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Repeating Level 4?

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Billy

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I am seeing a lot of talk about first and second years at L4 and it seems like a lot of girls do L4 more than once. As my DD is just moving up to L4, I'm curious about this. Are we talking about AAU or USAG L4? How common is it to repeat L4? Why do they repeat? Are there certain skills that give the girls trouble? How many years did everyone's DDs do L4 and, if more than one, why?
 

Gymmonkeymomma

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Mar 7, 2008
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At our gym, the coaches' goal is to get girls to move up (sometimes more quickly than necessary, IMHO). Last year, on my DD's team there were 10 girls at USAG Level 4. DD was the youngest at 6. At the end of the summer, the coaches were toying with the idea of keeping DD at Level 4 "because she is so young"...while ALL of her teammates moved up (the rest of the girls were 9-13 yrs old).....even though she had almost all of her skills (except the squat on/jump to high bar) and some of the other girls didn't even have their kips! I had a talk with the coach and expressed to him that if the only reason is because of her age, I didn't think that was right to keep her back and torture her with having to do another year of the mill circle, not to mention what it might do to her self esteem. She ended up moving up to Level 5 along with the other girls and is holding her own (except for the jump, which she is working on). There is a rumor that no one in our gym is moving up this year.

My older DD only did 1 year of Level 4 - she turned 8 at her first meet. She was an "ok" Level 4- scoring 33-34's. Her team only competed 2 meets, but then they did USAIGC with the same routines (that was when USAIGC allowed the USAG compulsory routines, no more). The following year, she did Level 5 and came in 6th AA at States.
 
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M23K's

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My daughter did her first year of level 4 at 7 years old. They moved her to level 5 when she was 8 but she struggled. She had the skills for 5 but she didn't want to put in the hard work so we decided to let her do level 4 again. I think the main problem was an abusive coach. I think under no circumstances a child should be treated badly. I know it's commonly accepted as being 'just the way things are in gymnastics' but it's wrong. The coach talked to her horribly. I think she was trying to motivate her but it didn't work. A ton of people have left our old gym this past year due to many, many cases of nasty coach syndrome.

Sorry....I went on a rant but I haven't completely let go of my anger towards her old coach.

I think some kids are held back because they haven't mastered the basics of 4 but then some kids have all their level 4 skills down pat but can't seem to get the skills for 5. Some gyms also have kids compete 2 years at the same level so the gym places well at meets.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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I think it depends on age, how well they did and whether they have the skills to move up. My dd competed level 4 when she was 8 and only did one year of it. Level 5 I thought she was going to have to repeat, but right before the start of the season everything clicked and she moved to level 6. I generally don't get involved - I leave it up to her and her coaches. If it were up to me I would have left her at 5 - I didn't think she was ready for 6 - but then she ended up doing really well - so I guess the coaches knew what they are talking about.
 

Blackie6

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My DD did her first year at USAG L4 as a 6 yr old. She just learned most of the skills about 2 (Feb-June was TOPS training) months before meet season (Sept-Jan in NJ) and learned the routines themselves about a month before. Even though she was on pre-team for a year, the only "skill" they worked on there were pull-overs, walk-overs, handstands & vault. That's why I am jealous of those of you with L2 and L3 teams working on skills and meet experience! More than 1/2 my DD's team moved up to L5 after states, but that is a whole other story. Some of them are second year L4's without the benefit of a meet season their 1st year because our gym's L4-6 teams are in the re-building process. Most of them did score very well but they were also older than my DD, mostly 8-10's . The youngest girls on our L4 team are doing a second year. My DD just turned 7 (competed states as a 6 yr old) and now that she has the skills, the routines and the meet experience I think doing L4 again is a good idea. Plus the hours go from 10.5 to 16, which would be a huge jump for my DD who does other activities. Our gym does not have rules about how many years at each level or what scores are. Move-ups are based on the individual. But even some that could have gone to L5 decided to repeat to spend time on the "basics".

I know your DD is doing the L3 which is great, so maybe you won't worry about the repeat year, but I felt my DD got thrown in suddenly and played "catch-up" the first year learning skills, routines, & getting comfortable at meets.

My DD will probably do a double season which is the L4 into the L5 season. So she will be a 2nd yr L4 @7 and then be a 1st yr L5 as an young 8. By then maybe she will know if she wants to be in the gym 16 hrs/week. I believe that most of the new L5's will be repeating as well. L5 seems to be a big repeat year from what I've been reading. But, we are trying not to get ahead of ourselves with the plan, LOL
 

melmonette

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Aug 16, 2007
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omaha, ne
Emily was 6 when she moved to level 4 and just turned 7 by her first meet(She has an August 99 birthday). Last year, Emily had all the skills but she was sloppy and didn't score super great. Her best all around score last year was 33.85 in which her highest event scores were 8.9 on Vault, 8.3 on bars, 8.5 on beam and 8.725 on Floor Ex. Well our gym had a strict rule. You don't score a 35 in the AA once in the season... You are not invited to train level 5 after the season is over. Emily had to repeat level 4 even though by fall she had her kips and all the level 5 skills even before some of the girls who got to move up and stay in level 5. It was a good thing for Emily though because she has gotten to do well this year and work her level 5 skills throughout this year and she has really improved with presentation. Emily just finally learned to perform essentially. Her coach last year says it was an age thing and some kids get it early than others do but eventually it clicks.
 
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Billy

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Actually, my DD has decided to skip up to L4 instead of spending the year at L3. And I think she is totally ready. She already has her cast squat on and long-hang pullover. In fact, the only AAU L4 bars skill she needs is the front hip circle. The vault is basically the same. On floor she just needs the BHS and on beam she needs the cartwheel and the side handstand w/ 1/4 turn dismount. They don't compete until next January and she is close to having all of these skills so I think she's going to do just fine. As a L2, her lowest AA score has been 34.9 and her average is 36 (she's gotten two high 35s, one 36 and one 37).

I'm not sure what the new gym's policy is about moving up (as far as AA scores, etc.). But, as she's just starting L4, I'm not ready to worry about that yet. I'm just curious because there are so many repeats.
 

fruitcake

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Aug 1, 2007
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The last few years roughly half our level 4's have repeated and the other move on up. There is no set score to move up--it is based on what the coaches think is best for each girl. Every now and then we have a girl chose to repeat because they or their family aren't ready for the jump in hours/commitment. Our coaches try to be sure the girls are at a level where they will succeed--ie not just do the skills but actually get to place at meets. My dd repeated level 4 and 5--could have moved up after one year both times but would not have scored well and I know that would have bothered her. I would rather my dd feels good then just move through the levels.
 

gymjourneymom

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I agree with fruitcake! It's more important for the girls to have a sense of achievement instead of them just getting thru the levels. If it takes a gymnast 2 yrs at a level the achieve this... so be it...1 year to learn the skills...1 year to master & perfect them. There's always room for improvement in a skill & there's always up training going on to keep the interest up. The gymnast should be working & enjoying herself :)
 

lannamavity

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Sep 13, 2007
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I agree with fruitcake! It's more important for the girls to have a sense of achievement instead of them just getting thru the levels. If it takes a gymnast 2 yrs at a level the achieve this... so be it...1 year to learn the skills...1 year to master & perfect them. There's always room for improvement in a skill & there's always up training going on to keep the interest up. The gymnast should be working & enjoying herself :)
That's a great way to look at it.

The great benefit to Level 4 is that the gymnast learns all of the formalities/procedures at a meet (saluting, warming up, etc), and the benefits of good, consistent workouts before they have more complicated routines to be concerned with.

Strong Level 4's (either first or second year) always make for confident, polished Level 5's and 6's.

I have also seen 3rd year Level 4's or 5's zip through to optionals once they have matured to the point where things "click".
 

Livinatthegym

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Feb 4, 2008
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Repeating a level is very common. At our gym, it was more common to repeat 6 than 4, but that's changed since we our former head coach left.

Our former head coach was someone with 20+ years of experience in gymnastics and a bunch of kids of her own (I want to say 5?). All her own girls did gymnastics. One stuck with it and competed NCAA. Anyway, she was very practical about the team. She knew ours was not the place to be for kids or parents with Olympic dreams. So, our team almost never had girls who barely made the minimum ages set by USAG because there was no rush to get anybody through the levels. She preferred the to take older girls for the simple reason that they were more mature, and she felt more comfortable that the girls, not the parents, were making the decision to be on team. I think this is why the only "repeats" we had at level 4 were the girls who just couldn't get a skill they needed for level 5 (usually the kip).

We see a lot of repeats at 6 because it's just a tough level. The skills get bigger, the scoring gets tougher, and the competition gets tougher as girls drop out. Getting to the podium takes more work.

At the optional level, we start to see repeats because the next big skill eludes a girl. We might also see a girl repeat a level rather than be the "only" level whatever on the team. It's something my dd2 is facing. If she stays in and goes to level 8 next year, she'll be the only level 8. Not much fun. I suspect she will retire rather than repeat 7. I know she won't want to compete alone.

Anyway, back when we were just starting this journey, some of the experienced moms told me just to expect to repeat a level at some point.

To answer your question, though, my girls each did 1 year at level 4. The oldest was 10 when she competed L4; the youngest was 8.
 
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M23K's

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Lannamavity.....it's good to hear that even kids who did 3 years at a level can be successful later on. My dd is looking at a posssible third year of level 4. She took this past year off except for a once a week rec class. She wants to go 5 but she's lost a lot of strength and flexibility plus she's now 10 years old (almost a senior citizen in the gymnastics world) so we'll see. She has her evaluation for team in a little over a week. Hopefully the strength training she's done at home will be enough.
 

Aussie_coach

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There are many reasons a gym may prefer the kids to repeat level 4, the main one isuaully that they have not yet got the skills to compete successfully at level 5. If say a girl has not yet got her kip she will experience more success competing level 4 for another year and doing well while continueing to train the level 5 and 6 skills in the gym so they are ready to be successful the following year at level 5, than to go and compete level 5 and continually struggle with the skills and get poor scores.

Ideally a child should start competing a level when they have ALL of the skills for that level and train these as only a part of their train ing session. Kids should be training and competing the level 4 skills, while at the same time they should be training level 5 skills and preparing them to be competition ready the following season and at the same time begining to work drills to prepare them for the level 6 skills. It shoudl not matter what level they are competing because tey should still be studying the more advanced skills and continueing to improve and learn new things.

There are other reasons a gym may choose to hold them back such as to gain more competition experience at the basic level, because they feel they have a chance of winning a high title and want them to experience the success, they may not be physically ready for the higher training hours and more physically demanding training, they may not be ready maturationally to cope with the expectations of the higher level team. Their parents may not be able to finacially cope with the additional costs or may not be prepared to committ to the longer hours and so on.

The desicion to stay back or move on can also vary depending on the child. We have one girl for example who puts terrible pressure on herself, she is now a part of the level 4 team and she feels she must always have her skills perfectly or she gets very upset and has trouble coping and doing her skills well. She is currently the oldest and best on the level 4 team. We have chosen not to move her to the 5 team yet because she will have the lowest skill level on the team, the way she reacts to situations like this is to decide she is hopeless and give up on all skills. We are keeping her in level 4 longer for this reason, there are other kids who cope emotionally well with anything and we may move them up faster.
 

lannamavity

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Sep 13, 2007
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Is it more common to repeat level 4 more than any other year?

I don't know that anyone has the stats...but my guess would be:

Most common repeated Levels:

#1...Level 9
#2...Level 5
#3...Level 8
#4...Level 7 (most quit at/before)
#5...Level 6
#6...Level 10
#7...Level 4

The younger the athlete, the more likely the repeat will occur.
 

Aussie_coach

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In Australia level 4 is the most common level to repeat. Around 80% spend more than one year in level 4. But our system is a bit different to the USA, level 4's do similar skills here in Aus as in the USA but they can do bonus skills in their routines (like kips, back walkover on beam, round off back handspring back tuck, change leg leap) to get higher start value's so they are less bored staying down because they can still compete the higher skills.

I think the reason it is so common to repeat level 4 is because there is a big jump in the level 4-5 skills. Like in the USA our kids need to get their handsrping vault, kips on low and high bar, cartwheels on beam, handsprings on floor, back extention rolls on floor and so on. It is common to have kids who get stuck on 1 or two skills and just arent ready.

For the optional levels it is easier because a skill that is difficult can be dodged. If a level 7 can't get their back handspring on beam they can work a different flight skill like a round off or front handspring. That way we can move gymnasts up without the set skills.

Also I think there is a big jump from level 3-4. Level 3's are usually training not too many hours (I'd say on average around 4-6, even though it is pretty common for them to do 9 or 10). But from level 4 and above there is a lot more hours and a lot more competitions, but the steps aren't as big from there. I think some kids do take a little longer to adjust to the transition.
 

Livinatthegym

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she's now 10 years old (almost a senior citizen in the gymnastics world) so we'll see.
Not really. My dd1 started competing at 10 (level 4). She's now 14 and a level 8. She's outlasted most of the girls she started with. Oddly enough, the one girl left with her at level 8 is older than she was 12 when she did level 4. Don't let your dd's "senior" status get her down.
 

MyGymStar

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Sep 19, 2007
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My dd started gymnastics in June, 2 months before her 7th birthday, which gave her about 3 1/2 months to learn all of her level 4 skills. She has absolutely NO GYM EXPERIENCE, we thought she would never be able to do it!!!! She competed that season and finished 7th all around at our local state meet. We switched gyms shortly after, and he was having all of his level 4's repeat it in fall, and move to 5 in the spring.... so she did level 4 again this fall, and finished 1st at state on beam, and 7th overall again, and had an awesome season. I think it really boosted her confidence. Our coaching staff left that gym, and we moved to another local gym, who put her training 5/6. She scored out of 5 in her first meet, and is now working 6/7. Sorry for the long message :)
 

Aussie_coach

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That is really sad to hear, someone being called a senior citizen when they are doing level 4 at the age of 10. I think that will change as gymnastics changes. At the moment it seems there is a psychology of rush to beat the clock, get good before you get old. But it is no longer only teenagers competing at the top levels in this sport. There are plenty of senior international competitors in their 20's and even early 30's. Which means a child does not have to peak at age 15 or be forever out of the sport. The psychology behind the whole sport is changing too. It is now accepted that there are plenty of people who do want to reach high competitive levels in the sport but have no desire to reach the elite level, it is now undestood that you can start as a teen or even an adult and still enjoy a high;y successful competitive career as a gymnasts without the need to aspire to elite.

We have already seen many of these changes in Australia and the results are that 10 is no longer old for level 4, in fact if you attend a level 4 competition here you will find that there is a huge number of teenagers competing. In australia the divisions are divided into level 4 under 10 and level 4 open. It used to be quite even but now the level 4 open divisions have many, many more competitiors than the under 10's.

I remember attending a level 1 competition last year and most of the placing went to kids who were 5-6 years old, but first place went to a girl who looked about 12 or 13. (where I live level 1 divisions are not usally divided by age but by the number of hours the girls train per week. there are divisions for those who train 2 hours or less, 4 hours or less and more than 4 hours, age divisions do not come in until level 3).

It seemed a little strange and unfair that this 12 year old girl was taking all those places against those 5-6 year olds, but it should not have. Why are clubs ashamed to have their older gymnasts compete at the lower levels, in fact the more clubs who do it, the more likely divisions will be created to encourage more teens and adults to compete level 1.
 

Imat3

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Jan 10, 2008
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My OLD 10 year olds are first year level 4's this year and they have done exceptionally well. They both work really hard, have coaches who really stress the proper technique on everything, and have been quite successful. Both have scored 37's and 38's AA this year.

I feel like if they are being taught the proper technique and are conditioning enough, they won't have any trouble with the level 5 skills. If a level 4 is still doing front hip circles with bent knees/arms by the end of the season, they will have to fix that for the level 5 bars. Same with floor...the first bhs must be great to add the second. Each level builds on the last.

I don't see many girls at our gym repeating level 4. Some choose to stay at 4 because the parents don't like the idea of increased hours. Usually they are all ready to move to 5 and work on 5/6 skills.

Imat3
 
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