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Proud Parent
Jan 8, 2009
Des Moines Iowa
Hi all,

Here is the dilemna and some background. My daughter Sophia is 6 (april bday) and started gymnastics September 08. Couldn't do a cartwheel. Moved to invite only rec class within a week, preteam two in 3 months and level 3 in June 09. She goes each summer to stay with my parents (no daycare) and she did gymnastics with a team in St Louis (they moved her to level 3/4 within a week) and also privates with a fabulous youngish (late 20s) coach. That coach has called me 4 or 5 times with great feedback and has tried to call her coach here (Northern Virginia) with no call back. Reason, she is adamant that Sophia compete level 4 this year NOT 3. Sophia has all her level 4 skills but still needs a slight spot on the ROBHS. She has had one practise (level 3) at her gym here at home, 16 kids level 3, kind of low energy practice.....I asked the coach after how it went, she said "Fine"....after 10 weeks away....

Another gym (small) near the house is interested in her for their level 4 team (also does TOPS) but the facility is not nearly as nice. Coaches are great, good success.

Here is the question.......with a kid like this who loves the challenge and learns very quickly.....should I just let it go and have her compete level 3? Ask again for a level 4 evaluation, or consider the small gym with alot of interest. I don't want her to be bored.....they say she'll win alot in level 3 and not necessarily in 4.

New to this and so confused!!!



Jul 5, 2007
PM me if you want. I'm from around there (not living or coaching there now though). I'm racking my brain trying to think of who even has a TOPs program.

L3 is mostly unsanctioned rec meets here, for awhile there was a L3 program and L3 states, but that kind of dropped. A couple gyms usually get their preteams together and have some meets though.

Form could be an issue even if she has all her skills, some gyms have a higher standard required for their competitive teams, while some view L4 as more of a practice year where if you have the skills, you learn as you go. Neither is really wrong as I'm concerned, as long as it's all safe, just a difference in programs. And in some gyms a lot of action happens in the summer, so a kid who was gone all summer might get "overlooked."

I would personally give it more than one practice back to evaluate. I'd go another week, speak with her coaches about what they expect this year, and then evaluate your choices. They may offer a further evaluation. Or you could try scheduling a private with the HC (if the gym does that). Otherwise, try the other gym. If the coaches are good, progressions are safe, and the developmental teams are well run, then things like having two full floors in the facility is really only a marginal advantage (and some of that facility could be because of other programs like cheer, etc, that you aren't concerned about).

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I'd have to work with your daughter myself to say exactly what I think she should do, but generally speaking I think level 3 should be skipped if at all possible. In my opinion, the level 3 routines make it seem like a placeholder level, with very little developmental value. I also believe that kids generally benefit more from a season of working hard to keep up than from a season of winning without even trying.

Like I said, I can't say for certain what level I'd put your daughter at without knowing her, but given a generic girl straddling the divide between level 3 and level 4, I would push her to 4.

Talk to the coaches and see what they have to say. You might check out the smaller gym; I've seen some pretty spectacular gymnasts come out of some very limited facilities.


Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
FWIW my DD trains at a small gym. She is an average gymnast who will compete L4, her first L4 meet is Sat. She did compete L3 and I think the value of that experiece was getting out there and performing routines in front of people more than anything else. That can be done @ L4 as well.

Like I said, DD's gym is small, 18 girls on the entire team L3-8. We had 3 make the NC team for regionals last year. One came home 1st AA in her age and division. We have several amazing gymnasts and dome that like my DD, are average. But they all love each other and have a great time.
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Proud Parent
Jan 8, 2009
Des Moines Iowa
Well the decision is made.....I got in trouble with the gym for posting the question on this forum! So we left the gym and off to the small gym!!!


Deleted member D3987

all this over a 6 year old. geesh. not looking for an argument, i'm just saying...


Well that's crummy of them, but it sounds like the new place is really enthusiastic about your daughter.
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