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A's Mom

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Nov 30, 2018
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Hi wise parents! My 11-year-old 6th grader is finishing up level 5 and looking to compete level 7 next year. She trains 17 hr/wk right now, which will marginally increase. She's also a human, and we're starting to notice all the normal human things that happen in middle school. She still loves gymnastics, but is also more and more interested in time with friends. Her school musical ended a few weeks ago and I think she'll be mourning it until the end of time. I don't think we're looking at a kid who wants to quit gym, but I guess I'm just wondering what to expect as she goes through puberty. Do body changes mean skill setbacks? Do social ties mean not wanting to go to practice, or being extra distracted? What ride are we buckling into for the next few years?
 

LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
133
Do body changes mean skill setbacks?
Some kids change gradually and hardly ever experience loss of skills. Other kids might grow more quickly but still not be much affected. It is common, though, to have some setbacks while growing. Vault steps must be changed, you hit your feet on the low bar, tumbling feels different, it is all a possibility. For me I definitely progressed more slowly at age 11/12. Injuries...not bad injuries, but just the annoying twisted ankle/strained muscle/shin splint/sore wrist that takes a week or two goes away...were definitely a thing too.

Do social ties mean not wanting to go to practice, or being extra distracted?
For some kids yes, for others no. Liking other things outside of gymnastics doesn't mean you don't like gymnastics. If theatre or friends or whatever else she likes is also a priority, then it is nothing to do with gym. She can love two things. She might need to miss a practice now and then and that's it. If she likes it more than gym and is disinterested in gym...then she may not want to go to practice. And quitting/taking time off is always a difficult process and decision but I won't go into it now.
I've never been the most social and find my gym friends more interesting than going to school hangouts, but not everyone is that way. You can totally balance gymnastics and a social life though. There will be some sacrifices both ways and you still come out on top.
 
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Dahlia

Proud Parent
Sep 27, 2013
337
On the social side, a lot of girls quit gymnastics around middle school age. Lots of factors such as new interests to pursue, time with friends, injuries and setbacks, etc. My Dd found a good balance by switching to xcel. She still loves gym and competing, but also has time for other activities.
 
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Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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Not all kids have any issues at all. Some kids get hit by our Betty hard, body changes quickly and skills are lost, some can have big behavioural, issues and a very challenging adolescence.

Others have no issues, they grow slowly and steadily, continue to be as interested in gymnastics as they did before.

It’s probably safer not to assume anything at all when it comes to going through the teen years.
 

mom2gymmie

New Member
Apr 9, 2022
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It really depends on the gymnast. My 13 year old level 7/8 so far hasn't had any difficulties, but we never know what might come along.
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
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What Aussie said and Madden quoted. A thousand times

Signed a mom to an overall great kid whose currently a ticked off 16 yr old, because her dad and I told her she couldn’t stay up doing homework until 2-3 am because rather then getting right to homework after practice she’d rather watch you tube/ tik too and text and start homework at 11-12. Because we don’t want her sick or injured. Oh and I asked her to do dinner cleanup that made her really cranky.
 

KIPSOG

Gymnast
Feb 8, 2022
13
If she does start to experience skill setbacks, which is totally possible, it can be frustrating. Just remember that it won't last forever, and 11-14 is can be a hard time for gymnasts. But after that it gets much better. I had a really rough time when I was 12-13 with having to relearn old skills, but I made through and still love gymnastics. I personally love Xcel because I can still have social time and do school sports, but that's not what everyone wants. Just be optimistic and ready to support her with whatever she chooses to do.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,279
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I don't think we're looking at a kid who wants to quit gym, but I guess I'm just wondering what to expect as she goes through puberty. Do body changes mean skill setbacks? Do social ties mean not wanting to go to practice, or being extra distracted? What ride are we buckling into for the next few years?
I agree that it's different for everyone for sure. My daughter never had the dramatic overnight type of growth spurt. She was more of a steady grower, but she definitely grew. She's 14 now and about 5'4-5'5 and pretty curvy. She didn't lose any skills, but she did have to adjust some of them and, for her, tumbling is harder than it used to be. (Bars hasn't been much of a problem for her fortunately) I think sometimes she looks at the younger gymnasts on her team that haven't gone through puberty and is jealous at how easy some things appear to be for them, but she's also aware that everyone will grow and go through it eventually.

She's in 8th grade now and I definitely think the social aspect has begun to be more impactful for her. Luckily her schedule still allows for plenty of time to hang out with friends and most of her friends are heavily involved in their own sport anyway, so it hasn't been too bad. But I also encourage her to miss practice every once in a while to go to a friend's birthday party or a school dance for example. I think entering high school will be the true test as to whether she wants to continue or if she decides that it's no longer worth it to her..
 
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Aussie_coach

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There are lots of advantages to going through puberty too.

Being taller means some things are easier like getting over the vault table and some bar changes.

Teens are better at developing a lovely style in their dance. Generally they do better with leaps, jumps, turns and dance than their younger counterparts.

Teens have more developed language and thinking skills so can better understand instructions, to progress faster.

Teens can train longer and focus longer.

Many get less fear, rather than more as they now understand how skills work, rather than just having blind trust that they will work.

They can run faster, allowing more power for Vault and Tumbling.
 

Aussie_coach

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Getting older happens and brings with it opportunitie, the kids can now really prepare for exciting possibilities like competing higher levels and doing really interesting skills, college gymnastics, pursuing a college scholarship, competing elite, becoming a coach, training to be in cirque du Soleil
 

Aussie_coach

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The only thing that tends to get me down is the way they interact socially. When the younger kids come in after school they bring board games and chat and giggle and interact with each other. When the older kids come in, they look at their phones.
 

ldw4mlo

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Feb 13, 2015
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Getting older happens and brings with it opportunitie, the kids can now really prepare for exciting possibilities like competing higher levels and doing really interesting skills, college gymnastics, pursuing a college scholarship, competing elite, becoming a coach, training to be in cirque du Soleil
It doesnt mean they aren’t interacting with each other. I have been out to lunch with the gymmies all at the same table texting each other. :rolleyes::cool:
 

Madden3

Proud Parent
Aug 24, 2013
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Aussie_coach’s perspective about the positive aspects of puberty really resonates with me. I wonder if girls today have tons of information (not all of it accurate) yet far too little perspective about what it means to grow up and go through puberty. There has always been a lot of negativity around this subject for girls, but this now can turn into a 24/7 onslaught with the internet. My personal experience as a teen showed me that adolescence is fraught for all girls, but particularly for the more dramatic type of girl as I was. I often think that if social media had existed back then I never would have survived. As a parent, I have only experienced puberty with male children, and ngl, that experience was so traumatic I live in dread of going through it with my daughter.

What my experience with my boys did teach me is the importance of sports participation for these kids. (Obviously not all kids are sporty, and I imagine with non-sporty kids having some other positive activity helps just as well.) But my boys are both very passionate about sports. Puberty DID affect their gymnastics, and I guess on the whole negatively, as they did both choose to leave the sport in their early teens. But they got into other sports immediately. And sports participation definitely got them through some incredibly tough times by giving them something to work towards and giving them something real and tangible, as well as positive, on which to focus their energies. I would add this is true even if they do not do great in that sport! My oldest son has had a rather heartbreaking time with high school track, and is frustrated that despite tons of effort he is having a rough senior season. But there have been many positives, particularly that training kept him sane during the in person school shutdown which for us was a solid year long (even though he spent months training alone.) Positives cannot be measured in medals.
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,434
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Regarding the negative side to puberty and gymnastics. Parents can help or hurt…… My daughters skills were affected. She also had a couple of injuries to deal with and a Covid shutdown. Which then of course got in her head and round and round it goes.

It would of been easy to say I’m not going to spend money if she can’t do xyz. And there are many parents out there who give off those kind of signals even if they don’t verbalize them to the kid. Kids know.

Between injuries, mental crud, and loss of skills, which I’m sure the shift in her actual body, hips, breasts, height all had an impact. It took her 3 yrs to get a giant which she then lost for a whole year. And 3 years to do 2 BHS and or actually connect them on the beam. At any point it would of been easy to help direct her to being done. But I know we would of taken those funds elsewhere for her. And the relationships with those gymnastics friends got her through the emotional crud of middle school and Covid.

Now that we have made it to the other side. Most of her skills are back and quite lovely. There are still things she can improve on but score wise her gymnastics has improved enough to add 2-3 points to her AA. The only real thing we did was give her time to heal and deal and get used to all the changes that happened in her brain and body. We never made her feel like she was disappointing us or it was a failure on her part. She just needed time to get used to her grown up body.
 

ZB55

Proud Parent
May 6, 2020
46
Physical changes brought a set-back on bars for my daughter, and she struggled with some skills that she had solidly the year before. On the positive side, those same changes made her noticeably more powerful vaulting and tumbling. After close to a year, she appears to be coming out the other side and is starting to find consistency again.
 
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MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
809
Virginia
I would just say be prepared to adapt. You never know what will be the thing you have to deal with but its pretty much guaranteed it will be something. Being able to adapt to the specific thing your kid is going through is highly beneficial.

There may be things that you don't want to bend on but you might have to (missing practice, slowing things down etc) but find places to adapt and help your kid find what works best for them. A one size fits all model of gymnastics does not work well so hopefully you are at a gym that is understanding and will work with her to find what will work for her.

I think that the gyms and parents that are most adaptable have the lowest rate of attrition during the middle school years. And if she decides shes done thats ok she will have a great skillset and mindset to take to other activities.
 
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rlm's mom

Proud Parent
Aug 21, 2021
308
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Regarding changes to the body and affecting skills… I’ve had one of each. My oldest didn’t go through changes in her body much, my second had a huge growth spurt in height and body proportions over covid and had to restart from the basics. She says her gymnastics are much more powerful and precise than before though so there’s a plus.
Regarding the social aspect, I think age 11-12 is when they began learning how to manage their time on their own… making sure they do their homework and have social time is no easy task… I bought mine a calendar and told her to schedule out each day, take into account meets, school exams, friends birthdays etc. Worked a dream! She forgot to schedule in helping mom though;)
 
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