Parents Asked to Join Level 1 at age 4

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Proud Parent
Jul 20, 2020
My youngest daughter was just asked to join the level 1 competition team at age 4, she has the skills needed and loves the sport but she is young and i worry that by saying yes we will push her away from the sport if she get discouraged. Anyone have success at a younger age? I am new to this so 4 might be totally normal to start the competing, i have no clue. i would love any feedback, good or bad. Right now she in in the gym 4.5 hours a week already and she would go more if I let her so I am not worries about the time commitment for her, its more the ability to perform the routine without reminders on what is next. This was not a try out situation but an invite, not sure if that matters.
I would not choose to compete at 4 years old. In many countries (in Europe at least) you can't even start competing before you turn 7 years old. She has plenty of time to train and memorize routines when she's older. If your gym has a preteam that doesn't compete, I would choose that. Is that an option for you?
I would not choose to compete at 4 years old. In many countries (in Europe at least) you can't even start competing before you turn 7 years old. She has plenty of time to train and memorize routines when she's older. If your gym has a preteam that doesn't compete, I would choose that. Is that an option for you?

Thanks for the input, i am kind of thinking that too. We have a team Developmental program at our gym, no competitions just training, that is what she has been in and now they want to push her to the next step but i think we may wait at least another year...
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Level 1 for a 4 year old is pretty normal. I have not heard of many gyms that compete level 1.. actually i haven't heard of any from where we are from. Mine started competing at level 2 at 5 ( and that isn't even very common ) and they only did a few comps at that level just for practice. In fact level 1-3 are not even a mandatory level to have to compete. But, that age and level are very normal if that is what you want to know.
It would depend what competing level 1 means, if I were making the decision. A couple in house meets a year so the kids can show off their stuff to Grandma and get a medal? Sure. But I wouldn’t want to pay outside meet entry fees/travel costs at 4 yrs/level 1. Plenty of time later for that.
Do the hours go up for level 1? I wouldn’t want my 4 yr old ( I have a 4 yr old and a 10 yr old gymnast) practicing more then the 4.5 hours you said she’s already in the gym. As others have said, I probably would not pay meet fees and team tuition for a 4 yr old- plenty of time to compete as she’s older.
Level 1 was pretty low key when mine was that age. They didn't formal call it level 1, but those were the routines they did.

They had 2 very local meets. No stress, just fun. At that point we (her Dad and I) didn't even think of it as competitive gym.
I don't know of any gyms that do level 1 near me. DD's old gym had a level 2. It was for girls to prepare for being on team (level 3) the next year. They did 2 local meets just to start getting used to competing. Most gyms around me don't do level 2 either.

Competitive gymnastics can get very expensive so I would only consider level 1 if it was one or two low key, fun and local meets. The same with level 2.
Gyms here compete whole seasons of L2. The team of 10 or so girls at the time ranged from 5-8 years old. For now I know at least 3 gyms in my area that compete a season of L1. Given that L3 is taken very seriously here, too seriously if you ask me. Inviting a 4 year old to me doesn’t seem abnormal for L1 group pre team. I would be careful of what your getting into. Will they require a certain number of meets, fancy warm ups, shoes and leos, team fee cost, a yearly contract for team
Our gym competes level 1, at real sanctioned meets. they don’t leave the state, though, so travel costs aren’t a big consideration. We often have some 4 year olds, and they usually do well. Out level 1s practice 2 hours twice a week.
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My daughter competed level 1 at 5 years old. I think she went 4-5 hours week. It’s over the top here. I think she did 8 meets, and the gym we were at treated it like the level 1 olympics. It got even worse in subsequent years with hours for level 1 going up to 9 per week. Level 1 should never require 9 hours or private lessons in my opinion. I would avoid all of that. My daughter was pretty bored with level 1 by the end of season because of the emphasis on score perfection. She was just ready to move on. As others have said, if it’s just a few meets and not outrageously expensive, she might enjoy it.
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At our gym, Level 1 is pre-team. They have a "parents night" set up like a meet. They all get a ribbon/trophy. No scores. But they spend the year learning the L1 routines. In L2 they do 3 meets (that our gym hosts) - 2 in the gym and 1 external.

I think they might be changing it this year though by having L1 and L2 compete Excel Bronze instead.
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In North Texas, Level 1 is definitely a thing and they do start them really young. They are achievement only, which means everyone gets ribbons/medals, the color of the ribbons are determined by score range: blue is 9.0+ red is 8.0-9.0, etc. It is supposed to be "for fun", but there are a lot of tears, forgotten routines, spotting deductions, low scores, wetting pants, teammate snarkiness for ribbon colors, etc. I worry that when they are that young it may make the sport not fun for them and they'll quit before they ever get started.

The parents can get excited that the gym recognizes their child's talent by offering team levels and competition, but I also caution to remember that the lower level compulsory is a real money maker for the gyms, the meet hosts, the pro shop. They train few hours, but pay higher rates, team fees, coach's fees, pay for a USAG(or other league) membership, competition entry fees, parent's door entry fees(which can be really steep some places!), travel costs, uniform fees, parking fees, gym membership annual fees, parent club fees.

For a 4yo, I'd wait until she is mature enough to have a positive experience before competing.
My daughter is 6 and has been in the gym since "mommy and me" classes at 2. Our gym doesn't compete until level 4. I have always been happy with that. I believe that my daughter was not developmentally ready for competing before now, I think 7 is a better age for us to consider competing. Reading the comments on this thread has been very helpful for me, thank you everyone fro sharing your thoughts and experiences!
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My daughter competed level 2 shortly after she turned five. It was four meets for the season. She loved competing, although it was hard for her to remember her routines at that age. She didn’t understand scores and we didn’t explain scores to her and even now two seasons later she still doesn’t know much about scoring. All the kids got ribbons for competing and the top 25% medaled. So, it was legit competition but her gym was not focused on scores or winning so it was a fun experience for her. Our gym also kept costs quite low with cheap competition leotards and in state meets so it wasn’t breaking the bank for her to compete. If it was really costly or there was pressure to win, I might have considered waiting to compete. I don’t regret letting her compete so young. I think it was a good experience for her and would absolutely do it all over again. It was fun to watch her compete and I think it built confidence in her at a young age.
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DD 1 started competing level 2 at age 5 (summer before kindergarten, she was 6 during the majority of the season)
DD 2 started practicing with the team (no competitions) at age 5 (summer after kindergarten), XCEL bronze at age 6 in a rec league.
DD 3 is almost 4 and we are putting her in a more structured rec class (2 hours per week that feeds directly to pre-team or team as next step). This is for 4-6 year olds, but we are putting her in only because she has been a gym rat since birth due to the fact that her oldest sister is starting year #6 of Comp team and is comfortable with the staff.
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