For Parents Best to stay put, right?

SpunkyGymMom

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Oct 4, 2018
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My daughter is a 13 year old L7. She typically scores well and places high in competition, though she is definitely not on a fast track. She doesn’t have a ton of natural strength and power, but her form and technique are excellent. An injury prior to the season kept her from L8 this year, but she now has her L8 skills back and is starting some L9 upgrades.

I was talking recently to an acquaintance, someone who I’d consider to know more about gymnastics than me and certainly more about the gyms in our area. She insisted that I should be moving my daughter to a gym with a stronger upper-level optionals program. My acquaintance is correct in that my daughter’s gym doesn’t have many upper-level optionals (one training group of L8/L9; they’ve never had a L10). It’s a relatively new gym, and the majority of their gymnasts are compulsory, L6/7, or Xcel.

I am inclined to ignore this person’s advice because my daughter loves her gym. The environment is very positive and encouraging, and my daughter likes her coaches and teammates. She looks forward to practice and is happy when she comes home. As a parent, what more can you ask for, right? She has no dreams of college gymnastics or other lofty goals. She just wants to be at a gym where she can challenge herself and continue to learn new skills.

Am I right to disregard the advice from my acquaintance? Are there concerns with being in the first crop of a gym’s upper-level optionals? Is it concerning from a safety perspective if my daughter is one of the first they coach on advanced skills? To my knowledge, none of her coaches have much prior L9/L10 experience. For what it’s worth, they appear to be taking a slow and cautious approach with the newest skills (lots of drills, landing in the pit, etc.) Thanks for any perspectives you can share!
 
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gymgal

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If she doesn't have college gymnastics aspirations, I think your thinking is right on target. She's happy and in a supportive environment. Sounds like she is progressing well and sounds like the coaches know what they are doing, if she is placing well. In terms of not having any L10s, it is possible that one or more coach has been in other gyms where they coached L10s but even if they didn't, they likely are going to workshops to learn the techniques/drills/spotting etc.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I am inclined to ignore this person’s advice because my daughter loves her gym. The environment is very positive and encouraging, and my daughter likes her coaches and teammates. She looks forward to practice and is happy when she comes home. As a parent, what more can you ask for, right? She has no dreams of college gymnastics or other lofty goals. She just wants to be at a gym where she can challenge herself and continue to learn new skills.

Your intuition is 100% correct. Having a positive and nurturing training environment that makes your daughter happy is infinitely more important than being at a gym with more upper-level athletes.

Kudos for having exactly the right mindset here, and don't let other parents make you second-guess yourself on this. You are taking exactly the right approach.
 

Jenny

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Sep 17, 2012
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Stay! She isn't looking for college gym. No need to move. They sound all the right things.
 
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GYM0M

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Jul 23, 2013
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I agree with everyone else. Stay at your gym. Our gym had never trained elites, much less produce any home grown. So many told us to move, but dd was happy and progressing so we stayed. Fast forward a few years and dd was struggling on bars. My husband and I truly considered a move, but I asked my dd, who was 11-12 at the time, if she wanted to stay where she was and see how far she could get with them, even if it meant only progressing to level 8ish or if she wanted to go to a gym that we knew had the ability to coach her to the highest levels. She chose to stay, and we’re still there. Bars is still her worst event, but she made it up to the top. I don’t know that she would be where she is today if we had moved her.
 

gymnastmom05

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My DD was at a gym where she was happy and had grown up with her group of girls. There were times when other people left the gym for better, more elite gyms but we didn't make the move because she was happy and the other gyms were a significant drive. Her gym had a few Level 9's and 1 level 10 (only level 10 ever in the 25 years it had been open). Most girls made it to Level 8 and were no longer competitive. Her gym brought in a new coach and things were improving for the high level optionals but that came crashing down when new coach (he was there for a few years) and gym owner didn't see eye to eye. It was then that we decided if she was staying in this sport, it was time to move. It was hard, she didn't want to leave her friends and the place she grew up. Fast forward a few years and she tells me multiple times (random times during the season) how happy she is that we switched. She just got done competing at Eastern Nationals last weekend (where she placed on a few events). No one had ever gone to Level 9 or 10 Nationals at her old gym, not to mention go and actually take home hardware. Long story short, we had to basically be kicked in the rear end to move gyms but so happy we did (minus the driving, time and traffic). She would have never reached her full potential at the old gym. We don't know if college will work out for her but now I feel like I've done my part, now we just wait and see how the future works out.
 
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Happyfeet

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For what it's worth I'd say stay. Also if your gym is as lovely as you describe book a time to have a conversation with the coach/head coach about your questions regarding safety and what level coaches at the gym are able to coach until. My hunch is if your gym is as great as it sounds - they will let you know if your gymnast is outgrowing them.
 

SpunkyGymMom

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Oct 4, 2018
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It’s been a while since I put my question out here, so I thought I’d post a follow up...
First, thanks to all of you for your insights and reassurance! My daughter is going to stay at her gym :) She likely could get a little further in her gymnastics journey at another gym, but when we talked it through, she feels it’s not worth the trade-offs of a longer commute and leaving her current teammates and coaches. At the end of the day, her journey is for her, and though she has a lot of competitive drive, she also wants gymnastics to be about more than what level she reaches. Since she doesn’t have college gymnastics ambitions, she is the only one she needs to impress.

Her summer is off to a great start with up-training. She has gotten some new skills and is getting close on a few others. She is happy with her progress and feeling confident. I guess being a big fish in a small pond suits her. As long as she is happy and progressing (and can do so safely), we’ll continue to stay put.

Thanks again everyone!
 

ReluctantGymMom

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May 11, 2020
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At the beginning of this year, our gym had 1 level 8, 4 level 7s and 5 level 6s - that was it for optionals. Tons of compulsory kids. Beginning of June? They have 3 level 9s, 3 level 8s, 5 level 7s and 11 level 6s. The program is growing and the coaches have experience with upper levels, just not at this gym. Id rather stay somewhere supportive as long as there is no safety issues