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For Parents Is this good or bad...

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Tara

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Lexi's coach came to me yesterday and just informed me that Alexis will skip level 4 and go onto level 5. Remind you that this is her first year competing, so she skipped a level without competing it first? Also, the girls on level 5 are training level 6 and she is only 6 years old. They are also a lot older than her and the youngest girl on the team is 8 or 9. Should I keep her in 4 or trust the coaches and let them put her in 5?

-Tara
 

mom2kazkids

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Feb 16, 2008
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They are not required to compete at level 4, the only question is when does your season start and when will Lexi be 7, as you must be 7 to compete level 5.

We have girls on the team who wil compete level 5, who have never competed level 4.

Barb
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
I think it is entirely up to mom & dad (once coach makes the suggestion). They know their children best. ;) If the child & family can handle the hours (sometimes hours are longer & more often), bigger commitment etc., more travel, more money, then it is great. Now, on the other hand many parents appreciate the less pressure, less hours of L4. - this is great to. Totally depends on the child & family preference.

Not all USAG gyms compete L4, ours did not so my dd had all of her L5 skills when she was 5, and on pre-team. She only recently turned 7, & will compete her 1st season this year as a L5, and then move onto L6. I believe emotionally & physically she is 100% ready for the challenge. Try not to look at gymnastics in terms of levels... because children learn skills at a different pace. Sometimes they fly through everything, then stall out, and some have a slower approach, and then fly through skills when their confidence improves, but at some point they eventually - if the child stays in the sport - all catch up to each other. Neither path is wrong... The important thing at this age is to keep it fun, and - I emphasize - as pressure free as possible.

Also, keep in mind that a 6 yr old will need to wait until the DAY they turn 7 yrs old to be age eligible to compete. This worked best for us, but I know plenty of kids/parents that were thrilled & excited at the chance to compete when they were 6 yrs old (L4), and would not have traded it for anything. For our dd, I felt there was no pressure from competing and my dd could really enjoy the preperation - without any of the nerves. Although, she had to watch all of her teammates compete while she sat on the sidelines...

Best of luck :D
 
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Tara

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Thanks so much for your help! She says she wants to do it and she loves being in the gym. She actually just turned 6 in June! She was 5 when she got pushed up for level 4. So she won't be 7 for another 9 months. If she wants to do this, she will have to sit out of the competitions. Are there 6 yr olds in level 4?
Ahh! I'm going nuts:eek:
-Tara
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
Thanks so much for your help! She says she wants to do it and she loves being in the gym. She actually just turned 6 in June! She was 5 when she got pushed up for level 4. So she won't be 7 for another 9 months. If she wants to do this, she will have to sit out of the competitions. Are there 6 yr olds in level 4?
Ahh! I'm going nuts:eek:
-Tara

I personally think there are many more now than evah :D! We also have several L4's on the CB that competed L4 when they were 6 yrs old, or WILL BE (6 yrs old) competing L4 this meet season.

Keep in mind that a few (or all) of the girls that are on her team now that will compete L4 this season could also move onto L5 at the exact same time your dd will be competing her 1st season as a L5, if this is what she decides. You really have to weigh pros and cons, and again decide what will fit her best. :)
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
That's great that she wants to do it and she sounds very motivated as well! I totally agree with Ingymmom. It totally depends on the child and family. There are a lot of things to consider between levels, even between 4 and 5. At our gym there are 2 programs--the USAG and the MDL (Mason Dixon League). My dd is on the MDL Level 4 with kids her own age (she is 9 and the other girls range from 8-11). DD's team is a group of kids that started gymnastics later as opposed to the kids that were in the pre-school classes and went to Level 4 at age 5 or 6.

There are pros and cons, in my opinion, of starting competing gymnastics at a later age (say 9 and 10). The pros--because they are older, they are better listeners and can take direction better, have more body control/awareness, and can handle the increased hours of gym and juggling homework. The cons--because they are older, they tend to think more and can become more fearful of skills, thus making learning skills a bit more difficult. This may not be true for everyone, but I have found it to be true for my dd.

Either way, starting competitions at a younger age or older age, the important thing to remember is that they all should get the same benefit of healthy and fun competition.

P.S. I read somewhere that although Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin started gymnastics at the age of 3, Alicia Sacramone didn't start till she was 8 years old. So it is not necessarily the age at which you start that determines success.
 
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Billy

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I personally think there are many more now than evah :D! We also have several L4's on the CB that competed L4 when they were 6 yrs old, or WILL BE (6 yrs old) competing L4 this meet season.

Keep in mind that a few (or all) of the girls that are on her team now that will compete L4 this season could also move onto L5 at the exact same time your dd will be competing her 1st season as a L5, if this is what she decides. You really have to weigh pros and cons, and again decide what will fit her best. :)

This is a good point. If she wouldn't be able to compete L5 until this time next year because of her age, why not let her get some competition experience as a L4 in the meantime?
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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A lot of gyms don't start competing until level 5. If she is ok with not being able to compete this year, then I would go with what the coaches suggest. They might not want to have her spend all that time focusing on level 4 skills and routines (esp. since a lot of L4 skills are never used again). Good luck with whatever you decide.
 
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Billy

Guest
Ah, that's true. I keep forgetting that our level 4 is not the same as USAG level 4. ;)
 
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flippymonkeysmom

Guest
Shawn - yeah it does seem kinda funny that AAU L4 where you are seems to better prepare girls for USAG L5 than USAG L4 does.
 
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Billy

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True. Or course, I was thrilled to avoid that darned mill circle, too!
 
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TeamDad

Guest
I thought that competing in L4 was a great experience for my DD, and for us as parents. I really don't see the advantage in rushing her into a level where the girls are older and socially more advanced. Perhaps if someone could point out the advantages I would be of a different mind...but why not keep her with her peers and let her enjoy a year of competing at a level where she can excel and build confidence. Also, it was my experience that the L4 judging is not as tough as when you get to L5. Learning to compete in front of a judge is a skill just as important as any other, maybe even more so. I've seen many athletes able to perform flawlessly in the gym time after time where there's no pressure, only to make stupid mental mistakes when it counts.

Also, I think that it's to early to start that level of conditioning. Being small with big muscles can also present social challenges as she will 'look' different than everyone else in her class at school. My leaning would be to keep her in L4 and get her into a ballet class. I think the balance, flexibility and developing of long lean muscles will help her in the long run. First year off ballet can be boring, but if you can persevere, I think that it can help in the long run.
 

gym law mom

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Dec 23, 2006
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I don't see the benefit at this time to rush her ahead only to have her sit on the sidelines(I know she'd be learning skills) while the others train for competitons and compete. It will be a little challenge just to join a group with girls 2-3 yrs older, but then she really won't be part of the team because she's too young. If she has solid L4 skills and would like to get some experience doing meets, then let her spend the season with the L4 team. If they train L5 skills later in the year, then she and a few teammates she has spent a meet season with could move up together. As is, she'll still be in the youngest age group as a L4.

Not a need to push too hard too soon. Sometimes taking the time to get your feet wet without being thrown in the deep end is best.
 

Tumblequeensmom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2007
1,453
I agree with GLM here. She would really enjoy the L4 competitions, the social aspect of going out for pizza after a successful meet, etc. She's still so young. We did have 2 really young girls on our L5 team last year. The ages of MOST of the girls was between 10-13. There were 2 young 8 year olds (started off the season at 7). The two girls were never really part of the "team" so to speak. They were just so much younger and didn't really have anything in common with the older girls.

Learning how to compete and perform in front of a crowd is just as much of a skill as actually learning the routines! I'd def. let her have a year of being successful in level 4 and learning how to be part of the team.

-Lynn
 
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Tara

Guest
Thanks everyone- my DD is having a hard time deciding. I told her that she won't be able to compete level 5 until she is 7. That really changed her mind! She is very outgoing and will make friends with everyone she meets, I just don't want her teammates to think she is the runt of the team. I talked to her coaches today when I dropped her off at practice. They said she can practice with the 5\6's and compete with the 4s. They want to push her up while she is young so the fear doesn't set in until a couple years from now. Since they are going to treat her like a 5, mommy has to pay the level 5 price.:rolleyes:
 

Gymmonkeymomma

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Mar 7, 2008
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My Little Monkey was a 6 yr old Level 4. While you are not required to compete level 4, I found it was a great experience for her to get used to competing (and being judged). Since your DD won't be able to compete Level 5 this year, why not have her compete L4 to get the experience? She can still train Level 5 skills while competing 4.
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
Thanks everyone- my DD is having a hard time deciding. I told her that she won't be able to compete level 5 until she is 7. That really changed her mind! She is very outgoing and will make friends with everyone she meets, I just don't want her teammates to think she is the runt of the team. I talked to her coaches today when I dropped her off at practice. They said she can practice with the 5\6's and compete with the 4s. They want to push her up while she is young so the fear doesn't set in until a couple years from now. Since they are going to treat her like a 5, mommy has to pay the level 5 price.:rolleyes:

A possible issue here is that now she is with the 5/6's and then competing with the 4's... she won't be able to bond with the team she is competing with, and then when the team she does bond with - 5/6's move onto training for L6/7, your dd will still be preparing for her L5. In the meantime she will learn L4 routines while the rest of her group is learning and I am assuming competing L5. I am wondering why not just keep the team together? That is an interesting gym decision... When does your competition season start?

I personally would feel leary of a gym that told me they wanted to push my child further before fear sets in... not saying it is bad, I don't know the entire gym situation - all programs can be run very differently. A statement like that would put my guard up though.

I would not concerned about the age differences, there are age differences in every group/level from L4 - 10. My child has always been the youngest of her group, and has fit right in with no problems.
 
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TeamDad

Guest
I would just like to know if there is a good reason why the USGA does not want six year olds competing in L5?

Hey, if your coach says she's ready, and you the parent says shes ready, and the child is willing and able....then why not? I mean heck, in China they start serious conditioning and training for many hours a day much earlier than here in the states, and well, those athletes don't seem to be the worse for it.

Maybe the USGA is just a bunch of knuckle heads who are being over causious. I say good for your coach who has found a way to get around the rules. If I had my way, they'd all start their training in the womb. Why doesn't the USGA just get with the program.
 

mariposa

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Sep 25, 2007
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Personally, I would keep her at L4 and let her compete L4 if she wants to compete and not watch her friends compete all year. I agree with Ingymmom about the bonding with her teammates. It is a really important part of gymnastics and a fun part.

I agree about the fear issue as well. She is only 6, first of all and a good coach can keep her challenged if that is the issue. She can work other skills if she has some of the things the other L4s don't have.

I just don't see the rush. As others said, learning HOW to compete is a skill in itself.

Good luck with the decision.
 
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