What is the difference between the Mason Dixon League & USAG Gymnastics?

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MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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My 9 year old dd just got moved up from Pre-Team to the Level 4 Mason Dixon League (MDL) starting in June. What exactly is the main difference between the MDL and USAG gymnastics? In the gym handbook it says that the MDL generally goes by the USAG standards except there are about 6 competitions a year for the MDL instead of 12 for USAG and the MDL is not as "strict" in their judging.

My dd is going from 6 hours 2 days a week for pre-team to 11 hours 3 days a week for the MDL Level 4. So, in my opinion that is still pretty intense for a gymnast just starting out.

I just wanted to get more details on this and hear anyone's experiences with either of these gymnastics programs.
 
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awposey1

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I never heard of MDL...I have heard of USAG, AAU, USIAG, Y League but that is a new one to me!
 

gymdog

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MDL is a regional thing, as you might guess from the name, in the R7 area. It's like MD, PA. So a lot of people probably haven't heard about it.

I don't have much experience with it (R7, but VA), but I would say it's a similar idea to some of the other alternate leagues, it's kind of considered more relaxed and as USAG L2 and 3 competition isn't really going on much anymore around here(same for prep opt, AAU...though prep-opt seems to cropping up? I can't really figure the situation out yet), I would guess that some gyms are using it as the bridge between pre-team and USAG L4. At least, that's what it sounds like for your gym, at least in part. I've seen gyms use it as a more recreational alternative, for example if the gymnast wants to commit to less hours, she can choose this league rather than being left with no competitive option when she is too advanced for classes.
 

MdGymMom01

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Thanks Gymdog. I found a website on it and you are right in that it is regional and comprises MD, VA, PA and maybe more states (I guess the area near the Mason Dixon line). I do remember now the coach saying that they use the MDL at the gym for the newcomers into the program who have just started gymnastics to get their feet wet to competition. They compete 6 comps per year instead of 12 so it is less intense. She also said that it is geared more towards fun, friendship and recreation without losing the "competition aspect", where they give medals and ribbons farther down in the placements so that every kid gets a chance to get something when they first start competing. I think that is awesome!!! What a great way to introduce kids to the sport of gymnastics and competition!!!
I'm looking forward to the season :)

Thanks for the info gymdog!!!
 

Scout's Mom

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Oct 2, 2007
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Texas
In Texas the largest "alternate" is called TAAF (Texas Amateur Athletic Federation).

Some gyms use it as a "get your feet wet" competition experience. Some compete it exclusively (it goes up to Level 8--although very (comparatively) few Optionals compete in it). Some use it to keep competition skills sharp as their Compulsory season is in the spring while USAG Compulsories are in the fall. Other gyms put you on a "track"--USAG if your daughter has got "it" (whatevery "it" is) and TAAF if your daughter doesn't have "it."

TAAF has interesting "mandate" rules. If a child scores a 35 or above twice in one season, they must go on to the next level the next season.

There are no age groups in TAAF. In levels 5 through 7, girls work their way up "divisions" within each level via their AA scores. The theory is that they end up competing against girls of similar ability. Level 4's get ribbons based on scores--like blues for 9's, reds for 8's--no placements. There are not enough 8's for divisions.

The idea is great for girls who want to do other sports, want to have a life outside the sport, and who don't have any particular goals for the sport. However, as in anything, the playing field isn't level.

I think you're smart to ask questions. Be aware of the "track" your daughter is on before it's too late--either way!
 

gymdog

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I didn't know any VA gyms did it. That's interesting. There's kind of an informal rec competitive arrangement around NoVa.
 

Granny Smith

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Just thought that I'd throw out there that NJ has JOGA, which sounds very similiar to the Texas TAAF.

JOGA basically only competes in NJ and I know that there is something about moving up after scoring, not sure of the exacts.

In our gym the difference is JOGA is competitive rec, where as USAG requires more hours and more dedication (no time for other sports.)
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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I really like that idea. I wish it were more common. A lot of girls stop doing gymnastics altogether as they get older b/c they want to try other things as well. With HS gymnastics disappearing more and more, it would be nice for girls to have other options. By us we have no other options - it is usag or nothing. For now my dd loves it.
 

Granny Smith

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So, in your gym, who makes the choice--the athlete, the parents, the coaches, or some combination?
Usually the gymnast/parents. I can speak for dd's gym only, but if you start out USAG you can go to JOGA, but you can not come back to USAG - coach's rule. If you wanted to do USAG again you would leave and go to another gym. There are times when HC/O will tell a USAG gymnast that they need to go to JOGA. HC/O may feel that the gymnast lacks commitment or has plateaued - having had to repeat compulsory levels a few yrs and the gymnast is not getting the skills necessary to compete at the next level.

I know this seems harsh, but all of us parents know what the deal is and accept it.
 

MdGymMom01

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So, in your gym, who makes the choice--the athlete, the parents, the coaches, or some combination?
In my case, the coach suggested that she be on the Mason Dixon League because she is new to gymnastics and she has had some hesitation issues with her BHS--mainly hesitation problems, balking and lack of confidence. She said that kids that are new to the sport or have some issues usually do better in the MDL because it is less strressfull and they don't compete as much. They also get more medals and ribbons in the standings so this helps with confidence buliding. These issues started at the cheerleading gym where we were at this past year. She was on a Level 2 team where they "stressed the BHS as a needed skill". I think the pressure got to her and they weren't focusing so much on form or technique with her, just that she "needed to get this skill" so bent legs and other form breaks were "accepted". So, with this in mind, for the past month or so, her new gymnastics coach really worked with her and helped her build her confidence up and NOW she is doing her standing BHS by herself on the tumble track and on the floor! The extra conditioning and strength training in gymnastics has really helped her. It is so nice to see the confidence coming back in her! She hasn't done so many BHS's by herself since like September. :)

Anyway, the coach says that if she wants to compete more and gets used to the competition schedule and feels more confident, she can switch to the USAG track. I think the MDL will be great for her because it introduces her to the world of gymnastics without creating fear or stress issues.
 

Tumblequeensmom

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Feb 19, 2007
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GymDog.... Do you coach at a gym in Northern Virginia?? Our gym owners came from Maryland where they were involved in the MDL as well.

-Lynn
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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These issues started at the cheerleading gym where we were at this past year. She was on a Level 2 team where they "stressed the BHS as a needed skill". I think the pressure got to her....
Sounds a lot like my dd2 (9yo). She used to do gymnastics so her form was pretty good - but then went to allstar cheer. She had great a great bhs and could do series of 5 or 6 from standing or from a ro. Then they pushed her too fast to do her bhs back tuck and she took a nasty spill in December and has refused to tumble since. Now that the cheer season is over (and she switched to playing soccer) and the pressure is off- this past weekend out of nowhere she started tumbling again. She is doing her bhs, bhs series and standing back tuck as if she never lost it. I really think that when you put too much pressure on these girls it totally backfires sometimes.
 

gym law mom

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There is a similar program in CO called Eagles(the name really does stand for something--just don't know what). Our previous gym had a very large program and our current gym is looking at starting one. They get girls from the USAG teams that just don't find that to their liking for various reasons, some kids just move to it from rec to be able to do some gym competitions and some like it to learn enough skills and get competition experience so they can make the hs team. Hours are fewer, its less expensive, juding is much looser than USAG----so a very nice option to many girls. A few girls do move from this program to USAG, but have to try out and usually repeat the level they just finished in the rec league on the USAG side or are moved down a level.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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If they had something like that by us I have a feeling dd2 would be all over it. She opted out of gymnastics b/c she saw how many hours dd1 spent in the gym and how hard she worked - and she was like - yeah...no thanks. If there was something a little less intense I think she would have stuck with it. I think it is great that those options are out there to either get started or for those who love the sport but want a life too.
 

gymgirl_60

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Aug 30, 2008
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:vault::cool::bars::beam::floor:i was on mason dixon for 7 mnths. it is alot less stress and easier workouts. for me, there was a 4-6 hour difference between mdl and usag. on mdl i went 9-12 hours depending the wee. now i go 15 hrs. the strength is less intense. the only bad thing is since less gyms have it you need to travel longer. on usag all my meets(i m in compulsory) ar no more than an hour. but a couple of mdl meets were 3 hrs away. hope your dd likes it, i did!
 

gymgirl_60

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Aug 30, 2008
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actually, i may b wrong about more travel time. i am alevel 6 so dont travel far like optional girls do but i have a meet in virginia this year
 
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TuesdayPillow

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MDL was always used for kids that either don't have the talent/drive/ability to put in a time commitment for USAG. It sounds like your gym is using it as a pre-team that actually competes. They will get their own floor routines (unless coach makes one up that everyone just does) and can choose certain skills to put in the routine.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
MDL was always used for kids that either don't have the talent/drive/ability to put in a time commitment for USAG. It sounds like your gym is using it as a pre-team that actually competes. They will get their own floor routines (unless coach makes one up that everyone just does) and can choose certain skills to put in the routine.
That sounds a bit harsh, and a bit insulting, IMHO. The MDL kids at our gym train the same amount of hours and are very talented and have drive and ability just like the USAG kids. The difference is that MDL competes locally and only about 6 times a year instead of 10-12 like USAG. There is a bit more flexibility with the routines in MDL (you can switch out skills and the routines aren't as compulsary like USAG.)

So far, it seems like a great fit for dd, she trains hard, takes her gymnastics very seriously, gets to compete AND still has time to do other school activities which make for a very balanced childhood IMHO.
 
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NYgymfan

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I know a lot of girls that would LOVE something like that here. Its not that they are any less talented or have any less desire to be great gymnasts, its just that they want a little time for other things that "normal teenage girls" get to do and most gymnasts don't.
 
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