TOPS-how young is too young?

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UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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My little DD was moved up to the preschool advanced class at the beginning of November. I later found out that this class leads to the TOPS program at our gym. My DD is 4, turning 5 in a couple months. They are saying that if she hangs in there and progresses in the class, she will be starting TOPS "training" in the summer, when she is 5. I have been reading up on TOPS, and everything I see says it is for ages 7--11. Is it typical for little girls to "start" TOPS stuff at age 5? Age 7 seems a LONG way off to me right now, and I am a little stunned.

Anyone know anything about this?:eek:
 
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emacmommy

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I'm assuming you are attending a larger metro/suburban gym where, due to the gym's student base, the need to categorize the talent pool is necessary. If you trust your gym management, developmental coaches, and overall developmental system there, than I wouldn't be too worried. The biggest issue is if they are making it FUN for your daughter. Obviously they see something a bit special in her to take her that route, a drive to compete and improve. I would monitor her close and ask her alot about the fun things she gets to do. Make sure she is having a blast and doesn't realize she's been pulled aside into a more intensive & structured program, and of course make sure they aren't pushing the progress past safety. You're right, if she's only 5 now, 7 yrs old is a long way. Don't worry about the title of the program and where it leads, and to repeat myself make sure she is having the time of her life. You can decide later if this is the path she wants to stay on.

Let me know how it turns out.
 

dadingym

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Oct 10, 2008
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I can't agree with the previous post more. You will know if the class is too much for her. Trust me. When our dd started tops she was 6 and it turned her world upside down. The pressure was way too much and she almost quit. We actually moved gyms to attend one that had ZERO pressure. After a year, she was ready for the upskills again, so we moved back to the gym with the tops program. She loves it now and just made national tops team. You know when it is too much. Until that time comes (if ever) just have fun and enjoy it!!!!!
 

Aussie_coach

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We also begin the serious strength program with the girls at the age of 5. If they are able to cope with the sorts of standards expected at TOPS she will need to start at age 5 to be ready by 7. I'm sure the classes will be age appropriate as are ours.
 
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Billy

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One thing to remember is how USAG calculates ages. If your daughter turns 7 anytime during the year (even December 31st), she is considered 7 for TOPs purposes. So, even if she's still 6 over next summer, depending on when her b-day is, she could test as a 7-year-old.

Our gym does TOPs but it seems more relaxed, at least with the group DD is in. They incorporate TOPs training with the regular practice schedule so it's not designated as "extra" training. And we have an 8 year old National TOPs team member, so they must be doing something right. The coaches want DD to test for TOPs next summer, if she's strong enough by then. Guess we'll see...
 

gym law mom

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Sounds like some good advice especially from one of our new members(I'll call her Coach E). Some 5 yos are not ready for more structured clasess and doing conditioning for 1-2 hours and that really is what TOPS is for the 7-9 yo girls. Go watch a class and see if they work some "fun time" into the TOPS skills. Its not the end of gymnastics to say your dd is just not ready for this type of training at age 5 and wait until she's a little older. TOPS testing is also pretty intense and the chances of making the national team is rather small.

So, some questions I would have with a little one are: how many more hours does this add to her time in the gym, how much does it cost(some gyms make their TOPS girls buy "team" leos plus the extra hours), how much time will be spent just learning her gymnastics-----some gyms can get carried away with the TOPS thing and don't work as much with the girls on learning basic gymnastics.

As dadingym pointed out no harm in waiting until she's older and you don't want her upset and unhappy.
 

UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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Everything that is mentioned above is what I worry about. That is, burning her out before she even gets out of kindergarten! ;) Also, the hours, the costs, the pressure to perform, etc. She LOVES gymnastics right now and is really enjoying her advanced class. So, I'll just keep an eye out as the months go by for any signs that suddenly it isn't fun anymore. The head coach is meeting with us sometime soon to let us know what the requirments are for us as parents and for the girls so I will know more then but I am super grateful for everyone's opinions here.

I love gymnastics and I want both of my gymmies to love it too.
 
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