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For Parents Questions about gymnast's path

Ajoy

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My daughter is a seven-year-old level 3. She has been doing exceptionally well in her first year of competition, is strong, and has acquired higher level skills with minimal uptraining. (competes kips, climbs the rope with legs piked, can do back tucks) The gym she is at is very much on the one year - one level plan with few exceptions. I am considering approaching them about an accelerated plan for her and I am wondering what the appropriate or typical accelerated path is. My idea is she could do 4 and 5 next year by training both over the summer and trying to score out of 4 at her first meet next year. Is this something gyms are receptive to? A gymnast I know socially competed one meet at 5 and then went to 7, is that more typical?
 

GymDadWA

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Many gyms like a full year of 4 there is just a lot of foundation skills that need to be practiced and strength to be developed. 5 is often tested out of in favor of doing 6 or skipping to 7 if the gymnast can meet all the requirements. It doesn't hurt to talk to the gym about your DD path but I would caution against telling them what you think she should do.
 

Flicfliclay

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In my humble opinion, I would assume that if the gym wanted that path for your daughter, they will approach you? Also, it is important to have much needed competition experience. Compulsory levels are honestly there for a purpose, to build up to optionals. Besides all that, what is the rush to push your 7 year old at this point?
 

Gbmom

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Many gyms like a full year of 4 there is just a lot of foundation skills that need to be practiced and strength to be developed. 5 is often tested out of in favor of doing 6 or skipping to 7 if the gymnast can meet all the requirements. It doesn't hurt to talk to the gym about your DD path but I would caution against telling them what you think she should do.
I completely agree. Level 4 has so many foundation skills like back handsprings, front handsprings, cartwheels on the beam, kips on bars, etc. and it is important to master those before moving onto the next level. Your daughter is still so young, so rushing the process will only lead to burnout, injuries, poor technique, etc. I would do a full year of 4, and then if your daughter is still showing signs of being gifted, skip 5 and then see where you're at.
 
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Oopski

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Most gyms would prefer a full year of 4, and then scoring out of 5 and going to 6 or 7. Your daughter is so young I wouldn’t worry about it. Does your gym have successful level 10s? If so, I’d just trust the coaches plan for her.
 

gymgal

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How you approach this depends greatly on what type of gym you are at, what your/her/their goals for your dd are, how advanced she really is and if she shows promise for higher level skills (not just 6/7 but the upper optional ones), and what type of personality she has (would she prefer to be on the top of the podium or compete a higher level knowing she may place much lower?). It;s worth having a conversation with the coaches if they are approachable. I would be more inclined to present it as a "how is she doing? where do you see her in a few years?"
 
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TumbleTimes4

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I think it helps to think of gymnastics like a marathon. If you start off going too fast and hard, you’ll burnout and quit before the race is over. There are a lot of seasoned parents here with much wisdom to share, whose daughters have made it to college/level 10. Please listen to the sound advice they give. Your child is young and there is no need to rush. Those compulsory levels build strong foundations that will make the transition to optionals easier. A whole year at level 4 I think is pretty standard for most gyms for a reason. There’s a lot more pounding on the body the higher you go, so sometimes it’s wise to slow down and take your time and save the young body from a couple years of unnecessary pounding.
 

kendo348

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After years of having girls go from 4 to 7, our gym decided to change course and start competing a whole year of 5 because they found that rushing it leads to struggle down the road. It’s worth putting in the time to lay the foundation. If laying the foundation is easy for her, that’s great! She can keep rocking each level and will be well prepared for optionals, and hopefully they are open to allowing some uptraining to keep her engaged. I will be honest and say that if the gym is so rigid about keeping the girls all in one box/never uptraining that she gets bored or frustrated and wants to quit, I would look into other gyms.
 
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thefellowsmom

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In my experience (dd is 16 and 4th year level 10 - repeated and skipped a level) programs that strictly do one level per year come in a couple different flavors. There are those that compete each level in progression but train where the child is at even if that means they are training a couple levels ahead on one event or something. I think this is the best. Kid trains where they are but has the benefits of competing successfully at each level and really nailing the fundamentals. Let optionals and goals be what they are when they get there. I know other programs that only do one level a year and actually repeat a ton of kids and there is little to no up training. This, in my opinion, is the worst kind. Makes no sense to me and having watched this type of gym closely, I see no advantage to the gymnasts in this program. Frustrating all around and coaches always having to say trust me trust me and kids and parents frustrated with lack of progress etc. yuck.

then there are about 100 other iterations of programs. It all depends on the coach and philosophy of the program and you have to communicate to know this. I would highly discourage you from going in and asking about levels and making suggestions about her progressions. I have never met a coach that this would go over well with. Bad idea. But it is ok to check In with them at the end of the season and see how they think she is doing. You should definitely get a feel for how they think about her from that.

in a good program with good fundamentals that treats each gymnast as an individual with progression and training based on that gymnasts particular needs, you will know when they want to address your daughters progression. my daughters coach and the head coach were in frequent communication with me at your daughters age, talking to me about the plan and where they saw her down the road. Mostly it was talk about trusting the process and focusing on development for high level optionals rather than spending time on routines to score 38s in level 4. Unfortunately I know lots of parents were not getting the same talks. Believe me, in a strong program with a strong coach, you will know it when they see large potential in a child.

at this stage it is fine to try to learn and understand the philosophy of the program, although in many gyms you may even get resistance to this. Hopefully you can get feedback after season from her coach. Also Look at their upper level gymnasts. Go to my meet scores. What were their progressions? Did most of them do Compulsories and lower level optionals at this gym or did most of them transfer from other gyms. There is a lot to be learned by looking at this stuff.

‘when it comes down to it you must trust the system you are in. If you are constantly worried and unsure and no one will talk to you then you probably should look for a program you can trust. Because if I could give new gym parents one piece of advice after all these years is that this is your daughters journey and her gymnastics is between her and her coach. It really has very little to do with you beyond making sure she is in a program you trust and believe in and making sure she is safe, happy, on time and well rested and fed. dont Worry, if she is as talented as you think she is gym will be taking over your life and the lives of your entire family before you know it. Enjoy the lower hours and her success now because the future gymnastics is full of crazy that will keep you more than busy and involved.

And im sorry to say but gymnastics hurts. there is no reason to rush to all that pain. Most of them can’t handle it anyway and quit long before the end. gymnastics is a marathon not a sprint. Take a deep breath and let both of you enjoy it.
 

Gbmom

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I would also like to point out that a lot of amazing elites such as Kayla DiCello, Jade Carey, Sydney Morris, and Morgan Hurd all did a full year of level 4. Heck, Jade even repeated level 4! Skipping is not at all a measure of how sucessful you will be.
 

gymgal

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I would also like to point out that a lot of amazing elites such as Kayla DiCello, Jade Carey, Sydney Morris, and Morgan Hurd all did a full year of level 4. Heck, Jade even repeated level 4! Skipping is not at all a measure of how sucessful you will be.
In full transparency, Due to the changes in the levels several years back, Jade actually repeated what would now be L3. And we would have to look at what these gymnasts did for L5 to compare them to today but I'm pretty sure they all completed a full year of 5 as well because most high level gyms did back then, though many tested out of 6 (like they test out of 5 today).

Also, Jade has a different history. It appears that she was slated for a college path, competing a few years as a L10 before she/they decided to make the jump elite. Most high level elites train elite from an early age, spend a year at 9, maybe one at 10 while doing hopes and then jump to the elite stage
 

LJL07

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I will just add that my younger daughter who started level 8 this year as a 10 year old and did an entire season of level 4 when she was 7/8 years old has really had to take it easy due to her wrists and open growth plates and the pounding from yurchenko vaults. I absolutely would not recommend skipping level 4. My older daughter has been sidelined much of the season this year (level 9) with repetitive overuse injuries (knee, broken wrist at growth plate). Neither of my kids are elite gymnasts or will go elite. I really changed my mindset the longer we’ve been doing this. No reason to skip a bunch of levels when they are young. They have to make it all the way through high school. Important to be mindful of this.
 

CLgym

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My DD started gymnastics a little late and did only one year of JO compulsory (one year of L4, scored out of L5)..... Then she hit a wall as an 11 year old L8, both mentally and physically. She is now repeating L8 at age 12, and still not over the hump. I have no proof that it is directly related to her skipping so much compulsory at the start, but can anecdotally report that DD’s teammates who have gone slow and steady seem to be less plagued with fear and form issues. There are definitely some gymnasts who can fly through compulsory levels with no ill effects, but I can pretty safely say that scoring well in L3 is not the litmus test. All that being said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask the coaches how things are going for your daughter (post season). Does your gym do TOPS? That might be another good option??
 
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cogymmom2dd

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My DD2 has friends that go to a gym that accelerates girls, but it’s more of a situation of acceleration through up training and competing down. For example, DD2 has a friend who is competing L4 for the 2nd year in a row and is consistently scoring above 38 in her meets- which is great for her, but is it fair to everyone that she is competing against? She also has another friend at this same gym and this friend practices on different days than the first girl and does more of a ‘practice where you are at’ path. So, she tries her hardest to master the skills for L4 each practice, parents pay ridiculous amounts of money for privates, but then when it come time for meet day, she basically is competing against a group of L4’s from her same gym that she doesn’t even practice with and gets blown out of the water score and placement wise because they are up training.
Girl #1’s mom has posted videos of her working skills that are definitely not level 4 skills, they are more consistent with 6/7. Their gym completely ‘skips’ L5, they do score out meets in the off season instead. If the girls can’t score out of L5 in 2 tries, then they compete XCEL Gold and then try again next year.
My DD1 ‘skipped’ L4 and 5, tested out of both levels on the same weekend- so acceleration is possible in that sense, but also competed a year of XCEL Gold after L3. The XCEL Gold year allowed her to progress skills in all of her routines and she carried over most of those exact routines to L6 and uses most of the same ones for L7, tweaking just a few things.
IMO, the beauty of XCEL Gold was that my DD was not ‘stuck’ with all of the repetition of the compulsory routines. Yes, I believe that compulsory is important, but learning how to perfect routines that have pre-set deductions with redundancy and repetition would have not been good for her. Her personality is of such that if she is bored with something, she disengages herself from it. She needs to be constantly challenged and that year of XCEL offered that. For example, she got her BHS/tuck series on floor and was able to incorporate that. She eventually got her front tuck and was able to convert her Front Handspring into a tuck in her routine. She also got her cast to handstand mid- season and competed that, along with her flyaway on bars and was competing those by the time she made it to state and regional meets. She also was challenged more on beam and was doing back tucks off the beam instead of the handstand dismounts In compulsory.
Also, if your coaches see potential in your kid, they will let you know. We have coach/parent conference twice a year with at least one coach and our gym owner to discuss our kid’s ‘path’. An accelerated path usually involves commitment to the gym in the sense of gym school/ day program, TOPS, etc. They will approach you and if they don’t, please just trust the process.
 

Tmacs

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Our gym rarely skips girls. They compete a whole season at one level and then uptrain. DD excelled in L2 and L3 (usually a high 37 AA) .. they talked about her skipping L3 but thank goodness we didn’t. She’s now in L4 and everyone else except for my dd and one other did a repeat of L3. Guess which two are having the mental issues? Yup, my dd and the other girl who did not repeat. It’s not because they don’t have the skills... dd has had her kip and BHS since level 2 and she has amazing form... it’s more a matter of confidence and repetition. Our gym used to go L4 to L6 and now they are camping at L5... all girls repeating from last year because they believe it is SO foundational to future success. It may seem like she can handle a skip or rush because of skills (I was there in my thinking too) and now I completely understand why the gym takes a slow and steady route... way fewer mental challenges later on when the mental part of gym stays ahead of the physical ability.
 

Pineapple_Lump

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Just because you can move ahead and go faster... doesn't mean you should. Physical ability is only half of the of the equation, I have seen way to many talented little kids pushed ahead in competition level and suffer huge confidence knocks because the lack the maturity/personality to deal with it. Competing down from your ability while working up skills in the gym is a great place to be. There are many benefits to being successful in competition (I don't define success as winning necessarily). While working bigger skills via progressions and safe set ups during training, so they are not rushing/repeating skills on less forgiving competition surfaces/equipment. This approach is better for the mind and body long term.
 

Ajoy

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Thanks everyone for the response. My daughter’s gym is pretty laid back, does not currently have any level 10s and definitely doesn’t meet with parents about their gymnast’s ‘path’. For the most part this is what I like about it there, gymnastics is stressful enough and my child is seven. I spoke with the head coach about her and she feels level 4 is essential but after that she could go to 7 if she is still excelling. In the meantime she is going to start privates one day a week with a focus on uptraining. I understand the marathon aspect of gymnastics, but immediate goal is more to keep her interested and challenged. Frankly I’m not sure my daughter has much of a future after puberty; I’m 5’9 and my husband is 6’2 so a big growth year is probably in her future.
 

MuggleMom

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That seems like a healthy approach...I am not always a fan of "privates" I feel like they should be able to work stuff into training, but if you are going this route to keep her engaged rather than to "fast track" her I think you can avoid the burn out pitfalls. Realistic expectations are your best friend! All the moms at my gym that were "all in" and always asking for homeschool or higher hours are most of the kids that have dropped out now. I always said not sure how things would go for my kiddo and she is still doing well and plodding along at a nice pace.
 

TumbleTimes4

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Thanks everyone for the response. My daughter’s gym is pretty laid back, does not currently have any level 10s and definitely doesn’t meet with parents about their gymnast’s ‘path’. For the most part this is what I like about it there, gymnastics is stressful enough and my child is seven. I spoke with the head coach about her and she feels level 4 is essential but after that she could go to 7 if she is still excelling. In the meantime she is going to start privates one day a week with a focus on uptraining. I understand the marathon aspect of gymnastics, but immediate goal is more to keep her interested and challenged. Frankly I’m not sure my daughter has much of a future after puberty; I’m 5’9 and my husband is 6’2 so a big growth year is probably in her future.

This is just my opinion and you can take it and do what you want with it, but I personally would hold off on private lessons. This sport only gets more expensive the longer you stay in it and privates at her age and level just aren’t necessary. You are so close to the end of a season, and lots of up training usually happens over summer.