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What do You Wish You had Known?

LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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I was thinking the same thing, these are so negative.

I wish I had known that injuries would prevent her from making that college team that was her goal. She had offers, it didn’t work out.
But I also wish I had known how much I would love this sport and love my girls being in this sport! How much I would enjoy watching them amd how I’d tear up at awards. How their teammates and team parents would be closer than family, would look out for them when I wasn’t there, would be their best friends. How much FUN it would be in spite of the long hours and sacrifice of time and money. How I wish I had known sooner how great being a judge would be! And how many opportunities the sport would open for my daughter and me beyond club competitions.

And I wish we could go back in time and do it again. I’d enjoy it more and worry less, we would take those vacations though, and I’d remember to marvel at how amazing they are out there. I have one more chance to do all that, and I don’t want to forget these things.
Maybe I should clarify that IF we lived in an area where strong gymnastics programs are more accessible, I would likely feel different. So I would definitely factor in where you live and what gym options you have before you get too deep into this sport. I agree with some of these positives. It is very true that they work so incredibly hard that I couldn’t be prouder or more happy for them when they do well at meets. And this is terrific advice about taking the vacations.
 

mdot

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Jan 26, 2018
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Find a caring and skilled coach. One who will see her as a person and make sure her mental and physical health is top priority because eventually you’ll find that your kid is spending more time with the coach on a daily basis than you.
 

OrchidZ

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May 4, 2018
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I'd like to know your advice to a "newbie" like myself or what do wish you had known at this level?
A lot of you seem to be somewhat bitter about your child's time in the sport. is it really THAT bad? A lot of these replies seem to be insinuating that I should run while I still have a chance. I knew I would get the good the bad and the ugly but some of you seem to only have bad things to say. That seems sad to me.
The original request asked for "what do you wish you'd known," which is by nature about looking back and what we'd change if we knew more. People have answered you honestly, and a lot of the recommendations made are sound. And, yes, for some it really was or is "THAT bad." Not for everyone. For others, it's more mixed or more positive. It's like anything in life - you'll find some good and some bad when you look at it as a whole. But when the original question is framed this way, I'd personally expect to read more regrets and cautions than positives.

It's like Sk8ermaiden said. A lot of what has been said here refers to the upper levels. It comes faster than you think. Perhaps just save a link to this thread and come back to read it again a few years. Until then, maybe make a new post requesting people share positive memories of their kid's/family's gymnastics experience that would give you more of the sunny side of the journey.
 

Thegymnasticsmomlife

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Jul 30, 2019
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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!
I wish I knew more about the sport. I was the mom who was clueless until my baby asked me to homeschool her so she could train with the better coaches. I’m now in my 4th year of homeschooling, my daughter is thriving, & I wouldn’t have it any other way. My suggestion would be to take whatever your daughter says seriously & have a vested interest. I wasted 3 years of team competition thinking this was all fun & games, not learning much of anything. Ask what she’s training every single day. If she says a word you don’t know, google it & watch videos until you understand. Better yet, ask a gym mom who knows more about the sport than you. Learn what the requirements are for whatever level she is competing to ensure she is ready to thrive. That being said, you are not her coach. Trust the coaches to train her properly & put her in a position to succeed. It’s ultimately up to your daughter to decide what she wants from the sport. The coaches are there to train those who want to learn & you are there for emotional support. Remember that always. Love her no matter what. Coaches & teammates will come & go but her love for the sport will carry on through it all. Give her love & encouragement always. Best of luck!
 

Cheryl

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Feb 28, 2018
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As the above poster said, most kids drop out, and starting middle school or high school seem to be key times. Out of 12 level 4’s my kid started with, 3 are still competing. Kids develop other interests, like other sports, or music, drama, or art more. Even those kids who don’t get to Level 10, or drop out at Level 4, still learn many of the core values or being a gymnast.... resilience, mental toughness, the value of keep practicing until it’s right.

What posters are saying is that a great Level 4 compulsory kid is most likely never going to stick it out until Level 10, or get a scholarship. However, if your kid wants to stick with it, it will impact not only your kid (anxiety about skills, regression, having friends move up quicker) but will have a big impact on your family (sorry, I know it’s Spring Break, but we have to stay home because Susie has States). I completely understand how invested parents get when they’re paying 10-15,000 a year for a sport. I think everyone has done a good job of explaining that you should enjoy it while it lasts, don’t fret about skills your kid is the last to get, don’t lose sleep about a disastrous meet, but it’s also important to know that the hours, costs and missed opportunities that are out there.

My kid will do Level 9 this year, and then do his 3 years at 10. He has already said he has no intention of doing gym in college. I would never encourage him to quit, because he still loves it. But I get that not everyone can , or wants, to spend over a 100k over the course of a kid’s sports career, or try to plan vacations around gym, or cook 2 dinners a day for before and after practice.

I will also say that any kid who sticks with the sport for a long time, will be poised for success in later life because the sport teaches great values
 

ldw4mlo

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Feb 13, 2015
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This is very intriguing; could you please elaborate?
It has been my experience that there are parents who feel that gymnastics is not worth it if the gymnast is not winning. I have heard many times whats the point if they are not going to get medals? Even kids who are medal focused.

Gymnastics is so much more then winning medals. Mine in compulsory was a top of the podium/38 scoring kid. Its fun no doubt. Winning is fun. And I knew that wasn't going to last forever, my kid is not an all gymnastics all the time, I love it so much kid. She really doesn't want to make a job of gymnastics or do it in college. To her that seems like a job. So we are at a gym that doesn't do high hours. So she is simply not a 38 scorer any longer. But she does well. She medals but its no longer a top of the podium lock every meet like it used to be and that's fine.

But still there are parents in our own gym who are coming up and saying things like I'm not sure I want to keep paying or have her go to level 7 or 8. Its hard and they aren't going to win like they do now. We just can't compete with those high power gyms...Yes, these conversations have actually happened.

And I look at them and say my kid has an amazing opportunity to do optional gymnastics. She is working double backs, bar releases. She is doing a flipping vault, twisting, pirouettes on the bar and she doesn't have to be in gym all the time. She has gained so much strength and confidence. She has an incredible work ethic. Her time management skills are excellent. She has learned with hard work and patience she can accomplish whatever she puts her mind to. And that is currently helping her work through some fear issues. She has an amazing group of really nice friends who happen to be teammates. She is a better all around athlete and that will serve her well when she is ready to hang up her grips. All of these thing will carry her into adulthood way more then the 38s and pounds of medals that were levels 2, 3 and 4 ever could. And that is worth way more then medals and scores.

That is what I mean by gymnastics is way more then scores and medals. I actually always knew this. It took my husband a bit longer to get it.
 

ldw4mlo

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For the original poster - about the time. The reason why we all harp on it is b/c when your child reaches L9/10 (say age 12-14ish generally) their day will be school (If they don't homeschool for the sport which is increasingly common) followed by 4-5 hours nightly of gymnastics, so 4-8pm or 9pm) There will be no family dinners, maybe one weeknight off. They will come home, eat and do homework and go to bed exhausted. Repeat. Homework will be done in the car too and from as well. Saturdays are taken up generally with an all day practice as well. That leaves Sunday, by Sun these girls need to catch up on sleep and school so there won't be may fun-day-sundays either! Also at this level they aren't allowed and won't want to miss many days so that is where the vacation impact comes in. This also depends on the gym but most don't want them to miss more than 1 week at a time at these levels.
That is a choice. That is not all gymnastics. Again lower hour gym here. We don't have a lot of 9/10 but we have and do have them. Currently one hoping to be 9 this coming season.

The kids at out gym have family dinner every night. unless there is something else impacting that. Our gymmies do other sports. Play instruments. Saturday practice is not all day and optional. They miss occasional practices for the school play, a concert or a dance.

There is more then one way to do gym. Its about making choices. And yes I imagine depending on where you live there may not be as many choices.

No my kid is not going to do college gym. No our gymmies are unlikely to do Div 1 or 2 gymnastics. But Div 3 for some is a possiblity.

They will likely spend multiple years at level 8 and 9 because our hours are lower and they need the additional time. But for those of us with kids who don't want to do all gym all the time but do higher level gymnastics its worth the slower process to have to time for dances, dinners, a Saturday off etc.....

And really its not a "fail" if a kid says at level 8 or 9 I'm ready to move on. Its not a 'fail" if a kid says I love it but its time for other things, I want to keep doing gym but I want to dial it back and they move to Xcel. Not every kids end game is L10 and college or higher. It doesn't mean its a "failed" gymnastics experience. It doesn't mean it should be well why bother then. As I said previously its more then scores and medals and even levels.
 

Cheryl

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Our current gym is way more flexible than our previous one on practice and hours. They will tell you up front they don’t care if your kid plays another sport or misses practice. That kid won’t move up as quickly or score as high but they are happy to coach your kid and take your money. Ironically they have way more boys and win more team banners and send more boys to Nationals than some other gyms in our area that are much more intense. There are a couple boys who just compete on a couple events and they are amazing to watch.

I’ve also seen lots of kids who are no longer superstars or winning everything quit. I’ve always told my kid to work the skills as hard as you can, and you’ll get the scores.
 

Cheryl

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I will also add that we do have 20 hours of practice a week and then an optional 3 hour weekend one, and the boys who are the most successful are the ones at every practice. I wish sometimes my kid would not do the optional Sat am practice so I could sleep in
 
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gymgal

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A lot of you seem to be somewhat bitter about your child's time in the sport. is it really THAT bad? A lot of these replies seem to be insinuating that I should run while I still have a chance. I knew I would get the good the bad and the ugly but some of you seem to only have bad things to say. That seems sad to me.
Sometimes the bad (usually in the later, advanced years) is so overpowering that it blocks out all the good that the gymnast and family experiences, typically in the early years. But that doesn't mean that most of these parents would have chosen the gymnastics path again - just that they wish they had known what to look out for and how to avoid the negatives...and how to better plan for the time/financial expenses. Also, the viewpoints are skewed because many of the parents who answered have upper level gymnasts. If you were to ask for input from only, say, L6 and below, you likely would have gotten a much different view point, which is riddled with injuries, high travel costs, tougher practices, tears over all the fears that come with high level skills, etc.

The comments from everyone are not meant to scare you away. They are meant to prepare you for the reality of competitive gymnastics, which is very different than rec. Most beginner parents see all the medals, smiles, pretty routines - all the positives - but they don't realize everything that goes on behind the scene.
 

cmg

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It has been my experience that there are parents who feel that gymnastics is not worth it if the gymnast is not winning. I have heard many times whats the point if they are not going to get medals? Even kids who are medal focused.

Gymnastics is so much more then winning medals. Mine in compulsory was a top of the podium/38 scoring kid. Its fun no doubt. Winning is fun. And I knew that wasn't going to last forever, my kid is not an all gymnastics all the time, I love it so much kid. She really doesn't want to make a job of gymnastics or do it in college. To her that seems like a job. So we are at a gym that doesn't do high hours. So she is simply not a 38 scorer any longer. But she does well. She medals but its no longer a top of the podium lock every meet like it used to be and that's fine.

But still there are parents in our own gym who are coming up and saying things like I'm not sure I want to keep paying or have her go to level 7 or 8. Its hard and they aren't going to win like they do now. We just can't compete with those high power gyms...Yes, these conversations have actually happened.

And I look at them and say my kid has an amazing opportunity to do optional gymnastics. She is working double backs, bar releases. She is doing a flipping vault, twisting, pirouettes on the bar and she doesn't have to be in gym all the time. She has gained so much strength and confidence. She has an incredible work ethic. Her time management skills are excellent. She has learned with hard work and patience she can accomplish whatever she puts her mind to. And that is currently helping her work through some fear issues. She has an amazing group of really nice friends who happen to be teammates. She is a better all around athlete and that will serve her well when she is ready to hang up her grips. All of these thing will carry her into adulthood way more then the 38s and pounds of medals that were levels 2, 3 and 4 ever could. And that is worth way more then medals and scores.

That is what I mean by gymnastics is way more then scores and medals. I actually always knew this. It took my husband a bit longer to get it.
Yes gymnastics is expensive, but as the above responder suggested you get a lot of gymnastics besides medals or going to D1 on scholarship. I figure paying for gymnastics is way cheaper than if my kid had a lot of free time to get into trouble or hang out with the wrong folks (not that she would she is overall a good kid) but the opportunity would be there. Friday nights I know where she is and she is with liked minded friends that make that sacrifice. I here stories of other teenagers getting into drugs, having sex too early etc. etc. When I think about those things, gymnastics is cheap! We are at a low hour gym and yes we struggle to compete with the "high power" gyms. My daughter does have dreams of competing at a college, but I figure her only shot is as a walk on and probably at a lower level gym, i.e. not the top 15 college programs. But there is hope and as long as there is some hope of her reaching her dream I will support her 150%. Getting a scholarship is a wonderful thing for those that can survive the training required to get there, but it is not the only way to get positive attributes from gymnastics. Even if she just gets to L10, that in itself is an amazing accomplishment.
 

Momma Bear

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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!
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!
My daughter is 14, competed level 8 last season, training level 9. She has dreams of college gymnastics, like many girls, and we have no idea if that will become a reality or not. Yes, there have been many ups and downs throughout her journey so far but I would 100 percent do it all again no matter how her journey ends. My daughter does not feel like she’s missed out on things but instead feels like she’s had so many exciting experiences because of gymnastics. She goes to school full time and does 20 hours of practice a week (probably 24 this upcoming season.) We encourage her to skip practice sometimes when special events come up but she rarely chooses to. We do go on a family vacation every year that she skips gym for at least 1-2 weeks every summer.

Some positives that my daughter has learned from gymnastics that will help her throughout life no matter what she chooses to do:

1. She has better time management than any of us!
2. She has become a humble, confident leader both in and out of the gym.
3. She has learned positive ways to deal with her anxiety and to push through so that she runs her life, not it.
4. She has learned that hard work and determination help you achieve what you want.
5. She knows how to deal with disappointment and knows how to use that as motivation.
6. She has made some life-long friendships that are truly like family to her.
7. She knows how to stand up for herself and how to politely speak her mind.
8. She knows when she makes it to the podium to smile, shake hands, and congratulate those above her and below her.
9. She is in phenomenal shape and is learning how to make positive, healthy choices to help her body.
10. She has learned to accept criticism and use it to her advantage.

These are only a few that come to mind right away. I’m sure there are many others. My daughter has been lucky enough to avoid any major injuries. We probably would have a different viewpoint if that were the case.

Gymnastics is time consuming and expensive. However, in my opinion, if your daughter continues to love the sport and stays healthy, it’s totally worth the time and money.

Find a gym that fits your families wants and needs that is supportive and encouraging to your daughter and enjoy the ride, it goes by fast!
 

TumbleTimes4

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The question “what you wish you would have known” has negative connotations in and of itself. No one ever has to be warned of the unknown positives of the sport. Those are always welcomed. My DD is level 5, and while we aren’t to upper level optionals yet, I wish that I had really known about the amount of time she spends in the gym and how much our entire family’s schedule is dictated by hers. Sometimes those 12-15 hours that she spends a week at the gym punch me in the gut. That’s time with her that I missed out on and that I’ll never get back. I wish when practice was optional on Saturdays that first competition year that I hadn’t taken her and just kept her home with me. Yes it is expensive, but it’s the time that I lose with her that makes me have a twinge of regret that we started this journey. I don’t know that I would have done anything differently because there are many positives that she has gained from this sport, but I would not be disappointed if she decided to hang up her grips and the sport no longer dominates our lives.
 

Muddlethru

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Wish I knew and perhaps would have done ......Nothing is certain in gymnastics; it can be expensive, injuries are prevalent; coaches can be undependable, an experienced, good coach is vital, forced my daughter to have more of a life outside gymnastics, don’t look too far into the future, expect less, worry less and enjoy the journey of your daughter more. Would I have not let her do gymnastics knowing the above, no. But I would have changed some things to make her journey more rewarding and fun
 

Jenny

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I wish I'd known that most parents on your level have an agenda. Distance yourself and ignore them. Also people that have been around ten years do know what they are talking about. Listen to them.
 

groovygirl

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Mar 11, 2013
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That is a choice. That is not all gymnastics. Again lower hour gym here. We don't have a lot of 9/10 but we have and do have them. Currently one hoping to be 9 this coming season.

The kids at out gym have family dinner every night. unless there is something else impacting that. Our gymmies do other sports. Play instruments. Saturday practice is not all day and optional. They miss occasional practices for the school play, a concert or a dance.

There is more then one way to do gym. Its about making choices. And yes I imagine depending on where you live there may not be as many choices.

No my kid is not going to do college gym. No our gymmies are unlikely to do Div 1 or 2 gymnastics. But Div 3 for some is a possiblity.

They will likely spend multiple years at level 8 and 9 because our hours are lower and they need the additional time. But for those of us with kids who don't want to do all gym all the time but do higher level gymnastics its worth the slower process to have to time for dances, dinners, a Saturday off etc.....

And really its not a "fail" if a kid says at level 8 or 9 I'm ready to move on. Its not a 'fail" if a kid says I love it but its time for other things, I want to keep doing gym but I want to dial it back and they move to Xcel. Not every kids end game is L10 and college or higher. It doesn't mean its a "failed" gymnastics experience. It doesn't mean it should be well why bother then. As I said previously its more then scores and medals and even levels.
Your Level 10's do other sports and always are home for family dinners??? OMG! That is amazing. I'd love to go to have my daughter at a gym like that but yes, you are right that does NOT exist in my area. All gyms are similar hours till 8-9pm!

My daughter does want to do D1 or D2 gymnastics and as of now she has the potential to and is getting the questionaries from them already. This is HER dream not mine, so perhaps that is why the "choice" to do this makes me negative - I'd never have chosen this path for her. I'd be ok with less hours and more freedom and no shot at D1. I'd never in a million years think its as failure to stop at level 8 or 9. I hope I didn't imply that and I don't think I did!
 

Pirouette

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What do I wish I had known?

Well, I wish I'd known she was going to grow into a 5'9" beanpole . . .

Seriously, though, my DD16 was a competitive dancer for 6 years before switching to gym in 6th grade. So I learned a lot from the dance experience that allowed me to navigate the gym thing a little better. I learned that this is HER sport, not my activity, and that she needs to own it (which she does). I learned that the journey is the best part of gym (and dance) and that I needed to remember to soak it all in. Have someone else video that routine so you can just watch, enjoy, and appreciate. I learned to anticipate unexpected expenses, because they will keep popping up. Tuition and other costs will go up, too. Whatever your budget is for gym, add a little extra in there (or throw it in a savings account), just in case.

Xcel may be looked down upon by some people, but it's the only thing that has kept my daughter in the gym. If your child eventually goes the Xcel route, embrace it for the great opportunity that it can be. DD will be a junior this fall and is determined to compete platinum for these next 2 years. She is having a great gymnastics experience that is a good fit for her and her goals.

OP, I hope your daughter and your family enjoy gymnastics for whatever length of time it is part of your lives. There are lessons to be learned from every experience, and gymnastics offers a wealth of them.
 

GymMom033

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I hear some of the negative comments here and believe that there is merit to them. However, it is not your child's destiny to go down a path of gymnastics in which all time is consumed, major injury is incurred and frankly, some normalcy of childhood is missed. I believe that as a parent, it is important to look at the options in gymnastics and make a decision that is the best for your child.

Our daughter started down a JO track very young and was quite talented. However, we saw the commitment necessary and even how through her happiness the stress could already be seen. We, as parents, made the decision to move her to a gym that prioritizes Xcel. After an initial adjustment, she was just as happy as she was in JO. She still works skills, competes, and gets all of the benefits that JO gymnasts get from participating in the sport - and now she plays viola, runs track and sometimes plays outside after school too. We see how down this path she will be able to live a great, full child's life and still do the sport that she loves.

Let's face it - the vast, vast majority of these kids will NOT do college gymnastics, or anywhere near this level and unless this is your goal the JO program is just not necessary. Having chosen Xcel for our daughter has likely extended her participation in the sport and increased her happiness levels. If she continues, she will be well ready to compete in high school based on her Xcel training, and that is more than enough opportunity in our book.

I encourage you to make the best decision for your child and find a gym that supports it. It's easy to get swept up in the culture of a competitive gym, but take a step back periodically and assess if this is what is right for your family and your child. There are choices. I believe wholeheartedly that we made the right decision for our child, and am so happy that she gets to remain a gymnast without so many of the tough aspects that others have described here. Best of luck!
 

Faith

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I wish I had known:

That your child’s journey through the sport, especially at the top levels, often depends on the whim of adults. Who they happen to like or don’t like. That often they base their opinion after seeing them twice a year at a comp.

That many coaches are still coaching with the stick. High hours, telling kids if they don’t win it’s their fault for not training hard enough, or ignoring that injury, or not losing that weight. Coaches never taking responsibility if the kids don’t perform well.

That parents, NGB’s and selectors will turn a blind eye to the above coaching styles, if it gets medals.

Kids are not treated equally. Two kids can get the same results and one will be moved up, or selected for squad. You cannot argue this as the selectors will tell you they know best and know the selected kid has more potential.

Parents opinions meaning nothing. Anyone who dares speak up is a troublemaker.

When I started my child in sport I naively thought we had moved on from the 80’s and the desire to emulate eastern european regimes. 7 years later and I am very disappointed to find it hasn’t, and that there are still adults out there who will destroy your childs confidence without a thought.
 

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