WAG Creating a Level 10+ Focused Team Program (Finances / Coaching / Athlete Selection / Facility / Etc)

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JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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This is a split from another conversation to help people (parents primarily... I guess) understand the difficulties of running a high level (Level 10+ / Hopes / Elite) gymnastics team. This team would be one that can consistently put athletes at Level 10 Nationals and understand the Hopes / Elite system and be able to compete athletes there if it's the right fit.

The conversation started in the following thread as seen below...


--==<<+>>==--

I will say that we got very lucky. We live just minutes from our gym and they didn't initially train elite, just started when they saw the upcoming talent. Our owners/coaches are amazing.

Incredibly lucky!! We can’t figure out the issue. I guess coaches do not want to invest the time or energy. We have interested and engaged parents. Certainly young kids at 10/11 years old who are competing level 8 and scoring well (several of our kids) have the potential to keep going, but everything just fizzles out on level 9. It is truly not the kids. I guess this is a whole other thread but I wish we had some guidance to build a program just to get these girls to 10, let alone elite.
 
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JBS

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Start by reading this thread linked above in the first post. Then read this thread and the thread linked in this thread...


I am going to state that upper level gymnastics (Level 10+) is very limited due to primarily one thing...


Cash Money GIF

MONEY!​

 

JBS

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For all of you that are at a program that has a good number of Level 10's / Elites...

What are you seeing? How does your gym run?​


Spying Ellie Taylor GIF by The Great Pottery Throw Down
 

gym_dad32608

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Aug 7, 2018
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I posted in the original thread, I think the first criteria has to be an owner that believes and supports high-quality, L10, elite/hopes type gymnastics. If that doesn't exist, it will be a constant fight for resources and support. I know we came from a gym that was part of a child-care/afterschool empire and gymnastics was just another "activity" that could be offered. Constant battle to get equipment and staff to be able to have good instruction.
 
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LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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Thank you! We have some parents who joined who are following for this information. I’ll make sure they see this thread.
 
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Tigtimes

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May 12, 2015
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The coach is the key. My daughters coach is fully capable of coaching level 10 and above but he is never all in. There have been moments, slivers of that competitive drive a coach needs but then it fades. So honestly without a coach willing to be all in the program will go nowhere

the next big hurdle is the having talent pool to support the coach. That issue often depends on location and population in my opinion.
 

LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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The coach is the key. My daughters coach is fully capable of coaching level 10 and above but he is never all in. There have been moments, slivers of that competitive drive a coach needs but then it fades. So honestly without a coach willing to be all in the program will go nowhere

the next big hurdle is the having talent pool to support the coach. That issue often depends on location and population in my opinion.
I think so too, and we can’t force someone to be all in if they just aren’t all in.
 

ReluctantGymMom

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May 11, 2020
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I think part of the hurdle is in having qualified coaches that know how to coach level 10, and can physically do it. At several gyms around us, including our own, the gym owner is the upper level coach as well, especially for level 10 bars. They're getting older (as in, like they're in their late 50s, mid 60s), it's getting physically harder to spot release moves, their shoulders and backs are jacked up.

Our gym's coach at our location is a fantastic lower optional coach, but this is his first year potentially having someone above level 9, and even level 9 was difficult to coach. At one of our other locations, they have predominantly level 9s and 10s, because the head coach worked under the owner for the last 20 years, but he's in his 40s so still able to spot all these girls that are not so little anymore.

The coaches have to learn somewhere, and a lot of parents don't want their kids being the guinea pig for that learning at those levels (understandable, our upper optionals have been with the gym since they were in kindergarden so they stay, they trust the coaches)
 

mom2newgymnast

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Jul 8, 2014
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For all of you that are at a program that has a good number of Level 10's / Elites...

What are you seeing? How does your gym run?​


I'll bite, but unfortunately I don't have a whole lot of inside knowledge at our gym. We have a large number of level 10s, but do not train elite in any form (no tops/hopes/elite). I think out coaches consider the gym a college prep type gym and that is their goal. Almost all the gymnasts that make and stay in level 10 until their senior year end up competing in college, most at D1 schools. I honestly don't know if most are on scholarships or not (I always assumed they were, but I really don't know).

So how are they successful? I think it's because we live in a fairly decent size metro, with gyms at all levels (except elite). So purely rec gyms, xcel only gyms, gyms that have pretty good compulsory levels.. but not many upper optionals, and our gym and a couple of others that have strong upper optional programs. Because of this, our gym can be more selective in who they invite to team and who they keep on team. Now that's not to say that they are extremely high pressure or high stress because they are not. But they do consider the likely of anyone joining the team making it to level 10 by at least 10th grade and doing well there. I know this feels unfair to some and I get it, but I promise there are opportunities for everyone in our area. We have an xcel and a rec team and there are a lot of other gyms that could provide opportunities for them.

As far as staying on the team, I've only very rarely seen someone have to switch to a less competitive track and we very rarely have them repeat levels. Some girls leave for other gyms in the lower levels and some leave the sport as expected once they reach the upper levels because of the usual reasons (very few optionals leave for other gym though). Every year the team adds quite a few gymnasts from other gyms who feel they have outgrown the other gym. Most of our gymnasts reach level 10 between 7-9th grade. This year we have a couple of 6th graders and I think one 10th grader that were first year level 10s and the rest were 8-9th grade. This gives lots of time to adjust, maybe have a season or two that aren't spectacular, and still potentially be at a recruitable level by 10th or 11th grade.

Oh and as an aside, we aren't an extremely high hours gym. My daughter trains around 22 hours a week. Evening only and she's traditional public school. There is a day group also that is I guess a little more serious. Similar number of hours, but requires modifications for school and has more senior coaches.
 

gymgal

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Beyond the coach, I think it's the surrounding population - are there enough girls with high potential and family resources in the area to make a gym successful? Gyms in more rural areas tend to do fairly well in the lower levels but the girls gradually wean out because they don't have the drive, money, talent to make it to the upper levels. The ones who make it to L8/9/10 tend to move to a larger gym to have teammates and more experienced coaches. Compare this to more populous areas where the coaches have a larger talent pool and they can be more particular about who they invite to team in the first place.
 

gym_dad32608

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Aug 7, 2018
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Environment (metropolitan, rural, suburban) definitely plays into having a successful L10 gym. Valid point about being in a metropolitan/suburban area that has plenty of gym options. From an economics standpoint it creates more efficiencies for the consumer as they will self-sort to the gyms that best meet their needs and allows those gyms to maximize their offerings for those groups.

From the price side, we pay about $550/month for our gym about 25 hours a week probably about 5 hours of that is conditioning. We have national team members, about 5 elite training, and about 12 L10s. Also a robust group of optional numbers. We have 6 L10 coaches. A great supportive environment, who have track record of D1 placement. The gym is in a suburban, edge of metropolitan area with maybe another 2 large similar level gyms in the greater metropolitan area.
 
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gym_dad32608

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Aug 7, 2018
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Oh, I also forgot to add, we can't forget about equipment. I know we tend to think that's a given, but, and coaches can correct me on this, having a good pit area can be challenging to set up for a facility if I am not mistaken and is a significant factor in safe quality instruction.
 
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Gymx2

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Oct 9, 2015
809
My daughter’s gym routinely produces strong 9 and 10 teams, usually sending 5-7 to Nationals each year but does not coach Elite level. I had a conversation with the owner about it at one point and he said they have the coaching ability for elite but it hasn’t made sense financially. He say they don’t have enough parents who can commit to paying for elite training to get that program off the ground. What they do well is provide a high level of technical coaching in a positive environment. They have high standards for moving up and expect athletes to compete skills at the top of level. Once a kid is in optionals they train with the intention of competing in college. It’s a large, well-equipped facility and I think another important element is there is little coaching turnover. Coaches are treated well and usually stay for years, so it’s a consistent environment with supportive coaches.
 
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LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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Oh, I also forgot to add, we can't forget about equipment. I know we tend to think that's a given, but, and coaches can correct me on this, having a good pit area can be challenging to set up for a facility if I am not mistaken and is a significant factor in safe quality instruction.
Yes! And although I have heard that pits aren't necessary for successful upper optionals, most of the girls much prefer good pit areas. I think they are pretty necessary. Unless you purchase the space, putting in a pit can be challenging. One local gym did not own the building and had to put in an above ground pit.
 
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LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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We are not in the middle of nowhere by any means. This is a fairly well populated area, so you would think that would help in establishing a gym. There is also a large city about an hour away, and still no gyms there either. Very high coaching turnover, so that seems to be a problem from what I am reading.
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,842
I think part of the hurdle is in having qualified coaches that know how to coach level 10, and can physically do it. At several gyms around us, including our own, the gym owner is the upper level coach as well, especially for level 10 bars. They're getting older (as in, like they're in their late 50s, mid 60s), it's getting physically harder to spot release moves, their shoulders and backs are jacked up.

Our gym's coach at our location is a fantastic lower optional coach, but this is his first year potentially having someone above level 9, and even level 9 was difficult to coach. At one of our other locations, they have predominantly level 9s and 10s, because the head coach worked under the owner for the last 20 years, but he's in his 40s so still able to spot all these girls that are not so little anymore.

The coaches have to learn somewhere, and a lot of parents don't want their kids being the guinea pig for that learning at those levels (understandable, our upper optionals have been with the gym since they were in kindergarden so they stay, they trust the coaches)
Right. We have on occasion been able to get a younger coach over here with the intent of mentoring to coach upper optionals, and it doesn't work. We have been "guinea pigs" repeatedly and it results in inconsistent coaching and technique.
 

rlm's mom

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Aug 21, 2021
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I'll bite, but unfortunately I don't have a whole lot of inside knowledge at our gym. We have a large number of level 10s, but do not train elite in any form (no tops/hopes/elite). I think out coaches consider the gym a college prep type gym and that is their goal. Almost all the gymnasts that make and stay in level 10 until their senior year end up competing in college, most at D1 schools. I honestly don't know if most are on scholarships or not (I always assumed they were, but I really don't know).

So how are they successful? I think it's because we live in a fairly decent size metro, with gyms at all levels (except elite). So purely rec gyms, xcel only gyms, gyms that have pretty good compulsory levels.. but not many upper optionals, and our gym and a couple of others that have strong upper optional programs. Because of this, our gym can be more selective in who they invite to team and who they keep on team. Now that's not to say that they are extremely high pressure or high stress because they are not. But they do consider the likely of anyone joining the team making it to level 10 by at least 10th grade and doing well there. I know this feels unfair to some and I get it, but I promise there are opportunities for everyone in our area. We have an xcel and a rec team and there are a lot of other gyms that could provide opportunities for them.

As far as staying on the team, I've only very rarely seen someone have to switch to a less competitive track and we very rarely have them repeat levels. Some girls leave for other gyms in the lower levels and some leave the sport as expected once they reach the upper levels because of the usual reasons (very few optionals leave for other gym though). Every year the team adds quite a few gymnasts from other gyms who feel they have outgrown the other gym. Most of our gymnasts reach level 10 between 7-9th grade. This year we have a couple of 6th graders and I think one 10th grader that were first year level 10s and the rest were 8-9th grade. This gives lots of time to adjust, maybe have a season or two that aren't spectacular, and still potentially be at a recruitable level by 10th or 11th grade.

Oh and as an aside, we aren't an extremely high hours gym. My daughter trains around 22 hours a week. Evening only and she's traditional public school. There is a day group also that is I guess a little more serious. Similar number of hours, but requires modifications for school and has more senior coaches.
I think our gym is pretty similar to yours. We are mainly a level 10 gym, prepping for college. Most of our gymnasts make it to D1 schools. On the other hand, our gym won’t accept kids into their optionals program if they don’t have faith they can make it to a D1 team i.e. they wouldn’t take a 15 year old level 8. All the girls make it to level 10 by their Junior year or switch the Xcel.
Coaching makes all the difference. I can’t talk about how the gym started as I wasn’t there to witness it. Our coaches are highly respected and trusted by the gymnasts and parents. We are in a large metro area, but many of our gymnasts are from out of the area and travel each day or moved to be closer to our gym. There are a few other gyms in the 1-hour radius but none have a strong optionals program; they act as feeders for our gym.
Hours are useful, my kids can go to a normal school and don’t miss too much.
We left our old gym when my older DD reached level 8 as our coaches had never coached a level 10 and we weren’t going to be the guinea pigs. Was also getting lonely for DD.
 

FlippinLilysMom

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Jun 7, 2016
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Region 4
I think it will be very difficult to figure out how to make a gym work, what works for one may not work for another. My daughter's gym is small (# of girls on team levels 4-10/elite is usually around 60) and the gym itself is very, VERY small, probably one of the smallest in our area (we are in the twin cities metro area and there is a large number of gyms, probably 10 or more). So people that live in this area have a huge number of gyms to choose from, it seems to be very rare around here for someone to start out at one gym and finish out at that same gym. My daughter's gym has always produced levels 10s, a few have gone on to D1 schools but most have gone onto D3 schools. The ones that went on to D1 schools very rarely, if ever, made lineups. But that is changing. They had a crop of very talented gymnasts come through, starting about 5 years ago. They saw the talent and decided to start doing Tops and HOPES. They had never trained elite before, this was all new to everyone. Our coaches/owners were 100% invested, they had to be. The amount of time that they spent away from their family and the gym to train elite was huge, not to mention the expenses. Training elite is definitely not a money maker for a gym (neither is team, the money comes from rec), so I think that can be a big deterent for some gyms/owners. And I think they aren't going to put the time and energy and money into it if they don't think they will be successful (anyone can go to a qualifier, it's tough to make it classics and beyond). And elite is not fun, for anyone. I don't care who you ask, it's just not fun. And finding coaches is a whole other hurdle to overcome. Our head coaches are husband and wife and also our gym owners. The optional team has one other full time coach and we've had a 4th coach the last few years that usually stays for a year or two and then leaves for a job on a college team. So if you can't find solid upper level coaches that are willing to stay for the long haul it will be hard to be a successful gym. My heart breaks for those in areas that don't have the choice of high caliber gyms that we do, it must make it very tough to wonder "what could be". Outside of moving to a different area I'm not sure what one could do.
 

Em09

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Oct 13, 2020
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Australia
It runs with qualified, yes, but also loving coaches who care about the gymnasts. The equipment is in great quantity and quality, and the training hours are flexible. The atmosphere is incredible and costs are pretty cheap.
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,842
I think it will be very difficult to figure out how to make a gym work, what works for one may not work for another. My daughter's gym is small (# of girls on team levels 4-10/elite is usually around 60) and the gym itself is very, VERY small, probably one of the smallest in our area (we are in the twin cities metro area and there is a large number of gyms, probably 10 or more). So people that live in this area have a huge number of gyms to choose from, it seems to be very rare around here for someone to start out at one gym and finish out at that same gym. My daughter's gym has always produced levels 10s, a few have gone on to D1 schools but most have gone onto D3 schools. The ones that went on to D1 schools very rarely, if ever, made lineups. But that is changing. They had a crop of very talented gymnasts come through, starting about 5 years ago. They saw the talent and decided to start doing Tops and HOPES. They had never trained elite before, this was all new to everyone. Our coaches/owners were 100% invested, they had to be. The amount of time that they spent away from their family and the gym to train elite was huge, not to mention the expenses. Training elite is definitely not a money maker for a gym (neither is team, the money comes from rec), so I think that can be a big deterent for some gyms/owners. And I think they aren't going to put the time and energy and money into it if they don't think they will be successful (anyone can go to a qualifier, it's tough to make it classics and beyond). And elite is not fun, for anyone. I don't care who you ask, it's just not fun. And finding coaches is a whole other hurdle to overcome. Our head coaches are husband and wife and also our gym owners. The optional team has one other full time coach and we've had a 4th coach the last few years that usually stays for a year or two and then leaves for a job on a college team. So if you can't find solid upper level coaches that are willing to stay for the long haul it will be hard to be a successful gym. My heart breaks for those in areas that don't have the choice of high caliber gyms that we do, it must make it very tough to wonder "what could be". Outside of moving to a different area I'm not sure what one could do.
May I ask a few logistical questions since this scenario sort of resembles what we have:

We have an owner who just purchased a building and is starting a new gym. Trying to figure out the best way to get the maximum out of their summer practice. This is a long and crazy story, but this past season, my two were initially displaced from their gym due to gym damage. We moved to a closer gym. That gym had a major split, and our group was renting space from Jan-May at another gym with very limited hours and equipment before we could get into the new building.

1) We really have one experienced upper optional coach (bars and vault) for level 9/10. He has coached level 10s. There are 5 (possibly 6) girls at this level. When those girls are in the gym, is it best to exclusively have that coach with our girls? As things stand at the moment, they have the whole team coming in for most of the day (this includes some of the compulsories). WOuld it be more efficient to have our girls come something like 8-12 and have this coaches undivided attention and lower level team come in the afternoon versus everyone at one time? I think they are willing to hear us out if anyone has suggestions.

2) Does anyone have suggestions on the best place to post ads to recruit coaches? Linked In? This would be a HUGE help.

3) Lastly, how did the gym owners juggle also being the head coaches? In our past experience it has seemed that both the coaching role and the owner role has not worked well long term. That person really has to work pretty much around the clock, right?