WAG Age trend in JO? Or, younger, better, faster...

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

Amber

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2012
208
Region 8
Hi everyone,
As some of you know, my younger DD went from Level 4 last year to Level 7 this year. She is in 4th grade and just turned 10. She had most of the level 7 skills a full year before competing them, and got her giant consistently 5 months before first meet. In her first 3 meets, she got a 36.05, 36.5, and a 36.6 aa respectively. She's been in the top third amongst all level 7s at each meet, and between 4-8th in her age group. But I'm starting to notice a trend, and want your input on it:

1) I thought it was pretty rare to go from Level 4 to Level 7. Turns out, very common now. I checked, and 75-80% of the girls in her age groups have done the exact same thing. This represents multiple states and regions...last meet was Ozone, and there were 4 different regions in her age group.

2) these girls(the ones who went from 4-7) are really, really good! I'm seeing the hardest skill set for level 7, especially on beam and floor. I am also seeing some freakishly muscular 8 yr olds.

3) the AA at every meet are much higher than just 2 years ago. I checked, and 2 years ago, the youngest age group's winner had around a 35.00 AA. Now it's 37/38. This is from multiple meets in different states. And from videos I've seen, the quality of routines are much, much better. So it's not over scoring. Also noticed in the past, the youngest girls got the lowest scores, and the middle age group were the strongest competitors. From what I'm seeing, the youngest age group is now the highest scoring.

The reason I'm putting this out there, is, is this trend a positive thing? I know this is for college gymnastics. But soon there are going to be a ton of multi year Level 10s by age 13. There will be a lot more middle school bodies getting pounded by the highest level routines. Between elites, foreign elites, and so many more girls who reach level 10 by 8th grade, the odds of college gymnastics are going to be the same as Olympics.

And what about the atmosphere in the gyms themselves? Our gym is getting younger and younger. We have many girls who are just too young to compete level 3, so they do bronze. I expect we will have a huge group of 8 yr old level 7s in about 2 years. The average age in our gym now is about 8. But the average skill set is about level 6....

The older girls in our gym are quitting, mostly because they feel ancient and out of place amongst so many girls between 5-8. My older DD is done with gym after this year specifically for that reason.

I know Tops has a lot to do with seeing really young girls with high skill sets. My did Tops for 2 years. If she didn't, I don't think she'd even have a chance competing.

Im curious about everyone's opinion on this age trend. It scares me a little. Thoughts?
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,856
I'm not the most knowledgeable compared to seasoned vets around here, but I have been doing lots of research. Yes, it does seem to be a trend. In our "old school" area of the country, they have historically been moving the kids (even talented ones) up verrrry slowly through the compulsory levels to keep them in the sport longer. Virtually no optional level programs around here, very few level 10's, etc. It's a gym issue. The gyms do not want to take on the travel, commitment, etc. etc. Not enough coaches who are able to coach optional level gymnasts and on and on...

However, there is a newish program in our area, and that program is starting younger kids (7-ish) at level 4, scoring them out of 5 and bumping them to optionals. The girls are doing very well. First time in a very, very long time kids are representing well at out of state meets.

I'm not sure it's a great thing either. Feels like a ton of pressure. They really have to move up that fast to be competitive for college, but what are the statistical odds of doing college in the first place?! Pretty low. And as a parent, there is pressure to put your child in that kind of program at a young age if they are showing any kind of promise because heaven forbid you miss the boat and they don't make it to level 10 by age 11!! That being said, I think it is absurd to hold kids back at level 1 and 2 for what purpose?? A friend of mine recently posted a picture of her 8-year-old daughter doing some lovely tumbling passes including back tucks, and the child is competing level 1 and scoring 38's. Can't there be some kind of reasonable middle ground?!

ETA: I kind of hope @gymdog will weigh in on this. She seems to have a reasonable perspective on what is developmentally appropriate for the kids to be doing (in general) at a young age. And I think 7 is young.
 

2G1B

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2013
2,226
I kind of just go with "it is what it is". My dd did level 4 in fall, hopes to score out of 5 in March (all depends on how she comes back from a non-gymnastics injury) and she is really hoping to be level 7 next spring. It seems like to me this is pretty common right now. If she does it she will be an 11 year old level 7, so a year older than you dd. I know that if she does this it will put her in the possibility for college gymnastics; but I don't think that she realizes that. She doesn't know about the multiple years of level 10 thing. For her it is just the goal she has for herself. For college I tell her to worry about her grades. I think a lot of the kids who are doing g gymnastics now will quit. We see it every year after state, a few more quit. I think it is very possible that with kids skipping levels like this that it will weed out some because they will realize they just don't want to do the hours. I imagine some will also be lost to injuries and fears.
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,856
I think a lot of the kids who are doing g gymnastics now will quit. We see it every year after state, a few more quit. I think it is very possible that with kids skipping levels like this that it will weed out some because they will realize they just don't want to do the hours. I imagine some will also be lost to injuries and fears.

Agree--maybe that is the rationale? And yes indeed the grades are the most important thing!
 

Amber

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2012
208
Region 8
I kind of just go with "it is what it is". My dd did level 4 in fall, hopes to score out of 5 in March (all depends on how she comes back from a non-gymnastics injury) and she is really hoping to be level 7 next spring. It seems like to me this is pretty common right now. If she does it she will be an 11 year old level 7, so a year older than you dd. I know that if she does this it will put her in the possibility for college gymnastics; but I don't think that she realizes that. She doesn't know about the multiple years of level 10 thing. For her it is just the goal she has for herself. For college I tell her to worry about her grades. I think a lot of the kids who are doing g gymnastics now will quit. We see it every year after state, a few more quit. I think it is very possible that with kids skipping levels like this that it will weed out some because they will realize they just don't want to do the hours. I imagine some will also be lost to injuries and fears.


I'm also noticing that many of these young girls are homeschooled. They seem very confident, fearless and almost aggressive for their young age. My DD is already competent on Level 8 skills and is now working on some Level 9. And she has no interest in college gymnastics! She just does it for fun:). But she is a rarity it seems. All the other girls in her level on our team have not only college aspirations, but specific colleges in mind. And they are 6th grade and under! It is weird to me that elementary aged girls are already setting sights on college.... I feel like the gymnastics system of the past is radically changing. Turning into "kinder-nastics".
 
  • Like
Reactions: B.Gold

wallinbl

Proud Parent
Jan 30, 2012
1,708
The more you get into the younger awards age groups, the more you see the really talented girls that are often home schooled or being groomed for elite (or so their parents will tell you). As you go up in levels, these groups thin, and the only optionals in the really young age groups are really talented. From what I've seen, many of them also vanish from one year to the next.
 
  • Like
Reactions: B.Gold

B.Gold

Proud Parent
Dec 21, 2014
290
54
In our "old school" area of the country, they have historically been moving the kids (even talented ones) up verrrry slowly through the compulsory levels to keep them in the sport longer.

This is the philosophy of my DDs gym. Maybe not verrrry slowly but slowly- no skipping levels. And all the gyms that surround us all follow the trend of the faster the better, I have to respect the reasons our gym does it. Firstly, it is to keep the girls in the program longer, but the way its been explained to me it's also to combat fears, limit injury,(because if you aren't doing a double back at 9 you can't get injured doing a double back at 9), and limit wear and tear on a body that has to last way past the last season of competing L10. Sounds like a better way to keep my daughter safe. And I'll never argue with that. :)

It may be a rule of thumb of many years at L10 but I've also seen it go the other way too.
 
  • Like
Reactions: windydays

cbifoja

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2012
3,007
We are only on our fourth year of competition so I don't know that I have the experience that I should be commenting....but I'm gonna anyway! LOL

My DD has been in the youngest age group for the last three years and while she is "good" for her age, she isn't one of those amazing little hot shots who does TOPs or could go elite. She goes to public school and trains about 20 hours a week at an adequate, but not, stellar gym.

It does feel like a 37 used to be solid for 1st place but as I'm looking at other meets and scores, I am seeing more and more 38s for first year optionals and not just low 38 but 38.6 and even a 38.8 already!

I don't know what you can do except go in knowing that any medal is a victory but that 1st place is pretty much out of reach when you have gyms who compete a level or two down. I guess the alternative is the "if you can't beat them, join 'em" philosophy but since that doesn't work for us, we just grin and bear it.

There was a first year L7 in DD's age group last year who took somewhere between 4th and 6th place at state behind several of her teammates. This girl transfers to a new gym and she's competing L9 this year and holding her own but not winning every meet. I think that most of the girls in her age group could do the same thing but their gym keeps them in lower levels so that they can sweep the podium.

Not really anything I can do and I'm glad that my DD has started doing what a lot of you are saying....setting goals that she has some control over. I tell her we can't control the hours others train, or their educational choices, or what equipment they have....but she can control how hard she conditions, what attitude she adopts, and what goals she sets for herself.
 

gracyomalley

Proud Parent
Aug 5, 2013
944
I'm sure your observations are accurate in some ways. Our region is decidedly rural and the numbers just don't match up at all to the regions with ten times as many gymnasts/gyms/coaches. DD previously was at a gym with (as much as is possible in our area) the attitude of get them to L10 by freshman year for college. She was a successful 10 year old L7, after skipping old 4, and doing old 5/6 quickly (not actually score out, but in one year). There were a group of kids in a similar situation, some 9 and some 11/12 - all moved to l7 quickly due to ? about the new levels at the time.

One of them is a 12 year old L9 now. A couple are repeat L8s. Quite a few are repeating L7 for a third year, or took time off, got injured, quit, or in my DD case took time off and just training L8 now. They hit the "11-13" doldrums. Also, the old HC would move girls through with solid but basic skills - high scores (for our region - which would include a very rare 37, most meets won with 36s), but little above level skills. I only saw 3 kids make it to L10 in her system, and in retrospect only one of them was really a solid 10, the others were really 9s with an event or 2 at L10....Most girls quit after being moved to L8 and not being able to get the harder skills in the timely fashion they were accustomed to. Vaults were never flipped before being L8, giants not worked until being official L7, double backs trained at L9/10 only - you get the picture.

New HC now has all those girls to work with - and a different attitude. I know she is hoping to get some to L10, and would like to eventually have a program that can take on the bigger gyms in the metro areas. But she also wants kids to stay in gymnastics. You don't move up unless you have mid level skills, and are likely to be successful (aside from the pushy parent kids...), and lots of girls do 2-4 years at a level in upper optionals (partially because of inadequate preparation from previous coaches). There are a few kids who look "like" my DD and her friends did at ages 8/10 - and they are training with the level 7-10 group, even if they are competing L5 (and need to be - they have certain skills they don't have like cast handstands, that old coach would have moved them up anyway). I suspect that of that group some will continue to progress well, and some not, and some will have a few bad years during puberty - but they are more likely to be healthy later on for not pounding too many hours/skills too young and also more likely to be gymnasts at age 15-16 than if everything is riding on being a level 10 at age 14.

I know my friend who is the parent of the almost 12 year old L9 wonders what it would like for her DD if she grew up in an area with TOPS, big gyms, top notch programs, etc....but on the other hand, serious injuries are rare, burnt out 10 year olds rare, etc here - and she does get to be top of the podium everywhere locally - even if it doesn't "mean that much" compared to other regions...

I don't think my DD would have made it back in the gym after all she went through if she were in a different region - although she probably would have been trained so much differently from the get go its hard to know if she would have struggled this year with better coaching - in any case - in the end I'm glad to be somewhere where its still "just a kids sport" most of the time!
 
  • Like
Reactions: LJL07

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,856
I'm also noticing that many of these young girls are homeschooled. They seem very confident, fearless and almost aggressive for their young age. My DD is already competent on Level 8 skills and is now working on some Level 9. And she has no interest in college gymnastics! She just does it for fun:). But she is a rarity it seems. All the other girls in her level on our team have not only college aspirations, but specific colleges in mind. And they are 6th grade and under! It is weird to me that elementary aged girls are already setting sights on college.... I feel like the gymnastics system of the past is radically changing. Turning into "kinder-nastics".

Ridiculous. Surely it is the parents driving those aspirations. And yes, all of the kids in the program I mentioned above do their schooling at the gym. So, it is one extreme or the other.

This is the philosophy of my DDs gym. Maybe not verrrry slowly but slowly- no skipping levels. And all the gyms that surround us all follow the trend of the faster the better, I have to respect the reasons our gym does it. Firstly, it is to keep the girls in the program longer, but the way its been explained to me it's also to combat fears, limit injury,(because if you aren't doing a double back at 9 you can't get injured doing a double back at 9), and limit wear and tear on a body that has to last way past the last season of competing L10. Sounds like a better way to keep my daughter safe. And I'll never argue with that. :)

The limiting injury part makes a lot of sense. Our gym has more of the philosophy of "slow and steady." They are aware of the 7 year olds competing level 4 in other states, but they don't care.

We are only on our fourth year of competition so I don't know that I have the experience that I should be commenting....but I'm gonna anyway! LOL

My DD has been in the youngest age group for the last three years and while she is "good" for her age, she isn't one of those amazing little hot shots who does TOPs or could go elite. She goes to public school and trains about 20 hours a week at an adequate, but not, stellar gym.

It does feel like a 37 used to be solid for 1st place but as I'm looking at other meets and scores, I am seeing more and more 38s for first year optionals and not just low 38 but 38.6 and even a 38.8 already!

I don't know what you can do except go in knowing that any medal is a victory but that 1st place is pretty much out of reach when you have gyms who compete a level or two down. I guess the alternative is the "if you can't beat them, join 'em" philosophy but since that doesn't work for us, we just grin and bear it.

There was a first year L7 in DD's age group last year who took somewhere between 4th and 6th place at state behind several of her teammates. This girl transfers to a new gym and she's competing L9 this year and holding her own but not winning every meet. I think that most of the girls in her age group could do the same thing but their gym keeps them in lower levels so that they can sweep the podium.

Not really anything I can do and I'm glad that my DD has started doing what a lot of you are saying....setting goals that she has some control over. I tell her we can't control the hours others train, or their educational choices, or what equipment they have....but she can control how hard she conditions, what attitude she adopts, and what goals she sets for herself.

What is the point in sweeping the podium at level one? I know you are actually talking about higher levels, but that is what we are dealing with over here. Children who are tumbling at close to level 5 and able to do kips etc. do not need to be competing level 1. I also have one who is "good" for her age but not a tops A team prodigy, and we are in the uncomfortable position of going with extreme gymnastics or moving ahead with this rec team (for all practical purposes) route due to where we live. I would love just a 20 hr/week adequate program!! Anyways, as long as they are happy setting personal goals and not worried about scoring a 38.6 at the optional levels, I guess they are doing pretty well. This is an interesting discussion.
 

wallflower

Proud Parent
May 16, 2012
2,362
CA
Hi everyone,
As some of you know, my younger DD went from Level 4 last year to Level 7 this year. She is in 4th grade and just turned 10. She had most of the level 7 skills a full year before competing them, and got her giant consistently 5 months before first meet. In her first 3 meets, she got a 36.05, 36.5, and a 36.6 aa respectively. She's been in the top third amongst all level 7s at each meet, and between 4-8th in her age group. But I'm starting to notice a trend, and want your input on it:

1) I thought it was pretty rare to go from Level 4 to Level 7. Turns out, very common now. I checked, and 75-80% of the girls in her age groups have done the exact same thing. This represents multiple states and regions...last meet was Ozone, and there were 4 different regions in her age group.

2) these girls(the ones who went from 4-7) are really, really good! I'm seeing the hardest skill set for level 7, especially on beam and floor. I am also seeing some freakishly muscular 8 yr olds.

3) the AA at every meet are much higher than just 2 years ago. I checked, and 2 years ago, the youngest age group's winner had around a 35.00 AA. Now it's 37/38. This is from multiple meets in different states. And from videos I've seen, the quality of routines are much, much better. So it's not over scoring. Also noticed in the past, the youngest girls got the lowest scores, and the middle age group were the strongest competitors. From what I'm seeing, the youngest age group is now the highest scoring.

The reason I'm putting this out there, is, is this trend a positive thing? I know this is for college gymnastics. But soon there are going to be a ton of multi year Level 10s by age 13. There will be a lot more middle school bodies getting pounded by the highest level routines. Between elites, foreign elites, and so many more girls who reach level 10 by 8th grade, the odds of college gymnastics are going to be the same as Olympics.

And what about the atmosphere in the gyms themselves? Our gym is getting younger and younger. We have many girls who are just too young to compete level 3, so they do bronze. I expect we will have a huge group of 8 yr old level 7s in about 2 years. The average age in our gym now is about 8. But the average skill set is about level 6....

The older girls in our gym are quitting, mostly because they feel ancient and out of place amongst so many girls between 5-8. My older DD is done with gym after this year specifically for that reason.

I know Tops has a lot to do with seeing really young girls with high skill sets. My did Tops for 2 years. If she didn't, I don't think she'd even have a chance competing.

Im curious about everyone's opinion on this age trend. It scares me a little. Thoughts?


The youngest age groups have always been some the highest scoring groups as long as I've been around gymnastics and that was long before I had a child in gymnastics. Definitely not a new trend.
 
D

Deleted member D3987

Hi everyone,
As some of you know, my younger DD went from Level 4 last year to Level 7 this year. She is in 4th grade and just turned 10. She had most of the level 7 skills a full year before competing them, and got her giant consistently 5 months before first meet. In her first 3 meets, she got a 36.05, 36.5, and a 36.6 aa respectively. She's been in the top third amongst all level 7s at each meet, and between 4-8th in her age group. But I'm starting to notice a trend, and want your input on it:

1) I thought it was pretty rare to go from Level 4 to Level 7. Turns out, very common now. I checked, and 75-80% of the girls in her age groups have done the exact same thing. This represents multiple states and regions...last meet was Ozone, and there were 4 different regions in her age group.

2) these girls(the ones who went from 4-7) are really, really good! I'm seeing the hardest skill set for level 7, especially on beam and floor. I am also seeing some freakishly muscular 8 yr olds.

3) the AA at every meet are much higher than just 2 years ago. I checked, and 2 years ago, the youngest age group's winner had around a 35.00 AA. Now it's 37/38. This is from multiple meets in different states. And from videos I've seen, the quality of routines are much, much better. So it's not over scoring. Also noticed in the past, the youngest girls got the lowest scores, and the middle age group were the strongest competitors. From what I'm seeing, the youngest age group is now the highest scoring.

The reason I'm putting this out there, is, is this trend a positive thing? I know this is for college gymnastics. But soon there are going to be a ton of multi year Level 10s by age 13. There will be a lot more middle school bodies getting pounded by the highest level routines. Between elites, foreign elites, and so many more girls who reach level 10 by 8th grade, the odds of college gymnastics are going to be the same as Olympics.

And what about the atmosphere in the gyms themselves? Our gym is getting younger and younger. We have many girls who are just too young to compete level 3, so they do bronze. I expect we will have a huge group of 8 yr old level 7s in about 2 years. The average age in our gym now is about 8. But the average skill set is about level 6....

The older girls in our gym are quitting, mostly because they feel ancient and out of place amongst so many girls between 5-8. My older DD is done with gym after this year specifically for that reason.

I know Tops has a lot to do with seeing really young girls with high skill sets. My did Tops for 2 years. If she didn't, I don't think she'd even have a chance competing.

Im curious about everyone's opinion on this age trend. It scares me a little. Thoughts?

1. no, there won't.

2. no, it won't

3. that's a problem of the coaches and the environment that they make for older kids.

4. Tops had nothing to do with it.

our system has been thru this and other trends before. this too will pass. :)
 

Amber

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2012
208
Region 8
I really hope your right Dunno! This intensity in little girls is scary. When I was in 3rd grade, I didn't have a six pack or bulging biceps, train 18+ hours a week and have a college picked out! I was more concerned about my sticker collection, which new Madonna tape to buy, and keeping my trapper keeper from falling apart! Those were my long term plans;)
 

munchkin3

Proud Parent
Jun 6, 2008
2,102
From my very limited experience, A LOT can change between level 7 and level 9.
I also know many 8&9 year old L 7 and L8s that burn out quickly or have injuries.

It's a parents job to pace their child, smell the roses, and keep in balance their kids childhood, even if they are L10 at 10.
The only SURE thing, is they can't do gymnastics forever.
 

LizzieLac

Proud Parent
May 4, 2010
1,872
I pay almost no attention to the age thing, maybe because my DD was a late starter, but really I think I don't pay attention because this "phenomenon" is nothing new. Some gyms move kids quickly and some gyms don't - different philosophies but nothing new, IMO.

Kids leave the sport all of the time, even the young fast tracking types. I really just don't think it means anything because I have now seen EVERYTHING happen with these kids...quitting, repeating, fears, stagnating, advancing, winning, and getting injured. Plenty of the older kids hang in there because they have the maturity and self-awareness about what it all means. It is truly a mixed bag out there - at least from what I see.
 

NewtoGym

Proud Parent
Sep 14, 2010
1,139
West Coast
I wonder if social media plays into it at all. Not on the coaching aspect, but on the overly-involved parent coaching/pushing aspect. I cannot tell you how many instagram/youtube accounts i keep seeing where young gymnasts (6, 7, 8-year-olds) are practicing at home with full equipment and led by the parent. It makes me shudder! lol
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,856
I wonder if social media plays into it at all. Not on the coaching aspect, but on the overly-involved parent coaching/pushing aspect. I cannot tell you how many instagram/youtube accounts i keep seeing where young gymnasts (6, 7, 8-year-olds) are practicing at home with full equipment and led by the parent. It makes me shudder! lol
Just yesterday I saw two instagram accounts of 5 year old gymnasts who were doing ridiculously high level skills. With mothers doing extreme promoting and something crazy like 100,000 followers. Obviously talented kids but it feels very pageant-y. Yuck. Yes, I hope dunno is right too.
 

Rockygym

Proud Parent
Aug 6, 2014
886
48
Just yesterday I saw two instagram accounts of 5 year old gymnasts who were doing ridiculously high level skills. With mothers doing extreme promoting and something crazy like 100,000 followers. Obviously talented kids but it feels very pageant-y. Yuck. Yes, I hope dunno is right too.
Yikes!!!! Actually double Yikes!!!!
 

SignHere

Proud Parent
Jul 11, 2011
518
There are a few you tube accounts of amazing young gymnasts. Starting at age of 4, progressing to age 8 or 9 , who have now quit - one has even written a short " blurb" on their you tube account that the girl has stopped doing gymnastics " for family reasons ".
 

Gymmom82773

Proud Parent
Aug 17, 2013
84
49
I am the mother of a 12 year old L9 ( this is her first full L9 year . She was a L9 last year but only did 3 meets due to injury ) , she was a 10 year old L8. She skipped L7. she's coming back now from injury and will compete AA this weekend for the first time in close to a year .
If I could go back and do it again , I wouldn't have let her skip L7 and would have her progress slower . Her coach got really excited and pushed her quickly which resulted in 3 back to back injuries ( 2 stress fractures , ankle and wrist and broken hand which required surgery in September) In my opinion , her young little body couldn't handle all that impact and her physical therapist agreed . If she ends up qualifying for states and does well , I know her coach will push her to L10 as a 13 year old . I would much rather her stay L9 another year and give her the opportunity to make regionals and be towards the top of the level . I am going to tell her my opinion . We shall see what the future holds .., she's only in 7th grade !
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

New Posts