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For Parents thoughts on age divisions

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Panda-girl's Mom

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Jan 9, 2008
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I do not understand why they separate the girls by ages in this sport. I have seen this one too many times this year and it does not make sense. Girls who are younger seem to get higher scores and because they are in a more competitive group they place lower. One of my daughters friends got a higher score than my daughter in beam (my daughter is in the next age bracket) and she did not place while my daughter got a medal and placed. What really has irritated me was one of the girls at my daughters gym the youngest level 8 gets the highest score out of all the other girls in the gym at states but does not qualify to regionals while some of the older girls who got lower scores were able to qualify. This seems really unfair. I wonder why everybody is in such a rush to move these young girls through the levels when things like this happen. It is very discouraging.
 

mom2kazkids

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Feb 16, 2008
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What gets me with the age groupings is when they group so many together. At the Chicago Style meet that DD did this last Feb they grouped it as 8 and under, age 9, and then 10 and up. DD was in the 8 and under group with a total of 54 girls, age 9 had 21 girls and 10 and up was 17. I really would have seemed more reasonable if they broke it as 7 and under, age 8, age 9 and 10 and up, as it would have broken up that group of 54. They went out 27 places for awards.
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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The way they break ages up for MDL is 8 and under, age 9, age 10, and 11 and up. (At least for Level 4). For Levels A-D, they do take into account how many kids are at each age and they will seperate the 11s, 12, and 13 yos if there are a lot of them. The weird thing is they go by how old you will be as of State championships in May. So, my dd who turned 10 in Jan, but is in the 4th grade, has to compete against her teammates who will be turning 11 in June and later but are currently in the 5th grade.
 
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UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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I don't get it either...my dd was competing in 8 yo divisions this season and her group was always the largest. I think her group had 2x as many kids in it as the 10's and 11's did. But I guess they have to split them up somehow...???
 
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Sparky

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Personally, my dd and I like it when she has lots of competition! I hate it when there are only 4 or 5 girls in her division, and so does my dd. To her, it is much more meaningful to place in the top 6 in a group of 50 kids, than top 6 out of 7 :)

As far as who scores highest, well, if they are in separate flights they may not be being judged by the same panel, which will absolutely affect scoring to some degree.

Our system goes by Argo (8 & 9), Tyro (10 & 11), Novice (12 & 13) and Open (14 and over). Before age 8 (although sometimes we have 6 & 7 yrs old competing but not often) they are in developmental programs and have separate evaluations done where they are scored individually on a variety of skills and physical abilities - so they are competing against themselves, not the rest of the girs. :) They advance when they reach a certain percentage, or when their coach deems them ready.

Cheers,
Lisa
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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Its the same here Sparky, we had 40 Argos at the P1 level at our last meet, they were all grouped together. There were three 7 year olds in the gorup who did place. It is the largest group by far. But it is a right of passage to some degree and for those who are young P1 or L4 they are sure to progress through the levels, wheras an older L4 is less likely to move on to those smaller and higher level groups which is why it all evens out in the end.

ITA agree on the really small group, my youngest was 1 of 3 in her level at all three meets this year, two of the three only did two meets each. Which means she will come 1st overall, but really that was not much of a challenge. Bigger groups are more meaningful, also means there are more girls not placing than placing this is a good thing too.

Here they often heap the novice and open together which is a huge age range 12-18+ and a huge range of skills in a bonus based system, I would be happy if they changed this.

Luckily for you US parents qualification to States is by a score at one meet and not by x% of gymnasts competing based on only three meets. It seems many of the girls get to States despite the lop sided age groups. Which is lovely for the little ones.
 

Blackie6

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Not 100% sure on this one but I thought it was up to the meet host to decide the age groups for an invitational. I have been at meets where my DD was grouped as 8 & under, which stunk last year as a first time L4 aged 6, but then rewarded us this year as a second yr L4 age 7. And, we've been at meets where inititally they were going to be 8 & under awards, but realized how large a group the 7's were so were able to do awards for 6's, 7's and 8's. I know our gym, when they host a meet, spend a lot of time figuring out ages and groups and try to make the age groups as small/fair as possible. Might be hard to do with some of the larger meets though.

We've also been to meets where there are lots of girls in same age groups. This year at states I was glad my DD was still at age 7 because it was a smaller group compared to the 8's that had probably over 40 girls. Many of DD's team friends would have easily placed in her group but because of an earlier B-day got stuck in the older division. I guess it's just something that will always happen, sometimes it's an advantage, and sometimes a disadvantage.
 

mariposa

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The age groups things can be really confusing. I like the meets that really try hard to break down the groups evenly by number of competitors and then by birthday, then have Child A, Child B, Junior A, Junior B, Senior, etc.

I think it depends on the level as well, and the youngest age group in each level tends to be very competitive most of the time. Abby will be in the youngest age group again this season, as it is almost always 6-8 here at most meets. States she might end up being in the next group up. There were MANY age groups at States, which is great.

I know that sometimes it is an awards thing, especially if giving out trophies. We had many last minute entries at our home meet and the trophies were already printed with the age groups, so they were lopsided a bit. I think for level 4 we had 3 age groups, 6-8, 9, and 10+, which was kind of weird.

It is kind of hard when you are at a meet and not sure what ages your DD are competing with (with the Child, Junior, Senior categories). I am sure some have differing opinions on that.

Scoring and placement also depends on which session you are in. As I told my DD, you get what you get at that meet and it is only a reflection of that meet, your performance in that very moment (not warm ups!) and the judges and other girls competing. That is what makes scoring so confusing for girls in gymnastics, but I guess they eventually realize how it is and get used to it.
 

gym law mom

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I think some of this comes from the way USAG breaks girls out at nationals, sectionals, regionals etc. Then the states conform their age groups to fit the higher level meets and the local meets follow the state structure somewhat. At invitationals you see all kinds of age groups---some do it so just about every girl leaves with a medal. We were at an invitational where they called up girls that had scratched an event for placement in the AA.

Seems the middle age groups in optional(11-13 or so) are the toughies. I know my gymmie has been frustrated on more than one occasion when she either placed 8th or 9th(or not at all) and her older teammates were taking 2nd/3rd with the same or lower score.

I know at local meets most gyms try and break out the age groups as fairly as they can especially for the lower levels. I wish there was a better way to do it. I know where you are coming from though on the regional qualifying score. This year, the "cut off score" for the 12 yos in our state was 1.5 points higher than the 15 and older. That is one reason I think the regions that have a set score for regionals(such as region 4) may at least make it an even field for all the girls.
 

Gymmonkeymomma

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My oldest DD has a late Jan b'day and she usually ended up in the older end of her age groups. My youngest is a late July baby, and up till now, she is always one of the youngest...although this yr at L5 states she will likely be in the "senior" half of 8 yr olds if they make that break. With USAG they usually follow the set brackets in the state handbook. However, at a USAIGC meet last week, she competed as a Bronze level in the 6 to 10 ...so there were kids at 6 just starting out in a group of kids who are 10 turning 11!!! THat's quite a gap, imho. On FX, she also competed silver, in that group she was in 8 to 13 so my 8 yr old was competing against some of her teammates who are turning 14!!!! At States, USAIGC does not have a hard & fast rule. THe first yr, Tess was in the 6 to 7 yr old group (she was 6). Her 2nd yr she was in 6-8 b/c there were not as many kids!
 

Aussie_coach

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We don't generally have age divisions in Australia. Mostly at least for level's 6-10 or level 5-10. There is just one division for each level and every gymnast be they 7 or 47 is against each other if they are in the same level.

For level 1-4 comps (and sometimes 5 and 6 if the numbers are there) they split events into 2 divisions. Sometimes it is age and it works on their age on the 1st of January. For example level 4 has under 10 and 10 and over, level 5 has under 1 and 11 and over, level 3 has under 9 and 9 and over. But what has become more popular lately is splitting them based on how many hours they train.

eg
Level 1 novice is training 2 hours or less and level 1 open is training 3 hours or more a week
Level 2 nivice is training 4 hours or less and level 2 open is 5 or more hours a week.
Level 3 is usually about 6 hours or less for novice and 7 hours or more for open
Level 4 usually 9 hours or less for novice and 10 hours or more for open.

It is a good system because it allows the more competitive gymnasts who are training for states and things to compete against each other with the more rec type gymnasts who train less to compete.

Another way comps are now sometimes dividing their divisions is based on awards. If they have won a 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a period of time (like last 12 months)they would go in the open division and if they havent in the restricted division.
 

gym mom

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Sep 8, 2007
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my dd comptetes AAU and they have a limit of I beleive 20 max per age group .In qualifier and state they are also broken in to divisions based on there previous highest aa score.Meets so far she has been in 8-9 group but states will probably be broken up more.
 
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cathiann

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Here the host gym does decide the age group for invitationals--and most typically try to divide them evenly. That's not always possible if the groupings break out differently for each session, but we try!

As to why there are different age groups? I'm not sure--I always assumed it was so the little girls don't have to compete against girls who have had years in the sport--or years at that level, but clearly it doesn't always work that way, since typically the younger groups have the toughest competition! (many times Beth would have finished 1st if she were in an older age group, but finished 5th or lower in her own group)
 

JessMom

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Mar 6, 2009
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I'm new to all this but I have to say that DD is 7 and has not once gotten to compete against a 7 or 8 year old. So far at every meet she has been the only 8 and under and had to compete 10 and under. Not sure why.

She's looking forward to competing against some kids her age.

On the flip side she has a team mate that was incorrectly aged up a yr. She would have placed AA in her age group but didn't in the age group above, where they put her in error

Not sure what the answer is. :cool:
 

GymnastHottie15

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Mar 15, 2009
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It is true that the younger you are the better scores you get.. becasue they are so cute. so the judges just give them better scores if they are cute doesnt matter if their tumbling is bad if they dont have a the requirements they need they still get better scores. at my gym we call it THE CUTENESS FACTOR.. and it pisses everyone off
 

pixie flips

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Sep 30, 2008
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It is true that the younger you are the better scores you get.. becasue they are so cute. so the judges just give them better scores if they are cute doesnt matter if their tumbling is bad if they dont have a the requirements they need they still get better scores. at my gym we call it THE CUTENESS FACTOR.. and it pisses everyone off

This is absolutely not true, here. My daughter is the youngest (just turned 8) in the L4 group at her gym and she consistantly gets lower scores than the 10 & older L4 girls, at her gym. If she got scores because of her "CUTENESS FACTOR" I'd like to think she'd get 1st place all around at all of her meets, lol! But the fact is she has not gotten 1st all around since moving from pre-team L4 to USAG L4 while a 10 year old team mate and a 12 year old team mate in her L4 class often bring home 1st AA in their age groups. At first, it was frustrating to see her constantly get lower scores than her team mates when, in this biased mom's opinion, I thought her routines deserved every bit as much as they got. Until I realized that she's not even competeing against the older girls. Plus, all the younger girls around here get scored harder so it evens out in the wash come awards time.
 
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mariposa

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It is true that the younger you are the better scores you get.. becasue they are so cute. so the judges just give them better scores if they are cute doesnt matter if their tumbling is bad if they dont have a the requirements they need they still get better scores. at my gym we call it THE CUTENESS FACTOR.. and it pisses everyone off

Shouldn't bite, but I will. My 6 year old daughter is super cute, at least I think so. She did NOT get better scores for being cute. Her first meet she had a 5 on beam, 6 on bars and 7s on floor and vault. By the end of the season, she had JUST gotten all 8s on everything, so I don't think cuteness factors in at all, at least in my experience.
 

Panda-girl's Mom

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Jan 9, 2008
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I think I was more annoyed about the age groups because it was a level8 state meet and it disqualified her team mate from qualifying for regionals. When your are competing at that level I think all ages should be equal or at least take the top 10% from the state allow them to qualify. I do agree with some of the posters about the ages and the invitationals getting medals being crazy. By the way my daughters team mate seemed to be fine said she had her best meet and that the scores were really high in her age group, boy what a good sport she is!!!!!
 
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