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Switch gyms or stay?

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theBananaBunch

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My 7 y.o. is L2 (gym has it as L3 training team, so they will be L3 next year). Right now they are training 6 hours a week and will move up to 9 hours/week in a couple months.

Right now we're not happy with the quality of coaching- the head coach is not able to lift the girls, so her husband (not sure how much experience he has) helps out and is actually training their group more than she is. There are two groups- DD is in the lower group and seems to get very little attention. Most of the attention is to those who need more help. There is also a lot of sitting/standing around while waiting. Because of this, we don't see much progress.

We were really happy with her pre-team coach, and she showed a lot of progress last year. Communication was great, and she would update us on what DD needed to work on or what she was doing well. The current coach goes into a side office after practice and we don't see her. We have the option of requesting a meeting at the front desk with her if needed.

We live in the Minneapolis area, but both DH and I work from home, so honestly, we could move if needed to a better gym. Is it worth it to talk to the coach, or should we look at other options? We're also not sure if the training is too much or satisfactory for this age group/level. Thank you!
 

JoyAvenueMom

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Coaches can change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. A better question is whether the gym is a good fit for your dd in the long haul. That is a HUGE question. If she is happy, and overall the gym is well-run, then it may be best to be patient. The hours are on the lower side of normal, but would be fine if used well. Do some searches on "gym change" on this website. There have been TONS of great thoughts shared on this subject. You are lucky in that you have plenty of options to consider.
 

Mrs. Puma

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Honestly...if you're thinking about it this much, you already know the answer. Listen to your gut. Do your research and figure out what things are most important to you and your family. No gym is perfect, but it sounds like you're not happy here. I almost switched when Puma Jr was 7, and waited until 8 and anyone who has heard my tale of woe will tell you it was a poor choice. I can pm you details if you like. Good luck!!! It's very hard...you're not alone.
 

Mrs. Puma

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Do some searches on "gym change" on this website. There have been TONS of great thoughts shared on this subject.
Great point! As a newer gym mom, I didn't know what questions to ask or what to look for. There is a lot of great info on some of these older posts. Good luck!
 

theBananaBunch

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Thanks all! I will search "gym change". I searched "switching" but only saw one post, so will try that.

At the meeting last summer, they told us that the head coach will stay with the group throughout their levels, so it doesn't sound like that will change at all.

Another question- we pay over $200 a month for the 6 hours/week. Is that normal fee for gyms, or are we overpaying?
 

mom2newgymnast

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I don't really have any advice about switching gyms, as we haven't done that. I will say that we paid more than that for 6 hours at level 2. (Not saying that isn't a lot of money, but it's not over paying for my area anyway).

Also, I don't think the search is working that well right now. At least I have found in the past week or so that there isn't much history showing up. Searches only return things from the past couple of weeks and even if you click on a username and look at their posts, it only shows posts from recently. I'm not sure if that is what everyone is seeing, but if your searching isn't finding anything, I think that could be the reason.
 

NutterButter

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I'm in the same metro area as you. What you are paying now sounds right and even on the low side. The hourly rate I'm paying for my L7 is a higher than yours. There have been threads about what people pay and it always seems that we are on the high end. The hours/week sound appropriate too. One thing to look at is how successful your current gym's optional program is. Do they have girls competing at L9 - L10? And consider what philosophy you think is best for your DD. Does the gym move girls up when they are ready or are they held at a level until they can hit a certain score? Many gyms around here don't compete L4 so the gym that's the best fit for your DD may mean another year on pre-team. The good news is that there are many great gyms in the Twin Cities! If you haven't already, check out mymeetscores to see how different gyms do. Also, scoreyourmeet is another website that does scoring for several of the larger meets in the area (some of them are also on mms, but others are not).
 

Sasha

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Most of the attention is to those who need more help. There is also a lot of sitting/standing around while waiting. Because of this, we don't see much progress.
These are two issues frequently raised - 'teaching to the bottom', and optimizing time.

Regarding time standing around...
What's interesting is that, even in a well-run, successful program, a newer parent might still perceive that a gymnast is standing around and waiting for turns a lot. Compared to other sports training, this is true even when optimized with effective side stations. Gymnasts are required to do a lot of repeated heavy lifting (their own body weight), pounding, etc. Of course a gymnast can't keep constantly repeating these types of moves for 2-4 hours, so of there needs to be some degree of down time. The kicker is determining what feels reasonably close to optimal, and what is really wasted time and going to impede a child's potential. I have been a parent observer for nearly 3 years now, and I still struggle with this at times. I will occasionally catch a practice and see a line of 12 girls waiting for 1 spotted clear-hip-to handstand turn, and feel like we are at the wrong gym. Then I will look at the success of some of the optionals a couple levels up from my DD and see their beautiful moves and question why I am doubting things. My point is that this is a common feeling, but hard to diagnose in terms of whether time really is wasted.

Regarding teaching to the bottom...
Another tricky one. As gymnastics is a team sport, and classes are group classes (unless you are taking a private) it is the coach's primary job to field the best team in competition for the level they are working. This is sometimes in direct opposition to developing a gymnast as an individual to her greatest potential. The typical scenario goes something like this...

10 girls graduate pre-team and are moved to join the first level of competition (in your case, level 2). Over the months prior to the L2 season, girls train L2-3 skills, and of course some will achieve mastery sooner than others. Now L2 season begins to approach. Susie and Sally have all their L2 skills well polished, and even most of L3 is beginning to take shape. Mary and Missy still are still missing a couple skills, and need polish on most of the rest, despite several privates. Betty and the rest of the girls have all their skills, but need the typical polish that comes from running routines for weeks to months before comp season begins. What should the coach do? Coach can't move Susie and Sally into another group. So now it's practice time, and they are doing floor. Susie shows her beautiful kickover. Coach says "good" or gives a very small correction and sends Susie off to a shaping side station. Now Mary goes and completely misses her kickover. Coach spots Mary several times on the wedge mat before she rotates on. Now Betty takes a turn and does an ugly kickover. Coach gives a correction and asks Betty to try again. After Betty's second attempt, Coach goes over and helps straighten Betty's legs and arms and shape her back. She tries a third time and then moves on. For the last half of the floor rotation, Susie and Sally are practicing their routines alone while Coach works with Mary and Missy spotting the kickovers, while verbally correcting several other kids' skills that look sloppy.

As Susie's parent, it's hard not to think, "Hey, why is Coach always with Mary and Missy?" And it's true - if the Coach was trying to optimize Susie's trajectory, Coach might take Susie aside and work on the next level skills instead of focusing on the struggling kids. But Coach is optimizing the L2 team, and right now, Mary and Missy are the ones trailing and needing the most help. Possibly, after season, Susie and Sally might be put in a different training group that will be more challenging, but this pattern might just repeat itself up the Compulsory levels as some kids are faster learners.

Hopefully it's clear that I'm just giving an example that might help demonstrate one kind of reason why different kids get 'attention', and not declaring that this is exactly your situation. :)

The philosophy of the gym will be most key in determining whether it's a fit for your child. If she is a faster learner (at least now in Compulsories) a gym who is more proactive in skipping kids ahead, or re-grouping mid-stream might feel like a better fit.
 

ldw4mlo

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There is no standing around at our gym.

In fact we left a gym that wanted to up my kids hours a for it made no sense to me given how much standing around they did. Moved to a gym with less hours, but no standing around. The improvement in my kid was huge.
 

gymdog

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There are some very successful coaches out there that tend have the kids stand in line to do something perfectly with spot, even conditioning exercises. Of course, they usually keep their groups smaller than mine so I lean to a more continuous format, spot them on one thing, and then cross my fingers that they're concentrating on the next. Usually they aren't. But I figure it at least gives them a little conditioning. The line would be too long for me with my group sizes so just not possible for me to be that person, but what I'm getting at is I've been surprised at how some people who are extremely successful can be.

Not sure that's exactly what you're seeing though. But I would just look at your gyms program overall. What is the level 3 format like and are they successful? Do they have optionals? If they have a successful program then the format of how they run the practice might work for them, and maybe you're just getting used to it because the preteam coach was warmer, etc.

of course, I think especially at this early stage it is valid to switch if another format would work better with your DD's personality, like if she has more energy and needs a more continuous format to stay interested. In that case, it might be right to switch gyms even if you're switching to a "less" successful program.

Once she starts competing you'll probably have to commit to upfront fees for the year, so I would make sure you're at a gym that is the right fit for your family before next season when she competes. It may not necessarily be about how competitive the gym for you, maybe you want warmer coaches or the chance for DD to develop a long term relationship with the coach (so a small team where the coaches coach more than one level and know all the kids might fit better, for example).
 
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suebee

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I'll provide a different perspective from Mrs. Puma.

As a parent of a 7 yo L3, I think that for us parents who are relatively newbies to competitive gymnastics, it can be hard to know whether what you're seeing at your gym is potentially a problem, and wondering whether there are better options out there is pretty common.

I considered changing gyms last year. I thought that the gymnast:coach ratio was too high and that my dd wasn't getting enough individual attention. The schedule wasn't great for our family and wasn't going to get better in the next couple of years and I knew that other gyms had schedules that would work better for our family. And there didn't seem to be enough uptraining. I know others in our group had some of the same concerns and yes, girls left for those reasons after the L2 season and switched to other gyms.

At dd's gym, there are different coaches for L3 than for L2, so I figured I would wait to see how things went with the new coaches for L3 before deciding whether to look at other gyms. (And I was busy and tired and not really looking forward to the task of researching new gyms anyway.) I was surprised that the girls who left all left prior to the official move up to L3, so before starting with the new coaches, so their parents had had enough and left.

I've talked to some of the moms who left and they're all pretty happy they switched and they all seem happy with their new gyms. Interestingly, my dd ended up really liking the new coaches, and at least for now, I'm pretty happy dd stayed. Plus what ended up happening is that more girls left than new girls came in, plus some girls are repeating L2 and there were no L3 repeaters, so that all ended up making the gymnast:coach ratio, which was my big concern, better too. Of course, that can always change again, and maybe there will be a huge influx of new girls or a bunch of repeaters for next year. Who knows? But my dd is happy and seems to be progressing. Could she be progressing faster? Maybe. But most kids at our gym do 1 level per year and I think she's on track for that, and the uptraining has also increased in L3, perhaps due to new coaches, so that too seems good. Although she does not have her kip, her coach says she's really, really close (but she's been saying that for 3 months now!), and they're really working them.

I think that some wondering whether there is a better gym out there is normal for a new competitive gym parent, because we just don't know what to expect and to compare it to.
 
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theBananaBunch

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Thanks all. DH suggested I go tonight (usually he does) and just watch and observe. He also suggested that I try and talk to the coach afterwards, something like, "We feel like DD isn't progressing as much this year. What does she need to work on, and what is she doing well at?" From there we'll see what the coach says, I guess?

Another friend (whose daughter is in the same level) had a meeting with the same coach about her DD (long story short, she was having a tough time transitioning from parent to coach, and the coach told friend that they "weren't being loving enough"). This really rubbed her the wrong way, since I don't know of two more loving, caring parents.

The handbook we get says that if you leave to compete at another gym, you will not be permitted back at original gym. There's also a long paragraph about how switching gyms is usually a bad move for most gymnasts. I think that's supposed to intimidate parents from leaving.
 
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gymmomx2

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The handbook we get says that if you leave to compete at another gym, you will not be permitted back at original gym. There's also a long paragraph about how switching gyms is usually a bad move for most gymnasts. I think that's supposed to intimidate parents from leaving.
:eek::rolleyes::eek: - that certainly hasn't been our experience. Frankly that doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about your gym but YMMV.
 
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Gymmommy71

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That is shocking that they'd put that stuff in their handbook. Goodness :(. I've never seen a contract, handbook, etc. in all the years my kids have been doing activities that said stuff like that - I've seen things like financial consequences for leaving mid-season that were quite severe (like owing all the remaining tuition and comp fees plus a fee on top of that), but never anything about if you quit you can never come back. Thats kinda scary :(.

Does this gym have a proven track record of successful upper-level gymnasts, many of which have been w/ the gym for a long time? Do the higher level girls that they have look geniunely happy to be there most of time - like don't count being affraid of skills (cause that is bound to happen no matter what), etc. but more their general demeanor about being part of that gym. I'd use those types of things to judge if you should stick it out some more or not then just the activities in her current class.

I also think that you need to be 100% sure you want to leave before you start making any calls or having her try classes other gyms. Sounds like this place is the type that would kick her off the team and out of the gym immediately if they get wind that you are investigating your options (and they most likely will find out).

Good luck.
 

twinmomma

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The handbook we get says that if you leave to compete at another gym, you will not be permitted back at original gym. There's also a long paragraph about how switching gyms is usually a bad move for most gymnasts. I think that's supposed to intimidate parents from leaving.
This is a red flag to me. It irks me that gyms often forget they are dealing with CHILDREN and that it is not a one size fits all approach. It's highly possible a gym switch to a different coaching philosophy might be beneficial for the kid.

In our case, the gym switch was essentially forced - the team program fell apart at DD's old gym. At her old gym, DD likely would be an L5 this year rather than repeating L4, however, she would be going into L5 with fear issues and not being uptrained with the same focus and drills and conditioning she's now doing at her new gym. So it also depends on what you consider "beneficial." IMO, DD needs another year at L4 even though she has about 1/2 her L5 skills. What she lacks in flexibility and detail orientation is going to get handled and be in the long run much more beneficial for her to work on for another year before moving up.

I would say make sure you do your research about the gyms in your area, do a few under the radar visits (coaches DO know each other and talk to each other, so be careful) and you may decide you like your current situation best. But as you'll find here, most will say that if you're questioning if you should move, 9x out of 10 you should have already done it.

**Edited to add: Under the radar visits to me would be visiting as a parent and observing, not giving your daughter's name, etc... No classes yet for DD until you're sure it's time to move.
 

duyetanh

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Um....ok. This is going to sound harsh. But any gym that had this in their handbook?
We wouldn't be there.
One never knows what would happen in life....there should never be an absolute forced on someone in a sport that has no set ending point. Just mnsho.....
 
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ldw4mlo

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Um....ok. This is going to sound harsh. But any gym that had this in their handbook?
We wouldn't be there.
One never knows what would happen in life....there should never be an absolute forced on someone in a sport that has no set ending point. Just mnsho.....
Yep
 

flippin out

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Um....ok. This is going to sound harsh. But any gym that had this in their handbook?
We wouldn't be there.
One never knows what would happen in life....there should never be an absolute forced on someone in a sport that has no set ending point. Just mnsho.....
Around here that would mean that my kid would never be at any gym......every gym that I know here has a clause like that in their handbook
 
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