Underage gymnasts competing

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momof5

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In my DD last meet there was two girls from one team that were listed in the program as competeing in the same division as my DD. Later during the awards it was later announced that these two girls were 5 and competing as exhibition. Interesting enough was that last week we competed against the same team and the two girls were listed as in the 6-7 year old age division and they placed and received medals at the meet. What's your take on this?
 
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bogwoppit

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Well I have to fess up, Baby Bog is illegal. SHe is too young to compete in her category, so she is competing under an assumed name. It happens, they are litlle and they probably won't beat the older girls. Though she is 9 not 5. For her to compete the lower level for a nother year would be silly, and boring. She would rather have a challenge than wait.

All sorts of odd reasons why this happens, the whole age linit thing is interesting, after all in the USAG system L1-3 can be competed by a 5 year old and there are no limits on number of training hours.
 
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M23K's

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Bog....I'm shocked!!! It's always the moderator's kids.......tsk,tsk.
 
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gymnut1

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I'm sorry but I think people should stick by the rules even if they are silly. Petition to get them changed if that is how you feel.
The most important lesson I teach my kids is honesty. Teaching them to lie and cheat is not acceptable to me.
Sometimes life is not what you want it to be. Suck it up and deal with it. That is a good lesson to teach your kids.
I wonder if those same families at your meet ,mom of 5, felt 'put out' about the chinese team at the olympics and whether they were underage or not. I would write a letter of complaint and get your club to send it in. It stinks and people get away with it if no one complains.
There are several very young gymnasts on this board who are having to wait until they are of age. It is not fair to them if other people ignore the rules.
 

bogwoppit

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Yes you are right. However in our case Baby Bog doesn't even know about her status. The category she will compete in has always had her age group in until this year. In fact they changed the rule in October when she had already been training for the level since May. We have 3 gilrs like her who will compete. When rules are arbitrarliy change it isn't fair either.

Even more so this is only in two meets in our region, in the other two meets and in other regions the caterory still exists for her age group.

Yes, kids should wait, but when adults make rules sometimes they do not make sense. I refused to make my 9 year old wait another year to compete or put her in an even higher level against girls who train 12+ hours a week.

The USAG is very strict with it's rules. DO you think this should change? Does anyone think there is a way to make the system more open? It is not as though the age limit prevents girls from training mega hours, what would be better than the present system.

For me it should be all about the child, if they are meet ready and keen then why not. My girls did invitationals when they were 5 and they had a blast, no pressure, medals for all etc.

It is a big, and touchy, issue for sure. Just to be clear though I am not in the US and not under the USAG system.
 
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gymnut1

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Yes, kids should wait, but when adults make rules sometimes they do not make sense. I refused to make my 9 year old wait another year to compete or put her in an even higher level against girls who train 12+ hours a week.



The USAG is very strict with it's rules. DO you think this should change? Does anyone think there is a way to make the system more open? It is not as though the age limit prevents girls from training mega hours, what would be better than the present system.
My daughter at 8 has to compete against girls who have been doing over 20 hours a week for 2 years. She does 8. I would rather be honest with her and explain why they are so good and encourage her to do the best she can with what shes got. But that is just me and how I want my kids to be when they are older. Look at 'A' on this board. She has obviously been ready to compete level 5 but has had to wait until her 7th birthday. It should be the same for everyone. And yes I would report anyone at a competition that was lying.

I'm in the UK so I don't know really how people feel about it - from what I see on the USAG website it looks a fair and open system. People in it should stick by the rules. If they don't like them do something else. I believe some children compete tumbling earlier as a compromise. I'm just glad we don't have to do compulsories until level 7. Not sure many would make it and doing own routines is a huge part of the attraction for kids.

BTW I do not believe there should be a minimum age limit for Olympics etc, but as there is people should stick to it.
 
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gymdog

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This hasn't really been a problem where I am as far as I'm concerned. Honestly, we have very few 6 year old level 4s and so I'm guessing many gyms don't have 5 year olds ready. I know in some states there are multiple teams that have like 30+ L4s but we don't really have those "machine" programs. Since they exhibitioned at the second meet, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it's possible they mistakenly believed the girls could compete earlier if they were turning 6 before the season is over, and then realized they couldn't be competing as 5 year olds and corrected the mistake. I don't know how people would miss the birthdates but it's fairly conceivable. If they were going to deliberately lie, it wouldn't make sense to just stop doing it at one meet and announce it.

Edit: however I agree that by agreeing to participate in USAG you agree to make a good faith effort to abide by the rules and use legitimate channels to change them if they are unfair (I happen to agree with age limit of 6 to compete L4). I have seen mistakes happen though, in that case it's incumbent upon the coach and gym to correct it ASAP. I don't think a big deal has to be made with wading through everything that happened at the last invitational, etc, but they certainly should not compete in an inappropriate category in the next one and the gym should review policies for making sure rules and procedures are known and followed. This is just important in a "small" community where reputation is everything. A lot of this should be self policing just because you should not wish to look as if you lack integrity among of community of people you consider not only professional colleagues but personal friends. In many cases, a coach of a team will be in a competition with many other coaches who have done them favors towards their personal and professional development. Intentionally undercutting rules would be very disrespectful to those following.
 
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mariposa

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I am thinking that they were possibly under the impression that the child must be 6 by STATES, which is a commonly held misunderstanding. It is so confusing in many of the rule books in some states. If they have an age limit, then they should CLEARLY state that the child must be the minimum age on the DAY of the meet to participate. Many times, age groups are confused with age minimums, had a mom here being told her daughter would be competing because they were confused on that. I doubt it was intentional, but who knows.

I don't think that I could personally let my child compete "against the rules". I would definitely fear being "found out" and having the child "stripped of their medals" to speak. Especially if this was at a meet and someone knew and told. Not worth the possible pain/embarrassment my child would go through. The whole situation with China comes to mind and the unfairness of some following rules and some not and that life just isn't fair sometimes. But, we all have our limits of what we will and won't do when it comes to rules. I can't judge, LOL, I sometimes speed on the freeway. :D
 
Jan 22, 2008
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I am going to chime in here. I am one of those parents that has a 5 year old level 4 gymnast. She will be missing her entire season because her birthday is 11 days after states. We had a lot of going back and forth. Gym owner thought we could compete as of Jan 1 but HC said could not. We actually had the head of USAG from our state evaluate the situation and it was confirmed that DD could not compete. Trust me this has been KILLER for DD. She has trained and trained with nothing.

I have to say it totally tickes me off that people are not playing by the rule of the age since we have had to. I am not the type to break the rules anyhow but nothing tickes me off more than people like that breaking them.

I totally disagree with the age rule for competing L4. Our gym does not compete anything below Level 4 so this has been killer on us. DD is the youngest on team and pretty much misses all the fun. If she would have stayed back a year on Pre-team she would have been super bored so we had her do L4 this year. I swear she is going to be bored next year with competing L4 since she has been training it all year. It is almost like she will have to train L5 and compete L4. Again she will be to young to compete L5 next year so we are again in a difficult situation.

As for the age limits, I have to say I think there should be a lower age limit for L4. That is just me.
 

bogwoppit

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Now this might be a really dumb question, so humour me! What happens in the States with very young talented kids? Do they all have to follow the USAG route no matter what, do they all have to do L5 & L6 and at the very least score out. Or is there an alternate path for wee ones with obvious talent.

I know here there are specific training programmes for little ones who are deemed to have "potential". They are selected at 4/5 and follow a development programme called Defi, within Defi there are 6 levels and they basically score out of each level at their own speed. Once they turn 8 they can compete in the provincial stream in the level their coach thinks fit them the best. If they are very talented they go into our Pre novice national programme which is designed to lead to elite.

Through this you do not have the endless wait to compete and also have the challenge of interesting skills and some form of competition, though for the Defi all girls get medlas and an evaluation score.

So all that to ask, is there anything like this in the US, and I know about hopes, it addresses the older talented child who has already got to optionals.

Maybe if there were other paths people and coaches wouldn't cheat the system, so to speak. I think exhibition is perfect, but I guess numbers are so great there is not a lot of room for it at every meet.
 

bogwoppit

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Check out this video YouTube - défi 5 - Claudie, you can see an evaluation. If you check out her other vids you will see that she is now in the pre national stream. She is 10.

In the video she was in Defi 5, that is one level from the end.

Does the US have an equivalent. This whole thread has really got me thinking.

I know the UK has developmental streams and regular streams too.
 

Blackie6

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Bog,

I am probably not as knowledgable as others on this board, but here in NJ while their is an age restrictions such as L4 being age 6 by states and L5 you have to be 7, many gyms know how to work around those rules. Some gyms with talented younger ones hold them in L4 (age 6 and 7) and then seriously uptrain so that when they turn age 7 they go and do L4 states, hit up the L5 season and do states again, and then can test out of L6 and go right to L7. All within a years time. There is also the TOPS program that adds training time onto regular practice for strong and talented gymies. And, recently our gym started doing a mornning class for the Hopes program which is a pre-elite sort of program that would uptrain the girls while allowing them to go thru USAG levels and yet be eligible to compete on the international level. Forgive me if I am wrong on that but one of my DD's teamates does this program and that's some of the info I got from the mom. So, talented youngsters have some different choices.

And, that team/gym I mentioned in the parent forum that does 28 hrs a week with their L4 team? They seriously uptrain their girls to do USAG L7 skills as well, meaning giants on bars, difficult vault skills and more difficult floor skills. So, they will probably Do quick season of L5, testr out at L6 and also go right to L7 if they last that long.

Just wanted to add too that we had a new L4 this year and she was only 5. She was going to comptet with us at a meet for "exhibition" only meaning her scores would not count, but at the last minute they wouldn't let her. They did let her vault at the very end and allowed her to go up to the podium where they gave her a participation ribbon. She could not compete until after she turned 6 end of Oct. By then she missed 2 sectionals, couldn't make the 3rd because she has 2 other higher level sisters competeing that weekend and didn;t go to states. She will train with us towards L5 for now and then go and do L4 season in Sept and then maybe L5 with us. The timing for her was just bad with her B-Day and now she has to wait, but at least she will be moved right on up and not wait two full seasons like we did, LOL
 

Blackie6

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Bog,

She was really good, especially on bars and beam! Some of that looked like USAG L7/L8 stuff.

OK, now a question. What is that flippy thing called on the trampoline at around 3:50. My DD has been doing those, LOL and also what is that somersault thing called at around 4:16 onto the stacked mats? My DD was doing those too recently...down the tumble trak and a little somersault up onto the mats. I don't know what these skills are called or are they more for a progression towards getting a new skill? Isn't it sad how little I know about gymnastics?
 

bogwoppit

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3.50 would be a salto tendu in Quebec or a back layout in the US.

4.16 Would be preparation yurchenko or yurchenko timer.

Both developmental skills for higher levels, as you saw Defi is all about body shapes and lead up skills.
 

mariposa

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Now this might be a really dumb question, so humour me! What happens in the States with very young talented kids? Do they all have to follow the USAG route no matter what, do they all have to do L5 & L6 and at the very least score out. Or is there an alternate path for wee ones with obvious talent.
As far as I know, there is nothing except for TOPS training, maybe. Though individual gyms may have their own programs like that. Like DDs gym is trying to do. They will just train skills, not routines for a long time, no competitions, then they will try to score out of 5/6 in one season and start L7. Has it's pros and cons for sure since they get no competing, etc during this time and for some kids (like mine) competing is just so fun for them. Canada's Defi program seems pretty cool as they get competitions of some sort.

They have to at least score out of L5 and L6 and have completed their 7th birthday to compete L7. So basically, once they turn 7, they can start to move pretty fast. Then they have to be at least 8 to compete level 8 and 9 and then 9 years old to compete L10, though that seems soo young to me to do those skills.

I found this article interesting as to young gymnasts and the rigors of too much training too young, etc.

https://www.usa-gymnastics.org/publications/technique/1998/4/limits.html
 
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bogwoppit

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ITA on training too much too young. Then what is too much, makes me think of those 28 hour a week L4's. SOme kids are L4 ready on 4 hours a week. Depends on the child I guess.

Scoring out is the big difference I think, as those routines have to be learned well enough to attain a certain score.

My thinking was that if so much time wan't spent perfecting routines higher skills could be learned and perfected without having to put in mega hours.

By requiring such perfection in the moves of the routines, not just the skills, USAG is almost asking for trouble.

IMHO of course.
 

gymdog

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TOPs national team members can enter any level. It is unusual to do so anyway. Most do the levels or only skip one level. I can think of one former elite who didn't compete for a fairly long time then entered as a L9 (you still need to meet the age requirements). That doesn't really address competing outside the age requirements though, just level mobility. If you meet the age requirement and are ready, then you could just score out, TOPs or not. Since we're not even supposed to be doing bridges with kids under age 5, I don't see how USAG can reasonably make their minimum age requirement lower without being irresponsible. Honestly, I think 6 is plenty young. Gyms can do whatever they want. They can organize their own competitions with kids under 6 (my old gym does this). But the reason we have a national governing body is to protect the integrity of our sport. Furthermore, I would say that having a pre-eminent national governing body has made gymnastics in this country a better quality and safer. Other similar sports are growing fast, without a pre-eminent national governing body. And they're gaining national attention for their injury trends.

Unfortunately there is no system that can do everything right for every athlete. There will always be problems. The framework put forth is trying to carefully balance protecting safety and the integrity of the sport while trying to offer coaches and athletes maximum flexibility (e.g. no mandatory move ups based on score). There is some point where USAG has to look at the info they have and say you need to design your developmental program reasonably to fit inside these guidelines. I haven't heard of any push and don't think one is likely to lower the minimum age. 5 year olds can compete in the sub L4 levels, as well as unsanctioned meets. If gyms are having problems waiting until age 6 to compete then the obvious solution is to either reorganize their developmental program or organize sanctioned or unsanctioned competitions that kids under 6 can compete in.

Edit: also the USAG system has followed a similar idea for a looong time (i.e. compulsory levels). In fact you could say it's become LESS compulsory because L7 is pretty much an official optional level which was not always the case. We have extremely successful gymnasts and national teams. I would say USAG is doing a pretty good job. If an individual gym has kids going 28 hours/week then it's likely they are in an elite track program and just competing that level for the time being for competitive outlet and experience. There is no rule about this and the kids have to enter at 4 or 5 if they aren't TOPs national team members (can't be under age 9 anyway I guess) and then participate in the level mobility system. I don't think perfection is required; many successful optionals bided their time in compulsories. You merely have to get what is objectively a pretty low score (31) to move through the compulsory levels.
 
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Jan 22, 2008
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Our gym when we moved up to L4 had explained the game plan so to speak for DD since she is only the second 5 year old to me on team. The first one was like 10 years ago and then they could compete when they were 5 years old. According to HC and Gym Owner DD will compete L4 briefly do Level 5 and score out/skip level 6 to get to optionals. I am not sure I fully followed the plan. Sometimes I need it spelled out 100%.

That being said we don't have a lot of children that come through our program that are below the min age. Trust me if we could do exhibitions I would be all for it. DD is felling so left out. Mind you she has done some things with the optional girls and stuff. It is funny most on the team don't understand why dd isn't competing. Most of the optionals were competing when they were her age and to quote them "she is good, why the heck can't she compete?"

So we are following the rules but it does burn my booty to see that others are not.
 

gymch34

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This doesnt really address "age isues" but:

The TOPs program has nothing to do with the JO (level) program. Its a misconception the TOPs National Team Members can compete whichever level they wish. I know this because I asked the head of the program, Gary Warren, a coupe of years ago.

Some kids who do TOPs follow the levels, some skip, etc, but that has nothing to do w/ TOPs- it has to do w/ whichever plan the personal coaches use.
 
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ellabella

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I know DD's gym has age requirements for preteam to avoid having any really young gymnast moved up that will just have to end up sitting out while the others are competing.

They move kids up in January. To be moved to pre-team from developmental you must be age eligible to compete Level 4 by the fall of the next year. For example DD will be 5 next December. She will then be eligible for preteam that January. If she is ready then they will move her to Level 4 the next January to prepare for competing Level 4 that fall.
 
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