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New to Gymnastics, would love some advice.

Discussion in 'UK' started by mumof3, Aug 14, 2017.

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  1. Hi there everyone. I'm new here, and very new to gymnastics (though I enjoyed it as a kid, I never did it at a high level), so I know basically nothing about how any of it works!

    My eldest dd is 7 and really enjoys gymnastics. She goes one hour a week to a recreational class at our local leisure centre, but would love more.

    However, having read around the internet a bit, streaming for competition squads seems to happen at a younger age than she is now.

    What options are there for a child who is very keen, but won't be on an elite track, etc (most information I read on the internet was about children being identified early for elite gymnastics, and to be honest I couldn't work out what would happen to an older/less able kid)? Do the kids compete the levels at all different ages? Do they have teams for older/less able kids, or is everything geared towards identifying those really able kids? Sorry if these are silly questions- as I say, I have no clue, but would love to work it out, so my dd can spend more time doing gymnastics which she really loves! It did look like there are more opportunities for kids of all levels to do floor and vault competitions, but she really loves beam and bars and would like to do more of all four, so if there is an option for that, I'd love to hear about it.

    How do you go about accessing something more than a recreational gymnastics (as in slightly more 'serious' than recreational classes at a leisure centre- with shaping drills and conditioning and all that stuff, which they don't do in her current class)? Take her to a rec class at a proper gym and hope they invite her to take more classes? Take her to a proper gym, start a rec class there, but explain that she'd like to do more/be in their team at some point in the future? Do gyms have try outs for team places/ more serious classes?

    Any advice on this would be really appreciated!
  2. Hi

    At 7 there are still many options for her. A child cannot even compete level 4 until they turn 7.
    You are correct that training can start much earlier, with 5 year olds in preteam.
    You did not say what her ability is. Is she in beginner classes or intermediate or advanced? Recreational coaches usually move children up based on ability within the rec program.
    I coach the level 3, 4 and 5 teams at the gym I work at. The oldest girl on my team is 11. These girls are probably not going Elite, but who knows.

    If you would like your daughter to be in more developmental team, there is no harm in asking. Ask for her to be evaluated for a level 2 or 3 team.
    The other option is Excel. Excel is a competition program that is geared for slightly older girls who want to compete but in a different atmosphere. Excel Bronze is a level with much lower expectations than traditional team. She can move through the levels of excel according to her ability and even compete over to JO if ready.

    There are many options if your daughter truly loves gymnastics and wants to commit more time and effort to it.

    Discuss it with the coaches at your gym or another. I'm sure that there is a place for her.

    Good luck[emoji4]
  3. Hi, thanks for this kind reply. We are actually in the UK. It seemed much more straight-forward to get info on US gymnastics- and I liked how it seemed like a child could compete at just about any age at the level that was right for them. I couldn't find similar information for the UK- just assumed based on the timelines that I saw that she would already be too old (sounds crazy at 7!) for those avenues.

    She is currently in an intermediate level rec class- there are five levels in our city's leisure centres and she is in the third, and has been doing gymnastics for nine months.
  4. Hi,
    As my name suggests I am far from knowledgeable on the subject but it has improved slightly.
    At our local gym children are selected to trial in squads from the recreational side. They are usually very young, my DD was old when asked at 6, they are now starting them at 3/4. They also allow trials for children from other gyms, I am not sure what 'proof' of ability they would require though.
    There is far less competing in the UK and the ages seem to be on the young side, my DD now does trampolining after injury finished her gymnastics and there is a much wider age range in competition for this and tumbling which my son is just starting in. You will need to contact local gyms to find out their entry requirements, you might find they will give her a trial.
    Good luck. There are a few very knowledgeable UK people on here so they should be along soon. Some may be able to point you to a specific gym by pm if you are happy to tell them what area you are in.
  5. Is she open to trying other types of gymnastics? They are typically less restrictive in terms of age. For example trampoline, rhythmic, or acrobatic gymnastics.
  6. I'm a UK Mum - hello :)

    There's no reason at all to write off a 7 year old in the UK. In fact that is a great age to start. Yes, there are always stories of young gym prodigies, but most of us are more 'normal'! There are also lots of opportunities to compete all 4 pieces of apparatus at different levels, but it does depend on the club and training facilities and her ability.

    I am just second guessing from your post, but it sounds like the leisure centre class is mainly for recreational gymnastics and your daughter might want a bit more. Are there any other clubs locally that you know of - perhaps with their own facility? This can give more opportunity to train beam and bars. If so it is worth asking if she could go for a trial or getting her into a class (or a waiting list) for a rec class there. Yes, there will be some girls in a squad by that age but lots of gyms do different levels and different competition for all abilities.

    So, in a large UK gym there could be:
    Rec gymnasts - maybe compete just the club comp each year
    General gymnastics - lower hours, but still the opportunity to compete. Different rules to WAG, but stil the opportunity to progress to all 4 pieces.
    Squad girls - compete local, county and regional competitions
    Higher squad girls competing grades - Regional, national or compulsory (elite) grades.

    Obviously not all gyms can offer everything, but it is worth trying to find out what is on offer. 7 is not too old at all, but in a couple of years time it could be harder for her to make it into a higher level squad for example.

    To find a local club you can type the postcode into the club finder on the BG website and why not go for a visit? If you want to pm me telling me where abouts you are I may be able to help - or give you links to some FB groups that have people from all over the country that might be able to advise.
    Iwannabemargo likes this.
  7. Just to add to that, I'm certainly not saying you need a large gym. In our region there have been several small gyms that have recently got their own premises or who train at a leisure centre. They tend to have a smaller family atmosphere and in some ways is easier to tailor what they offer to the gymnasts they have.
  8. Thanks everyone for these kind replies.

    @Noidea- that is definitely the impression I got from looking around the internet a bit, that most children starting out in more developmental classes would be a lot younger than my daughter is now.

    @Jean- I think she would rather be in a WAG class than in another discipline, though I suppose she might become more open to one of the others if it were the only thing we could find training opportunities in!

    @Learning Parent- really pleased to see that your experience is that 7 is not yet too old. What you've labelled general gymnastics sounds like it would be perfect for her- I'm not sure how much she'd even be bothered about competing as long as she was doing some serious (and fun!) learning!

    There are two gyms quite near to us. One seems to be mostly a tumble gym and has great results in that area. It's a newer gym, and reading between the lines on their website, I get the impression that competition between children for opprtunities to compete is really fierce- it seemed like many more children were training with squads than were able to compete at each competition, maybe?

    The other gym which I would consider more reputable (houses the city squad and sports academy for gymnastics and has the best facilities) is mainly WAG/MAG. It has a website, but this has basically no info on it- doesn't list the times for their rec classes or anything. It just says to get in touch if you want to hear more. So would you recommend just getting in touch with them, explaining her interest and asking whether they can take her into a rec class?

    It's great to get advice from people with more experience in all this, so thanks everyone!
  9. Learning GB's post is great, it definitely shows that there is a lot more on offer than our gym gives. The fact that you are in a city will likely give you more choice than us and that hopefully will also give you opportunities for your daughter to try.
    It is probably worth contacting both of the gyms for a trial and take it from there.
    Learning Parent GB likes this.
  10. M
    My daughter was 7 in advanced gymnastics class, and was placed on the old Level 4 team (now level 3). She was level 10 by 9th grade. 7 is definitely not too old to compete. My youngest was on Level 1 last year and had a couple 12 year olds on her team. The right gym will take any gymnast that desires to compete and place her in an appropriate level because its more about the child and her passion.
    John likes this.
  11. In your position I would give them both a call and find out what they offer. It is not unusual for gyms not to put all their class times on their website, so don't think that means they are unapproachable. I wouldn't mention 'general gymnastics' as you don't want to limit her options or for them to tell you that they don't offer that. (It's something I only discovered was an actual 'thing' several years in!). Tell them that she has been enjoying classed but would like to do more formal training and her ideal is to end up competing all 4 pieces. They can then tell you what they offer as every set up is different.
    Good luck!
  12. @GAgymmom- thanks for sharing your experience! Encouraging to hear that your daughter wasn't a super early starter, but really flew once she got going! Hoping to find somewhere here that has a similar viewpoint to this one!

    @LearningParent- thanks for this- I think I will just get in touch and explain her interest and see whether they have anything for her.
    Learning Parent GB and txgymfan like this.
  13. Hi from another uk mum.

    My daughter was in rec gymnastics until the age of 7 and got moved out of rec a few weeks after her 7th birthday, she moved into some kind of development squad (not NDP or elite grades) training 2 days a week, after a while started training 3 days a week and is on the county recreational grades pathway where they do 4 pieces and also a range and conditioning set. In my daughters gym there are various development groups that are not elite or NDP pathway such as Advanced rec (general gymnastics), floor and vault, tumbling and county recreational grades squad. 7 is not too old, most kids who are chosen for these "elite" squads at a young age don't always stick with the sport as they tend to do a lot of hours at a very young age and stops being fun for some of them.
    Learning Parent GB likes this.
  14. @mumof3
    Welcome, there is a wealth of information here, have a look at the sticky thread at the top of this board for a crash course in UK gymnastics.
  15. Hi! A uk coach and gym owner here.

    Just to reiterate what the others have said really.

    7 is definitely not too old.

    It probably is for elite track (but not always)

    At our club we tend to look at 7 year olds for our novice squad. These gymnasts train for anything between 4 and 9 hours per week on all 4 pieces of apparatus and compete at floor and vault comps, general gymnastics 4 piece comps, tumbling comps, team comps. They actually do a bigger variety of comps than the wag squad!

    It's a great system in my opinion.
    Most of the gymnasts in it keep competing right into their late teens or early 20's.
    Most gymnasts in this squad also do other activities such as dance, swimming, martial arts etc which is another reason they are in that class, rather than wag.

    Hope that helps!

  16. Thanks Margo and Marie for these replies. It's such a confusing system for an outsider to get a handle on- I think I got especially confused by all the in age requirements, thinking that my daughter would be too old to compete all these things at the young ages listed, but not really able to find out what happened to older children! Apart from rec classes at the local leisure centre, which I actually found looked quite unsafe at the higher levels.

    I actually followed the advice of another poster, @Learning Parent GB , and just contacted a gym local to me. I sent her to an under 8 rec class there. She did more in that class than in 9 whole months at the leisure centre, and had such a good time. During the second week they moved her up to a more advanced group, and she was only one skill away from being able to join an under 8 development group. It'll be her first time at the 'big girl' class tomorrow, and she's really excited about it. I'm so pleased for her- and was in so far over my head trying to piece the whole gymnastics thing together from stuff I'd read on the internet, that without the helpful advice from everyone here, I'd probably never even have asked this new gym if she could come to them. So thanks all!
  17. Ah glad it's all worked out well so far!
  18. I do like a happy ending. Although actually this could be just the start...
    BachFlyer likes this.
  19. brilliant news!
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