For Parents Can you "create" a superstar gymnast?

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

Gymname35

Proud Parent
May 14, 2017
10
Relatively new to the forum and have read the thread(s) about what it takes for a gymnast to be successful or stay in gymnastics (or something similar). What I'm wondering, is can a parent create an advantage for their child simply by giving increased opportunities to do gymnastics early on? For example, it seems obvious to me that a young child (let's say 3-4 years old) doing 3 rec classes per week would progress more quickly than a child doing 1 class per week. Just from a strength and endurance perspective, it seems like it would make a difference right? Or do you think it doesn't matter?

My daughter's pretty new to gymnastics, but also participates in other activities. Some activities (karate for example) recommend at least 2 times per week (some young kids come up to 4) to help develop skills, muscle memory and familiarity with the program. The cost of karate is the same whether you go 1 or 4 days per week, so it's not like they're just making that recommendation to make more money.

What do you all think?
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,434
62
Totally JMO. I wouldn’t put any little in program more then once or twice a week.

Add in in gymnastics there are skills they just shouldn’t do at that age.

Besides there is a minimum age to compete. So you run the risk of them being bored or burnt out.

Thats the age they should be trying many things. And having time just to have unstructured play. Outside running around, on a bike, at the park, dancing in the living room. As long as they are having fun.

Just one parents opinion.
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,946
Sometimes these things are counterproductive. In all my years of coaching I have found that starting gymnasts too young can be a mistake. Starting at 1 or 2 years old, often means the child just isn’t ready for a structured class situation, they may be turned off the sport or take a prolonged break and come back almost too old.

The other thing we notice is that kids who start fairly young don’t nessesarily present any advantage. I have found that there is a magic age (around 5 years old), where as long as you start by that age you can catch up quite quickly to a child who started younger.

When you look at higher level kids, starting at 2 or 3 or doing more hours in pre school doesn’t correlate to success.
 

Seeker

Proud Parent
Aug 30, 2012
6,687
USA
My dd did ballet, soccer, swimming, etc as a younger child. Started training gymnastics when she was 8.5. Competed (old) L4 right after she turned 9. Many said she was too old and turned her away, but by 13 she was a L9, so I’d say not necessarily and like so many things in life...it depends. I wouldn’t call her a superstar though— she’s done well, but she’s on a normal path to L10 at this point, so starting late didn’t matter.
 

RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
862
I think you could do all of the "right" things and have a super naturally talented kid who never makes it very far if the kid doesn't really want it. To me it seems to be such a challenging sport on so many levels that the most important ingredient is is the child's level of motivation.
 

gymisforeveryone

Coach
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
897
I've seen many coaches hold back their own children. In my opinion, that tells something. Many coaches with talented kids wait until the kid is 5 or 6 until they let them start taking pre team type of classes. They might do Mommy and Me type classes for fun when the child is a toddler and let the child play in the gym occasionally but they seem to wait on purpose.

I have seen tons of talented kids burn out at the age of 8-10, but I have also seen many talented kids starting at that age and catching up with their peers very quickly. Late starters usually stick with it longer because the motivation and love to the sport comes from them and not anyone else.
 

profmom

Proud Parent
Nov 18, 2011
9,461
Region 7
Given good training and appropriate progressions, I would guess that if you took two equally talented kids and started one in gym at age 3 and one at age 6, they'd end up in the same place by around age 9. And for boys, the name of the game is getting them as far as they can go before puberty and then hanging around and waiting for the man strength to come (sigh).
 

Mamabear123

Proud Parent
Apr 25, 2017
152
I watched an episode of wife swap a while ago and the WNBA star Lisa Leslie was making her kids superstars. They trained for sports like it was their jobs. Now will they make it anywhere with these sports? Only time will tell, but the parents are definitely giving the kids the upper hand by exposing them to intense trainings early on.
So I think parents can help their child by giving them the resources (ie. Coaching, money, specialized trainings, etc) but it's up to the kid to stick with it and keep the drive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gymname35

Gymname35

Proud Parent
May 14, 2017
10
Given good training and appropriate progressions, I would guess that if you took two equally talented kids and started one in gym at age 3 and one at age 6, they'd end up in the same place by around age 9. And for boys, the name of the game is getting them as far as they can go before puberty and then hanging around and waiting for the man strength to come (sigh).

Everyone makes good points, and this is kind of closest to what I'm wondering... obviously it's all hypothetical, because you never know what variables you might be working with. But if you have 2 young children, relatively equal in natural ability and motivation level, would the child with additional training from an early age have a better chance long term? I know you can't really compare gym to other sports/activities, but it seems like other activities (music for example) encourage daily practice to develop the muscle memory and finger strength (in the case of music).
 

RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
862
I've seen so many people throughout my life who were naturally gifted or who had every opportunity, whether the best private schools, or the right coaching, and ended up doing nothing with those gifts/opportunities. And I've known people with less natural ability who have gone far through sheer will and determination. I don't have any idea how to build a champion, but I would always emphasize hard work, focus on personal progress vs external rewards, and finding joy in the process, in the pursuit of building a healthy human.
 

thefellowsmom

Proud Parent
Dec 13, 2010
1,349
I have lots of thoughts here and maybe I will come back and expand, but one quick thing that came to mind for me is and I thought I would throw into the conversation...

In producing a gymnast that will have the opportunity to be great someday (because like no other sport, you cannot predict the outcome for gymnasts) if you took two kids of age five (before that I’m not sure it matters at all) and of equal innate strength flexibility and body type instead of hours and intensity I would be looking at quality of developmental program.

If one child was in a structured developmental program with a strong focus on basics, strength, shaping and proper slow progression of fundamental gymnastics skills, I think that child will have a long term advantage over a kid in a Lower quality program during the early fundamental stages.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean that the big top elite gym is the best place either. There can be lots of different types of gyms and instruction that can provide a good foundation and all different types that can rush too fast, get too instense early, teach bad habits or not train their little bodies properly leading to physical, mental and skill quality problems down the road.
 

raenndrops

Coach
Oct 24, 2009
6,788
The 'Wood, Ohio
But if you have 2 young children, relatively equal in natural ability and motivation level, would the child with additional training from an early age have a better chance long term?
The short answer is no.
1. More training at an early age would either be boring and lead to burn out (if it actually focuses on anything other than fun rec stuff - fun rec often doesnt really focus on perfecting things, so multiple classes of that wouldn't be ideal for muscle memory. That would be what pre-team does).
2. There are several skills that they shouldnt do before the age of 5.
3. They can't compete Level 4 until they are 7.
4. In the end, even if they don't quit, they will end up in the same place as the child that started older.
 

Madden3

Proud Parent
Aug 24, 2013
832
50
No, you absolutely cannot "create a superstar" gymnast, or a "superstar" chess player or poet or computer programmer or anything else. Superstars are by definition rare and unique. If all it took to "create" them was early opportunity, good training, and hard work, there would be no such things as superstars because lots of people work hard and can access early opportunity and good training.

Also kids can love gymnastics and have a great attitude and work very hard at it for years and just not be all that great, physically, compared to others. And some can be really good physically compared to others, but just not that into it mentally! In either case, progress eventually slows or stops. Progress is at least as much mental as physical.

This is why I cringe when people talk about "building champions", "creating Olympians" etc. We are talking about human beings, not Frankenstein's monster. We can expect there to be thousands of variations and consequently, thousands of variable possible outcomes even with exactly the same training and opportunity.

For example, it seems obvious to me that a young child (let's say 3-4 years old) doing 3 rec classes per week would progress more quickly than a child doing 1 class per week. Just from a strength and endurance perspective, it seems like it would make a difference right? Or do you think it doesn't matter?

I know this would seem to be the case, but in my experience this is not always or even mostly true. Some kids can get more done in less time, and some coaches can as well. Kids who are not in gymnastics (or any sport) can develop strength and endurance just being allowed to do kid things, like playing running around games, riding bikes, jumping rope and climbing trees. (In todays world we often do not allow kids to do these things to the extent needed but that is another conversation entirely.) And "progressing more quickly" is not in any way an assurance that a child will someday be a superstar or even all that good. In fact I have seen that (early success, early intensive training) very dramatically backfire with some kids I know. And in any case, eventually whatever limitations a person has (and everyone has some and some have many) will slow their progress, while others who progressed more slowly at first will catch up and surpass.

My daughter's pretty new to gymnastics, but also participates in other activities. Some activities (karate for example) recommend at least 2 times per week (some young kids come up to 4) to help develop skills, muscle memory and familiarity with the program. The cost of karate is the same whether you go 1 or 4 days per week, so it's not like they're just making that recommendation to make more money.

I do not understand that (4 X costs the same as 1X) business model. Is that typical of all karate? I can see why they would want kids who go at least 2 times a week, because that would lead to the teacher not having to go over the same things as much and that helps the whole class be more organized and progress more steadily and uniformly. This is why when kids start on a gym team or even preteam, they usually start coming at least 2 to 3 times a week. I think the philosophy of rec gymnastics is a little different.

Rec gym classes are typically once a week (I imagine) because most kids are not wanting more or their parents cannot afford more. But as far as I know, it is perfectly ok to put kids in more than one rec class at a time if wanted. (Although yes it will cost more at most and possibly all gyms.) Since my kids all really enjoyed gymnastics, much more than other sports, we have had all of them in rec class 2 times a week for at least some of the time they were in rec. (The older two eventually went to team) I have no idea if that 2 times a week in rec made any measurable difference in their overall progress though. Certainly in the long run for my older kids, it has made no difference.
 

Gymname35

Proud Parent
May 14, 2017
10
Thanks for all the input and opinions. There are a couple little girls who are in at least two (maybe 3) rec classes per week and appear noticeably more "advanced" than the others -- looking at things like flexibility and basics such as cartwheels, handstands, etc. It just got me to thinking, although it could just be an increased motivation/enjoyment of gymnastics led to being put in more than one rec class per week, and those girls would be just as advanced with only 1 class per week (similar to the "which came first--chicken or egg" argument).

And I understand we are talking about children, not robots. I have a background in child psychology and statistics, so I think my mind is just fascinated thinking about stuff like this. Nature vs. nurture and how early experiences/opportunities shape futures
 

thefellowsmom

Proud Parent
Dec 13, 2010
1,349
Well I definitely think a little one in three classes a week is going to currently be more advanced than one taking only one class but in the long run if we are talking about team track they will all eventually be on the same schedule and in the long run (talking 5-10 years down the road and years of training tons of hours) whether you took three rec classes a week when you were three or four or just one will be unidentifiable between the two gymnasts.

If you look at a team of level 10 gymnasts within a program you will very likely and I would dare say certainly find as many individual paths and stories as there are gymnasts.

I have been at this awhile now and still have a long way to go. I have seen hotshots who everyone oohed and awed about burn out and quit. I have seen kids who’s parents or coaches pushed too hard too soon burn out and be miserable eventually leaving a sport they once loved and now hate. I have seen kids who struggled early on work their tails off and blossom into beautiful gymnasts and those who were very successful early on fizzle out and not be able to progress past level 8. And I think the most sad is those passionate hard working talented gymnasts whose bodies betray them and force them out.

No you can not create a superstar. This sport chews up and spits out the vast majority of kids and families who start the journey. Those that make it to the end, regardless of their success or failures which there will be a lot of even for the superstars, are special and rare unicorns and should be worshiped like the badasses they are.
 

Taxidriver

Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2016
217
I very much agree with what thefellowsmom has said just to add when my dd was in rec there were a couple other girls who were in 2/3 rec classes per week whereas my dd was once a week they were similar age of 4, had started at a similar time and to my untrained eye similar in above average ability but my dd was the only one selected for team, which didn’t go down well with the others, but my point being that my dd only going once didn’t stop her making team and those going multiple times didn’t help them make team.
 

Iwannabemargo

Numpty Watcher
Proud Parent
Aug 28, 2011
6,962
UK
I watched an episode of wife swap a while ago and the WNBA star Lisa Leslie was making her kids superstars. They trained for sports like it was their jobs. Now will they make it anywhere with these sports? Only time will tell, but the parents are definitely giving the kids the upper hand by exposing them to intense trainings early on.
So I think parents can help their child by giving them the resources (ie. Coaching, money, specialized trainings, etc) but it's up to the kid to stick with it and keep the drive.

Have a google of Tony Romaeo and his family, its chilling
 

Natasha

Proud Parent
Jan 28, 2011
1,712
Well I definitely think a little one in three classes a week is going to currently be more advanced than one taking only one class but in the long run if we are talking about team track they will all eventually be on the same schedule and in the long run (talking 5-10 years down the road and years of training tons of hours) whether you took three rec classes a week when you were three or four or just one will be unidentifiable between the two gymnasts.

If you look at a team of level 10 gymnasts within a program you will very likely and I would dare say certainly find as many individual paths and stories as there are gymnasts.

I have been at this awhile now and still have a long way to go. I have seen hotshots who everyone oohed and awed about burn out and quit. I have seen kids who’s parents or coaches pushed too hard too soon burn out and be miserable eventually leaving a sport they once loved and now hate. I have seen kids who struggled early on work their tails off and blossom into beautiful gymnasts and those who were very successful early on fizzle out and not be able to progress past level 8. And I think the most sad is those passionate hard working talented gymnasts whose bodies betray them and force them out.

No you can not create a superstar. This sport chews up and spits out the vast majority of kids and families who start the journey. Those that make it to the end, regardless of their success or failures which there will be a lot of even for the superstars, are special and rare unicorns and should be worshiped like the badasses they are.


THIS.
DD is an L10 Senior. She started rec at 7 and team at 8. Her first year of competing at age 8, she was with a large group of girls (14) who had ALL been either already competing for 1-2 years or had gone through the 'hotshots' program of 2 years of preteam (after doing preschool rec). Yes, that first year, dd was 'behind' most of the other girls. Fast forward. DD is competing her 10th year. Most of that original group dropped out after a few years and only one other made it past middle school. DD is the only one still in the sport. If coaches, parents or the girls themselves had to pick who would make it to college gymnastics that first year of competing, I doubt anyone would have identified my dd on that team of little 'superstars' as the one most likely to make it. DD made it because SHE had the passion. Many little ones are excited about gymnastics, the ones that continue are the ones who continue to be passionate about it....and no one else can create that passion- it is just there or not there.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.