WAG Difference between 5/6/7

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Jun 16, 2013
I'm sure this is posted somewhere already, but I can't seem to find it...

DD just scored out of 5 and has been training 7. Today, HC told her she will likely compete her 6 because she will do very well there and because she's only 10, there's no need to rush. To me, this is sandbagging as DD has all her 7 skills (giants are still a bit weak, but she just started training them full on this week) and they will be pretty solid by the time competition season rolls around in January.

My question is this:
1) Is this sandbagging? If so, why on earth would HC want to do this (or think it's okay--we caught some serious flak from other parents at her L5 meet because she pretty much blew everyone away, score-wise, and some parents were understandably upset)
2) Is this standard practice for optionals levels or is HC simply trying to build her optionals team to be unbeatable (the gym is fairly small with only 11 optionals girls L6-L8)?
3) If it was your child, how would you approach the situation? (Note: coaches are from China so we are definitely dealing with a cultural barrier).
This is only an opinion of one coach... But level 6 is for kids who CANNOT do level 7. Otherwise, I say if they have clean giants and can flyaway, level 7 it is...
Her giants aren't clean yet...only a week in to really working them....BUT, season doesn't start until January so I have no doubt her giants will be more than clean by that time...I'm concerned that DD is old enough to realize what's going on and she's not going to like it. Especially when her coach is playing favorites to another girl slightly older than DD and allowing her to compete 7 when her skills are, in my opinion (and the opinion of DD's compulsory coach) behind DD's.

Would definitely be interested to hear the opinions of other coaches and more experienced parents and, if possible, how to address this with HC.
I am of the perspective that if she can be successful at a level (mentally and physically), she should be able to compete that level so I probably would want more information about their thinking. But the coach is right - she is young. She could use this year to really train the higher level skills while not worrying as much about her competing a more difficult level. She can still compete all her L7 skills in 6 (though she probably won't, in order to have cleaner routines). It would put her in a better position to go through the upper optional possibly without any repeating. Of course, that's only if she is allowed to continue to train the upper level skills but with such a small optional team, I assume they are all working out together, which would allow for this.

Is this a situation where they will need her to make a L6 team (3 gymnasts)?
I think a lot of gyms are still trying to figure out the best way to use the new levels. DD's gym didn't compete 6 this past year, but ended up having a lot of girls repeating 7, so this coming year we'll have a level 6 group again... with the thought that having girls compete 6 and then 7 is preferable than spending two years at 7. I'm sure that there are a lot of gyms trying out different strategies to see what works for them. As long as she is continuing to uptrain, I doubt there is any harm in her competing 6. And if she starts the season off strong, they can always move her up. Now that she's an optional, it's relatively easy... Use the same music, same basic routines, upgrade a few skills, and ta-da... She's a level 7. I would say that, if you trust her coaches, trust them with this too.
Our girls learned the hard way. No giants for level 7 = creamed.
They are now including giants for level 7 as mandatory....
I agree with Mary. Sandbagging, to me, is when a gym keeps a girl in a level they've already competed and have been very successful at in order to get good team scores. Your DD has not yet competed L6. It sounds like, at this point, that's where your DD's coach thinks she will be most successful - of course, things can change.

I would not worry about what the coaches are doing with any of the other girls. If your DD is getting what she needs, that's all you need to concern yourself with. I would, however, be concerned that you have no girls above L8, if you think your DD's goal is to get to the upper optional levels, but that's for another thread, I guess!
If it were my child, I'd trust the coaches, who know your child's skill set better than any of us. And as for sandbagging, by the time kids are competing as optionals, most parents figure out that different gyms have different philosophies about move ups. They're all heading toward the same place. (Parent of a DD who moved up to L7 a bit on the early side, and of a DS who could have competed L6 just fine this last season, but who stayed back at L5 to perfect his form.)

How's her giant flyaway looking? Getting that skill consistently can take some time.
She doesn't have to make a team...in the past HC would compete girls at their ability level, though with compulsories she would not move in the middle of the season (instead they would be allowed to uptrain and, if ready, could score out of the next level, effectively 'skipping' that level and competing the following season at their ability level).

DD's gym is relatively small, but growing. They have a girl who competed 8 this season and could probably compete 9, but she's got more of a rec attitude about the whole thing, so we're not exactly sure what HC is going to do with her.

DD doesn't have clean giants yet, but the giant flyaway is a piece of cake for her. She has lots of strength and power and has finally figured out how to control it! After about the 3rd try, she had it down...giants themselves, when done in multiples, are not so clean--her first 2 or 3 are good, but after that they fall apart (not sure why--psychological maybe?) BUT, she's only been training them full on for a week or so, so I'm not expecting these to be solid just yet.

DD is frustrated because she was told she could compete 7 this season and then all of a sudden HC pulled back without any explanation or justification. Both her 7s last year did okay--both girls qualified for regionals but finished middle of the pack in their respective age groups (one had been injured most of the season).

DD's goal is Tokyo in 2020...I know her coaches can get her there (they're all former Olympians), I just don't know if that's what they want for their gym. (When asked about it, we're given a cryptic response about getting the girls where they want to be but not asking too much of them at any given moment). Eventually, I think, I'll need to move her to a stronger gym if indeed she has the talent for 2020.

My goal for her is for her to compete at whatever level she's ready for. Holding her back simply because she just turned 10 last month doesn't seem like a good decision, especially if it means she'll get bored. She's already training 8 on floor (though HC only allows her to do the skills on the tramp right now) and vault (still drills--haven't yet put everything together, but HC said when she gets to 8 she'll likely compete the Tsuk vault even though the other girls are training the Yurchenko (sp?).
I am just a parent who does a lot of reading (here and elsewhere) and coaches here will have more input but to me, Your new info changes things - If her goal is 2020 and she really has the potential for that, then I would look to move her sooner rather than later. You need to be in a gym that is ready and willing to train her toward elite now. She is going to need to be competing high L10 and elite skills by 13/14 for her to have a good shot at the big games at 16 years old. If they want her to sit in L6 for a year when she has the skills for L7, and they are not allowing her to move to the next level of training (from tramp to floor), they likely don't have the same goals that you do. I would be pushing for their ultimate goals and if they are not willing to share them, then I would be looking elsewhere IF you and your dd indeed want to go down the elite road.
Wow, the Chinese must train bars really differently than most American coaches! My daughter and her teammates were not working on flyaways out of giants until they had really solid giants. DS is working on giants now too, and even though he competed the flyaway on high bar all last season, he's probably several months away from doing the flyaway out of a giant.

It's a tall order to get to the Olympics at all, but I'm sorry to say that I'm pretty skeptical of a gym that doesn't have any girls competing above L8 having a training program that can take your daughter to the elite level, much less national team.

Anyway, it's May, and around here at least, no one would even be picking out meets to enter, much less determining levels, until September. Relax and enjoy the ride. She'll get the skills she gets over the summer, and by fall, perhaps things will be a lot clearer. L6 or L7, the implications for training are the same. :)

Oh, one other thing on bars -- how's her kip cast to handstand? Around here, girls who were not making handstands or close to it were getting killed on bars at L7.
Unless planning to compete L6 vs L7 affects which training group she is in, it really doesn't make much of a difference what level she competes as all the skills allowed at L7 are also allowed at L6, so boredom is not really an issue. And, as others have said, moving levels during the season is very easy as an optional. It is too early to stress over what level she is going to compete as the training for the summer should just be training skills as she is ready. As long as she is getting to continue to train the next step skills, then she will likely arrive at L10 at the same time whether she competes 6 or 7 this year.
"Sandbagging" just isn't much of an issue at the optional levels. L8 skills can take a while to get, so preferably a gymnast who is going L7 this year, will be training L8 skills this summer (flipping vault, pirouette or flight skills on bars, acro series on beam, etc.) It may be that the coach is thinking it would be better to do L6, then L7 so that she has 2 seasons to prepare to be a strong L8, so that she can go on to L9 the next season….
Regardless, unless it affects her training this summer, I wouldn't address it until at least the end of the summer when you can see where she is at with her giants and skills.
Can she go on a regular bar with no straps and do a kip cast handstand to giants?

Yes, she has a beautiful kip cast handstand and she can do it on HB but only 2-3 giants before losing it (what, I don't know). Her giants are not consistent enough for me to say she 'has' them, though.
Yes, she has a beautiful kip cast handstand and she can do it on HB but only 2-3 giants before losing it (what, I don't know). Her giants are not consistent enough for me to say she 'has' them, though.

Okay. Maybe there aren't enough other level 7s to say but many gyms want to say a gymnast has giants before going to level 7. Possibly your gym is even looking for a clear hip to handstand, which is what we look for.
I'm not sure, which is probably the root of what's bothering me. DD and her teammates were told they would be competing 7 next season and then, out of the blue, with no particular event or trigger, HC decided she was going to compete them 6. Naturally, the girls (not just DD) are quite confused and believe HC doubts their ability to do 7 skills.
The skills are really the same. She can do everything in 6 that she could do in 7. So perhaps the coach just decided the girls will be more competitive in level 6? I wouldn't worry about it in May. The season is very far away.

Perhaps the coaches really want her to have a strong season since you posted that she did not even qualify to state last season. If she can do the same skills, but do it in a level where she can be competitive, it will do nothing but build confidence.
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Show us a video of her Cast, circling element , giants and flyaway and we can give you a better opinion. Since it's not really about just doing it, but mastering it.

Yes...link us to a video and we can tell you where we would put her. L7 is tough...gotta be a 37+ to do anything. We train all of our kids for L7...if they can't make it for that season...then L6 it is. Since the invent of L6...there is just no room for weakness as L7...we found that our this year.
Agree with JBS...L7 competition is very tough, especially in the youngest age group. Competing L6 might be the best place for her, as long as she continues to uptrain.
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