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honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
Hello, I am looking for advice about switching gyms. My daughter is a level 3 gymnast and is 6 years old. Ever since she's been a small toddler she has lived and breathed gymnastics. She loves the sport and her intense passion for it has only increased as she's gotten older. We live in an area where there really is no elite track for gymnastics. The only gym in our area does not have a TOPS program (which is something I'd like her to do) and is not very competitive. She was only allowed (by the gym) to be there 1.5 hours per week until recently when they decided to let her join their team and bumped her up to 6 hours per week. The closest gym to us that is willing to work with a kid who hopes to pursue elite gymnastics or college gymnastics is 2 hours away. Are there other parents who make that kind of drive for their kid to do gymnastics?
I'm also frustrated with the coaches at her current gym. There are only 2 of them and they have a lot of gymnasts to work with. This means there is little to none one on one coaching. Although they do pick favorites and give them extra turns and extra corrections/pointers. They are fine with it taking a long time for a gymnast to get a new skill. (18 months for a mill circle, for example!) They've said they are not terribly interested in winning and that they're not there to get gymnasts to elite gymnastics or college gymnastics. On the other hand, they've said the girls should be prepared to not have a lot of friends outside of the gym, to spend most of their after school time at the gym, and they get really upset if they think a gym parent is looking at another gym. They also forbid at home gymnastics practice and they do not like the gymnasts to watch any sort of gymnastics on youtube. (Tutorials or gymnast channels)
I'm just trying to find other parents who travel a great distance to get to the gym and how they make that work.
 

raenndrops

Coach
Oct 24, 2009
6,788
The 'Wood, Ohio
Not at 6 years old. 2 hour drives are for when they are older / higher levels.
Are there any YMCA teams in the area that you may not have considered / known about? Several states have really good Y programs but parents may not have them on their radar. They may not get girls to elite, but some do get girls to college gymnastics and others can give a girl the foundation to go to a club gym later to pursue her goals.
Good luck.
 

gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
That's all normal, except the part about telling them to not have friends outside of gymnastics and I personally don't really care about the other gym thing because I have to turn away people due to space. In fact if you were on my team I would straight up tell you to find another gym.

As far as stuff like the length of time a skill takes, what do you want them to do, perform brain surgery and make a child able to do it? If it's being worked on in practice, they'll get it when they get it. Of course in a homeschool 25 hour a week team that process would probably be expedited due to greater exposure. But there are other drawbacks. No one should be learning gymnastics off YouTube, sorry, although I like to WATCH gymnastics videos on YT also. No gym and ESPECIALLY not a big gym with technical coaching is going to say it's fine for mom to teach the kid skills at home off YouTube.

But really...you might want to start researching gmnastics a little more. this is a good place to start. I personally would not drive more than hour for gymnastics.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
That's all normal, except the part about telling them to not have friends outside of gymnastics and I personally don't really care about the other gym thing because I have to turn away people due to space. In fact if you were on my team I would straight up tell you to find another gym.

As far as stuff like the length of time a skill takes, what do you want them to do, perform brain surgery and make a child able to do it? If it's being worked on in practice, they'll get it when they get it. Of course in a homeschool 25 hour a week team that process would probably be expedited due to greater exposure. But there are other drawbacks. No one should be learning gymnastics off YouTube, sorry, although I like to WATCH gymnastics videos on YT also. No gym and ESPECIALLY not a big gym with technical coaching is going to say it's fine for mom to teach the kid skills at home off YouTube.

But really...you might want to start researching gmnastics a little more. this is a good place to start. I personally would not drive more than hour for gymnastics.

You would turn me away if you were the coach and I said these things to you? I'm not saying all of these things to the coaches because I want to preserve the relationship so my kid can continue doing what she loves since we have no other options where we live. That's why I posted my concerns here.
I'm not suggesting that I teach her gymnastics from youtube videos. The problem is that she is not allowed to watch kids like Whitney Bjerken which is purely for entertainment for her anyway, and the coach actually gets pissed off if kids watch stuff like that. Why do the 2 coaches at her gym even care what she does outside of the gym if they don't care about her gymnastics and don't want to make too much of a time commitment to her? Why does it matter if she has friends outside of the gym or skips practice some Friday nights for a sleepover if there are no real goals? If the coaches were willing to actually train her and actually work with a big goal in mind, like college gymnastics, then I would understand and agree to their restrictions on her life outside of the gym.
And, no, I don't want them to magically make kids get skills. But I do expect a little more effort on their part. I put the effort in to get my kid to their gym and I pay them whatever they ask. They could at least watch her when it's her turn on bars or beam or whatever they're doing. They explain something once, do a few drills once, and then after that...you're on your own. And don't even think of getting a bar to work on something at home. (Guess what, everyone who wants to progress has gym equipment at home.)
I've done a lot of research on gyms and I do know a bit about gymnastics since I grew up in a gymnastics family. Thanks, though, for your honest reply.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
Not at 6 years old. 2 hour drives are for when they are older / higher levels.
Are there any YMCA teams in the area that you may not have considered / known about? Several states have really good Y programs but parents may not have them on their radar. They may not get girls to elite, but some do get girls to college gymnastics and others can give a girl the foundation to go to a club gym later to pursue her goals.
Good luck.
The team she's on is USAG and they compete in a Y league too. Thank you for your reply.
 

Flippin'A

Proud Parent
Dec 4, 2017
306
34
I think the toll a two hour commute would take on her and you both would outweigh any pros at this point. If she's spending that much time in a car, that'll cut back on the time she has with outside friends more than the coaches not being supportive of it. Even if the gym she's at at such a young age doesn't go that far, college gym can still be her personal goal if that's something she wants as she gets older, and you can switch her at any point down the line.
Honestly, home gymnastics equipment can be very dangerous or at least instill bad habits, and many gyms don't allow it. It's not accurate to say that everyone who wants to progress has gym equipment at home. I suspect the youtube ban relates to this since the gymnasts on youtube typically do a lot of home gymnastics and have home equipment and the coaches don't want them setting a bad example. If she wants to work on improving at home, stretching and strength are great options. The first competition season should really be about finding a love for the sport and learning to focus and pay attention to details. You have plenty of time to find a better gym option for her if she decides she wants to pursue elite or college gymnastics in the future.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
I think the toll a two hour commute would take on her and you both would outweigh any pros at this point. If she's spending that much time in a car, that'll cut back on the time she has with outside friends more than the coaches not being supportive of it. Even if the gym she's at at such a young age doesn't go that far, college gym can still be her personal goal if that's something she wants as she gets older, and you can switch her at any point down the line.
Honestly, home gymnastics equipment can be very dangerous or at least instill bad habits, and many gyms don't allow it. It's not accurate to say that everyone who wants to progress has gym equipment at home. I suspect the youtube ban relates to this since the gymnasts on youtube typically do a lot of home gymnastics and have home equipment and the coaches don't want them setting a bad example. If she wants to work on improving at home, stretching and strength are great options. The first competition season should really be about finding a love for the sport and learning to focus and pay attention to details. You have plenty of time to find a better gym option for her if she decides she wants to pursue elite or college gymnastics in the future.

Thank you, that makes good sense.
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,856
No, a 2 hour commute each way for a 6 year old is way too much. I would worry that both you and she would burn out before she makes it to the optional levels from the drive alone. I can definitely sympathize. We do not have any elite or tops programs in our state. TOPs is not necessary to be successful if that helps any. We just started commuting one hour each way for level 8, and it is very hard. It really took years and reaching the “end of the line” before we were willing to undertake a commute like this.
 
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amiandjim

Proud Parent
Apr 18, 2015
1,653
45
I agree with the others, 2 hours is definitely too long at that age. We commute 45-60 min (daughter is 9), but we have a carpool and drive to 3 of her 6 practices a week max (and that’s if the other fast track dad is out of town). Even with that, it puts a strain on our family, not to mention short changes our teenage son quite a bit.
 

momnipotent

Proud Parent
Judge
Apr 5, 2012
308
I agree that two hours away for a 6 year old is too much, but I wanted to ask based on your first post-could there be a gym that is more equitable in their coaching practices that is less than 2 hours away? It might make sense for right now to look at that. No, they might not have TOPS (which you don’t need to do, and IMO is really just an additional money maker for USAG for most girls) or be able to get her all the way to college gym, but they might be able to help her to be a really solid level 7 or so, at which point you could re-visit the thought of the longer drive. (Or relocating halfway there and sharing the hassle of an hour long drive in 2 different directions...)
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
I agree that two hours away for a 6 year old is too much, but I wanted to ask based on your first post-could there be a gym that is more equitable in their coaching practices that is less than 2 hours away? It might make sense for right now to look at that. No, they might not have TOPS (which you don’t need to do, and IMO is really just an additional money maker for USAG for most girls) or be able to get her all the way to college gym, but they might be able to help her to be a really solid level 7 or so, at which point you could re-visit the thought of the longer drive. (Or relocating halfway there and sharing the hassle of an hour long drive in 2 different directions...)
That is a really good idea. The next closest gym is about an hour away and I will look into it.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
I agree with the others, 2 hours is definitely too long at that age. We commute 45-60 min (daughter is 9), but we have a carpool and drive to 3 of her 6 practices a week max (and that’s if the other fast track dad is out of town). Even with that, it puts a strain on our family, not to mention short changes our teenage son quite a bit.
Thank you, that's the kind of information I was really looking for. I don't want to short change my other kids...we may move eventually anyway and be closer to a gym better suited to what we're looking for.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
No, a 2 hour commute each way for a 6 year old is way too much. I would worry that both you and she would burn out before she makes it to the optional levels from the drive alone. I can definitely sympathize. We do not have any elite or tops programs in our state. TOPs is not necessary to be successful if that helps any. We just started commuting one hour each way for level 8, and it is very hard. It really took years and reaching the “end of the line” before we were willing to undertake a commute like this.
Thank you. Yes, it does help to know that TOPS is not a requirement in order to be elite someday.
 

Along4theRide

Proud Parent
Jan 17, 2015
93
Region 8
Another thought... Make sure you don't put too much pressure on her, as a 6 year old, to preform well. Long commutes and talk about 'elite training' can make her start to think she needs to "do well to make mommy happy". Gymnastics, especially at the higher levels, needs to come from HER internal motivations. She has to first love it, then she can progress. Find a gym that you are comfortable with AND that fits your life for now. Then, as she decides that she wants to do more, decide if a longer commute or family move is a good choice. Enjoy the journey! Deep breath.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
Another thought... Make sure you don't put too much pressure on her, as a 6 year old, to preform well. Long commutes and talk about 'elite training' can make her start to think she needs to "do well to make mommy happy". Gymnastics, especially at the higher levels, needs to come from HER internal motivations. She has to first love it, then she can progress. Find a gym that you are comfortable with AND that fits your life for now. Then, as she decides that she wants to do more, decide if a longer commute or family move is a good choice. Enjoy the journey! Deep breath.

Thanks for the advice. She loves gymnastics, and we have never had an "elite training" discussion in front of her for the very reasons you mentioned in your comment. However, from listening to her talk about what she wants from gymnastics, I know that that would be her goal even though she doesn't know to use the word elite. She does say things like "when I'm as good as Mya Witte" and she does stretch, condition, and practice of her own free will and without me telling or asking her to. It's her thing...I don't know how she became so focused on gymnastics but she is. I just want to give her a chance to achieve what she hopes to achieve with a coach or coaches who actually are present for an entire practice and seem like they actually love the sport and are excited for one of their gymnasts to do well.
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,946
2 hour drive, there are back is going to burn you both out. If she really does have aspirations to take her gymnastics to the highest level she can, then you don’t want her to start resenting the sport at an early age.

No matter what yiu might hear people say, 6 years old is way too young to tell if she has the talent or even the interest in elite or college leve, gymnastics. Lots of kids love for the sport at 6, and are wanting to try something different by the time they are 8 or 9.

That being the case, is there perhaps another gym in your area where you are happier with the coaching and they are more driven, as an in between step for her but is not so far away? She could always choose to switch to the more elite gym when she gets older if she has a solid background behind her.

Telling the kids not to have friends outside the gym is very weird and quite inappropriate. And of course it’s not ideal if the kids get no one on one attention.

However, 18 months for a mill circle is not that unusual. And it certainly doesn’t mean the child won’t do very well on bars in the future. It is quite normal for a kid to get stuck with one particular skill.

Not letting kids practice gymnastics at home is generally a rule in all gyms, and a very good rule. Doing handstands, presses, stretching etc at home is fine. But kids can destroy their progress if they practice too much at home. For example you might have a kid learn their first back handspring at training, they have just learned the skill and don’t have the best technique yet (it will take at least a few months to develop) and then they go home and practice all week, they have no coach watching to ensure the technique is correct and they start to practice mistakes, by the time they get to their next lesson, they have gotten very good at mistakes and it takes significantly longer to undo a bad habit than it does to just teach the skill from scratch.

And then there is the injury risk. Coaches watch their gymnasts very closely and can start to see when a gymnast is fatiguing of a bad habit is creeping in. At that point the skill is stopped, and the kids do drills. At home there is no one to see these subtle difference in technique, and when the gymnasts technique drops it can and does result in injuries, because of the nature of gymnastics skills this can result in paralysis or even death.

I can also totally understand the rule about not watching YouTube gymnastics! Those tutorials are horrible! Most are made by kids, who think they can teach a skill because they know how to do a skill. But often the advice they give is incorrect, they teach the skill in a way that misses vital steps, they don’t understand the prerequisites required and they basically teach the skill wrong! Then many kids think it’s that easy and they try the skill, but from a video you don’t have a coach watching what you are doing to give feedback and notice the errors to prevent serious accidents.

Other types of videos are a problem too, often there are stacks and fails in these videos and when a gymnast watches them it can develop a subconscious fear. This can result in a mental block when they come to do a certain skill themselves, which can cause them to lose some or even many of their skills.
 

scgymmom322

Proud Parent
May 16, 2015
61
40
We commute 45 min each way, and have for just over 2 years now. My daughters are 7 and 9. I feel like even the 45 min drive is a lot, and it definitely takes a toll on our entire family. I feel bad for my other kids, who have to spend an hour and a half in the car immediately after school to get their sisters to practice after school. I pick the kids up from school and we head straight to the gym, drop my two daughters off, and then we head home. My husband heads out later that evening to pick them up. We also spend a lot of money on gas to drive to the gym twice each day that they have practice--but we don't have anyone close by to carpool with, and there is no way that I am going to make my other children stay at the gym for the 4 hour practice! That being said, my daughters both really love our gym and we do feel that it is worth the sacrifices that are being made.
 

honoragymnast

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2018
26
2 hour drive, there are back is going to burn you both out. If she really does have aspirations to take her gymnastics to the highest level she can, then you don’t want her to start resenting the sport at an early age.

No matter what yiu might hear people say, 6 years old is way too young to tell if she has the talent or even the interest in elite or college leve, gymnastics. Lots of kids love for the sport at 6, and are wanting to try something different by the time they are 8 or 9.

That being the case, is there perhaps another gym in your area where you are happier with the coaching and they are more driven, as an in between step for her but is not so far away? She could always choose to switch to the more elite gym when she gets older if she has a solid background behind her.

Telling the kids not to have friends outside the gym is very weird and quite inappropriate. And of course it’s not ideal if the kids get no one on one attention.

However, 18 months for a mill circle is not that unusual. And it certainly doesn’t mean the child won’t do very well on bars in the future. It is quite normal for a kid to get stuck with one particular skill.

Not letting kids practice gymnastics at home is generally a rule in all gyms, and a very good rule. Doing handstands, presses, stretching etc at home is fine. But kids can destroy their progress if they practice too much at home. For example you might have a kid learn their first back handspring at training, they have just learned the skill and don’t have the best technique yet (it will take at least a few months to develop) and then they go home and practice all week, they have no coach watching to ensure the technique is correct and they start to practice mistakes, by the time they get to their next lesson, they have gotten very good at mistakes and it takes significantly longer to undo a bad habit than it does to just teach the skill from scratch.

And then there is the injury risk. Coaches watch their gymnasts very closely and can start to see when a gymnast is fatiguing of a bad habit is creeping in. At that point the skill is stopped, and the kids do drills. At home there is no one to see these subtle difference in technique, and when the gymnasts technique drops it can and does result in injuries, because of the nature of gymnastics skills this can result in paralysis or even death.

I can also totally understand the rule about not watching YouTube gymnastics! Those tutorials are horrible! Most are made by kids, who think they can teach a skill because they know how to do a skill. But often the advice they give is incorrect, they teach the skill in a way that misses vital steps, they don’t understand the prerequisites required and they basically teach the skill wrong! Then many kids think it’s that easy and they try the skill, but from a video you don’t have a coach watching what you are doing to give feedback and notice the errors to prevent serious accidents.

Other types of videos are a problem too, often there are stacks and fails in these videos and when a gymnast watches them it can develop a subconscious fear. This can result in a mental block when they come to do a certain skill themselves, which can cause them to lose some or even many of their skills.

Thank you for your reply. That's good advice.
 
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