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TOPS State Testing

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GymDad9.9

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my daughter is on her gym's TOPS Team and she is 8 and it is her first year doing TOPS Team. The gym's TOPS Team is given high priority in the gym with an eye towards State testing. However, the issue is the gym is not prepared to fully commit to State Testing every year as a matter of course but will only consider it when the girl(s) are ready to succeed at that level. Some parents scratch their heads at this as they believed the idea of the TOPS Team was that it provided the pathway to testing out each year. The gym doesn't want to take girls who they believe are not ready for the rigorous testing and potential embarrassment of performing poorly and possibility of having a setback with confidence. I'm not sure where I stand. I would like to see my daughter go through the experience of testing but certainly do not want the experience to be counter-productive and emotionally negative and simply not sure how to assess this situation. Curious if others have had their kids go through TOPS and how it was handled by their gyms. Also, from coaches and others as to whether in their view it is better to stay home and not test if the feeling is they may not succeed, which begs the question of how is success defined in this situation? Thanks in advance.
 

Chloerose

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At our gym they will not take you if you are not ready. My daughter is also testing as an 8 yr old and was having trouble with her bars. Her coach didn't want her to go to the first testing unless she got her bars. She explained to me the same thing that was told to u. In my dd case knowing that she wasn't going made her work harder and now is ready to test. I haven't told her yet..hehe!
Also, Last year when my dd tested as a 7 yr old I saw a lot of girls that were not close to being ready for any tests. I didn't think it was fair for the girls to be put in that situation nor does it look good for the gym to have athletes perform so poor.
Regardless, if they test or not she will be one strong gymnast with all the tops training they do.
 
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rbearclaw

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I think part of the process is "getting good" at testing. My daughter could do presses and handstand hold as a 7 year old, but testing them was a different story, it was hit or miss. Now as an 8 year old (testing as 9), she can rock those in a test situation. Practice! I personally think if the daughter has put in all of the time, effort and emotion into training for it, they deserve the opp to test. It's like preparing for level 4 and then not competing. I think being in that testing environment pushes the girls to want to do better, and make it to National testing. Plus, if the gym has a TOPs program, they should be confident in the results they produce, no? Now, if they are completely not ready, I understand not wanting to test.
 
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Sasha

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When you say the gym is "not ready to commit to state testing", do you mean they are not committing to sending anyone at all to represent the gym? Or do you mean not committing to any specific child being permitted to test?

If the gym truly is committed to a TOPs program, it would be unusual to send no one. If they have 7 and 8 year olds in a solid TOPS program, SOMEONE should be ready for testing. If not, it is not really a committed TOPS program, imo.

If you are at a competitive gym that has a LOT of girls training TOPS in a good, committed program with a successful TOPS track record, and they are just waiting to determine who specifically will have enough skills to have a shot at qualifying and only send them to testing, then that is not so unusual.

Having been in your shoes, I would say that it is beneficial to go to testing if the girl is at least somewhere in the ballpark of having all the skills. It is typical to see girls with a missing skill here or there (such as not doing the toe circle on bars, or not having more than 1-2 press handstands but having other PA skills like leg lifts close to max), but if a girl is missing a good half of the requirements, I would not recommend attending. It is a lot of time and effort to go through testing only to see that you are FAR behind others. So a bit of a judgment call, but I'd say be at least 70% there across all the skills to make it worth competing.
 

rbearclaw

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It is typical to see girls with a missing skill here or there (such as not doing the toe circle on bars, or not having more than 1-2 press handstands but having other PA skills like leg lifts close to max), but if a girl is missing a good half of the requirements, I would not recommend attending.
I completely agree! For a lot of girls it's the rope in a decent time, especially the younger ones. ;)
 

GymDad9.9

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When you say the gym is "not ready to commit to state testing", do you mean they are not committing to sending anyone at all to represent the gym? Or do you mean not committing to any specific child being permitted to test?

If the gym truly is committed to a TOPs program, it would be unusual to send no one. If they have 7 and 8 year olds in a solid TOPS program, SOMEONE should be ready for testing. If not, it is not really a committed TOPS program, imo.

If you are at a competitive gym that has a LOT of girls training TOPS in a good, committed program with a successful TOPS track record, and they are just waiting to determine who specifically will have enough skills to have a shot at qualifying and only send them to testing, then that is not so unusual.

Having been in your shoes, I would say that it is beneficial to go to testing if the girl is at least somewhere in the ballpark of having all the skills. It is typical to see girls with a missing skill here or there (such as not doing the toe circle on bars, or not having more than 1-2 press handstands but having other PA skills like leg lifts close to max), but if a girl is missing a good half of the requirements, I would not recommend attending. It is a lot of time and effort to go through testing only to see that you are FAR behind others. So a bit of a judgment call, but I'd say be at least 70% there across all the skills to make it worth competing.
It's the latter of your comments as to committing to any specific child. I believe we are a committed TOPS program, it just seems like there has not been commensurate testing lately.

Honestly, I do not know how successful our TOPS program has been. Our gym is pretty competitive all things considered but not sure whether that has translated to TOPS success. None of the girls on the current TOPS team are competing above Level 4 as of right now and I'm not sure whether that plays into it at all.
 

HoldThePhone

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I think our gym has done both to an extent. We have had several National Testers, A camp kids and B camp kids over the years. They won't send a kid who clearly doesn't have a shot for the most part, but they have sent kids to state testing and let them just do the physical abilities portion, and whichever routines they were ready on, knowing full well that state testing is as far as they would go. This year is an interesting year. We haven't added any new kids to the program in a while, and most have or are aging out this year and because it's not the focus for those girls they won't be testing at all this year. DD will be the only one. She's happy to test, but will miss her friends testing!
 
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Sasha

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Honestly, I do not know how successful our TOPS program has been. Our gym is pretty competitive all things considered but not sure whether that has translated to TOPS success. None of the girls on the current TOPS team are competing above Level 4 as of right now and I'm not sure whether that plays into it at all.
Well, there are of course all kinds of different level-competing strategies gyms take, and it could be that the girls are just competing 'down'.

From what I have seen in our area from the teams with 'successful' TOPS programs (meaning a good number make national test, and a least 1-2 make A or B camp), it looks something like this...

7 year old Diamond testers shooting to next compete L4/5 after TOPS season.
8 year olds shooting next for L7+
9 year olds shooting for L8+
10 year olds shooting for L8/9

I'm sure there are many exceptions, and also depends on the birthday and 'season' (fall/spring) a gym competes, but this seemed to be a 'typical' target where we are.
 

gymjunkie

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We don't allow ours to test unless we think they have a shot at it. This year, we are only having 3 of 10 test.
 
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Tuppy

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I think regardless of whether you test or not, getting to train a different skill set, and additional conditioning will definitely be beneficial. It will help the rest of her training. Conditioning is always more fun to do with peers. My daughter learned to hold her handstand to 30 seconds with Tops and never before. When I asked her, she just told me that she never needed to, as handstands were not her favorite. Although she did like pulling rope in pike Tops or no Tops...
 

lovemygymnast

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Well, our old gym had a tops team. My dd was asked to train every year we were there starting at 5...yes, 5, not that she could test that year but she could train they said and she begged so we let her. She could do pressed handstands when she was 4! The next year, she was ready according to the coach and the way her birthday fell, would have tested as a 7 year old. Although, she was the only child ready and the whole plan was nixed. We were not involved in the decision making and paid monthly until June (she would have tested in late June/July). The next year, different coach, they started with 6-7 girls on the TOPs team. When it came down to it, only 2 were ready, my dd & a 9 year old. We ended up leaving that gym at the end of that season for new gym. I heard the 9 year old tested but I don't know the outcome. New gym does HOPES. And not TOPs, so I'm not sure how that will work or if my dd will qualify when she's old enough, she's 8 training 6-7. I'm just saying that nobody ever told us at old gym that there was a chance they wouldn't get to test. It was always a tops team and plans were made with dates given, my dd was disappointed each time she didn't get to test, however, if she wasn't ready, as OP states, I would agree with the gym that I wouldn't want her to test. In our case, I just think there was never a real intent to take any of the girls and when they only had 1-2, it wasn't worth the cost to them even though we had been paying the money all along.
 

Tuppy

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Not sure about the structure of your costs. Our team doesn't include the fees for the test in the training fees, ie. coaches, leos, etc. And if you advance to States and/or beyond that is divided by the girls who attend only. Although I'm heard of other teams that only train and may not test or will only take their National team girls and not their B team girls to camp.

Well, our old gym had a tops team. My dd was asked to train every year we were there starting at 5...yes, 5, not that she could test that year but she could train they said and she begged so we let her. She could do pressed handstands when she was 4! The next year, she was ready according to the coach and the way her birthday fell, would have tested as a 7 year old. Although, she was the only child ready and the whole plan was nixed. We were not involved in the decision making and paid monthly until June (she would have tested in late June/July). The next year, different coach, they started with 6-7 girls on the TOPs team. When it came down to it, only 2 were ready, my dd & a 9 year old. We ended up leaving that gym at the end of that season for new gym. I heard the 9 year old tested but I don't know the outcome. New gym does HOPES. And not TOPs, so I'm not sure how that will work or if my dd will qualify when she's old enough, she's 8 training 6-7. I'm just saying that nobody ever told us at old gym that there was a chance they wouldn't get to test. It was always a tops team and plans were made with dates given, my dd was disappointed each time she didn't get to test, however, if she wasn't ready, as OP states, I would agree with the gym that I wouldn't want her to test. In our case, I just think there was never a real intent to take any of the girls and when they only had 1-2, it wasn't worth the cost to them even though we had been paying the money all along.
 
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