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For Coaches Too much too young? Mirrored from parents forum

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Sammyd UK

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Hi,

My first post, so please excuse me if it's in the wrong forum, but not coming frm a sporty background, not sure where else to turn.

If I can quickly explain, we live in the UK, and have a 6YO daughter who has been going to gym since she was 3, she currently trains 18 hours a week, and has now been asked too move up to their number 1 squad, which means she will be training 24 hours+ a week, and will be the youngest in the class by over 2 years, personally I see this as too much, but having no sports experience wasn't sure.

She does really love her gym, but I am concerned as her tiredness has already been noted at school, and she is struggling to keep up with the homework. My husband has been of the mind for a while to pull her out, as he doesn't want his duaghter coming home with "hands like a bricklayer", and wants her out horse riding nd playing in her toy kitchen, up to now I have disagreed, but am coming round to his way of thinking.

We are also becoming concerned with what she is learning, she is now doing "giants" and other stuff which I think is too much for her little body to take, I mean for goodness sake she can't even do all her times tables yet. We have spoken to her coaches and they say she has a natural ability and needs to be stretched, and has outgrown the current squad, I just want her to have her childhood back, but don't want to ruin her opportunity.

Some of the, what I would class "pushy mums" say (through gritted teeth I think!) how lucky we are, and how proud we must feel, but the truth is it is all blowing up in our faces, and has turned into a nightmare Please don't misunderstand me, we ARE proud, but at the same time our hearts break when the coaches have a go at her for missing her back flick on the beam, when some of her school friends have just about mastered riding a bicycle with 2 wheels.

At the moment it's 50/50 to whether we pull her or let her stay, but I don't know where to turn on this. I don't want to take something away from her that she really loves, but at the same time I don't want her to train for the next 10-12 years for what amounts to nothing or very little.

Realistically, even if she does well, in the UK we don't have a great record of gymnastics and there is no real career to be had out of it, except to become a coach! which just perpetuates the cycle, and we feel she would miss out on so many other opportunities in life which a good education can provide.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Samantha
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Use your daughter as a guide. If she is, as you say, getting fatigued and struggling in school, then adding more hours is probably a bad idea.

However, it may not be a choice between moving her up and pulling her out; talk to the coaches, share your concerns, and let them know if you aren't willing to move her up. If they realize you're considering pulling her out entirely, I'm sure they'll be happy to compromise rather than lose such a talented kid.
 
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gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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It's too much. Honestly I don't even feel I could even say "it depends on the child." I think you're right to follow your instincts and I would have the same reservations from either side of this. 6 is very young and even if they are talented at gymnastics their body is physiologically different than an 8-10 year old. I wouldn't want to be training a 6 year old so much because of the long term possible effect on growth plates. There is an opportunity later on to accelerate their training if it comes to that.
 

Linsul

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Sep 19, 2008
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I would take GT's advice and find out if there is a option that doesn't add more hours. I agree with Gymdog, 6 years old is much too soon to put her body through the rigors of very advanced skills for that amount of time. Also, she's only 6, but I'm sure she knows that her friends are barely mastering bike riding while she's swinging giants and throwing bhs on beam. If it was my DD I can honestly say I'd be worried that she's too young to process that in a way that doesn't make her gymnastics work ethic too big a measure of her self worth. It's not just their bodies that adapt and adjust as the training becomes longer and harder, the mental workout is there too.

She sounds enormously talented! That talent isn't dependant on hours in the gym, she just needs to want to be there and be healthy enough to act on her skills. Good luck, I really hope there's a compromise for you and your DD!

(p.s. hands like a bricklayer made me LOL! They go away when you quit gymnastics I promise!)
 

KAQuinlan

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Mar 6, 2009
93
Florida Panhandle
What does she want?

I am in 100% agreement with the other coaches who have said that is too many hours for a 6 year old. Compromise with the coaches, find another gym, whatever works for just cutting the hours.

The other question is whether to pull her out completely as your husband wants to do. I haven't seen anyone really address that. Of course, as her parents, you two ultimately make that decision, but she should have some input, too. I can't tell you how many teenagers I have talked to who have some bitterness towards their parents because they made them quit something that they loved. There are certainly some life skills that cannot be achieved in the gym, but one of the great things about gymnastics is that there are so many life skills that it gives! I don't know one team girl that I ever competed with or coached that didn't end up doing very well in school, going on to get a college degree, and becoming a great citizen, wife, mother, and friend as an adult. If she still loves it, let her stay. Find a compromise on the hours. Remind her that school is more important than gymnastics and must come first. If she wants to stick with it, help her learn to eat in ways that keep her energy up, organize her time, and get good rest. Even if she never progresses anymore, she will have learned some very valuable life lessons! Whatever your family decides, I wish you the best :)

Welcome to the Chalkbucket!
 

bogwoppit

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What a 6 year old wants is irrelevant in this case. She cannot possibly comprehend the damge thhat 24 hours, or more is seems, can do to their body, their life or their family.

Mom and Dad are clearly the ones in charge, they pay, they drive and they will be the ones driving her to the clinic for her injuries, 'cos we all know they will come.

We all know that a great coach can take a talented kid all the way IF all the stars are aligned, but it shouldn't take that many hours for a kid who still needs over 11 hours sleep a night and attends regular school. No wonder she's tired in school.
 

KAQuinlan

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Mar 6, 2009
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Florida Panhandle
Whoa!

Whoa! I think you misread my response. I stated that the ultimate decision is up to the parents. I also said that I am in full agreement with the other opinions about cutting the hours, finding a new gym, etc. However, there was also the question mentioned in the original post about completely pulling her out of gymnastics. In this, a 6 year old does know if she wants or does not want to do it anymore. For that matter, my four year old can tell you that. He loves swim lessons. He loves preschool. He hates gymnastics (thanks to a coworker of mine that was very harsh with him and no other kids). He does preschool, swim lessons when we can afford it, and does not do gymnastics. I think to say that her opinion is "irrelevant" is too extreme. To ask her, do you want to keep doing gymnastics, and then consider that in the parental decision of whether or not to let her continue (at fewer or the same hours) is both wise and fair.

To me there really isn't a decision to be made about the hours. It is too much. That has been stated over and over again. This mom mentioned that she is beginning to agree with DH about pulling her out entirely. I had not seen much response to that point and intended my reply to be directed mostly at that issue.
 

Aussie_coach

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24 hours a week is too much for a 6 year old, regardless of her talent. Training so much at the age of 6 will actually put her in danger of never being able to compete at an international level. Her bones and joints are too young to take such serious training and the damage done now will probably mean that by the time she goes through puberty she will be seriously prone to injury.

I would be looking for another gym. If the coaches at her gym think is ok for a 6 year old to train this much then I would seriously worry about her safety at the gym in the future.

At her age, 12-15 hours a week would be the MOST that would be considered acceptable even for such an talented gymnast. Ther training should be age appropriate, conditioning should be modified to suit the needs of her age, she should not just be thrown in with 10 year olds and be expected to do whatever they do because she is that good.

The tiredness is also not a good sign, you look at your own child to know when they are doing too much. If they are tired during the day its not a good sign.
 
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peace.love.gymnast

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Wow...that's way too many hours in the gym for her age! I couldn't imagine someone so young putting that many hours in. At that many hours, I would think she's going to burn out rather quickly at 6 years old. Honestly, I wouldn't even consider putting her through that much workout.
 

ky7403

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Mar 3, 2009
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6 years old is extremely young for a child to devote so much of their time and effort into one thing. If she is enjoying gymnastics and likes it then let her stay in but I would talk to the coaches about keeping her in the same group and just teach her what she needs to know in that group. She needs to be able to experience other things in life. With being tired at school, that may be a sign that she is just overwhlemed with gymnastics even though she may like it, it may be taking too much out of her. The decision is ultimantly your own but be sure to keep in the best interest of your daughter and your family. In my personal opinion it shouldn't matter whether or not the return for her gymnastics is great or small, it just whether or not she learns and gets something else out of it. Not everyone makes it big or comes out famous, but many people learn many life lessons that they take with them and use for the rest of their lives.
 

Valentin

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Nov 12, 2007
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Hi

I would also agree that 18-24hrs a week for a 6 yr old is a lot, regardless of talent. I would personally not train a 6yr old past that 3 maybe 4 sessions a week mark (that is about 12-14hrs a week). Kids at that age do not have the physiology to recover from such huge stress, especially if they are not getting a perfect diet (and i do mean perfect). I would recommend you go talk to the coach, and explain to them the situation
1- Kid is tired..she is not recovering
2- You feel that the hours she is doing already are lot , and she is not coping(based on her fatigued state etc), raising those hours is just rediculous. (how long has she been training at 18hrs a week??)
3- You as a family are struggling, and the father is not particularly happy, and you are cocerned. The prospect of removing her from the club, or gymnastics in general has come up.
Propse to the coach the alternatives you feel are satisfactory to you. Example 12hrs a week until she reaches 7. From 7-8 18hrs a week is OK, given that she has plenty of rest time as well, and doesn't do like 2-3 other sports. Nothing wrong (actually its great if she join a team sport for recreational play once a week).

As parents i think the worst thing you can actually do is remove her from gymnastics given that she clearly excels at it. I too have met many many many people (and these werent even Elite level individuals) who were withdrawn from gymnastics by parents against their will, who are bitter and still regret no continuing. Your child is not missing out on anything at this point in her life.. if anything she is gaining way more than others. Assuming the coaches are good, and able to cater to the needs of a 6yr old psychologically, she is an an environment that will mold her mentally much better than by doing what people consider "normal'..she will gain:
1- Mental toughness
2- Self-esteem
3- Confidence
4- Goal orientated personality
Compare this to the the consequences of the current normal.
1- Child hood obesity
2- Children at young ages have greater psychological issues (suiccide, engaging in sex, alcohol abuse, etc..these are recorded trends .. not myths).

To me it sounds like the coaches are a zealous, and are trying to much to soon (PS giants at 6 is fine, assuming she is actually technically ready, and has mastered the basics). if she is 6 now she has 10yrs of training ahead of hear before she is allowed to go to the Olympics (unless you Chinese haha), she has plenty of time, and by the sounds of things she sounds like the kind of talent that could maybe make it, assuming all the other variables align eg. coach is capable, parental support, motivation, etc.

In short my advice is
Propose to the coaches the conditions you are happy to allow your child to continue with. Setting a recommneded 14hrs a week until she is 7. At 7 you will reaxamine the situation, and if she is coping well with the 14hrs a week load you will allow her to increase it up to about 18hrs a week or something.. and gauge how she copes.. progressively incraesing hours rather then big jumps.

When it comes to the actual coaching, allow the coach to his/her job. (i have to assume this coach knows what they are doing). If you feel that the coach is acting at time irresponsible with some of the dangerous skills, or is pushing your kid to do things that she is clearly not able to, and injuires are resulting... i would pull her out and move her to another gym. Because the coach is clearly not qualifed to work with such a kid.
 
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Sammyd UK

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Hi Valenntin,

Thanks for all your comments, I won't copy the post across (as it is a little long) we have managed to get it resolved, if you look for the thread of the same name in the parent forum.

Regards,

Samantha
 
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