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TOPs program, important question

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gymcoach34

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Apr 5, 2010
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I don't get the point of this comment...yes my daughter has been level 10 for a number of years but she just moved along with her skill level. It wouldn't have made any sense to keep her in compulsories just because of her age. It was always felt that she would progress along with her skills, and it was not ever age driven.
Hi Bookworm, Please dont take that wrong.... what Im referring to are kids who are rushed through the lower levels and then get to Level 10 or "elite" and felt like they missed out on a lot of the fun that came from the lower levels, not to mention the basics being rushed through-you have seen it yourself Im sure bc you have been around a long time . I'm sure you DD continued to inprove her skill level- msot kids do. Nothing negative meant by that comment at all. The OP DD's is 5 years old- what I wanted to get across to the OP was that faster is not always better.

I remember having a conversation with a former jr, Natl champ (elite) while the compulsory gymnasts in the gym were doing a "warm up game"... she turned and looked at me and said- "you know what? I never got to do any of that. Even when I was that level- while the other kids were doing fun stuff, I was always either in another workout with older kids, or I wasn't allowed bc I had work to do. Its the ONLY regret I have in my gymnastics career." I will always remember that conversation bc it changed the way I coached young, talented kids. Thats all I meant in my post.
 
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Gymmonkeymomma

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Coaches have tried this tactic for years with talented kids. They almost always burn out, or end up like bookworm's DD- in Level 10 for a million years (not that that's bad, mind you). I say let the kids fill their "fun bank" of compulsory meets, goody bags, teammates, etc NOW. Thats what will get them through the hard times if they truly become elite gymnasts. If you look at our top elite athletes-MOST went through the levels. If she's truly that talented- she can do compulsories and train all the basics REALLY really well, and develop her form and polish now. No rush to get to level 7 at all- but its essentail to have excellent fundamentals IF she is going to be an elite. I think fast track should instead be a "slow track" -esp at such a young age.
My Little Monkey was not fast tracked nor did we have elite hopes, but she did start competing very young - she turned 6 at the end of July and had first Level 4 meet 6 weeks later. Although she progressed at a 'normal' rate - i.e., one level per year (even repeated L5) she remained the youngest on her team by several years and although she loves gymnastics I believe she missed out on the fun of training/traveling/competing with teammates her own age. Unless you are part of a large team with lots of other little ones being fast tracked, it could get lonely for your DD, as mine was left out of many of the things the older girls did (sleepovers, movies, etc) because there was just too much of an age gap.
 

bookworm

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Oct 3, 2009
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Oh ok gymcoach...I thought you were dissing her for being Level 10 for a lot of years! She wan't rushed through the levels but she just mastered the skills and kept progressing...early on she had a fabulous coach that was great with basics and form and made her the gymnast she is today so that's always been a plus in her training.
 

gymcoach34

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Apr 5, 2010
339
Oh ok gymcoach...I thought you were dissing her for being Level 10 for a lot of years! She wan't rushed through the levels but she just mastered the skills and kept progressing...early on she had a fabulous coach that was great with basics and form and made her the gymnast she is today so that's always been a plus in her training.

Absolutely not! Im sure she's awesome!
 
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SkiBumGymMom

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I think it's kind of batty to be honest. I don't understand the idea behind taking young girls and pushing them on an elite path that includes all TOPs training, no competition until later, etc.

At age 5 I am sure your DD is an AMAZING little gymmie and loves the sport. But she's 5, you will not know...
-how well she does in competition. She might completely balk in the spotlight... or do really well. You just don't know.
-if she'll love gymnastics in 2, 3, 4, or 8 years. Some girls burn out. Pushing all conditioning and uptraining with no competition is an easy way to do this with a 5 year old.
-if she'll be able to do well with optionals skills. Some girls own the compulsorary level things but struggle with optionals. This isn't a bad thing at all but if you've been holding out gym until this point... you can see where problems might happen.

Maybe if your DD was 8 it'd be different. But she's 5. She doesn't even go to a full day of structured school (or most 5 year olds don't, it's not recommended for them) so it's difficult to assume she can do only structured training without any of the fun part.

I'd say let her train TOPs if you want but also let her do normal L4 and L5 team things when she's old enough. If then she's still excelling, fast track her until optionals. But I honestly think it's too early and she's too young to make that decision.

Good luck to you and your DD!
 
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AlwaysCuriousMom

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I understand the feeling of wanting to see a child live up to his/her fullest potential. As much time/money we spend on the sport, it is natural to have the highest hopes for our gymnasts. However, putting everything in perspective, the best thing I can hope for is that my gymnast will grow up healthy and happy. That said, there are times when she is on a roll, handling her 14 hrs/wk practices fine with room for more. But sometimes, there are times when she is sick/worn/tired, and times when she HAS to skip a TOPS practice to attend a birthday party. It's a balancing act that I play week to week. I know that she can't proceed in gymnastics if she doesn't continue to enjoy it.

I have trouble with the idea of fast-tracking a gymnast so early. Only because the expectation of becoming elite (one day) is such a tall order for a child, and because there is so much room for disappointment. There is so much more to enjoy with gymnastics, like making friends, being on a team, leotards, competitions, etc.

My suggestion is to keep an open mind. Even if you decided for your daughter to train the long hours, keep a close eye, communicate with the coaches, and adjust accordingly. If the coaches have an interest in keeping her long-term, they should also want her to be happy and healthy.
 
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