New here with a young L4 boy

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curlymop

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I've been lurking around reading old posts for a month or so, and I thought it was time I popped in and said hello. So... hi!

For those with boys competing, what age did they start? I just have this awful feeling that we started my son too early, and I'm worried it will turn him off of gymnastics altogether. He turned 6 right at the beginning of competition season, so he is technically old enough to compete. He just doesn't seem ready to handle the stress of the actual competition, which I guess is not that surprising, considering he is only a kindergardener. Before the first couple of meets, he stayed up late the night before crying and worrying he'd forget his routines. There was much less of that before this last meet, so maybe he is adjusting somewhat. Given that his only sports experience before this was t-ball, where they don't even keep score, the awards portion of the first meet was a rude awakening for him. It's getting better, but it's been a rough ride so far. I actually considered pulling him out after that first meet, but he absolutely loves practice and gets so excited when he learns a new skill. I figure that as long as he enjoys gymnastics and is improving, we can work around the maturity issues. I just don't want him to get so frustrated that he doesn't want to do it anymore.

How common is it to repeat level 4? I know he's continuing to improve, but I really don't see him being ready to move on to level 5 next year. Also, he'll still be 6 years old on Sept 1st. Does that mean he can compete as a 6 year old again next year? That seems odd to me, but I would like him to be in the right age group.

And one more thing... that mushroom. Does it just click one day? It seems hopeless at the moment. He has great upper body strength, but he can barely get around one time. I can't see how it will progress from that to doing multiple circles.

Thanks for any advice you can give a clueless new gym mom!
 
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emorymom

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Definitely recommend a home mushroom. When my son was a 6yo L4 I put off getting one until I found one on Craigslist for $100. Just kind of an arbitrary rule I make for myself so I don't spend too much on home equipment and can sell it for nearly what I paid for it. However, I definitely should have just spent the $300 in the beginning of the season rather than what I did, which was not get one until March.

Yes, he'll still compete as a 6yo if he repeats L4. I think if he moves to L5 he will compete as a 7 year old.
From my understanding with boys, as long as he's not bored and enjoys the chums in his group, don't worry about repeating compulsory levels. One aspiration might be an 11 year old L8 in a competent men's optional program. And you can get there with a kid who's even competing L6 as a ten year old on Sept 1. So to put it one way, he has six seasons to do L4, L5, & L6.
 
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skschlag

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D was 6yo competing level 4 (and in kinder) just like your son. We really stressed the fun of it, nad not the awards, scores, etc. He moved to level 5 at 7, and is an 11 year old level 7 now. In reality, even though the age ranges are there, boys can take longer to get to level 10. Many boys don't even peak until late teens, college level.

As for the mushroom, highly recommend it. We are selling one, but probably too far away ;) It really helped D get those circles a lot!!!
 

profmom

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Don't worry, the mushroom will come! One of DS's teammates wasn't cleared to do five circles at states last spring in his second year of competition and fell off doing three at about half his meets. Now he can do 50 without falling off, and got his first pommel horse medal ever at their meet last month, in part by outscoring boys who'd been placing over him for the past two years.

But really, for the little guys (and the big guys!) it should be fun. As I'm always telling my two, meet results don't matter until states, and states doesn't matter until you're in the hunt to qualify for regionals. And even then, the only way in which meet results matter is that something good can happen if you do well. As the head coach for the team told the boys when they were just starting out as brand new L4s, "meets are just for you to show off for your parents. Gymnastics is what happens in the gym."
 
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MyBoysFlip

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Our 6 yo L4's usually repeat L4 as a 7 yo unless they have all of their L5 skills and good form. Older L4's usually get moved to L5 no matter what.
 

magmom

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Just remember that for boys, gymnastics is a long, slow burn. Mental and emotional maturity goes a long way. At our gym, we recently had a talented 6 yo burn out way too early because his parents pushed him into competing when he (in my opinion) should have done preteam for another year. Honestly, I would err on the side of holding back/repeating, but I'm probably in the minority on that.

And, yes, the mushroom will eventually click. It takes a while.
 

skschlag

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magmom- I agree, and in talking to other in gymnastics, they say there really isn't a "prime" age in age groups for boys. That boys will develop at their own rate, and a lot can depend on when they hit puberty.

I have had parents tell me that my son was "out of age" or too old for level 7, and that he "should be" an 8 by age 11. But in talking to others (judges/coaches), they disagree. I get the feeling that many don't like the push so early, as boys have many more years to get there!
 
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gymboymom

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Your ds is really young. Same age as my ds when he first competed L4. Fun. It needs to be fun. As long as ds came home with 1 medal he was happy. Or a lollipop from the concession stand ;). He just needed to know he were proud of him for getting out there. Not easy at 6! Is someone putting too much pressure on him? When ds first competed our owner said a meet should be the same as a baseball game. He will be a 6 year old again next year. I felt the same way after a year, I still think ds could have waited a year to compete. But it has worked out for the best he competed that year for a variety of reasons. Again, have fun with it. If he can't and is too nervous after a few meets, then that is a different story.
 
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gracyomalley

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Most boys repeat levels....especially the young ones. With the bonus system built in to boys gymnastics, repeating automatically includes uptraining (unlike some girls programs) and most boys peak at late teens, strength is more critical, and we all know about boy mental focus! If you DS likes gym then make sure that is being fostered, not necessarily progression through levels. Oh, and different states do the age thing differently, so don't worry about that part - ask your coach about your region/state.

Mushroom is a bear. We did eventually get a home mushroom, especially as my later starting older DS (first competition was at 10, Level 4) was doing level 6 floor and vault but still couldn't get around the dang thing - honestly, it takes time. And he did go from doing barely 5 circles to 25 in the space of a couple months once he got some muscle and the timing/positioning figured out....had nothing to do with the home mushroom....just more training/time at gym. Lastly, boys can completely skip levels, unlike girls, as they go along, so there is plenty of time for another year of 4 (or even 3 years).....burn out and changing to other sports is a much more likely end for a talented boy than not being "young enough" or moving "fast enough"
 
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curlymop

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Thanks for the replies. We did recently purchase a mushroom. Like emorymom, I wasted time hunting for a used one then eventually bought a new one. I wish I had bought it last June when he started practicing with the team, but oh well.

We have really stressed that it should be about fun, and his coach is pretty laid back, so I'm not sure where exactly the pressure is coming from. I think it's just the atmosphere at the meet, and he can clearly see that there are kids out there who are much more skilled. He is definitely the smallest kid I have seen out there at any of our meets. I must say that I was shocked to see teenagers competing L4 in the same session as my 6yo.

Then there are the awards. Out of 12 six year olds at that first meet, they called eight of them up for medals, and he was one of the ones left sitting. I just feel like we can tell them scores don't matter until we're blue in the face, but if we make them all sit around while we rank them by score, it sends a completely different message. I know learning to lose gracefully is part of growing up, but it broke my heart to see him so crushed that day. Especially when I was so proud of him.

The good news is that he seems more resilient than I originally thought, and he actually declared the last meet to be "a LOT of fun." I selfishly hope he wants to stick with it, because it is so much fun to watch him out there. :)
 

profmom

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The good news is that he seems more resilient than I originally thought, and he actually declared the last meet to be "a LOT of fun." I selfishly hope he wants to stick with it, because it is so much fun to watch him out there. :)
Just keep telling him that, and you'll do more to keep him in the sport than almost anything else you could do. And help him to set his own goals for success -- hey, I made a whole circle without falling off! Awesome, that is a WIN!!
 
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gymboymom

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As for the mushroom. Ds competed 2 seasons of L4 and only started completing 1.5 nice circles at the end. Somehow he started placing on pommels anyway. It will come! I did the same thing, didn't buy the mushroom til later. But I don't think it really had anything to do with it. He just needed the strength and to learn the proper timing/technique.
 
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Azgymmiemom

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All sound advice from smart boys parents. Yes, get the mushroom. My son couldn't put two circles together to save his life his first season of Level 4. Now he's the pommel champ! It's his favorite event. And repeating L4 for one so young is a good thing. He will gain lots and lots of confidence. Hopefully, that will increase his love of the sport.
 
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heatherncastro

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My son just turned 8 ,and he started about a year ago . It's been slow, but steady progress. He tries hard , and he's very determined : ) our gym does not have a boys team but maybe someday we will . Right now all the boys are beginners . Lol sometimes I wonder " is he EVER gonna get that handstand" ;) but he loves loves loves gymnastics :) and that is whats important :)


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momto2js

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This was my son last year. His first year he struggled with most things, he was younger in the group by at least 2 years and we had lot of kids in his group that were 4 years older. However, that group worked, they supported him and he was their mascot of sorts. If he needed a boost to reach the rings, one of the older kids picked him up. He trained full time with them through the summer and he was not the weakest in the group at the end of the summer but he was the only one that repeated level 4.

This years team was a totally different experience, they were YOUNG. He was right in the middle age wise there was no older leadership. I had though "oh my this will be a good learning opportunity, he will have the chance to a leader". Well dumb mom moment, he wasn't ready to be the leader. The younger kids goofing off irritated the coach and instead of stepping up and telling them to knock it off, he jumped in to the mess. He just wasn't mature enough to make good choices and focus when others were "having" fun.

If you had asked me about our repeat year a month ago, I would have said, it was torture and if your kid is close advocate for the move up. However, he has rejoined his former training group full time and has picked up skills they struggled with all year in a couple of weeks. That vault that some of those kids still only hit about 50% of the time, he has about 90% of the time in less than a month. His kip is really close and he can get it 25% of the time which is better than the kids who were on the bubble and moved up instead of down. The year to mature and build strength are really starting to pay off.

He is also better able to handle the longer practices and focus demands of the higher level at 7 (8 in November). So my bottom line, trust the coaches and relax. Be ready to manage his disappointment and expectations and also enjoy a bit of success next season. Good luck.
 
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BlairBob

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I've had some boys compete 2 years technically as a 6 or 7yo. These boys had January birthdays so they ended up being 6 again in September for the Winter/Spring season.

Get a mushroom or have a family member build one. Or at least set up a bucket which is super easy, fun, and cheap.

For L4's, I generally had my guys do mushroom every day though they might not do Pommel Horse every day. Sometimes I let them take home mushrooms on the weekends.

I also stress on making sure those little guys get at least a consolation participation medal. Mainly because I don't want to deal with upset little guy making upset parents that makes me upset.
 
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