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starting gymnastics at 16/17

ejs10

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Oct 14, 2019
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I have wanted to do gymnastics ever since I was 13/14, but due to other sports and being in high school, I haven't been able to find time to go to a gym. I started teaching myself some skills at home. I really like doing handstands - I worked up to holding them for a couple minutes without wall one summer and was super excited. I can also do cartwheels, roundoff, splits, side aerial (not consistent), backbend, backbend kickover (just recently!), front walkover (not consistent), standing press handstand (also not consistent).
I want to find a gym and maybe take a few private lessons/classes, but I would also love to compete (probably in Xcel program) - I think it would be really fun.
I have a few questions:
1) I looked online at this one gym and saw the only practice times I could make would be for Xcel Silver, Xcel Gold, and Xcel platinum. Ideally, I'd like to do Bronze (especially since I have zero bar skills), but would I be allowed to skip to silver? Also, how strict is the attendance if I had to miss a few times/show up a little late?
2) Are there any age limits for competition in Xcel? How long could I expect to continue competing?
3) Also any summer camp recommendations for beginners my age, specifically in New England or Midwest? I feel camp might be a fun way to work on some skills in addition to a summer team possibly.
4) I would probably start at a gym next season, but would I ever be able to join a team halfway through season?

Any advice is appreciated! I know I am starting really late, and I don't mind being one of the oldest. Willing to practice skills safety at home/stretch/condition. Just want to have fun with the sport!

Thanks!!
 

Carabistouille

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Great that you want to start gymnastics. I started very late and I managed to get to a decent level, so it's definitely possible.

In your situation, the best thing would be to phone the gym you found, tell them about your situation and ask them those questions, only them have the answer.

Besides, are rec classes an option for you ? It would provide you with a coach to teach you good technique as well as mats/pit/etc. to learn new skills safely.
Or maybe high school gymnastics (not in the US so I know nothing about the system) ?
 
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GymDadWA

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Does your highschool offer gymnastics? Some of the highschool programs are setup where they have experienced gymnasts and brand new gymnasts all competing but against relative experience not necessarily against each other, sort of a Varsity and JV differentiation.
 

ejs10

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Oct 14, 2019
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Great that you want to start gymnastics. I started very late and I managed to get to a decent level, so it's definitely possible.

In your situation, the best thing would be to phone the gym you found, tell them about your situation and ask them those questions, only them have the answer.

Besides, are rec classes an option for you ? It would provide you with a coach to teach you good technique as well as mats/pit/etc. to learn new skills safely.
Or maybe high school gymnastics (not in the US so I know nothing about the system) ?
That's great to hear about another late starter!
I have a few gyms I may call to ask those qustions- and then I may also ask about their rec programs or go online. That's a good idea. I agree that safety and good technique are important!
My high school does have a gymnastics team during the winter, but I ski, and although I would love to participate in high school gymnastics, I also really like skiing...
 

ejs10

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Oct 14, 2019
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Does your highschool offer gymnastics? Some of the highschool programs are setup where they have experienced gymnasts and brand new gymnasts all competing but against relative experience not necessarily against each other, sort of a Varsity and JV differentiation.
My high school does have a gymnastics team during the winter that I would love to participate in, since they don't require any experience, but I enjoy skiing during the winter. If only they offered it during the spring season when I usually take that sport season off!
 

Aussie_coach

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You absolutely can start gymnastics at your age and can compete for as long as you like, as long as your gym is willing. People start competing in their 20’s or even later.

Most people find it harder to start at an older age, but not all. A lot will come down to your own personal factors such as height, strength, coordination, speed, flexibility, ability to do things that might be scary, commitment, work ethic etc.

It would her very difficult for anyone to answer your questions on here as every gym will have a different policy. Many gyms won’t take anyone onto their teams after about the age of 7. Others will take anyone who wants to put in the work.

Very consistent attendance is important for your progress. An absence here or there won’t make much difference, but if you miss a lot of training or come late frequently you will struggle to get far. Some gyms will have a zero tolerance for this and won’t be able to offer a spot on the team if attendance isn’t close to 100% others will take anyone who pays the fees.

You can continue to compete as long as you won’t. I know in the US kids often stop attending their gyms after high school, because so many go away to college. But I don’t believe their is an upper age limit in the rules. Here in Australia kids don’t tend to go away to college so many continue to compete into their 20’s. Masters competitions are getting more and more popular and even those in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s can do gymnastics competitions.

Again with the seasons this will depend on the gym. Some only have one intake point in the year, others will take newcomers anytime as long as they fit in with their current programs.

But be aware that gymnastics (except in school) is a year round sport. It does not have seasons, like many other sports. When you are not in competition season, the rest of the months or the year are required for strength and flexibility development and skill acquisition. While you can find a lot of variations in clubs expectations, I have never heard of a club that would allow anyone to join their team who was not prepared to make a year round commitment.
 

mommyof1

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Jan 31, 2012
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Where I live, there are a few gyms that offer classes especially for middle school and high school students. These classes tend to be longer than rec classes for younger kids and to offer the option of attending several days a week. This type of class would be a great starting point.

For future competitive opportunities, you could look into college club gymnastics. Have fun!
 

raenndrops

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Oct 24, 2009
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I have wanted to do gymnastics ever since I was 13/14, but due to other sports and being in high school, I haven't been able to find time to go to a gym. I started teaching myself some skills at home. I really like doing handstands - I worked up to holding them for a couple minutes without wall one summer and was super excited. I can also do cartwheels, roundoff, splits, side aerial (not consistent), backbend, backbend kickover (just recently!), front walkover (not consistent), standing press handstand (also not consistent).
I want to find a gym and maybe take a few private lessons/classes, but I would also love to compete (probably in Xcel program) - I think it would be really fun.
I have a few questions:
1) I looked online at this one gym and saw the only practice times I could make would be for Xcel Silver, Xcel Gold, and Xcel platinum. Ideally, I'd like to do Bronze (especially since I have zero bar skills), but would I be allowed to skip to silver? Also, how strict is the attendance if I had to miss a few times/show up a little late?
2) Are there any age limits for competition in Xcel? How long could I expect to continue competing?
3) Also any summer camp recommendations for beginners my age, specifically in New England or Midwest? I feel camp might be a fun way to work on some skills in addition to a summer team possibly.
4) I would probably start at a gym next season, but would I ever be able to join a team halfway through season?

Any advice is appreciated! I know I am starting really late, and I don't mind being one of the oldest. Willing to practice skills safety at home/stretch/condition. Just want to have fun with the sport!

Thanks!!
1) Xcel Silver is the first "required" Xcel Level for those without prior competitive experience. Strictness of attendance varies by club, so as others said, you would have to ask.
2) There are no upper age limits for Xcel competitions, so you could compete as long as the gym would allow it.
3) Not sure, but most of the big gymnastics camps take girls of all skill levels (but they are pricey). Look into IGC - International Gymnastics Camp or Woodward Gymnastics Camp ... I THINK they are both in Pennsylvania.
4) In most states, gymnastics is "in season" around winter - Some states have all JO and Xcel levels starting in the Fall and running through around March ... and other states have JO Compulsories (L1-L5) in the Fall through December and JO Optionals (L6-L10) and Xcel would start competing in January through March. There may be other ways different states do things.

If you havent considered it and there is a YMCA gymnastics team nearby, that may be a good option for you. There are Y teams in New England that even compete at YMCA Nationals (an event that brings together YMCAs from around the country ... and has offered all levels of JO and Xcel in past years).
 
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SonshineMamaJH

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Aug 7, 2019
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Good for you! Just be careful not to overdo things at home especially as poor form can lead to injury specially for teen bodies (my dd has been in that situation so she now has more rules about what we allow outside of the gym to prevent injuries )
 
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gymnasticsgirly22

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May 29, 2019
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I started Later in my tee!! Now I’ve been competing for 4 years in the XCEL program and I love it!!! I did 3 years in Recreational gymnastics learning all my basics and I was able to skip Bronze and Silver and Jumped straight to Gold! I’m a Diamond now!!

It will be hard, and sometimes you’ll get discouraged or feel like the oldest as a lot of bronzes/silvers are on the younger side but don’t give up especially if you love it!!

Attendance rules in XCEL all depend on the gym, my coaches generally are ok if we have to miss a practice here and there and if we are late because of school.

Age limits also depend on your gym policy! I know some gymnasts who still do XCEL into their 20s.

When you join is also dependent on the gym, but you register for meets well in Advance, like we start competing in February but we had to sign up for the ones we wanted to compete in September!

I know IGC, Woodward, College gym camps, and Rocky Mountain TrainingCamp are good camps for competitive gymnasts!

good luck to you and I hope you reach all your goals and dreams in gymnastics!!
 

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