For Parents Life/Gymnastics

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TeamDad

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I had a real treat last night. My wife, parents and I had a night out at the opera. What a treat!!! We were also joined at dinner by our little gymie who completely took me by surprise by jumping into adult level conversations with well reasoned debate on a number of topics that we have never discussed. My little girl is getting all grown up:( She was beautiful, charming and charismatic and totally knocked my socks off.

We rushed her back stage before the performance and enjoyed watching her in the second act where she gets about 15 minutes of stage time. The children's chorus was in good voice as well as the rest of the cast. Deborah Voight was just amazing. In the third act, there was a long, probably 25 minute ballet scene. It got me to wondering about the future and what we are going to do next year when dd's ballet schedule and gymnastics schedule come into direct conflict. Up to this point, she has only needed to miss 1 hour of gymnastics practice every week.

Next Fall, both gymnastics and ballet will go to a five day a week schedule with all of the days overlapping. I started having deep thoughts about priorities. After a sucessful L5 season last year, it looks as if dd has attained her goal of getting to the top of the podium and doesn't appear to be as driven this year...although the competition season hasn't started yet and our States aren't until May. She has also displayed alot of social growth at school and for the first time seems to be really making an effort to expand her social group and become popular.

This is a big departure for her as she has always prefered to have one or two close friends in each of her activities, school only being one of them. Last year's birthday party was alot of fun as it brought together all of her best friends from all of her activities together at the same time and dd got to really shine as the star on her special day.

This is getting a little long so I'll try and get to the point. While dd loves gymnastics above all other extra curicular activities, it is becoming abundantly clear that it can't last forever. Kind of weird thinking that an athlete can be over the hill at age eighteen:eek:, but this sport does have a low ceiling. If college gymnastics is an option for her, it could also limit her in the schools that she applies to if going to a school with a good competitive program becomes a priority. She will also have to deal with nagging aches and pains for the rest of her life from injuries that she has sustained in gymnastics. This is something that is difficult to think about in the now, but it is a reality of the sport....on the bright side, she will likely always know when it's going to rain:D

Ballet, on the other hand, is something that she will be able to enjoy for many years to come. It can also lead to many other opportunities as her love of singing, dance and performing can take her in many directions for many years to come.

I don't know, tough choices ahead. I knew this day would come, but it still doesn't make it any easier. On the other hand, it really helps to have a clear prospective on what the benefit of gymnastics is in the long run. Do we all have dreams of our dd's face on a Wheaties box, or is there more to it than that? I'm curious what other parents think. For me, there are alot of intagible benefits that we have recieved through this sport. Self confidence, the abilty to face fears and conquer them, time management and a sense of reward for dedication and hard work just to name a few. These are the things that I believe that she will take with her for the rest of her life no matter what the future brings.

TD aka -jonathan
 
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FlipsLeos

Member
Jul 26, 2008
111
Wow - sounds like you had a wonderful evening!! Kinda scary how quickly they grow up, isn't it?

For me, it would ultimately boil down to what my CHILD wanted to do. I'd let her be the decision-maker on going forward with one sport or the other. I would try and help her think it through, presenting angles like you have (ballet more long term than gym, ec), but in the end, it would be her decision. I would have to remember that MY dream may not be the same as hers.

Fortunately, my kids are 7, 5, and 3, so we've got a ways to go yet!!
 
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TeamDad

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in the end, it would be her decision. I would have to remember that MY dream may not be the same as hers.
My 'dream' has been to give her opportunity and to show her that nothing is impossible. The rest is up to her and if she demonstrates commitment, I will always be there to support her no matter what.
 
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flippersmom

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Of course being 10, my daughter thinks she wants to do this forever.

She talk about college gymnastics. I try to tell her club level college gymnastics would be great! She want to go to school to be a vet, and I think that should be a priority if that's what she really wants to do. Club level is much less pressure/stress. If she does continue, is good enough, and wants to do Division I, I would do nothing but support her of course. I just want her to know there are options. If she wants to stop at any time, she can. If she wants to do high school instead, she can (it's not real competitive at her high school because most club kids don't do high school because of conflicting schedules). She's just started middle school, but I also see the confidence changes and how much easier she seems to be making friends now.

I hear you about the aches and pains. I have a neighbor who did gymnastics as a kid and at 33, still has aches and pains. Yikes.

I think most kids know when faced with a decision like your DD know what they really want. All we can do is support them and tell them no matter what they decide, they have our support. Just think of the advantages gymnastics has given her if she decided to stop, or the advantages dancing has given her if she continues gymnastics. She is a lucky kid.
 

FlipsLeos

Member
Jul 26, 2008
111
My 'dream' has been to give her opportunity and to show her that nothing is impossible. The rest is up to her and if she demonstrates commitment, I will always be there to support her no matter what.
See, that's awesome. I wish there were a few more parents like you at our gym and a few less freaky ones! :D
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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I totally know where you are coming from. When my dd was younger no one could have convinced me she would ever do anything other than gymnastics - she just loved it so much. Little girls do grow up though. Even though our reasons for moving on are a bit different due to her wrist issue - the middle school thing definitely played a part as well.

When I first told her she had to take some time off she freaked and didn't want to (I think she panicked because she didn't know anything other than gym). Within a few days she was excited because she had time to walk home from school with her friends and hang out for a while instead of rushing to the gym. Then the cheer opportunity came up and was the perfect solution for her for now. Still being involved in something - but still being able to have a life. She now has the opportunity to do things she couldn't before - she just went to the homecoming dance the other night (which was on a Friday night when she would have been in gym).

I now understand why so many girls 'retire' at this age (my dd gets offended if I say she quit - she didn't quit she says - she decided to try other things). They really do need to evaluate what their priorities are and are reaching an age that they can make these decisions for themselves - even if we don't always like what it is (and of course being a parent gives us veto power).

It sounds like you have a really lucky little girl since you are so open to letting her choose what path she would like to continue on.
 

gym law mom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
2,527
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USA
TeamDad, that is such a nice and wonderfully thought out post. Yes, your little girl is growing up and that can't be stopped(much to parents heartache at times!). Sounds like the little bird who is now starting to spread her wings!

Your dd is so talented in dance/performance and gym----wow, what a combination! Sadly, there are just not enough hours in the day for her to do them all at the level she would like. I think its wise of you to think ahead to what you will face next year. This year may play itself out with competing L6 and doing her ballet---she may come up with the answer of which she is more passionate about on her own. You correctly pointed out that for most girls gymnastics ends at 18 and if not then by 21 or so. I wouldn't worry about college choices right now---some very good schools have competitive gym teams. Some girls take the love of the sport and go into nurtrition, phys therapy, medicine(ie orthopedics), psychology etc.

Ballet from my understanding is also rather competitive and tough on the body. At this point, I would listen and watch your dd. She may make a choice, but may want your input/approval. She's got to go where her heart leads her.
 

Livinatthegym

Member
Feb 4, 2008
204
Region IV
A big low moved through yesterday. Dd1's knees bothered her terribly, making her other activities very uncomfortable. She's all of 15. The pounding gets worse with each level. If you dd leaves after lvl 6, she might not get to experience the joy of knowing when it will rain (and I hope she doesn't). It kinda stinks.

My girls had a great time competing; still, neither would go back. There are so many wonderful things that they really couldn't seriously consider as optional level gymnasts. Believe me, we're as busy as we ever were with gym. In fact, I think it's worse because now we're going in two different directions instead of just to the gym.

As for me, well I miss it a lot less than I thought I would. I miss yapping with the other parents. But, when the level 6 team reported they got back from their first meet about 2:00 am on Monday morning (session ended at 10 and it was a 4 hour drive back), I thought, "Ahh, don't miss that."

The choice only seems tough (for you and the kid) at the time. Don't be surprised if it takes several months to get out completely (both my girls still like rec classes). But, once the decision is made, I don't think you'll be sorry if your dd decides to move on.
 
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TeamDad

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TeamDad, that is such a nice and wonderfully thought out post.
Thanks, I'm so blatheringly tired today that I barely knew what I was going to say when I started typing:D Gladly, it all came out somewhat coherently...I think


 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
That was an awesome post TeamDad! It's funny how life is isn't it? As parents we feel the need to guide and direct our children onto the path that we think is the right one for them. When kids are young that is our job, but when they reach a certain age we have to have that faith (often blind faith at times) to let them "fly on their own".

My dd is 9 now and is starting her 2nd rather time consuming sport. I would love for dd to continue with gymnastics for as long as she loves it and enjoys it, but it will ultimately be her decision. Who knows what other sports and interests she will want to try! I guess the important thing to remember is that if we provide them with a solid foundation of discipline, good work ethic, and all the things you mentioned TeamDad, they will be successful and confident in whatever they choose to do.
 
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greyhoundrescue

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Congrats on such a talented and (apparently quite) mature little gymmie! I can only hope my kids will be such pleasures as they grow up :)

I came into this crazy gymworld with a background in ballet. Never walked into a gymnastics gym in my life until DH suggested putting the boys into it. I think both are great, and gym is (at the moment) the right "fit" for my kids, though sometimes I get nostalgic about wishing them into tutus and split soles.

My (unsolicited) advice is to let your gymmie guide the decision making process. You didn't say what level she is in ballet. But, I can definitely tell you that, if she becomes serious about ballet, the hours in the studio can be as much or more than those in the gym for equally serious gymnasts. Few prepro dancers complete high school unless it is via a residency (boarding school) or online program. Professional dancers generally forego college until after their career onstage--though, there is a pilot program with NYCB and Harvard that is supposed to be wonderful! That, and the aches and pains in gym translate to aches and pains from ballet (have you ever seen a professional dancer's feet? eew).

I think sometimes it boils down to three factors: personality (bubbly and vivacious vs. serene and composed--not that either personality is an exclusionary factor :)), build (the ideal gymnast is muscular and tiny vs. the ideal ballerina who is lean and lithe and more of an "average" height--not that anyone is the ideal build or has to be), and drive (competition is so very different between the two). I'm sure, whatever she decides, she will find her artistic home. Kudus on raising such a great little girl.
 
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TeamDad

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greyhoundrescue,

I'm not sure what level she is. She's in her third year at SAB and is a 'pink'. Next year she will get her toe shoes. I'd like to see her get in at least one more year of ballet, but gymnastics is her first love. Thanks for the advice.

Here's a few pictures of her 2007/2008 season.

The Chalk Bucket - TeamDad's Album: 2007/2008 season
 
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msl529

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Team Dad,

I just looked thru your album, and your DD is a gorgeous gymnast. Her background in ballet has served her very well, and shows in her flexibility, extension, and poise. Great pics.

When I first read your post, I was just sitting there thinking, "Wow, I didn't know DADS could be this insightful w/ their daughter's lives!" :eye-popping: She is lucky to have a pop like you backing her up.

I'll bet that whatever she chooses to do in the end will be the result of an intelligent, well thought-out decision-making process. You are certainly on the right path, with your attitude towards her life choices. It will probably become more & more clear to you both, which is the best choice for her, as time goes on.

And how could she go wrong, she sounds like a great kid w/ a good head on her shoulders. Good luck to you both! ;)
 
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greyhoundrescue

Guest
TeamDad,

Wow, she is definitely talented! The training in ballet seems to have made her floor routine phenomenal.

One question, you said she's about to start pointe (next year?), but L3 (which I think is still "Pink" at SAB) is for 8 year olds (I could be off-base here, but that's the way it used to be). Starting pointe before age 10 (and perferably 11) can be dangerous. If she's the right age, no worries :)-) SAB is an AMAZING school, so I would trust their judgment in that regard). Someone more enlightened than I, though, would know if going en pointe is deterimental for gymnastics. I have a sneaking suspicion that the two are counter-productive. Make sure you speak to her coach(s) and dance instructors and her doctor before letting her begin pointe training--even demi-pointe. I've always heard that when a student hits pointe training that is when training in other disciplines (gymnastics, figure skating, etc) become counter-productive and potentially dangerous.

I'm guessing you live in the NYC metro area. If so, check out the non-prepro programs at STEPs on Broadway. I'm sure she would have no trouble placing into one of their (many many) classes and there are so many that the hectic schedule of a gymmie could be accommodated. With her level of training, they would probably bend any age restrictions a little (nonprepro programs are generally only for 13+ students). Their training is supposed to be wonderful.
 
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TeamDad

Guest
Thanks for the kind words msl529, back at you, your DD looks awesome.

When I look back, my best memories are of my kids. That and having been very close to the WTC back on 9/11 really helped to put things into perspective.

Greyhoundrescue, she's almost 11 and her floor routine is beautiful to watch, although I'm likely a little biased;). Thanks also for the kind words and encouragement. We can definitely check out Steps.
 

Ingymmom

Active Member
Jul 12, 2007
981
TeamDad, is it so beautiful to see such a proud Papa! Your dd is clearly very talented, and you have every reason to be so proud and cherish every moment.

Your pictures of your dd are just lovely. Gorgeous lines! You can definately see the ballerina in her.
 

Linsul

Active Member
Sep 19, 2008
876
Pripyat
I have a sneaking suspicion that the two are counter-productive. Make sure you speak to her coach(s) and dance instructors and her doctor before letting her begin pointe training--even demi-pointe. I've always heard that when a student hits pointe training that is when training in other disciplines (gymnastics, figure skating, etc) become counter-productive and potentially dangerous.
/raise hand

I was told to choose between gymnastics and ballet by my ballet school. I started gymnastics while taking a break from ballet due to knee injury. I was allowed to do anything that didn't require turnout. When I went back, it was to a kirov style ballet school. After a year and being back on pointe for 6 months, they told me to choose. They had problems with gymnastics training oversplits, the 'bunchy' look of of my muscles, and the lack of extension due to it. Gymnastics never had a problem with ballet though, and as a coach I do the happy dance when we get a current or ex dancer.

*edit* The school that made me choose was purely ballet, and they did not start anyone on point before 12 yrs old due to worries about harming or impeding foot development. It was pretty strict, if your foot fell deep into the box or had a sinking in the shank look then you were back to demi pointe or flats. I don't know if thats a widespread policy though.
 
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greyhoundrescue

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Linsul (& Everyone),

Sounds like you were at a great school! Yes, I definitely think it is beneficial for gymnasts to do some dance training, just not the prepro training an aspiring ballerina would choose to do. A dance studio near us even offers a ballet class for gymnasts and one for figure skaters. That's an idea I think should really be expanded upon. I often miss seeing the balletic artistry that used to be so common in gym. More training in dance (not just ballet--imagine a jazz routine on beam or a hip hop floor routine) could only help with musicality, rhythm, poise, and artistry.

What I have always heard as to why ballet teachers do not recommend gymnastics beyond a certain point is that gymnastics builds muscle in a non-ballet preferred way (tiny and powerful vs. lean and lithe), gymnastics encourages what ballet teachers consider overstretching or overextension (ballet stresses a straight line, perfect posture--some teachers still use books on the head; gymnastics is a little different as we all know :)), and that gymnastics puts stress on those joints, tendons, and bones that must be developed in a specific way in order to successfully go en pointe.

This is not to say, however, that crossovers do not happen. I know, for example, that there was a NYCB or ABT ballerina some decades ago who had been a very successful rhythmic gymnast in a soviet bloc country. And then there are the crossovers that should happen...:) Nastia Liukin should so have been a ballerina--girl is built to be and moves like a prima. The ban for ballerinas doesn't just extend to gymnastics--figure skating, cheerleading, and equally advanced study of certain dance styles is also discouraged. And, it should be noted that it is not necessarily true for male dancers/gymnasts. The sheer strength of a male gymnast would be highly sought after in the world of ballet--especially with the tendency towards smaller ballerinas needing smaller male partners and the phasing out of very tall male gymnasts who would be in high demand in many companies that favor tall ballerinas.

A lot of it boils down to different mentalities and methodologies. Right now, I'm riding the gymnastics roller coaster. It is so different than the world of ballet, but it is equally exciting. Yes, I would love for my babies to dance Odette or the Sugar Plum Fairy one day...but, oy, they are too energetic for a strict, structured ballet class right now. So for now, gymnastics is the perfect outlet. Who knows what the future will hold. Good luck to anyone making these decisions!
 
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