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Repeating l4

Gymx2

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DS (almost 10) had a great season of division 1 l4. He was brand new to the sport but immediately fell in love with it and picked up skills quickly. Scored well and placed high all the way through. His gym has lost a coach, and they seem to be a bit overwhelmed at the moment. DS has been doing pretty high hours this summer training l5, but his coach is telling me that he will repeat because he (the coach) hasn't had time to work on shaping or to teach this group the next level routines. He is a really nice man and a committed coach and shared his philosophy about levels being meaningless and that gymnastics is just what they do in the gym, not what they do in meets- and I appreciate that point of view. Still, I'm feeling frustrated that DS will repeat, not because he doesn't have the skills, but because they are short staffed. The coaches are nice, the gym has a good reputation, but I'm starting to think we'll look around during this season with an eye to move after States if they continue to say they don't have the resources to coach kids to the next level. Boys programs are few and far between- we have a couple of options, but they require more driving. How would you make a decision on something like this, esp. since it's still early in the game/low level?
 

Madden3

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I understand your frustration, repeating 4 seems unfortunate if he did well last season. But repeating levels is not a big deal typically. My younger son repeated 4 (he started late in the season so actually kind of did 4 one and a half times.) Oldest repeated Level 5. And this was before Divisions. Did your son compete Div 1 or 2, and will he compete the same this coming season? I am kind of confused why Level 5 is off the table for this season, especially since he has the option to compete level 5 without bonuses (Div2)

As far as what I would do in this situation, I do not think I would leave an otherwise good gym with supportive and knowledgable coaches just due to my son repeating a level, even if I thought the repeat was unnecessary. But I would leave a gym (assuming viable alternatives) if my son wanted to progress in the sport and the gym was not able to provide adequate up-training or enough training hours. Unfortunately men's gymnastics is a bit of an orphan sport and it is common that a gym will have a hard time finding enough good MAG staff in part because WAG can often provide more opportunity for coaches.

The other thing to consider in your calculations is your son's age. I do not know how well you know the "age in" rules for optional levels, but if a boy is starting competing at competition age 9 in Level 4, a pretty likely scenario would be that he would compete in JD rather than JO when he starts optionals, because he would mostly likely be out of age for level 8 which is open only to comp age 11 or 12 (with nationals as a possibility) and 13 (with no possibility of nationals), and I have a suspicion that this may change in 2020 and it may be that after that, any boy over comp age 12 is not able to compete 8 full stop.

JDs compete based on skill level rather than age, anyone 11 or over can compete JD and they are either JD 2 (approximately a level 7 or 8 in overall skill level) or JD1 (Level 9ish overall skill level) so it can offer a better road for "late" starting gymnasts or gymnasts who just did not progress quickly enough for any reason to get to level 8 by competition age 12. My younger son who turned 13 in May, so will be competition age 14 this coming season, competed JD 1 last season and will again this coming season, mostly because a shoulder injury sidelined him for an entire season when he would have been Level 7 and partly because his late May birthday gives him a competition age a year older than he actually is during the season.

If JD is the most likely scenario once your child gets to optionals anyway, that maybe reduces any pressure you and he might feel about getting through compulsories very quickly? Also in MAG, skipping level 7 is not uncommon and some kids do JD for a few years and then get back into JO at Level 9 or 10.

This was probably clear as mud. Sorry.
 
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Madden3

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Oh sorry I just saw your son competed Div 1 last season and did well. OK. Personally to me that adds to the mystery of why he has not been prepared to move to Level 5.
 

Gymx2

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The coach feels pretty strongly that he only wants boys competing division 1, no matter which level.
 

Cheryl

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Our situation is a lot like Madden's. My son also started "late" and competed Level 4 at age 9. He also, like your son did very well, and did so throughout compulsories. The only issue, like the other poster said was when they changed the age levels and ages. Since my son was a May b-day, he was considered a year older than he actually is. The age cut off meant he would have been 11 competing at Level 8. Our old gym did not have a JD team and the coach basically didn't want to coach my kid anymore because he was "too old, and not good enough" at 11. So, we switched gyms.

Our new gym doesn't do Levels 7 and 8. They do JD instead for 2 years and then go to Level 9. Their reason for this is that it gets the boys on the Pommel earlier and lets them up train kids on events they are good on, and they can design routines around their weakness. This year even though my son is 14, he will be competing as a 15 Level 9, which means he couldn't qualify for Nationals, but he probably wouldn't anyway, so not a big deal. Last year at Regionals, the 15-16 Level 9 was a pretty big group, as was JD1. The questions I would be asking your current gym is if they have a JD program and how it works. Our JD's practice the same hours as the 9's and 10's, it is also not looked on as a lesser alternative to JO, its treated more as its own level. Some gyms do not offer JD, or offer it more as an alternative to kids to want to make gym their second sport, so if your son is thinking he's serious about it, than you want him in a strong JD program.

The only concern I have in your case is that the gym doesn't seem to have a plan or resources to move boys up. While there isn't a big difference between 4 and 5(except the dreaded kip) , there is a pretty big difference between 5 and 6. I agree with the whole "levels are meaningless" concept, but for whatever reason, USAG decided to put upper age restrictions on levels, which left a lot of kids kind of stuck in limbo. Before the age changes it was really common for boys to repeat levels for up to 3 years. But the current model assumes that you start competing Level 4 by age 8 (which for about half the boys is really 7), and that you don't repeat a level in order to make it under the age cut off for 8. I would also be worried that its only August and the coach says he doesn't have enough time to do the Level 5 routines. Since its compulsory, it shouldn't be difficult to look at the manual and say, OK, in 5 we do 2 back handsprings, and in 4, only one. Our kids don't even start putting their routines together until Nov because they are spending all summer an most of fall training new skills, and it sounds like you won't even be training the new skills.
 

skschlag

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OK. So he is looking at competing 10yo L4. After a pretty successful L4 season.

Does he have any of the L5 skills?

I would be concerned, mainly because he is older, and has already been successful at that level. My bigger concern is what is the plan to be able to teach these skills? Should have been happening all summer. Is this issue going to change, or continue to be an issue? do they work new skills during the season or do they just run routines and routine skills?
 
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Gymx2

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His kip comes and goes and he can't do the muscle up without help, but he feels like he's in good shape otherwise with his skills. Comp season doesn't start until early Dec., so I guess I am struggling to understand why he couldn't learn the routines by then. His gym does do JD, but I don't know much about the program.
 
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Madden3

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I would suggest just try to get clarity from the coach. On the one hand he says it does not matter what level a kid competes, yet he feels strongly that boys should NOT compete Div 2. This appears contradictory to me. But he may have a strategy he has not shared with you.

The "changes" (upper age cut offs in JO optionals, the implementation of a JD program, and introductions of divisions in compulsories, plus age-in date change to May 31) were all put into place in 2016. So this was a very recent and massive change in the how boys might progress in the sport. It is understandable that many coaches are taking their time embracing these changes. I know there are many gyms that do not like to have boys compete Div2.

But Div 2 is actually just what the base routines always were before. The base routines exist to provide a solid skill foundation. The entire point of having compulsory routines is to make sure that there is this solid foundation on all events. Bonuses back before 2016 were (officially) entirely optional- they were truly bonuses. But some gyms only moved up boys who could do all or almost all the bonuses in all events, essentially changing the base routines to include all the bonuses. Kids who could do lots of bonuses would tend to outscore the boys who could not, even if their form was not great. So that system rewarded poor training practices. My impression is that divisions were created to fix that issue, not to create an "easier" division for kids who cannot hack a level.

It has been a couple years since my sons were in compulsories, but as I recall, to place well in Div 2, since no bonuses at all are allowed, the gymnast has to have a very clean routine with extremely good form. That is a challenge in itself and of course it allows both coach and gymnast to focus on very solid basics and this is very important for later progression in the sport. Also it is not as if you have to do both divisions. My youngest competed Div 2 in level 6, did great, and then moved on to level 7 (the season he was unexpectedly sidelined due to an impact injury.) Now he is doing JD, with the plan to move to L 9 or 10 the year after. One of the other boys on his 3 man level 6 Div 2 team (who was also a late starter in the sport) then moved to JD for a couple seasons and will compete Level 10 this year. In other words competing Div 2 or JD is not necessarily going to hold someone back from progression up the levels as long as they are getting proper up training. In fact divisions and JD offer a chance for boys to find a more individualized path through the levels.
 

Gymx2

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The coach already has boys who competed level 5 division 1 and are repeating. He doesn't want to have to go to two level 5 sessions since they are broken up that way sometimes in meets around here. He's a very nice guy, and I think he's a good coach, but I'm having trouble with the idea that my kid can't move up because this coach doesn't have the time to coach him to the next level. He's said that he "doesn't have enough time to work on shaping and positioning" with the boys, and "doesn't have time to teach them the routines", and that he'd rather they uptrain without having to worry about also managing routines. Honestly, if he told me my kid just wasn't working hard enough, or that he was struggling with the skills and they didn't want my son to feel pressured, I'd be fine with it.

OTOH, the head coach has told me repeatedly that my son is moving up- but HC doesn't coach compulsories, so I'm guessing what the assistant coach says regarding comp. boys will stand. I guess I'm just partly venting here, partly wondering if this is the norm in MAG.
 

Cheryl

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In my experience, post the 2016 changes, there has been more willingness to put a kid in a higher level before they are ready to keep them “in age”. Before that, more kids repeated at least one level.

It seems like the best place for your kid would be practicing with the current Level 5’s so the coach is working on the skills that your son should be learning. I would probably look around for another gym if the current one if your kids placement revolves around what is convenient for the coach rather than what is developmental for the gymnast.
 

Madden3

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He doesn't want to have to go to two level 5 sessions since they are broken up that way sometimes in meets around here.
OK, I wondered if that was part of the issue. That would make it hard on the coaches if they only had one div 2 unfortunately. On the other hand, I do not recall a meet where our coaches were not at every session of the meet. And sometimes it was just to coach the one boy who was at that level. It is just kind of the way it is.

I forget how division 1 works. It is not a requirement that they do all the bonuses, is it? Maybe the coach is concerned your son will not score/place as well if he competes level 5 d1 without the bonuses?

OTOH, the head coach has told me repeatedly that my son is moving up- but HC doesn't coach compulsories, so I'm guessing what the assistant coach says regarding comp. boys will stand.
It sounds like there is a communication issue between HC and comp coach?

I guess I'm just partly venting here, partly wondering if this is the norm in MAG.
It is fine to vent! We all do it. I would say it is NOT the norm for a kid who competed in division one in a compulsory level and did fine to not move up. And my impression is that repeating level 4 in particular would be even more atypical.

and that he'd rather they uptrain without having to worry about also managing routines.
Then why compete at all? I mean, competing is expensive. I have sometimes wished my sons could just take a couple years to train and not compete! But learning how to memorize routines even when under pressure is an important part of a gymnast's training.

Honestly, if he told me my kid just wasn't working hard enough, or that he was struggling with the skills and they didn't want my son to feel pressured, I'd be fine with it.
Yes I understand.
 
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M2Abi

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If he was 6 and repeating Level 4, I would say don't worry about it. At 10, I think it is a concern and I would want to know that my son was in a gym that was capable of providing the training to reach my son's potential. I would (very carefully) look around at other options.
 
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acam1103

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How does your son feel about it? That would play a big role in how I would feel about it. I have one who would have no tolerance for repeating a level he had done well at, one who would blame himself no matter how much it wasn't his fault, one would wouldn't care a single bit, and one who is little so I would just let him repeat. At your son's age I would really want to consider his feelings on the whole thing. Would he rather take a risk and switch gyms? Or is he okay with repeating unnecessarily? What are his long term goals? If he has big aspirations it would be tougher to justify repeating at his age (given he sounds like he is ready to move up in terms of ability). With my kid who is just in it because he has fun and has no care in the world what level he is in, or my youngest who is still so little it doesn't really matter I would probably stay put. But with my older son whose confidence would be killed or my younger son who needs constant challenges and has college gym aspirations I would be considering switching gyms.

Also, have you considered speaking with the head coach about the issue since it sounds like there is disagreement between him and the compulsory coach? I would want to know how the disagreement is going to be handled. Our team just went through an ugly couple of years due to our two main coaches not agreeing on a lot of things. It wasn't until one left that we all realized how much it was impacting our boys.
 
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Gymx2

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He wants very much to move up, but doesn't want to switch gyms. He likes his coach and his teammates a lot, and is willing to repeat if he has to. I will speak to the head coach sometime soon to get some clarity.
 

Gym dad

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I don't see any benefit for the gymnast to repeat level 4.... especially if he was successful his 1st year. Level 4 is not even real gymnastics yet as the routines are so basic. I would much rather have my gymnast repeat a higher level. Repeating the most basic level, in my opinion does not help develop the gymnast.
 
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sce

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I would look at other gyms now. A coach saying that they don't have time to work on shaping and positioning is telling you that he does not have time to coach your child. This was an issue at our alst gym, the caochw as spread thin and the lower elvels did not progress. Repeating should be what is best for the gymanst, in this case it does not sound like it is. It sounds like, he will not progress over the next year, which would likely be boring and frustrating for your boy.
 

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