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Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2020
Hello, I need some perspective.

My 9-yr DD competed L2 last year, and is on the cusp of moving to L3. My dilemma is this: She loves her gym, but it's a very busy place with wait lists for classes, they move coaches around often, and I feel like she's constantly overlooked. She is not at the top of her group, but she's certainly not at the bottom, and she placed very well in some meets last year. Now that she has a year of competition under her belt, she's determined to move up and has worked hard all summer. She really wants to compete. At the end of practice last week, I high-fived her on her ROBHS, but I could tell she was upset. In the car, she broke down crying, telling me she was working hard but no one has noticed, and it hurt her feelings every girl on the team has moved up but her. It's almost the end of the 8-week term and none of the coaches have mentioned anything to us about her progress, or whether she should stay in the current level for another session. I think she's ready, but I'm not a coach.

With this gym, I've had to politely ask about 3 times over the course of our 6 years here if she was ready to be moved up. Every time, the coach said oh yeah---she was ready (like they forgot to mention it). Once, when I inquired with one of the more experienced coaches, she was eval'd on the spot and moved up two levels. I brought the most recent incident to her coach's attention and asked if anyone was evaluating her. He was genuinely concerned, but he's a junior coach and has to check with the head coach. If she's not quite ready, I'll be fine with that, but I'd like them to tell me what she needs to work on so I can schedule her for a few privates. Her coach from last season communicated often with us, and we followed his advice, and she happily progressed. Unfortunately, he has moved on, and I notice the other coaches that were more attentive to her have moved on, too.

While she has to work hard, is it an unreasonable expectation on my part that the coaches should let me know near the end of the session her progress? The priority week for choosing classes for next term has already come and gone. I'm supposed to hear back from the gym next week as the coach promised me he'd follow up, but I'm thinking maybe I should just let her try another gym closer to our home that looks less busy, and ask them to eval her. I'm also thinking of removing our account off auto-pay for every term. She does love this gym and the team camaraderie is strong, but she was open to trying a class at the other gym.

Maybe I'm that parent, but something in me snapped when she started crying. I would love to know how other gyms give feedback. Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
I would let her try a class at another gym, since she is open to it. My personal choice would never be a gym that is so busy that you can't get into classes and where my child feels overlooked.
If you are in an area where there are other options it really can't hurt to try other gyms.
If you say that coaches have moved on, do you mean they have moved to other classes or to other gyms?
Her coach from last season is teaching the boys now at the same gym. He confided in my husband six months back when they were moving equipment around that the gym's owners were under tremendous financial pressure since opening a newer, larger facility. The experienced coach that eval'd DD two years ago went to another gym, but I'm not sure why. Another coach DD loved who would give me feedback left for law school. I've noticed it's a mix of a few experienced coaches, and many young coaches. I'm not opposed to the younger coaches as they often make it fun, but I've had to juggle our schedule a few times to make sure one of DD's weekly classes was with an experienced coach who would actually be at the meets with her.
Yes, I think I'd try the other gym. Poor communication can often be worked around, like you already have...but when you kid is feeling ignored to the point of tears it's probably time to go. I really don't like when gyms are constantly switching coaches in rec or team, for obvious reasons. The child is never going to progress as well as they could with a coach who knows them/what they're workingon/how to motivate them.
Be the squeaky wheel... it should at least get you a polite answer.

While gyms are constantly working on improving communication... very few do a great (or even good) job at communicating. Many times the tools and systems are just not there for the coaches to use. If the gym does not have the tools or systems in place for good communication... it is not the coaches fault... that is a management issue.

In other words it is possible to have good coaching and poor communication. While in many industries I would just say... "go to a different place"... there are definitely places where you will find that all 3 or 4 local clubs struggle with communication. You may also find clubs that have a great business sense and are fantastic with communication... but their ability work in the land of upper level gymnastics in just not there.
Try other gyms, get an opinion from their coaches on her level and options at their gym.
Every few lessons try to get hold of the coach (now and always in the future!) and ask about the progress, problems, what she should be working on at home. And make a decision. Your gym doesn't look like you have to stick to it at whatever price.
We have had friends, neighbors, and family members at gyms other than ours and one common complaint is communication, so the grass may not always be greener in that regard. If your daughter is feeling discouraged or overlooked, maybe try a different gym where the teams might be a little smaller. If her group is big with a high coach to gymnast ratio and more kids waiting on deck, it will be like that regardless of whatever level she is on. If the gym is having financial issues or pushing privates, that’s a huge red flag.
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Thank you all for your advice. I had to decompress for a few days after my post. We did check out the other gym with DD participating in a trial class, and I asked the head coach for an evaluation. While I liked their experienced coaches and their training program (more structured, stricter, tendency to compete athletes younger), we decided to stick with our gym (more laid back, tendency to compete athletes a little older).

My fuss after DD's last training session got noticed, and DD's coach approached me after practice. She explained DD was very close to L3, and they just wanted to clean up her skills, particularly with her ROBHS. She anticipated her competing in L3 later this spring. She explained they didn't have to wait until the end of the term to move her up, and that she would be sure to do it when DD was ready. The other gym told me almost exactly the same thing. A big factor was that DD really wanted to stick with her current gym, which is more suited to her personality.

I'm glad I checked out another option, though. It was instructive to see two gyms that have different styles/methods of coaching, but both still produce competitive gymnasts at state meets up to L10. DD and I are not focused on an elite path right now, but if that spark ever lights, our gym has a reputable sister gym across town that does have this program.

Most of the financial stuff is due to the gym's recent expansion into a brand new, larger facility to accommodate the growth in our area. They had seemed to settle in to a routine last year until COVID hit, then all the gyms had to shut down. Many gymnasts are starting to return.

I will definitely be talking more with DD's coaches in the future to help reduce her uncertainty. My goal is honest feedback so she has the info needed for goal-setting and decision-making.
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