For Parents JO, xcel, gap ??

christine2020

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Hi- my daughter is 6 and has been on preteam for a couple of years. Shes able to join jo level 3 with her skills this fall. The practice schedule though would be 3 days/week and about 3 hours each class. This schedule seems like alot and I know shes not dedicated enough to want to do that. (* sometimes it was really difficult to get her to even go to preteam). Plus she wouldnt have time for other things like dance etc. So I though maybe she can do something like xcel (?) or something less intense but still give her a chance to have "meets". I was thinking that maybe if she did something like that for a year then she might really like being on a "team" and get inspired and then maybe want to go the jo route afterwards. But I was told that shes too young for xcel but she can do (i think it was usaigc??) but also i was told that girls will rarely switch over to jo once they start on another route, that basically if they are not driven enough at age 6, they wont be later either. So im a little confused. I know gymnasts start young but i didnt realize all these 6 year olds were so driven at this young age. Maybe someone can shed some light, give some advice. Thanks.
 
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LJL07

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Hi- my daughter is 6 and has been on preteam for a couple of years. Shes able to join jo level 3 with her skills this fall. The practice schedule though would be 3 days/week and about 3 hours each class. This schedule seems like alot and I know shes not dedicated enough to want to do that. (* sometimes it was really difficult to get her to even go to preteam). Plus she wouldnt have time for other things like dance etc. So I though maybe she can do something like xcel (?) or something less intense but still give her a chance to have "meets". I was thinking that maybe if she did something like that for a year then she might really like being on a "team" and get inspired and then maybe want to go the jo route afterwards. But I was told that shes too young for xcel but she can do (i think it was usaigc??) but also i was told that girls will rarely switch over to jo once they start on another route, that basically if they are not driven enough at age 6, they wont be later either. So im a little confused. I know gymnasts start young but i didnt realize all these 6 year olds were so driven at this young age. Maybe someone can shed some light, give some advice. Thanks.
She is actually not too young for xcel depending on the level. I know bronze has some very young kids competing. They are definitely NOT all driven at 6 years old. I have two daughters in gymnastics. One is level 9 and one is level 8. The older one was immature and has ADHD. Despite having lots of "skills," her first gym wouldn't even put her on team until she was 6 and started her on level 1 at 5 hours total per week. My youngest is extremely focused and serious. She was a level 3 at 6 years old. She is also very cautious and a perfectionist. Guess what? They were both level 7s at the same age and have done well going at their own pace. I think it would be crazy to write off a 6 year old. I personally do not think it is a great idea to do tons of hours at a really young age. Most of the kids that are homeschooling and doing 20-30 hours a week before age 9 do not make it in the sport. This has been my observation over the years.
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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When they say too young for Xcel, what they most likely mean is that at that gym, Xcel is only for kids who start later or can't make the regular team, they prefer to keep their young, talented kids in JO. She is not *actually* too young for Xcel, and many teams don't use it that way.

Your reasoning sounds valid to me, but then I pulled my 7 year old from an intense JO gym because I knew she wouldn't want the hours. (It would have been 9 hours at 7 yo.) There is a wide range of Xcel gyms in terms of the kind of gymnastics they do, and I picked one that was still focused on good form and solid progressions, and had the hours we wanted. And my kid was ready for each hours increase as it came, she had just needed an extra year or so to get there. Now, this summer at 10/11 years old, she's transitioning from Platinum to lvl. 6 with her same coaches, going 20 hours and week and it's what she wants. I still wouldn't call her "driven" honestly. She enjoys gymnastics. She works pretty hard. She doesn't have that singular focus you hear about with some kids, but I honestly think that helps keep her balanced and happy.

If I had kept her at the first gym, she would have quit long ago. Also, all the little girls who were in her level when we left? Will be level 5, 6, or 7 this season when my kid is lvl. 6...so it didn't impact her progression at all, even though I fully expected it to.
 

Aussie_coach

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The idea that if they aren’t driven at 6, they won’t be at a later age is totally crazy! 6 is very young, at that age they are rarely able to focus and work towards long term goals.

We have seen so many girls become incredibly driven by age 8 or 9 and become amazing gymnasts who just wanted to play around at 6.
 

GAgymmom

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Hi- my daughter is 6 and has been on preteam for a couple of years. Shes able to join jo level 3 with her skills this fall. The practice schedule though would be 3 days/week and about 3 hours each class. This schedule seems like alot and I know shes not dedicated enough to want to do that. (* sometimes it was really difficult to get her to even go to preteam). Plus she wouldnt have time for other things like dance etc. So I though maybe she can do something like xcel (?) or something less intense but still give her a chance to have "meets". I was thinking that maybe if she did something like that for a year then she might really like being on a "team" and get inspired and then maybe want to go the jo route afterwards. But I was told that shes too young for xcel but she can do (i think it was usaigc??) but also i was told that girls will rarely switch over to jo once they start on another route, that basically if they are not driven enough at age 6, they wont be later either. So im a little confused. I know gymnasts start young but i didnt realize all these 6 year olds were so driven at this young age. Maybe someone can shed some light, give some advice. Thanks.
9 hours a week for level 3 is very normal, even for 6 year olds. She is not too young for Xcel, that’s a really good option for the hours you want and to let her explore outside interests.
 

GAgymmom

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What you were told are the rules or beliefs of that gym.

View attachment 7868

Nobody knows your daughter as well as you, if the JO schedule is too much for her than look around at other options.
This is an old chart. They have requirements now. They cannot enter at the gold level unless they have competed at least a level 3 meet or silver.
 

christine2020

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Thank you everyone!!
All of your responses were very helpful. Im going to keep looking around for something that works for us. Nice to know there are different ways to approach all of this!
 
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thefellowsmom

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If you are going to go shopping for xcel programs, which I think is a great idea, make sure to ask lots of questions. XCEL is a great program and growing very fast. In our area JO numbers are dropping and several gyms have switched to XCEL only. At our local meets the XCEL sessions are packed and they are starting to have to combine the upper levels session. The landscape is definitely shifting.

My dd is a sophmore and going into her third year of level 10. She was very driven at six years old. If you look at the group she started with, only a couple are still doing gym, all are level 10s and all were very driven even at six years old. It takes an incredible amount of drive and passion and commitment (And HUGE family sacrifice) to get to the highest levels of this sport. With that said, every gymnast has their own path and goals and the journey is different for all of them and there are more individual stories and exceptions that we can count. But, I will say that if you are balking at hours and costs now and you aren’t sure she loves it that much then looking for a good xcel program is a great choice.

The reason I say to ask lots of questions is that XCEL is different at almost every gym. Also, really dig, push them and make them give you examples, especially if you are looking for the possibility to move to JO later. That absolutely can happen and I think does all the time, but not every program will be willing to do that and some will even say it would be a possibility for the right kid but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it happens regularly or ever has happened before.

We have been at several gyms (oh the joys of the roller coaster that is gymnastics :) and at each, XCEL looked quite different. At one, XCEL was mostly kids that moved out of JO and wanted to keep doing year round gym so they could either now or some day compete for their high schools. At a gym one of my daughters friend’s goes to, XCEL is treated as the bottom of the barrel and it was always very clear they were less than JO team, including making them workout on the rec side of the gym. At another gym we were at, the XCEL program was excellent. The girls were trained in proper form and conditioned well and really had some beautiful gymnastics. This was a gym where only the cream of the crop made the JO team and there was zero movement back and forth. Many of the XCEL gymnasts on this team could have easily done JO on a different team. And now we are at a club where the XCEL program is really very good and there is actually quite a bit of movement back and forth. In fact two years ago a girl moved to XCEL from JO and now this year is coming back. It all depends on the program and the owners and the coaches. Just lots of reasons to ask lots of questions.

Good luck in making your decisions!
 

Sk8ermaiden

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I know this can be hard to find depending on where you are, but I much prefer a gym that is Xcel only, or goes from Xcel->JO optionals. When there are parallel Xcel and compulsory programs at a gym, Xcel almost always ends up being the "less than" option. They get less attention or inferior coaching, or the parents/gymnasts are catty about it, the gym doesn't post their accomplishments on social media, etc. There are exceptions I know, but from where I sit, that seems to be the norm. There is a gym here that, as far as I know, does not let girls into JO from their own Xcel program, but they have taken girls from other Xcel programs. :rolleyes:

Also, don't be afraid if you find a gym that is just good for "right now." A tremendous number of gymnasts quit after level 4/Xcel Gold, and another round after level 6/Xcel Platinum. I feel like the important thing is making sure a gym is good for your child where they are right now. If they get older and they're still in gym, and suddenly want way more than they're getting, you can switch then.
 

Lnm62107

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She definitely is not too young for XCEL Bronze or Silver at age 6.
My daughter went straight to level 2 team (no pre-team) at age 5 and kids are so resilient that it was not a huge deal for her to practice 6 hours per week and also start school full time, and the amount of hours only increased over the years.
Our gym does both programs, but in alternating seasons, so there is not a competing JO Level 2-5 team if it is an XCEL year. For example, my oldest did level 2, then XCEL Silver, Level 3, and then XCEL Gold. She then did score out meets for level 4 and level 5 and went straight to level 6 without issues. Our gym does have JO levels at 6 and above.
XCEL is my preference when they are this young. It’s all optional, routines are customized to their strengths, meets aren’t as redundant with the same music on floor playing on repeat for hours on end. Scoring is more lenient because everything is optional, so it’s great for their self esteem.
I have 2 DD’s on team. My 8 year old just had a successful Silver season. She has friends at another gym who looks at XCEL as ‘lesser’ who just finished JO level 3 who have yet to learn a kip or a squat-on, double BHS and FHS needed for L4, or even touch a vault table because their practices were more focused on perfecting the standard routines vs. working on up-skills. Same friends parents had to pay for privates so they could have all of the necessary skills for L3 and IMO used it as a scare tactic based on conversations I have been present for. In XCEL, you can modify routines if certain skills aren’t quite there and always add them in if they progress through the season. I have never had to pay for a private so that my kid could get the necessary skills. The only private that I have ever ‘paid’ for was when my DD got new music/choreography for XCEL Bronze. The private was included in the price for the music and choreography.
 

Musicmama

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It seems to be very gym-specific whether or not girls can/do go between Xcel and JO. Dd's former gym allowed the occasional go-between from Xcel to JO (like my dd and one of her teammates), but it was much more common for girls to go from JO to Xcel. At dd's current gym (we moved houses) it's very common for girls from Xcel to move over to JO, so starting in Xcel at this gym wouldn't commit a child to any specific "track" or other at all.

And others have covered this very well, but really, whether or not a child is "driven" at age 6 doesn't mean much in the long run. Six is still VERY young and often still unfocused in general (my youngest is 6 right now and is my 4th so I have a fair amount of comparison just within my own children).
 

christine2020

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All of these responses are so informative and helpful. Thank you!

I had no idea that xcel differed so much depending on the gym. Im going to have to look around and ask alot of questions. It sounds like it could be a great choice for her right now.

And it also sounds like it is very possible to switch from xcel to jo. (So funny that some gyms take xcel gymnasts from other gyms but not theirs! Crazy.)

And yes I would imagine that some girls become more driven when they are a little older. Totally makes sense. And why burn them out before they even get started.

Another thought I have about all of this is when a 6 year old starts jo they dont really have time to explore other things. So if you happen to have a naturally talented young girl (and by "talented" I just mean a girl who will eventually be able to do back tucks. In my layman's view, that is a naturally talented gymnast- lol.) So for this girl there are many more options besides "regular gymnastics". There is tumbling, cheerleading, acro dance, partner acro, rhythmic gymnastics, even contortion. For example my daughter's contortion teacher wanted her to join the partner acro team as a flyer. Also my daughter recently asked me if she can learn aerial silks.
So wouldn't it make sense to try all these things before "committing" to jo?
 

kris

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My older gymnast competed Xcel platinum at 9yo, then did a score out meet of JO level 5 when it was still old level 6, then went to level 7. Like the others said, it depends on the gym how much mobiluty there is between the programs. She was already very serious about gymnastics at 6, and left the sport at 13 after a series of injuries and an 8” growth spurt. She went on to diving, loved it and did well.

My younger gymnast decided to quit at six when invited to team after having competed a pre-team short season at level 2. She won her age group, but didn’t enjoy the meets. She went on to try rhythmic gymnastics, dance and soccer, and is now a serious ballet student. I think there is a lot to be said about trying a lot of things when they are young. If your daughter does settle on JO gymnastics she will be unlikely to have time for much else in the long run.

Good luck finding the right fit!
 
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profmom

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A good XCel program can produce very good athletes capable of doing high level skills, even if they have done XCel all the way up. My daughter did JO up through L8, then experienced a string of injuries and finished out with two years of XCel. She is now a college club gymnast, and ironically was preparing to go to nationals and compete in the L8 division. She had fellow Diamond teammates who had been in XCel all the way through who were flipping vaults, twisting on floor, doing BHS BHS series on beam, etc. As with JO, I advise looking at gym records on MyMeetScores or something else to see 1) if they have a thriving upper level program (Diamond for XCel) and 2) if many or most of those athletes are home grown. For XCel, if they have a strong Diamond program that is not composed primarily of girls who did three years of L7 or L8 and then switched, it's an excellent sign that the gym takes XCel seriously.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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That's a great indicator in states where Diamond is popular. Our giant gymnastics state has virtually no Diamond gymnasts yet. They all stay in Platinum or (more commonly) move to JO after that. Definitely ask a gyms what their progressions are for the girls.
 

Lnm62107

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A good XCel program can produce very good athletes capable of doing high level skills, even if they have done XCel all the way up.
Yes! One of the best L8’s at our gym was trained as a XCEL gymnast. She transferred to our gym due to a relocation of her parents and they fast tracked her to JO Optionals Once she came to us, her other gym was an XCEL only gym. She transitioned without any problems and has done great at meets, will likely be moving to L9 next season and she’s only 13. She was 10 when she came to us as XCEL Diamond.
 
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ldw4mlo

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You could also see if there is a JO program that has less hours. My daughter didn’t do to 9 hours until L4, and 12 hours at L7.
 

Tmacs

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My daughter was in and out of team prep and rec gym until she was 7, almost 8. She couldn't decide if she liked it or not. Then once she joined team at 7 1/2, she was all in! She definitely would not have enjoyed it as much if she joined earlier... she needed that time to try out other sports. But, I know others who have been super committed from the beginning.
 
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