For Parents An age question that I know has been answered before

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May 26, 2008
I was under the impression that to compete Level 4 you had to be 6 years old. I know this question has been rehashed a billion times, but I'm confused.

DD's coach wants her to move to Preteam now. My answer was no because she isn't old enough to compete level 4 until Fall of 2011. She's happy in her class and it's only 3 hours a week. There's no rush and point to moving up when she can't compete anyway.

Then the coach comes back and tells me that as long as she is 6 by the State meet she could compete next fall. Isn't that wrong? She will be 5 until just a few days before the state meet.


Yes, according to USAG, you must have reached your 6th birthday before you are able to compete. If there are any meet before states that she can participate in and qualify, then she could compete. If is states is the first meet she is old enough and needs a qualify score (determined by individual states), then she would not be able to compete.


Proud Parent
Mar 7, 2008
Region 7
She would have to be 6 by the date of any qualifying meet BEFORE states. I'm not sure if its different elsewhere, but in NJ we have the last L4 sectional usually about 4-6 weeks before States AND the last date to qualify for the last sectional is 14 days before the Sectional so she would have to be 6 approximately 2 months before States.
Jan 31, 2009
Even if she can compete, and there seems to be some conflicting interpretations on USAG's rule, I think your first instinct of not rushing is spot on. She's happy. Pre-team will still be there next year.

Slow and steady wins the race...
May 26, 2008
Thanks for your answers, but I'm still confused since I got 2 different answers! I've read the rules on USA-gymnastics website and it does make it sound like you only have to be 6 by the State meet. The coach is a college kid and not that they aren't smart, but I'm doubtful that they know exactly since this is a part time job and they are new to coaching.

Originally I was told she wasn't eligible for preteam until after her 5th birthday. They move kids in January and that would fall directly after her 5th birthday. She would spend a year on preteam training level 4 and then move to Level 4 in January after her 6th birthday. Now they want to move her to preteam now and to Level 4 this coming January.

It wouldn't be the end of the world if she moved and then they discovered she couldn't compete, but I don't want to spend the money to join team, the time with the booster club and the extra hours she would have to go to then find out she can't compete.

Plus and this is probably a dumb reason, but she likes her friends in her class and they won't be moved. I'd like for her to stay with them.


The coach is correct. Age is determined by the gymnast's age on the last day of the state meet.

correct and not correct

gymnast compete their season in the age group determined by their age on the last day of the state meet

but they must be the minimum age for that level on the day for each meet eg 6 for level 4, 7 for level 5 etc. You cannot compete level 4 as a 5 year old. Not for a single meet not for anything. From the day you are 6 you can compete.

people have mentioned before that some sneaking may go on


found it on usag

B. Age Determination
  1. All gymnasts must reach the minimum age for the level in order to compete (see chart on page 19).
The gymnast must compete with the age division as designated for the entire season. Provided that the gymnast has reached the minimum age for her level, the gymnast's age for the competitive season is determined by the date of the final day of competition at the culminating championship meet for that level.

LevelMinimum Age RequirementPre-requisite ScoresPrevious ExperienceSuggested Age DivisionsMobility Score to Advance to the Next LevelI–4L. 1&2 - Reached 4th birthday
L. 3 - Reached 5th birthday
L. 4 - Reached 6th birthday

there you go I lifted all these off the usag website. I don't think it is unclear at all. I would show it to your coach. It quite clearly says PROVIDED YOU HAVE REACHED THE MINIMUM AGE FOR YOUR LEVEL. for level 4 REACHED 6TH BIRTHDAY.

she probably hasn't come across the problem of having a talented tot before so it hasn't mattered before. Good luck. I would save your money if she can't compete anyway. Perhaps she could do a tops type class as an extra if they think she is talented.
Jan 18, 2009
I also have a young dd who is moving up in June. She just turned 5 and I was not in a hurry for the same reason, the extra expenses when they can not compete just are not justifiable. If you wait, maybe a friend or two will catch up. That really makes it easier for your dd, since they do spend so much time at the gym. I would follow your gut on it, if she is happy and learning/progressing where she is at, why move?


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
As some have said she CANNOT compete until her 6th birthday at level 4. If there were a meet on her birthday, she could compete, but not before. USAG is very specific about that, as posted.

It is the AGE GROUPS which are determined by State Meet day, so say my kid has her 9th birthday the day before States, she will compete with the 9 year olds all season, instead of with the 6-8 year olds, even though she is still 8.

I think many times with the young ones that are very talented, it is simply a waiting game until they are old enough to compete. It is whether you want the extra hours and also to deal with a kid being sad because all her teammates get to compete and she doesn't because she isn't old enough. Tough situation to be in.

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Sounds like you and dd are happy with things as they are and since the coach was wrong on the year she could compete, I'm with you on leaving her where she is for now.

Save money, let her stay with her friends and not too much time in the gym for a 4yo. I'll bet this time next year, some of her friends will be ready to make that move up with her.
May 26, 2008
Okay thank you so much for the clarifications! I had thought all along that she wasn't old enough. It makes me feel better because I'm comfortable with where she is and the amount of time she is in the gym. I don't have any desire to move her right now. It's only 3 hours a week which I think is perfect for her age. I like her to put her in many different activities and don't really want to focus on gymnastics.

And to clarify, my DD isn't particularly talented. She is just normal. Maybe it's my job as her mom to think she's something special and I do, but gymnastics wise she is just a normal 4 year old. She can't do anything special or amazing. She does some things well on some days and then other days ...... well, let's just say she lacks any kind of focus.

Thanks again guys!


I don't know about other areas but in our area you have to be 6yo before the first day of the state meet to be considered 6yo for that season. (or to be considered any age for that season).
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