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Level 3 Conditioning - Too Hard?

BHL920

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My daughter moved up to Level 3 in January, and she loves everything about practice and learning routines for Fall, but she is seriously struggling with conditioning. She practices 4 hours/day, 3 days per week and conditioning makes up roughly 45-60 minutes of each practice. She is regularly in tears, sometimes to the point of hysterically crying and wanting to leave. Admittedly she has a flare for the dramatic, but she isn’t the only one crying regularly. Sometimes there are multiple girls sobbing at one time. How much conditioning is too much? Have any of your children struggled with this?
 

FlippinPrincess

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Our level 3's practice 3 days/3 hours each. Four hour practices are very long and depending on her age, it could just be way too much for her. How many hours was she practicing before she moved up?
 

BHL920

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Our level 3's practice 3 days/3 hours each. Four hour practices are very long and depending on her age, it could just be way too much for her. How many hours was she practicing before she moved up?
Before she moved up she was practicing 3 days/week for 3 hours/day. She is 7...after a few months of not adjusting to the conditioning she has started talking about quitting. I hate to see her stop because she loves all the rest of it so much.
 

Flippin'A

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My daughter is also a level 3 and if there were multiple girls consistently crying during conditioning at her practice I would see that as a major red flag. Conditioning is a vital part of gymnastics, but coaches all over the country manage to implement effective, challenging conditioning for little ones that doesn't result in tears. In my mind a coach overlooking the fact that their gymnasts are obviously miserable is a sign of bad things to come, and I'd probably be shopping around for a new gym. How does the coach react when the athletes cry? Has there been any attempt to change the structure of conditioning to avoid it? One child crying once in a while might be just a specific personality, but more than one is too many.
 

FlippinPrincess

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Before she moved up she was practicing 3 days/week for 3 hours/day. She is 7...after a few months of not adjusting to the conditioning she has started talking about quitting. I hate to see her stop because she loves all the rest of it so much.
Mine is also 7 and I would not be okay with her doing 4 hour practices on a school day. I also don't think she'd like it, nor do I think it's necessary. She's doing quite well with 9 hours for level 3 and has most of her level 4 skills. Do you think her gym would be willing to work with you to cut back a little and let her adjust more slowly?

It sounds to me like it's just too much. The hours only increase. I try to keep the increase as slow as possible.
 

stillhoping

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My kid has been on team for 9 years, starting in level 1 and is now in level 9. She’s never cried during conditioning. I’ve never seen a practice with multiple children crying during conditioning. What you’re describing is abnormal and raises huge red flags.
 

BHL920

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My daughter is also a level 3 and if there were multiple girls consistently crying during conditioning at her practice I would see that as a major red flag. Conditioning is a vital part of gymnastics, but coaches all over the country manage to implement effective, challenging conditioning for little ones that doesn't result in tears. In my mind a coach overlooking the fact that their gymnasts are obviously miserable is a sign of bad things to come, and I'd probably be shopping around for a new gym. How does the coach react when the athletes cry? Has there been any attempt to change the structure of conditioning to avoid it? One child crying once in a while might be just a specific personality, but more than one is too many.
I was afraid this would be the answer. The assistant coach is primarily in charge of conditioning, and after some of the parents have raised concerns she’s attempted to be more comforting when they start to get upset. I do think she’s making an effort to help the girls through the tough parts, but the conditioning program itself isn’t changing. And I am worried it’s only going to escalate over the summer. I really appreciate your feedback!
 

BHL920

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Mine is also 7 and I would not be okay with her doing 4 hour practices on a school day. I also don't think she'd like it, nor do I think it's necessary. She's doing quite well with 9 hours for level 3 and has most of her level 4 skills. Do you think her gym would be willing to work with you to cut back a little and let her adjust more slowly?

It sounds to me like it's just too much. The hours only increase. I try to keep the increase as slow as possible.
Agree, it sounds like too much too fast. I was really hesitant to move up to 12 hours/week, but she wanted to do it and of course wanted to stay with her teammates who also moved up. We’ve had a few conversations with the coaches and the general feeling is - the conditioning weeds out who can handle elite gymnastics and who can’t. So I don’t think they’ll allow her to try and adjust at a slower pace. Maybe this just means she isn’t actually ready...
 

BHL920

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My kid has been on team for 9 years, starting in level 1 and is now in level 9. She’s never cried during conditioning. I’ve never seen a practice with multiple children crying during conditioning. What you’re describing is abnormal and raises huge red flags.
This is so helpful - thank you so much for your reply. It felt like a red flag to me, but she’s my first kiddo to really be into gymnastics. I am having trouble deciding if I am being overly concerned or if this is really abnormal. Really appreciate your feedback!
 

Sk8ermaiden

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We were at a gym with extreme conditioning where it was rare for girls to cry. My DD actually liked the conditioning at the extreme gym. It was one area where she saw a direct reward for her efforts - work harder, get better - unlike so many of the actual skills, which can be impacted by fear and body awareness. It was probably a direct result of the culture at that gym where she was constantly told she wasn't good enough - but she was good at conditioning! Very few of the girls cried, but that was what the gym demanded. Kids who wouldn't willingly handle the harsh conditioning were not going to be a good fit at THAT gym. Most did it and were very proud. The few who had issues overcame them because they wanted to be on team so badly. Girls who transferred out to even bigger name gyms (with elite programs) reported back that girls at the same level were not doing near the amount of conditioning as ours, so I feel pretty confident in saying it was a lot. They'd get there early to do their 5 rope climbs (legs to the side by 7 years old) and spent 30+ minutes just on wall bar at every practice. (And if someone was going to cry, it was going to be on wall bar.) Multiple conditioning stations at every event, and more conditioning at the end. I once watched the whole group do 200 v-ups at the end of practice. I am talking about the 4-7 year old age range.

The gym we've been with now does minimal conditioning by comparison, and I still see someone cry occasionally. I guess what it comes down to is whether your kid is ever going to be happy there. Even though I had a laundry list of complaints against our old gym, the conditioning wasn't one of them. But if it had made my kid miserable, I'd have been looking for somewhere she could be happy. (It was everything else making her miserable. :confused:)
 
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Peachy88

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Elite and competitive jo are two different tracks often. Some gyms have tops training that add extra conditioning to their regular practice but then some girls just do the regular practice time. The gyms philosophy to weed out sounds like a red flag to me too. They should be screening girls who in general can handle the work load they expect. If multiple girls are struggling their formula is off. My kid is 6 and training level 4 and doesn’t cry even when the conditioning looks like so much work to me. Often they make it a game, a challenge, or set them up with a bunch of check lists. It doesn’t have to be all crazy!!!!
 
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BHL920

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Kids who wouldn't willingly handle the harsh conditioning were not going to be a good fit at THAT gym. Most did it and were very proud.
What you’re describing sounds more extreme, but similar to the gym we attend currently. The wall bar is frequently a cause for tears, and they’ve been expected to do pike hold rope climbs for awhile now (starting with the 4-6 year olds). This is the only gym my daughter has ever attended, so it’s validating to know that programs differ and there are other options out there. It looks like we will be exploring other options!
 

ldw4mlo

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Our ups their conditioning at L4.

They condition younger and at lower levels but it’s built into practice. It’s just part of what they do. So those things are part of event rotation. At that point they think it’s just part of gym and fun.

At L4 when it gets more organized and serious. We don’t have tears. We do have avoiders. Excessive bathroom breaks, extra stops for water, dawdling getting to the floor. But no tears.

Starting at L6 they have add a 2 hour conditioning class. Again optional, but I don’t know any kid who doesn’t go at least most of the time. By the time they get to L6, they realize how much the strength helps their gymnastics.

Our L3s do 9 hours. They can add a 4 day for 12 hours but it’s optional. And you don’t even have to do it every week.

Mine did 9 hours until L6/7 (age 10) If she had to do more hours then that younger and at the lower levels she would have quit.

And if she cried at practice for more then what I would consider an adjustment period (a week) or kids were routinely crying I would pull her.
 
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MuggleMom

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My DD trains 4 hour practices and one rotation is conditioning its usually about 45 minutes. Different days focus on different things for conditioning (legs, arms, cardio etc). She has been doing this since level 3. At level three she went 3 days a week 4 hours and level 4 has been 4 days a week 4 hours with conditioning every practice. . She started team at 7 so same age as your daughter. She has never cried from conditioning though--its actually her favorite "event" I don't think the practice hours or the amount of time conditioning is concerning in and of itself but why are they pushing the girls to the point of crying? I don't ever see girls at our gym crying during conditioning and it is still a pretty intense conditioning lots of TOPS stuff (rope climbs leg lifts etc) cardio drills press handstands box jumps pull ups etc. Are you watching conditioning? I would start there and see if its a positive environment and the girls are just not used to the intensity of it or if its negative or really extreme and if you have concerns I would talk to the coaches, if nothing else to ask them if THEY are concerned that all the girls seem to be crying and why they think that is. It will give you some insight into their mindset if nothing else.
 
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BHL920

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My DD trains 4 hour practices and one rotation is conditioning its usually about 45 minutes. Different days focus on different things for conditioning (legs, arms, cardio etc). She has been doing this since level 3. At level three she went 3 days a week 4 hours and level 4 has been 4 days a week 4 hours with conditioning every practice. .
Really interesting - this sounds very similar to my daughter’s practice. The level 4’s at our gym also move up to 4 days but stay at 4 hours/day. And the conditioning itself seems to be on par with what you described. I have been watching conditioning (although I’ve been asked by the coaches to stop attending practice - the logic is my daughter won’t cry if I am there; I did comply and stop attending for awhile and had a friend keep an eye on the situation...she still cried just as much). The conditioning itself is definitely intense but not every single child is crying, so some are handling it. I don’t think the coaches are being overly negative, but I also can’t hear what’s being said on the floor. The assistant coach is definitely trying to be positive and encouraging; one of the older coaches has been known to say things like “suck it up” and “I don’t care if it hurts.” (Note: I’ve never heard any of this first hand, it’s info from my daughter and other girls on the team). The message from the coaches is that this happens with level 3’s every year, that the conditioning is harder and that it takes awhile for them to adjust. That they do either adjust or that means they just can’t cut it on team. So I guess that’s what I am trying to gauge....it’s been 4 months and instead of “adjusting” she’s now talking about quitting the sport entirely.
 

Seeker

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Agree, it sounds like too much too fast. I was really hesitant to move up to 12 hours/week, but she wanted to do it and of course wanted to stay with her teammates who also moved up. We’ve had a few conversations with the coaches and the general feeling is - the conditioning weeds out who can handle elite gymnastics and who can’t. So I don’t think they’ll allow her to try and adjust at a slower pace. Maybe this just means she isn’t actually ready...
Wait - what??? Where did Elite come into the equation?
 

MuggleMom

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The message from the coaches is that this happens with level 3’s every year, that the conditioning is harder and that it takes awhile for them to adjust. That they do either adjust or that means they just can’t cut it on team. So I guess that’s what I am trying to gauge....it’s been 4 months and instead of “adjusting” she’s now talking about quitting the sport entirely.
I would say that it doesn't sound horrible and it doesn't sound great either. The sort of lackadaisical attitude of the coaches isnt the best but it also doesnt sound like they are being abusive. It would be better if they could find a way to ease them into the conditioning so its not so much of a shock. I think this kind of conditioning is needed for long term health and long term skill development. The kids that do better at conditioning I see picking up skills quicker as well. If this gyms approach doesnt work for your daughter though it may not be the best place for her. I think finding something more doable for her is better than quitting all together.

Has she said why she is crying? is it because it hurts? Is it to hard? Is she frustrated? Its not "fun"? Does she think she isnt "good at it"? It doesn't sound like the time conditioning or the activities are extreme so why is she so upset? Maybe getting to the root of her distress other than just not liking conditioning will help you either help her change her perspective and have less tears or find a better program that she will be happy in.

Good luck! Getting to the root of the problem is so difficult sometimes. My DD doesnt get upset often but when she does she gets really upset and I have to be like Detective Clouseau to figure out what the real issue is and help her deal with it or she just continues to be stressed and I cant understand why.
 
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BHL920

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I would say that it doesn't sound horrible and it doesn't sound great either. The sort of lackadaisical attitude of the coaches isnt the best but it also doesnt sound like they are being abusive. It would be better if they could find a way to ease them into the conditioning so its not so much of a shock. I think this kind of conditioning is needed for long term health and long term skill development. The kids that do better at conditioning I see picking up skills quicker as well. If this gyms approach doesnt work for your daughter though it may not be the best place for her. I think finding something more doable for her is better than quitting all together.

Has she said why she is crying? is it because it hurts? Is it to hard? Is she frustrated? Its not "fun"? Does she think she isnt "good at it"? It doesn't sound like the time conditioning or the activities are extreme so why is she so upset? Maybe getting to the root of her distress other than just not liking conditioning will help you either help her change her perspective and have less tears or find a better program that she will be happy in.

Good luck! Getting to the root of the problem is so difficult sometimes. My DD doesnt get upset often but when she does she gets really upset and I have to be like Detective Clouseau to figure out what the real issue is and help her deal with it or she just continues to be stressed and I cant understand why.
Agree - I definitely don’t think the coaches are abusive by any means. And I very much understand conditioning is an essential part of the sport - we’ve been trying to reiterate that message to our daughter as well. No matter where we go, conditioning will be part of the deal!

Some detective work is definitely required :) It’s hard to sometimes sort out what’s happening, but from what I can tell the main issue is that it hurts and is too hard. She’s able to actually do all the conditioning but sometimes her muscles are just to the point of exhaustion.

Really appreciate all the replies - this was hugely helpful!
 
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GymMomA3R

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My 7 year old was moved to the level 4 training group (4hs/3x wk) in January (she had just turned 7 a few weeks before) and for the first 2-3 months or so of conditioning there were definitely tears. Starting level 4, conditioning intensity increases at our gym and the entire team (level 4-10) condition together for about an hour led by the HCs.

I remember even in the beginning she would leave the floor and refused to go back in. Coaches and teammates would try to comfort her but it only made it worse because she didn’t want the attention. I’ve also learned later she only broke down when I was around, but was fine when I wasn’t there.

Her tears were from a combination of not knowing what to do (the other team members knew the order of conditioning drills), but also, like your gymnast, the difficulty and pain (muscles to the point of exhaustion). All the coaches however, were very understanding and were never upset with her, they just try to encourage and support her and remind her she did better than last practice (in number of reps, time she held an L hold, etc).

Another team mom said her daughter went through the same thing when she first started level 4. Her coaches seem to only get upset with those that aren’t putting forth the effort.

It’s much better now. Her most proud moment so far was the day she said “Mom! I got through conditioning without crying at all! I’m getting stronger! Look at my muscles!” - even her coaches were proud of her perseverance...
 
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Peachy88

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Tonight girls did pull-ups to bring sally up bring sally down. Makes it not so awful! You’re in it together!
 
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