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Opinions on skipping a level?

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Harv

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Okay, we're finally coming back to earth after our unexpectedly successful state meet last weekend (thanks for all the kind words on that thread). The boys get a well-earned week off, and then back to the workouts.

Before the competition season even began, our coaches told us that my boy would almost surely be moved up from level 4 to level 5 if he did as well as they expected. Now, based on his last few performances, they're talking about maybe skipping level 5 and put him straight into level 6. No actual decision yet, and I'm sure they would evaluate him carefully before doing so, but now they've got Dad thinking again. I hate when that happens. :p

I've been doing one of those pros and cons things in my head, and I think I'd like to have some of your experienced opinions on the matter. It might help to keep in mind that this was his first year in competitive gymnastics, and being somewhat of a late starter, he's a few years older (he's 11) than his current L4 teammates.

My first take is something like this:

Pros
He seems capable of L5 and L6 skills. Just needs to develop a dependable handstand.
He constantly wants to be challenged.
He would be with kids closer to his own age (some of the younger L4s have been driving him crazy lately :eek:).
His new coach may be better for him.

Cons
His workout would go from 7 hours to 9 hours a week (hope he's ready for that).
Medals might be harder to come by if he does level 6 meets.
Doctor says he's right in the middle of a growth spurt (6 inches so far). Will that make him awkward?
His new coach may be worse for him.

No crisis here, and probably plenty of time. I'm just hoping some of you have gone through this stuff and might have words of wisdom to share. :)

- Harv
 

Aussie_coach

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Hi, in my opinion it sounds like in your sons case it would be beneficial to skip level 5 and go for level 6. His age being the biggest factor, working with other boys his own age will give him a lot more.

Don't stress about the hours, 9 hours is very little for an 11 year old. Just take a look at the girls, the average level 6 girls train about 16-20 hours a week. If he loves a challenege then the extra time in the gym will benefit him, not hurt him.

I wouldnt worry anbout the medals either, in gymnastics the higher you go in the levels the less competitors there are. level 6 is usually quite a bit smaller than level 5. besides if he is doing gymnastics for the medals then its a waste of tiime, better to find a cheaper sport to win medals in. If he truly loves gymnastics then the medals wont matter to him as much as the challenge.

Boys and growth is an unfortunate issue. Most to go through a major growth spurt starting between the ages of 11-14, and yes they do get uncoordinated and gangly. But this will be an issue regardless of if he does level 5 or level 6. MAG coaches will have worked with many, many boys who have been through this and will be able to work well with him.
 

mariposa

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I vote for skipping a level as well. Sounds like he will be up for the challenge. :D
 
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TeamDad

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I'm not familiar with boy's gymnastics, but if it's the same as it is for girls, then he'll have to 'score out' of L5 before he can move to L6. It might be a good idea to speak with his coach to see what their plan is so you can fully understand the commitment involved in scoring out of a level (which usually happens at the first meet as the required AA score is very low).

At the age of 11/12 as a L6, the level of competition will likely still not be as high in his age group as the really talented L6's will likely be in the younger age brackets so he should still see plenty of podium time if that's a concern.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I'm not familiar with boy's gymnastics, but if it's the same as it is for girls, then he'll have to 'score out' of L5 before he can move to L6. It might be a good idea to speak with his coach to see what their plan is so you can fully understand the commitment involved in scoring out of a level (which usually happens at the first meet as the required AA score is very low).

At the age of 11/12 as a L6, the level of competition will likely still not be as high in his age group as the really talented L6's will likely be in the younger age brackets so he should still see plenty of podium time if that's a concern.

Boys don't have to score out of a level; they can do whatever level their coach wants to sign them up for.

It sounds to me like your kid would be fine with skipping a level. And honestly there is so much in the level 5 routines that is, in my opinion, completely counterproductive that it would probably be much better for him in the long run to skip 5.
 

ZJsMom

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I think I vote for skipping 5. Being with the boys his own age to me is the most weighty concern. As boys get into adolescence there may be more peer pressure against gymnastics, having a peer group at the gym that he's comfortable with will be important.

In boys gymnastics, it also seems more acceptable to have a few low scoring events or a skill or two that they need a spot on. I have a boy and a girl in competitive gymnastics, and it just seems more casual on the boys side.

I wouldn't worry at all about the increased hours. He'll barely notice the increase from 7 to 9. My son went from 6 to 9 this past summer with no issues.
 
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Harv

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Thanks for the great feedback, everyone! :)

Aussie_coach -

I wouldnt worry anbout the medals
You know, apparently I spoke out of place. I was flashing back to the evening following his first meet, where he came back with a fistful of medals. I found him asleep on the couch with the medals still clutched in his hand. When I put the question to him directly today, he said he doesn't care about the medals -- he just wants to do better gymnastics. I guess you know my son better than I do. :p

Thank you for all of your valuable insights.

Geoffrey -

there is so much in the level 5 routines that is, in my opinion, completely counterproductive
We were kinda having similar thoughts. We've now watched the videos for level 5 and 6 routines, and it sorta looks like if you're gonna skip any level, level 5 might be a good choice. Not sure what you mean by "counterproductive", exactly. You think it fosters backwards progress? :confused:

TeamDad -

I didn't know anything about scoring out until I read your post. There's more girls than boys at our gym, and I try to follow their progress, too. Now I know a little more about boys being different than girls. :D

mariposamomma, ZJsMom -

Your votes and comments mean plenty to me. Now, just imagine how chagrined I'll be if they decide not to skip him to L6 after all. :eek:
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Geoffrey -

We were kinda having similar thoughts. We've now watched the videos for level 5 and 6 routines, and it sorta looks like if you're gonna skip any level, level 5 might be a good choice. Not sure what you mean by "counterproductive", exactly. You think it fosters backwards progress?

Yes, that's exactly what I mean.

For example, the level 5 vault (front tuck). The main thing a gymnast needs to learn to become a strong vaulter is to hit the board with the chest up and drive the heels up after leaving the board. A front tuck is an extremely effective way of encouraging a kid to hit the board with their chest and head down/forward, and discourages any sort of heel drive action.

Another is the straddled flyaway from rings; one of the most crucial things to master when learning a flyaway is the outward throw of the rings, which is physically impossible in a straddled flyaway.

It is my opinion that both of these skills are counterproductive to the point where they both do more harm than good in a kid's development.

Even my level 5 boys spend almost no time on these skills. My 5s train handsprings on vault, and I have them do a couple of front tucks the last practice before a meet. As for the straddled flyaway, my boys do tucked or laid out flyaways in practice and even in warm-up at meets, and only do the straddled flyaway in competition routines.
 
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BlairBob

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Geoffrey, your solution to the L5 FT is to teach the layout first. Teach a 3/4 layout to mat stack of appropriate height and teach the layout into pit. For the FT, teach the FL initiation that then tucks so they initiate with their heels.

I've taken a look at the straddled flyaway and dislike it. Big whoop. I think I will teach it to them first and then progress with tuck and layout flyaway or train those first and introduce the straddled flyaway later before the season.

I really don't like the swinging pullover. Bleh. I am not all interested in teaching that.

I'm ok with the dive roll, sure. Then again I can get them to do FT off a spring board and it will be just a matter of practice and leg strength/power to get it on floor.

One of the hardest things about moving to L6 and skipping L5 will be the Direct Stockli A, Flairs, and 180 spindle on mushroom.

Realistically, our 2nd year L4 was supposed to do L5 but didn't have his Floor skills. He has poor shoulder flexibility and it really shows up on floor and probably when he starts training pirouettes on PB. His FX pirouette isn't so pretty either because his HS sucks mainly because of shoulder flexibility. His apparatus though is pretty good though I want to see a bigger stride swing before I teach him (false) scissors. His circles need to be more cleaned up but I will probably introduce floor mushroom soon because I'd like to get him into the Future Stars program.

I've told our boys we will just be doing strength, flexibility, and floor basics, including tramp awareness and swing basics A LOT with the intention of training L5 and L6. I will probably compete the younger L4 at L4 next year so he can be more competitive and I don't think he will his mushroom work by next year for L5. Our 2nd 5 didn't have circles really but managed to hit 85 and has everything else but his swings aren't as big as the 2nd year L4. He's also not as dedicated I think to training besides his behavior.

We'll see where they are after 3 cycles of 8 weeks where I will adjust the program and start introducing L5/L6 stuff in the 2nd cycle.

Boys are way more casual.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Geoffrey, your solution to the L5 FT is to teach the layout first. Teach a 3/4 layout to mat stack of appropriate height and teach the layout into pit. For the FT, teach the FL initiation that then tucks so they initiate with their heels.

I do have my boys do front layouts into the pit as an alternate station whenever we're on vault. It is a better alternative to the front tuck as far as heel drive goes, but presents the same problem with the chest dropping forward.

I've taken a look at the straddled flyaway and dislike it. Big whoop. I think I will teach it to them first and then progress with tuck and layout flyaway or train those first and introduce the straddled flyaway later before the season.

To clarify; the straddled flyaway is useful as a drill for a select few kids (the ones that want to release too late), but even for them it's something I would use occasionally as a drill, not something I'd want them to spend an entire season working on.

I really don't like the swinging pullover. Bleh. I am not all interested in teaching that.

Concurred.

One of the hardest things about moving to L6 and skipping L5 will be the Direct Stockli A, Flairs, and 180 spindle on mushroom.

This is absolutely true; the one event where the jump from 5 to 6 is the biggest is mushroom.
 
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Harv

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It's official!!!

Well, the coaches have been testing and evaluating my boy for the last week or so, and in a meeting with the director tonight we were told that our little dude is moving from level 4 to level 6, starting May 1st.

He's totally happy about it, for all the reasons mentioned in this thread -- especially being with kids his own age. He's even okay with the L6 schedule, which involves starting workouts a couple of hours earlier each day, plus going from 3 days a week to 4. Total weekly hours goes from 7 to 12.5 (I said 9 hours earlier -- turns out that was the L5 schedule :p).

Mom and Dad will have to juggle their own schedules to make this happen, of course, plus start coughing up another $100 per month. :(

I realize many of you have already been through this stuff, but all of a sudden I feel like we've got a real live gymnast on our hands. ;)

- Harv
 
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