Anyone want to list pros/cons to advancing?

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May 17, 2010
Region 5
The "will my child move up" thread got me wondering. There seem to be two schools of thought on advancing compulsory gymnasts. I'd love to hear from both sides.

I could develop a hypothetical situation, but I don't need to - I'll just use me daughter. I'll preface it all by saying - 1. I fully understand and appreciate this is the coaches' decision, 2. I truly don't care if she advances or not next year, as I see the pros and cons to both option, and 3. Completely understand that the "evaluative criteria" is different from gym to gym. I was discussing it in a "how bizarre" kind of conversation with a former NCAA scholarship gymnast and thought it would be a good discussion point.

So - the basics - a gymnast who can physically complete every skill in her current level. Receives 7s - 8.4s on routines. Has a lot of "cleaning up" to do on current routines. Can physically complete all skills on the next level of routines, one with a light spot (in this instance, ROBH).

And not that it's critical to the evaluation, but could definitely play a roll in the decision making - is currently riding the age minimum for levels.

So - do you:
(a) retain her in the current level for a year to have her clean up her routines and increase her scores?

(b) uptrain her for the next level, but repeat competing the current level?

(c) advance her to the next level?

And why?

Again - not a debate, and definitely not a diagnosis of my daughter. She was just as good of an example as I could have devised, and didn't want to be dishonest about it.

Anecdotal experiences, coaches experiences, and general opinions all wanted :cool:

flipper's fan

Proud Parent
Aug 3, 2010
Mid Atlantic
ok, I'll throw myself out there and see what happens

I think it depends on the needs of the child, given all of the other factors you present. Some kids need to move up, to be challenged and pushed in order to feel good about what they are doing. Some kids need to stay where they are, to develop confidence. some kids need to stay where they are, because they will be devastated if they start out a new level and do not do as well as they did on the old level. No matter what happens about moving up, every gymnast can and should continue to clean up the routines and uptrain skills they are ready for. You can clean up your handstands, handsprings, toe points, core tightness whether you are doing level 4 or level 5 routines. Some of it also depends on the culture of the gym/team and how the child fits in to that. Sometimes movign up is the team culture, sometimes staying back is the gym culture, sometimes there are rules to follow about advancing and uptraining.
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The gyms in my area would have her compete again at that level. Only up train if her current skills are more polished. and usually be able to get at least scores of 35 or greater at least twice in the season but average around 34.5 That seems to be the standard for most gym I know of in the area. Where she is also at the lowest age she actually would gain some experience in doing meets and more confidence I think by repeating the level as well. Also moving up with skills that need work only gives a poor basis for the next levels skill. It's really hard to unlearn bad habits.
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Proud Parent
May 11, 2007
Pacific NW
I think the pros and cons can differ depending on the age, goals, and personality of the gymnast. Some kids need the challenge of working new skills, some kids really need to shine at their current level to build their confidence before moving on. I think a gymnast who's still getting some 7s probably should stay at the current level for at least a season. I think it also depends on the level. For girls, I think repeating level 5 makes a lot more sense than repeating 4 since they're doing more relevant skills on bars in particular. ON the boys side, my ds repeated 4 and I think it was really good for him. Girls level 6 seems to score harder and I think if they're scoring 35s at 6, most girls are ready to move to 7 and will actually score better as optionals, so I wouldn't really favor repeating 6 either unless the kid really needs it.
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Proud Parent
Oct 10, 2008
I suspect the answer lies mostly in the group the team expects to move up to L3. If she is going to fit right into the middle of that group, they are more likely to hold her in L3 than if she will start at the top of that group and stay there.

Also at her age does anyone have any doubts about the L4 hours?

In my personal beliefs as a parent of just past that age, if it's a 5yo who needs to be cleaned up but picks up the L4 skills quickly, it's an easier call to put them in L4 because the skills may clean themselves up with maturity -- than an 8yo L3 who needs bad habits broken before they set in.
These all seem to be great answers. I agree with staying back to gain confidence, staying back to "clean up" skills that will definitely be needed at the higher levels. I can also see moving up if the gymnast is getting too old for her level AND has the skills that only need some tweeking. Or moving up (in the case of missing a skill that will never be used again as in L4? and that darn mill circle) as long as all other skills are there. I do not see holding a gymnast back because the gym wants to win at all the meets. On the other hand, I've seen gymnasts held back for their big scores only to move up and quit because they cannot be the star any more. Sometimes it is better to have to struggle in a level and learn that gymnastics is not always about winning metals but about the winning attitude gained by accomplishing something that was thought unattainable. So, as mentioned in previous comments, each gymnasts has to be evaluated individually as to what their ability and needs are.
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I would pick option b, based mainly on her age and the fact that her scores indicate that she needs more time to mature into the compulsory dance. I think repeating her Level 3 year and really doing well, plus uptraining, will set her up for a great Level 4 year and so on. IMHO, moving her up to Level 4 now will only result in a repeated level down the road somewhere - either at Level 4 or Level 5 and in the meantime she will struggle at meets until she repeats. I say this from experience. My own (very young) dd probably should have repeated Level 4 but she and I wanted her to to move to Level 5 to stay with her team. She struggled her first year of 5 and though she finished it successfully with mostly high 8s and 9s, she wound up repeating. Her second year of Level 5 was great. Of course, all of this is impacted by team dynamics - how many girls there are at each level, where she fits, etc.


Jul 5, 2007
We do not have competitive L3 here. We do have loosely organized rec meets between gyms from time to time but they are very low key - the routines aren't even standardized, nor is the judging. it's basically an exhibition.

I would move a child to L4 if they had the skills and I felt they had the maturity to learn the choreography to a reasonable degree (as it is fairly complex now for young children in my opinion), and also that they could do the practice hours with their school situation, etc. I prefer the kids to be 7, not 6 then, depending on when they're starting full time school.

But so much of this depends on the alternatives. Sometimes kids have to be in certain groups due to space or just because that is the best alternative, even if it isn't perfect in an ideal world, you know? So my decisions are constrained by that.


Proud Parent
Oct 26, 2009
At my DD's gym your DD would probably move up for training purposes, but might compete the old level until she learned the routines for the new level. But we don't have a defined season, and our few meets are really spread out, so we are often forced to do this for the first meet (and sometimes the second) of each new level that the girls move to. Our gym doesn't care that much about perfecting the compulsory routines - they care more about the skills and getting the gymnasts to optionals - especially the older ones. They will keep girls down if their form is so sloppy that it could make new skills difficult or dangerous, but if you have decent form and the ability to do the next level's skills (not perfectly - that will come - but a good attempt) then you're moving up. This is most relevant in the lower levels (2 - 4) - gymnasts do have a harder time moving out of levels 5 and 6, but the skills are a lot harder there.

I don't know the right answer - I do believe each approach has some merit. The HC has shared with me her frustrations with the lower level compulsories, namely that they do some skills that don't really lead anywhere, and the routines at the lower levels don't have skills and steps that they would want to include in an optional routine later on. Level 4 introduces some skills and dance steps on floor and beam that are built on in level 5 and 6, but level 3 really doesn't have much, so our girls don't even try to perfect the little nuances of those routines before moving on.

One disadvantage is that our girls aren't on the podium as much as they could be, because they are often starting over at a new level at the bottom of the heap. But I guess the silver lining in that is that they don't expect to win - it's a fantastic thing when they do! So they have a lot of humility and every win means a lot.


I don't know anything about levels before L4 as my DD enter the gym world at level 4. She taught herself cart wheels round offs and back walkers. They just needed cleaning up and bars were the biggest challenge. She did two years of 4. First year scored 33-36. Second year 37 & 38. I think two years of 4 perfected the basic skills to help progress in l5 and up. She really gained a great deal of confidence in her second of 4 knowing her routines were very good and winning lot. I still struggle wondering if two years of 5 would have been better than two years of 4 since bars is her biggest struggle and the L4 routine has a the skill of a Mill circle to waste time on.

I feel that gyms consider class size and it can affect a few to move up or not, plus I have seen some hold back girls scoring 36 & 37 to have a winning team. Leaving those parents confused and upset.

After a half season of 5, she is now L6.

Bella's Mom

I would want option B. I think it is best if the gymnast really excels at her current level. I don't mean to the point of sandbagging, but if there are pretty obvious form breaks or grace/showmanship issues, as a parent I would want my child to be successful at her current level before being moved up. It's a pride thing. Become proficient and then build on that. Do what you do well, and then you are ready for the next level. I apply that philosophy in all areas, not just gym. Master then advance.
Dec 27, 2010
Hi! It's interesting to read all these opinions of American people because I'm Finnish and in here 8.0 is very good score. I think that our scoring system must be different than yours in US.

Here in Finland you are allowed to move up level if you get 32.00 or more all-around. Almost every gymnast spend 1-2 years in one level and then they move up if they have got 32.00 or more. It seem that in US you got 9s even even if it was your first meet. In here the girls often got something like 7.8 if their routines are pretty good and they can do all the skills without falling or spotting but in US you can get 8.5 even if you fall twice or something... If our girls do a really really good routine they get 8.9 or something like that. Besides that the judges doesn't show the score accurately but with 0,5 scale (If you get 7.8 it's 7.5-8 in the scoresheet and if you got 5.8 it's just "6 or less").

EDIT: Oh and I'm sorry about offtopic : S

Previously you had to move up level if you get 36.00 because it was "too much". Nowadays we don't have that kind of limitations but I think that it wasn't a bad restriction.

I have heard that in US the falling deduction is 0.5. In here it's 1.0. And if the coach spots you the deduction can be even 2.5!

I don't know if there is judges here but I would like to show one level B floor routine. I would like to hear what would be the gymnast's score if you could decide! I know that it's hard to judge because of you don't know the requirements so I tell you the skills that are required:

1. Leg lift (90 degrees)
2. Handstand roll
3. Straight jump-straight jump with half turn 2x
4. Scale position (no time limits)
5. Two jumps/leaps (i don't know what is the right word in english!) with bended knees
6. Pirouette position (no time limits) and half turn with two foot
7. Leg lift (90 degrees)
8. Cartwheel
9. Backward roll

And there is the video:


I will tell you her real score after reading your opinions :) Please don't be mean, the girl in the video is very young and she's still working.

Bella's Mom

I'm not going to be mean. I thought she did really well. Nice form and very pretty scale.
Sep 12, 2010
Here are my 2 cents. I think the biggest problem with the move up is that the skill she is missing is the BHS. Other than that, she is really young. Younger gymnasts do not have the same body awareness as older girls. If she loses points in the level 3 dance, she will lose those same points in level 4 dance, so why hold her back. Just work on the dance at whatever level she is at. I say if she gets the BHS by herself, go for it.
Apr 5, 2010
I think your quandry is the biggest reason I do not like kids competing at Level 2 or 3. I have always started kids at Level 4, so I have no real experience w competing at these lower levels, so my opinion is based on what I have done before, which works for me.

I always teach the form & technique 1st-very hard to do if there's a meet coming up. My preteam spends TONS of time on handstands, conditioning, flexibility, leg & foot form, etc. I also really spend a lot of time teaching font & back limbers and I take forever to teach a roundoff! I definitely would not be able to do that if we had to do routines- or even if I had to get them to REMEMBER routines! ;-)

I think it depends on the level and the child, and the gym circumstances. Soemtimes we move a kid or two up because the whole group moves up, and I can't leave them behind. I think WHAT skills she can do is not as important as HOW she does her basic skills. If the gymnastics gets harder, her form/ technique is not going to improve. To the OP, based on what you wrote, it sounds to me like if your daughter moves up, she will contantly be playing "catch up"-which might motivate some kids for a while, but in the long run leads to a very frustrating (and short) gymnastics career. I think she is young, and if the focus is on good clean basics rather than level 2 or 3 routines, she should repeat the level.
Apr 5, 2010
I suspect the answer lies mostly in the group the team expects to move up to L3. If she is going to fit right into the middle of that group, they are more likely to hold her in L3 than if she will start at the top of that group and stay there.

Also at her age does anyone have any doubts about the L4 hours?

In my personal beliefs as a parent of just past that age, if it's a 5yo who needs to be cleaned up but picks up the L4 skills quickly, it's an easier call to put them in L4 because the skills may clean themselves up with maturity -- than an 8yo L3 who needs bad habits broken before they set in.

with all due respect- skills do not clean themselves up- it takes a hell of a lot of work by the gymnast & coach-to relearn bad habits. Little kids can have spectacular form, if they are taught to have it.


I think my opinion seems to differ from just about everything I've read, but I'll share mine anyway. My DD basically started with Level 4. She had done some little preschool classes for about 8 months or so, but really she could do nothing when she moved to Level 4. On floor she could do a cartwheel, a bad roundoff, a sloppy handstand and that's about it. On bars she only had a backhip circle and she could do a small cast. She could also pullover, but only if her feet could touch something, not a real pullover like she can do now. Beam she couldn't do a handstand, actually had never even tried alone or really anything besides walking on the beam. And she definitely couldn't vault.

So they moved her to level 4 and she had just turned 5 years old. A year later and I would say she is/was a pretty successful Level 4 who is now in Level 5. She only competed 3 meets, but her scores were 35.6 (with a fall on bars and leaving a skill out on floor), 37.05 and 36.7(with a beam fall). She placed at every meet in the AA and on every event minus bars at the first meet and vault at the last. I thought that was a pretty successful introduction to competition and exceeded any expectation I had. Not only was she able to learn all the skills, but she learned to do them with very nice form. I'd say form was her biggest issue and I thought she'd never get the details. She picked up the skills pretty easily, but it really took her most of the year to stay tight. Now she gets compliments on how good her form is. So she somehow managed to learn all the skills and drastically improve her form in less than a year and she had never competed before since she just started gymnastics.

So to me it sounds like your DD has more skills than my DD before moving to level 4 and I promise you my DD had terrible form before and during the time she was learning the Level 4 routines. So I think your DD would be able to do it. I don't know when your competition season starts, but can't she try it and then just compete 3 if she's not ready? I love the way DD's gym does move ups. Out of the level 4's they moved up about half of them. One half will repeat level 4 for sure. The half that was moved up is called "training 5". It's not that there's another group of Level 5's or anything, but they call all their groups "training 6" etc. It was explained that they will only get to compete that level if they are ready. Parents get bent out of shape about thinking their child will be competing a certain level and this way it's well known before hand that they are training that level. The competition level will be determined closer to that time. Usually all the girls compete the level they are training, but there was 1 girl last year that competed 4 while training 5 because she never got her kip.
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Proud Parent
Oct 10, 2008
with all due respect- skills do not clean themselves up- it takes a hell of a lot of work by the gymnast & coach-to relearn bad habits. Little kids can have spectacular form, if they are taught to have it.

I am sure you are right and will defer to your experience. My assumption was that certain kinds of form problems would be due to developmental immaturity ... inability to hold concentration on lots of things at once.
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