rolls, cartwheels and roundoffs. likewise for the backward pass. Advanced beginner is walkovers and limbers. The deductions and rules are way different from artistic gymnastics.

As far as my daughter competing in tumbling: She practices 3 hours a week in the gym doing gymnastics. They work on tumbling skills in the gymnastics program. She started taking classes in april of 2007 and progressed quickly. Some of the team kids came back from Nationals last year and brought in their awards. When my daughter saw them, that's all she talked about. "i want to go to the trophy store. I want to get a big giant trophy like the big girls." She was only three at the time, thus the "trophy store" comment. I told her that she had to get bigger like the big girls. The coaches later approached me and suggested that she may be able to do well in the tumbling competitions due to her age and ability (most children her age zero out, and my daughter was doing passes that would receive a score, basically, and she would get a trophy) I didn't really think it was that big a deal. UNTIL...she was moved up to advanced beginner - where the age group is no longer 4 and under. It's 5 and under. There was my 3 1/2 year old competing against children who were almost 6. At that point i thought to myself "i guess what dd does isn't really normal. where are all of the other kids her age that can do the things that she does?" Anyway, what i'm saying is that I wasn't pushing her to compete - neither were her coaches, really. It was more of a "well if the kid wants a trophy, she can probably get one if she tries a tumbling competition" So we tried it, she won, and she wanted to do it again. She kept winning all season. Next season is a WAY different story.

I've thought about it a lot over the past couple of days. The next age group for her tumbling competitions is 6 and under. She'll then still be 4 competing against children more than 2 years older than she is. It's not really a fair competition A...and B she's only 4. What's the rush? I'm not sure that she'll compete next season. I don't want her in a position where she has to be judged against a child who may be getting ready to turn 7. It's all really about form, but older children have more experience. I would hate for my daughter to walk away from it (without the prized trophy) disappointed and want to quit gymnastics - or even worse, have her thinking that there is something wrong with her because she isn't winning anymore.

And i don't know if it's that the coaches are necessarily rushing her per se, I think it might just be that she's progressing right now. And who's to say that she's not going to plateau in three months?? I'm not really worried about it if she does. She's 4. It's not like we are in a gym that can take her to the olympics or anything like that. In fact, my little girl doesn't even know what the olympics are. I just want her to have fun in the gym and i want it to be safe (as safe as gymnastics can be). That's it.
 

gymdog

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I would share your concerns with the coaches. Correct me if I'm wrong. but USTA has some kind of mandantory move up system if they achieve a certain thing at nationals, right? That's hard in some ways when they are young and competing is just for experience, and you can't keep a kid back at a lower level. But maybe you can come up with a solution like waiting a couple months into the season to compete, or something else. I knew someone with a DD who was a great tumbler and started in USTA under 5. By about 6 she could already do full twists I believe, but she had progressed so fast and ended up having serious fear issues. They had to take a lot of steps back. She's no longer doing gym but she is doing cheer and great at it.
 

Ingymmom

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sheplaysinthechalk - you certainly don't need to explain yourself or your intentions for your dd. Although, I am so happy you felt comfortable to tell your story. I truly hope you will find the CB as a great source of information as I have. There are many sides to a situation, and it is wonderful to hear many different opinions and perspectives.

It sounds to me as if you have a strong handle on your situation & I commend you for your great attitude.

BTW - I think the trophy story is too cute!:D
 

sheplaysinthechalk

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yes, USTA does have a mandatory move up system if the child places (i think in the top 3 at nationals or something. My daughter has been mandated to sub novice for next season, which i think is ridiculous. She can do the passes well, but like i said, she'll still be 4 when season starts. I guess as far as competing goes, she could go ahead and compete, and then probably not attend the state competition - then she wouldn't even qualify for nationals - then it would be impossible to be mandated?

And, i do really appreciate everyone's different perspectives. It's really really helpful and has given me much to think about - especially since my girl is so young and doing so many skills. I was originally concerned because i read something about growth plates and the spine and joints. I was kind of wondering if what my daughter is doing is a big deal. Her stretches aren't being forced. She's just performing the skills on her own. So is it dangerous if the child is doing these things solo, or is it dangerous if the extensions are being forced?
 

gymdog

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And, i do really appreciate everyone's different perspectives. It's really really helpful and has given me much to think about - especially since my girl is so young and doing so many skills. I was originally concerned because i read something about growth plates and the spine and joints. I was kind of wondering if what my daughter is doing is a big deal. Her stretches aren't being forced. She's just performing the skills on her own. So is it dangerous if the child is doing these things solo, or is it dangerous if the extensions are being forced?

It's pretty impossible to say for sure. What I can say is that we do have information that it can be of concern considering the development of the spine (think about how we are now cautioned to keep kids rear facing in a car seat longer and by age...what I have heard is that even if they are the height and weight of an older baby, it doesn't mean their spine and neck has reached the same development...of course it gets uncomfortable for the taller babies and toddlers when the legs are folded and some compromise may have to be reached but the best thing the experts can tell us is that at a certain age the risks are generally lessened and that we are advised that optimal risk management is to follow the recommendations). Other concerns might include growth plates during times of rapid growth, and the amount of cartilage vs bone (I think this is a concern with the sternum in young children). The USAG recommendations are that coaches avoid activities that stress or compress the spine of preschoolers. This is a recommendation designed for optimal risk management and to avoid injuries over the long based on cost/benefit analysis. Again, the overall picture doesn't really seem to indicate the benefits outweighing the costs, of training children in these ways from a young age.

As far as being able to do it vs being pulled, certainly a preschooler should not be pulled into a bridge or position like that - that could cause traumatic injury and it could be hard to assess the extent immediately. I have not seen all research on this, so I can only tell you anecdotally - ability to achieve these positions without support does not seem in my experience to mean that overuse injuries will not be a concern. The best you can do in my opinion is limit spine compression and monitor her carefully and pull her out temporarily (until healed) at the first sign of an overuse injuries.
 

Jamarie

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I'm chiming in on the USTA part of the discussion since we just returned from the 2008 USTA Nationals on Saturday. If your daughter competed there in the 5 & under advanced beginner group she only mandated if she was national champion. If there are 9 or less competitors (I think 8 were there) only the first place mandates. My daughter started tumbling at age 7 and went advanced this year at age 11. We love watching gymnastics too, but there aren't any clubs close to where we live.
 

sheplaysinthechalk

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interesting. i think that the club owners are under the impression that the top 3 are mandated. I know that last year the o's received a list of children who were mandated that came from...Patty? If she isn't mandated, I think it's wonderful. If she is, it's fine. I'm not really all for her getting into the subnovice category - which is a very difficult category to do well in - especially as a 4 yr old. If you were there, i'm sure you can attest to that. I'm really thinking we may only do two or three tumble meets next year. It's not really that big a deal either way (meaning what level she's competing.) Like i said earlier in the post, the only reason we got into tumbling in the first place is that dd wanted to "go to the trophy store." I sort of feel like, now she has like eight trophies and a few medals - she got what she wanted (though she worked for it) and now i think we're gonna be done with it for a while...until she can compete with children her age.
 
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