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What do You Wish You had Known?

skygirlpc

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Mar 3, 2016
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My Daughter is 5 and has been at the same gym since "mommy and me" class at 2. We LOVE our gym and our coaches. She is currently in an "advanced preschool" rec class that meets once a week and does one on one lessons once a week. I think her coaches are planning to put her on the team or preteam when she turns 6. Our gym doesn't do any team stuff until they are 6.

Anyway, all that to say that what started out as a fun activity for my toddler has turned pretty serious. She seems to have some pretty good natural ability and really loves gymnastics.

I'm just curious to hear from parents that have been in the sport for a while. I'd like to know your advice to a "newbie" like myself or what do wish you had known at this level?

Thank you all!
 
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gymbeam

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Mar 18, 2014
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Awww such a fun stage! I wish I had known when mine started one day a week (much older at 8 just to learn a backhandspring) that 4 years later it would be a 6-day a week commitment second only to my mortgage in annual expenses. I honestly can’t say that we would have stuck with it...
 

skygirlpc

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Mar 3, 2016
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Awww such a fun stage! I wish I had known when mine started one day a week (much older at 8 just to learn a backhandspring) that 4 years later it would be a 6-day a week commitment second only to my mortgage in annual expenses. I honestly can’t say that we would have stuck with it...
Not really the encouragement I was hoping for but thank you for your honesty! :)
 

gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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First and foremost - I wish I would have known how expensive it gets - in time and money. This is my biggest. You need to know what you are getting into because it is not fun or fair to let your little girl/boy fall in love with the sport and then have to tell them they have to quit when you decide the money isn't worth it anymore. Be aware from the start and be honest about how much time/money you are willing to put into the sport. There are lots of options/paths.

I wish I would have known not to be so narrow focused in the early stages. When she was going only 2-3 times a week, I was very concerned about her missing practice, even for family things like vacations, relatives visiting, etc.

I wish I would have known how much and how fast she would fall in love with the sport. I would have paid more attention and captured it on film/photo better. I have very little from those early years because I thought it was just going to be a passing phase like soccer and t-ball.
 

Tulip811

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Aug 2, 2016
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I wish i would have understood that neither gymnasts nor parents are a gym priority. The priority is the sport. Expectations are that time talent money spent on gymnastics is to be considered a privilege by gym owners and coaches. There is no consideration for the people spending the time and money or having the talent.
 

wandrewsjr

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Sep 4, 2009
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I wish i would have understood that neither gymnasts nor parents are a gym priority. The priority is the sport. Expectations are that time talent money spent on gymnastics is to be considered a privilege by gym owners and coaches. There is no consideration for the people spending the time and money or having the talent.
No INDIVIDUAL gymnast or parent can be a gym priority. They must balance hundreds of gymnasts and dozens of coaches(and landlords and a lack of qualified coaches and bills and a governing body in chaos and...) to try to keep as many people happy as possible. I assume that something is going on in your case that has caused this judgement, but it is insulting to all of us involved in the sport to generalize in this way.
 

cp13

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Mar 19, 2019
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I would say that the one guarantee at the end of every season is that there will be change over the summer. Teammates will switch gyms, quit, move away, or move up levels at different speeds. Coaches will change too. When you reach points where you have to make decisions about staying at a gym, continuing, etc., you and your daughter need to make the decision based on what is right for her. Every child is different. Do not worry too much about keeping her with her friends because they will always make new friends. Each year my daughter has bonded with the group of girls she practiced with, despite the changes.

It is a difficult sport if your daughter stays with it longer term for the gymnast and the parent. However, it can be incredibly rewarding and my daughter's participation in the sport has given her so much. She has learned a tremendous amount about team, hard work, friendships, confidence, etc. They gain a lot by being involved in it.
 

OrchidZ

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May 4, 2018
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I remember having the same question when my girl was new to team gymnastics. Given your question specifically "What you wish you knew at this level?" I'll have to say:

First, I agree with gymgal:
I wish I would have known not to be so narrow focused in the early stages. When she was going only 2-3 times a week, I was very concerned about her missing practice, even for family things like vacations, relatives visiting, etc.
Don't focus too much on gym right now or for quite a while even. She needs the diversity of activities both mentally and physically. Several of the early injuries my kiddo has had were due to overuse and use in only specific ways (eg: there's far more forward and backward motion, less random or side to side motion, which affects ankle strength laterally, knees, etc..). I wish I'd kept her doing other sports too for as long as possible. Also, now that my girl is older, I regret not taking the time to travel to see family and take vacations. Kids need to know that these things are things they do, not who they are. So encourage your girl to do a variety of things and enjoy friendships/activities outside of gym too. Keep her doing chores and part of the family's activities as much as possible. They need those things.

Secondly, I'd say take everything with a grain of salt. I was once told by a gym owner, in summation, that you just can't predict any of it. A girl who is talented at the lower levels, might not be able to be as successful at higher levels. Or they may struggle in compulsory but be very successful later.. like the struggle of the lower levels brought out a strong work ethic and perseverance that made the difference. They may decide they are 'done' at age 8, 12, or 17. Take it all one day at a time and know that she (and you) will grow and change in so many ways in the next 13 years - with or without gymnastics. Remember to keep your focus where it needs to be. Your focus is on your/her relationships within your family, and her health/education and mental/emotional/etc.. development. The gymnastics part is up to her and the coaches.

And lastly - and most importantly to me - have fun with it. It can be hard not to get excited and want them to do well, but the desire has to come from them. The skills will come. Success and struggle will come. Great adventure and fun will come. Injury and growth and sore muscles and conflict and fear and triumph will come. All of it. Teach her, by example, to ride the waves and see it all as part of the experience and as opportunities to grow and learn.
 

jillc

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Apr 1, 2016
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Worry about the physical and emotional health of your gymnast— but don’t worry about the actual gymnastics.

I wish I would have known not to worry about the gymnastics. There is alway going to be a skill or a fear or a routine they just aren’t quite getting. Worrying about it, talking/asking about it, giving advice, practicing it at home — usually is more hurtful than helpful.

But with all the press and stories in sport — I do feel like you should stay vigilant about if the environment your gymnast is in, making sure it is healthy both physically and emotionally.
 

GAgymmom

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Oct 25, 2010
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I wish i would have understood that neither gymnasts nor parents are a gym priority. The priority is the sport. Expectations are that time talent money spent on gymnastics is to be considered a privilege by gym owners and coaches. There is no consideration for the people spending the time and money or having the talent.
This isn’t true, and to be honest this is very negative and gym specific. Maybe in some places, but not the norm.
 

MILgymFAM

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Feb 6, 2014
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I wish I had known that all of my worrying and fretting were a waste of time and energy. We’ve been through a lot in this sport as a family, and the big issues were important, but I shouldn’t have sweated the small things as they came. Individual skills, music, choreography, levels? It all comes out appropriately in the wash.

I also wish I had know how fast it can all turn crazy. In terms of time and money, yes, but also in terms of what we would accept from a gym and a coach.

Finally, I wish I could have seen into the future to know that all the crap was worth it. My DD graduated in May and was so happy to have seen gymnastics through till then. She is going to be a club gymnast in college, and that honestly feels like such an accomplishment for the girl who started bronze team at 13.

Just this morning I had a Facebook memory of her first team banquet five years ago- she improbably won gymnast of the year despite being on the lowest level in the gym and only being on team long enough for three meets. Looking back it feels like she’s been a gymnast a lifetime and not 5.5 years. No other thing except maybe our nomadic military life has had such an influence in shaping who she has grown into being.

She looked at the pictures with me on my phone.. and one had a favorite assistant coach in it. She smiled and said to me, “She was such a cool coach. A college student who still loved doing gymnastics even though she wasn’t NCAA material- she was such an inspiration to me! We all looked up to her. Know what’s cool? Now that I teach rec and Xcel maybe I *AM* her to some of the girls. Wouldn’t that be amazing?”

That is the good stuff right there.
 

gymmomtotwo

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Jun 21, 2011
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How much injuries would dash my kids hopes and dreams. No way would I ever have gotten into this if I had known. The past year has been awful, and we are awaiting word on a diagnosis that could take her out of competition a second year in a row. Sorry to be negative, but it really is the truth. Her teammates soon stand to be 2 years ahead of her. She is barely 13, is completely devoted to gymnastics, and I really don't know if she will ever be in a position where she can move forward and compete again.
 

Gigi

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Apr 20, 2016
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I wish I knew how much my daughter would miss out on high school life. She will miss practice here and there for big events and always for formals, dances and homecoming games but it is still not much. I am sure some gym kids can do it all but for my daughter, her gym life is her social life, high school life, sports life all in one.
 

Flicfliclay

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Aug 12, 2016
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I wish i would have known about pretty much what everyone has said above! Most importantly if at 6 your are saying it's something that has turned pretty serious.. you haven't seen nothing yet. Enjoy every moment at this pre-team early years, because it can take over your life if you let it. Take those vacations and let the sport be hers. Mom of a daughter that has been in the sport for 7 years already and she's only 11!
 

Cheryl

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Feb 28, 2018
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Things I wish I knew:

The Good:
Teaches incredible resilience
Teaches accountability for yourself
Seems to be a great confidence booster for kids with anxiety
Long term friends and team bonding

The Bad:
Incredibly expensive
High attrition because the sport works as move up or move out
Your family life will revolve around it

The Ugly:
Most gyms are very secretive about everything- cost, who moved up, why
Some coaches have favorites who they nurture at the expense of other kids
If you question any of the above, you could be kicked out, especially if they know your kid is trying out somewhere else.
 

ldw4mlo

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Feb 13, 2015
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Most gyms are very secretive about everything- cost, who moved up, why
Some coaches have favorites who they nurture at the expense of other kids
If you question any of the above, you could be kicked out, especially if they know your kid is trying out somewhere else.
This has not been my experience.

I don't know that I would say "most" gyms but rather "some" gyms.
 

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