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

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Amber

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2012
208
Region 8
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 !

Gym mom, I feel for you. This is one of my worst fears. I have this feeling like coaches cram in as much as they can before their girls hit 12/13, to avoid vestibular issues and fear blocks. I understand the temptation, but I see it in action all the time.
 

gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
Well, there are almost no 8 year old level 7s. My state has thousands in compulsory (let's not even talk about Xcel Bronze and Silver) and we had 4 8 year old level 7s last year. Some years we have none.

Developmentally most kids won't get there at 8. Even if they do, they probably won't be able to do bars. Even if they can, they won't necessarily be ready or powerful enough to do the tusks and yurchenkos eventually required and so will have to wait in a level where they aren't required to do it.

No matter what their best/worst event is there are going to be things developmentally and size wise that some young kids can't do. So they can rocket through the beginning levels 4-7, and then wait, or they can progress more steadily. That is basically what happens and that is why you don't see kids in level 10 at age 10 except very rarely. You can do 2-3 years in level 8, or you can go to level 9, struggle the first two years, and then do 4 years total of level 9. Either way it's all developmental in terms of how their skills progress and it's the same total amount of time...how it's divided up among the levels doesn't really matter or make the difference in the end. Often the parents don't understand that. They think that by us moving their kid up to X level they are somehow magically that level. If their gymnastics hasn't progressed to that level yet it doesn't matter what you label them.

Most coaches will have the kids do multiple years at level 8 and 9 because of the difficulty of the basic optional skills such as basic flipping vaults (no twisting), bar releases, turns, and circling, and tumbling basic twisting and connected saltos. Beam connected back handsprings, switch leaps, basic back tucks and elements like that. It is extremely important for the kids to be 100% confident and predictable in those elements before moving on to the advanced optional elements such as twisting vaults, double backs, single bar releases, more advanced bar connections, beam series with saltos. These things have very little room for error and there is no way for the coaches to make it magically "happen."

Drills and progressions help but those take time and the kids go through growth spurts and periods of emotional and social development in pre-adolescence and adolescence that will affect their rate of progression and confidence on such advanced elements. All the coaches can do is encourage and continue providing the drills to let them have the time. 99% of kids will take years to get through this and only a few come out the other side to be 16-22 and have their bodies and brains settle down for NCAA level gymnastics. But that is why the girls you see at the NCAA level are so confident and solid in their skills. They have been training those skills in pieces for years, and their mental, emotional, psychological development cannot be compared to that of a 13 year old.

As far as whether gymnastics is getting more competitive, it is in some places. Level 7 has seen high scores and very solid routines in my state for the last 20 years. And the reason is exactly what I have stated above. As coaches we are making sure the children are solid in these basic elements before moving on. They may do more than one year of 7 or the levels preceding it in order to develop these elements fully. That means some kids are going to display excellent mastery of these routines, which should be happening at this level of gymnastics before moving on.
 
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Deleted member 14190

Seems like plenty of 9 and 10 year old level 7's from as far back as I can remember. But here is the problem. "yay, DD is an 11 year old level 10, booooo she has to compete against 13 year olds"!!!! crap..... Yep.... be careful what you wish for... :)
 

wnl256

Proud Parent
Sep 26, 2013
687
Skipping from 4 to 7 seems like a big jump when you first hear about it. But remember: those are the "new" levels. This is really no different than skipping level 6 in the old system, and that's been happening for quite some time. New level 6 is not required, so you shouldn't be surprised when talented gymnasts skip it.

DD would have been a 10-year-old level 7, but didn't quite have all the skills. So she spent a year at new level 6 and now is an 11-year-old level 7. And there are girls on her team that are 10. At a recent large meet she got on the podium with a lower AA score than a 10-year-old teammate who didn't place. Sometimes it pays to be older.
 

cbifoja

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2012
3,007
I'm glad you made that point. Saying 4 to 7 does make it sound like the gymnast is skipping over two levels and you're right that clubs/gymnasts have been skipping new 5/old 6 forEVER. So yes, it's pretty in line with what has been going on.
 

refugee

Proud Parent
Aug 26, 2014
77
61
We saw a number of other gyms jump girls from L4 to L7 (old levels) when my daughter was in compulsories. Her gym followed the one level/year approach. It frustrated my daughter because girls she competed against (and beat) were all of a sudden doing mad skills she could only dream of, let alone train for.

But it evens out. When she got to L7, one of the L4 to L7 jumpers was now her teammate at L8, having spent two years at L7. Better yet, the L8 teammate observed that my daughter had better fundamental skills from her time at L5 and L6. Two more years, and both were at L9.
 

wallinbl

Proud Parent
Jan 30, 2012
1,708
The level skipping isn't always what it appears. Many gyms are training for optionals from the very beginning, and the compulsory levels are somewhat incidental. When you're seeing a girl out there at a level 4 meet, you really don't know what skill set she has. I'm aware of quite a number of girls in our state that are training skills two levels above what they're competing. Some call this sandbagging, but the ones at those gyms would tell you that they're competing at the level where their skills are at the 'perfecting' stage. They're using meets as refinement rather than achievement. That gym in your state that thumps everyone at levels 3 & 4 may well be one of these gyms.

I'm not saying that strategy is right or wrong, just that it exists, and it's often what's behind level jumps. Where most of us go through the process hoping our DDs get the skills for the current level before season starts, there are others that are using the competitions in a completely different way.
 

LizzieLac

Proud Parent
May 4, 2010
1,872
I find it interesting when we talk about it like "training for compulsories" and "training for optionals." Isn't it all just progress training? I mean the BHS (level 3 skill) is a building block to almost all backwards tumbling.

As I said before, it is just matter of how long a gym trains certain skills before introducing others. In other words, how fast is a kid going to progress, regardless of their level talent, if a gym spends a full year teaching no more difficult tumbling than the BHS-BHS?

To me, it is less about a kid being so talented that she skips 2 levels and more about the philosophy of coaching.
 

bogwoppit

Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
16,878
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 ".



We have had many, many parents of young "phenoms" here. Very few of them are still in the sport five years on. Many of those kids are not even in their teens yet. Patience.
 

bookworm

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
I don't really think the age trend is any younger...as Dunno says, it's always been there... my daughter did have a rapid progression but I just saw it as moving at the level of her skills, regardless of age. I do think that social media has had a big effect on other people being aware of similar progressions...it never would have occurred to me to post videos of her when she was young (not sure if you tube was even a thing back then) but now it seems pretty common
 

wallinbl

Proud Parent
Jan 30, 2012
1,708
I find it interesting when we talk about it like "training for compulsories" and "training for optionals." Isn't it all just progress training? I mean the BHS (level 3 skill) is a building block to almost all backwards tumbling.
Some gyms train the specific skills in the levels each year, and put a fair amount of focus on refining and mastering the routines. When one season ends, the focus is on getting ready for next season.

Other gyms will teach the routines shortly before season so they can be competed, but aren't giving them much focus. Yes, the compulsory routines have a logical skill progression that mirrors what many gyms do, so it works out reasonably well. And, gymnasts are generally working at a pace that suits them, not one that suits the meet schedules.

I'm not explaining it well, but having been at both "types", there's a big difference in strategy and philosophy.
 

2G1B

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2013
2,226
I understand what you are saying. Prior to the past few months, my older DD had always trained the current level's skills until just before state, when they would start working towards the next level's skills. Then it was rush, rush, rush to get the next level's skills. Sometimes she competed spring and then in fall, so that was more of a rush.

She started at a new gym a month and a half ago and they are taking a different approach. They are just training her to what she can do, not stopping to work on routines. She probably runs through the level 5 routines (on each event) one time at each practice; but other than that she spends practices conditioning and working on skills. It has been AMAZING to see how fast she has picked up skills. It isn't all the new gym - just before we changed something seemed to click for her and she was picking stuff up faster than her norm; but now she is given the chance to try the next thing after she gets a new skill, rather than just working on what she needs for the current level. Right now she is dealing with a non-gymnastics related injury; but hopefully she will be able to bounce back now that she is getting to ease back in to training.

For her, she finished level 4 in the fall. If she had stayed at her old gym she would have moved to Xcel for a year, then in a year scored out of level 5 and hopefully moved to level 6. At the new gym the plan is for her to score out of level 5 this season and then train for level 7 for next year, fall back on 6 if she isn't ready. At a minimum it puts her at 6 a year ahead of when she would have been there at the old gym. We didn't change gyms because of this, actually changed because a good gym opened MUCH closer to us; but this has definitely been a benefit. She is so excited about being given a chance, which never would have happened before because of a different philosophy.
 
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Seeker

Proud Parent
Aug 30, 2012
6,687
USA
Skipping from 4 to 7 seems like a big jump when you first hear about it. But remember: those are the "new" levels. This is really no different than skipping level 6 in the old system, and that's been happening for quite some time. New level 6 is not required, so you shouldn't be surprised when talented gymnasts skip it.

DD would have been a 10-year-old level 7, but didn't quite have all the skills. So she spent a year at new level 6 and now is an 11-year-old level 7. And there are girls on her team that are 10. At a recent large meet she got on the podium with a lower AA score than a 10-year-old teammate who didn't place. Sometimes it pays to be older.
Yes....the younger age groups are generally highly competitive. Looking forward to DD not being in that group someday!!
 
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aksaunders

Proud Parent
Dec 19, 2012
161
Columbus
I will weigh in on this one. My DD turned 9 last October and is currently a L8 gymnast. I think she is a pretty good gymnast for her age and she followed the path that many of you have mentioned: she competed two years at the old L4, competed new L4 and L5 at the same meet, skipped the new L6, and competed last year as a L7. My observation is that the younger age groups in L7-L8 tend to score higher than the older age groups at the same levels. My guess (based on her gym) is that this is because the younger age groups are filled with highly competitive gymnasts with bigger aspirations (college scholarship, national team, Olympics, etc.) and the older groups (while having talented gymnasts) are filled with gymnasts who have other interests and for whom gymnastics is something fun to do. There are benefits to both I think. In fact, there is a young lady at my DD's gym being recruited by most of the major programs in the country. She has the talent to become an elite gymnast but chose a couple of years ago to be a regular kid who goes to school with her friends instead of being home-schooled. While this might not have been a popular choice for some, it may actually benefit her in the long run: her mother told me that Alabama's coaching staff told her that they preferred athletes with elite level skills who hadn't run their bodies into the ground pursuing the elite path. Right now, my DD will tell you that she wants to be on the national team, go to the Olympics before she goes to Alabama on scholarship. We go along with it right now as she is still several years removed from doing any of this and it is just fun for her mom and I to watch her compete. Whether any of this stuff ever happens or if she chooses the path of the other young lady I mentioned, I do know this: my 9 year old DD is one of the strongest, bravest, toughest, and mentally resilient kids I have ever seen thanks to gymnastics.
 

B&M's mom

Proud Parent
Sep 4, 2010
437
Interesting comment about wanting girls with elite level skills who haven't pursued the elite path. I don't know about your gym but if you aren't pursuing the elite path, you aren't working elite level skills.
 

aksaunders

Proud Parent
Dec 19, 2012
161
Columbus
Interesting comment about wanting girls with elite level skills who haven't pursued the elite path. I don't know about your gym but if you aren't pursuing the elite path, you aren't working elite level skills.
The young lady I am talking about was on the elite path and undoubtedly would have scored well enough at the qualifiers to become an elite. She simply decided one day that she wanted to be a kid again. While she may not have the "elite skills" to which you refer, I think her head coach (3 elites right now and 2 more on track for it) and the staff at Alabama know an elite gymnast when they see one whether she has earned that moniker or not. That is what I meant in the previous post.
 
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gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
NCAA doesn't really require elite skills, in fact it's really not even encouraged. But of course they want gymnasts with the elite body lines, conditioning, amplitude, etc. You might be vaulting a yurchenko full instead of an Amanar, but of course any NCAA coach would love to have Mckayla Maroney's yurchenko full.
 
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KayleeGymnast51402

Oh my gosh, I hate that people think younger people are more likely to succeed!!! If someone starts late, they can still reach a high level!!! Maybe higher than one of the younger girls!
 
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