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CLgym

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It has been a very long time since I last posted -- but (for reasons explained below) gymnastics has not been a fun topic for me lately. I guess I'm just fishing for words of encouragement and advice. This will be long, but I feel like a little history is needed:

- My DD started gymnastics "late" at almost age 6, and was moved on to pre team after about 6 months of rec. After 8 months or so, she was pushed to Xcel primarily for reasons related to body type and old age. This was how I found CB. After much debate, we decided to stay at gym and try Xcel. She competed on year of Xcel Bronze at age 7 and did very well. Gym still would not consider her for JO so we finally changed gyms.
- At new gym, she competed L4 at age 8 and L6 at age 9. So essentially she did one year of compulsory JO. But she was doing fine in meets. Better than fine, on many occasions. At her state meets, she finished 7th AA in L4 in second youngest age group (3rd beam, 5th bars), and finished 4th AA in L6 in the youngest age group (2nd bars). So things seemed to be progressing ok.
- DD competed L7 at age 10 and continued to do well, especially on bars (scoring a 9.9 during the season and taking 1st place on bars at Regionals in a very competitive Region and in an age group that included many outstanding (TOPS) gymnasts). All things seemed to be pointing in the right direction.... until they weren't.

For some reason, DD really struggled to make the jump to L8. Gym allowed her to compete L8 last year at age 11 (partial season due to COVID) despite having only a BWO-BHS on beam, and without flipping her vault (she competed a timer at meets, but could flip at practice into pit or with spot). It was a rough season. I stopped posting here. DD did qualify for state, but that's a pretty low bar for us. At best, scores hovered in the mid to high 8's -- except for vault which was low 8's given it was a timer. Lots of falls on bars so scores were often lower there. Think she hit 9.0 on floor and 9.3 on bars as high scores all season. Was consistently one of the lowest in her age group (which, incidentally, often included 12 and 13 year olds).

DD seems to be losing skills and moving, across all events, in the wrong direction. Trouble was definitely starting pre-COVID, but became more apparent after returning from quarantine. Casting to handstand is now a problem. No connection on beam. Trouble getting good timers on vault (they have since switched her to tsuk). In the last two years, she has gained almost no skills (added double back dismount to bars, and some upgraded tumbling, but that's it). She will compete L8 again obviously (now age 12), but still with a BWO-BHS on beam (that is shaky at best) and tsuk timer with half twist. Coaches have been all over the place with her. Trying different things for 2-3 months, and then trying something else altogether or going back to the original skill. I respect their willingness to be flexible with requirements, but it feels like she never has time to really focus on one thing.

DD still likes going to the gym most days. She has good friends there, and is almost always able to find small signs of progress. However, not gonna lie, it is pretty painful. Feels like banging your head against the wall. And DD does suffer from anxiety (treated with meds). I often wonder if the gym is contributing to anxiety-related behaviors exhibited at home (e.g., trouble sleeping, somatic complaints).

I told you this would be long! Sorry. But I am sort of dreading the start of meet season. And wondering if DD's time would be better spent on other activities or sports. It's beginning to feel like she will never get past this hump. I fear the original gym's "body type" assessment was correct and she has hit her physical limit. Thoughts? And thanks for listening.
 

novagymmom

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First of all, I just wanted to say I'm sorry that it's been a struggle in recent times. I guess my first thought would be what does your daughter think? Does gymnastics still make her happy? Or has she lost her passion for it? If it still makes her happy - then just go with it. EITHER she will get past this block and continue to progress. Or she may plateau, in which case . . . as long as she still enjoys it she could either stay at the same level (still on the younger side), move to excel, or potentially become an IES at Level 9. We've had examples of all of those at our gym.

- We had one girl a few years back who stayed at level 8 through senior year in high school. She was AMAZING. She was the little mother hen of that group and all the younger girls adored her. She still LOVED gymnastics and continued to improve by adding some other skills to her routines.
- One of my daughter's friends kind of "stalled/struggled" for a year or so and then all of sudden really starting to improve. It was beautiful to watch once she worked through it.
- We have two Level 9s that only compete 1-2 events but want to stay in the sport.

And for what it's worth, one of my daughter's friends competed BWO-BHS on beam and a timer on vault, but was absolutely amazing at both floor and bars. (And recently something clicked on vault and she now has a great flipping vault)

Whatever path you and your daughter choose - good luck!
 

cmg

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Every gymnast has their own journey. Your daughter moved up very quickly during compulsories and lower level optionals. To me she just needs to take her time her at L8. Level 8 is a big jump from L7. If she still enjoys gymnastics then continue to take her. Don't let your disappointment with results interfere. She may need 3 years at L8, are you ok with that?? Many gymnasts take 2 or more years at the higher levels. Some girls do just fly into L10, but that is rare. Take your time and let her just enjoy her sport. You don't have to watch practice and get frustrated with her struggle on skills. Don't repeatedly ask her if she got her specific skills today, just let her be and maybe everything will come around. This year is strange with some States open for business and others not, some gyms competing and others not. It would not be the worst thing in the world if she didn't compete this year. She can always score out of L8 next year and try of L9. I guess the bottom line is don't worry, it will become clear one way or another if your daughter should stay in gymnastics and it should be her choice.
 

CLgym

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@novagymmom and @cmg - Thank you. This was exactly what I needed to hear! My break from CB was, in part, an effort to remove myself from the gymnastics equation. But I am obviously still struggling to accept my DD's rocky journey. It's just so much easier when things are going well, particularly during meet season when you have to interact with all the other parents (who are nice, don't get me wrong, but whose kids are not struggling like mine).

@cmg -- I would actually prefer no meets this year, but our gym made the decision to do a few. I asked DD if she wanted to scratch entire meets (she will likely scratch beam at the start of this season anyway), but she wants to compete the events she is able.
 

Mish

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You are not alone. I would like to share that this could have been written by me. I think what you are doing is all you can do right now; grin and bear it while she finds her way. My dd (13) found huge success at lower levels and young; state champ, always podium, etc. Fast forward to injuries, huge growth spurts, skills getting harder, covid, etc. She repeated lv 7 last year after injuries shut down her first L7 season and had a very successful season, albeit one that had her doing "less" skills than a year prior. Difficulties exacerbated during shut down, resulting in a big weight gain, blocks on previously mastered skills, and currently, not competing. She was "on track" to compete L8 two years ago, and sadly, would probably not be competitive at L7 at this time.
Sorry, did not mean to hijack your post, but just sharing that you are not alone. It can feel like it when you read and see others' progress. I too, started taking a break because it felt like I was more invested than she was, and that can be dangerous. She tells me she is happy, wants to continue, and I guess we will just have to stand by while they figure it out. But man it is hard to watch! You are doing all you can by supporting her. Take a lesson from my mistakes, try not to talk about it too much and just "be there". Chalkbucket is here for you!!
 

profmom

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For my DD, she made it to L8 after a long struggle with backwards issues on beam, and then she started having injury issues. First year of L8 was meh, and then in two subsequent years, she barely competed, mostly because of back pain. We were VERY fortunate to have the option of XCel Diamond in the gym, so that's where she went. She had more fun in her final two years on that team than she had for the previous 5 years combined. She transitioned very happily to NAIGC and really hopes to have a full season in spring 2022. The specifics of the path may differ, but if your DD can be in an environment that supports her, she can continue through the tough parts and there's hope for skill development down the road. My DD was planning several upgrades for her routines this season. Finishing her (very late) growth enabled her to gain a lot of strength, which has been a big help across the board.
 

PeanutsMom

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If being on the podium was a measure of success, my daughter would be considered a terrible gymnast. She practices great, gets terrible meet anxiety (being the one in the spotlight with all eyes on her). She was rarely in the top 5 as a compulsory. She medaled on floor a lot in level 5. Level 6 she came home with 2 medals the entire year (bars)...But she is gaining skills and confidence. She was level 6 last year, has moved up to level 7 this year, and is already doing level 8 bar and floor skills (I think a FLO FLO is a level 8 floor pass)..anyway, my point being, there are lots of struggles in gymnastics. Kids grow, bodies change shape. What may have been easy one year can suddenly become more difficult if body shape changes. You know how many girls had their cast handstands prior to COVID shutdowns, but grew 3 inches and got curves over the closure and now can't do it consistently? There are so many factors that come into play. If your daughter is happy, then let it be. Winning isn't always about being on the podium. Winning can mean lots of different things. My husband and I have always told our daughter this is her journey. We will cheer her on and support her as long as she wants to do it. Her success is measured by her smile and her desire to be in the gym.
 

txgymfan

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This forum is why we still have The Chalk Bucket. Thank you to the loyal members and staff for sticking with us during this strange year. We all need all of the support we can get within the sport and outs of it.

CLgym, thank you for reaching out and listening to our experienced members. This year is frustrating for everyone in so many ways.
 

MILgymFAM

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My daughter and I were hiking in the forest the other day and she randomly said that she is so glad she was a terrible gymnast when she first started, and even more glad that she didn’t even have the knowledge to realize it. She went on to explain what a blessing it actually was to not medal at all her first couple of years. She said it ended up teaching her to love the sport for the right reasons, and made every later medal shine a little brighter in her eyes- and made it easier to push through and continue when things got hard again later.

Your daughter shot through quickly and maybe now she just needs the time to catch up- and that ok because it’s definitely not a race. I totally get how you feel. My younger daughter struggled so much that she ended up leaving the sport (she also started out doing great and moving up fast and then hit a brick wall). When I was around other parents I would feel the need to explain or be embarrassed at her struggles- what I should’ve been was embarrassed that I cared so much. She now struggles with new things as a ballerina and I’m very careful to always just be excited with her progress and her joy of dancing. My older daughter is still trucking with gymnastics despite not “moving up” any levels in years.. she says she’ll do it as long as her body allows it and the rest is just background noise.
 

MuggleMom

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You know when you are reading reviews of something online and it seems like its all negative? I often think to myself its because you are more motivated to go back and write something if your upset in those situations. I think for gymnastics its the opposite problem. All you tend to see are these amazing success stories of little prodigies getting skills extremely quickly (not on here as much but def in other places). I think its because its easier to come and talk about things when they are going well. My daughter had a rough year last year and I had to take a step back from some of the forums or facebook stuff because at the time it felt like everyone but my daughter was doing great and on the right track. Thats alot of internalized pressure for us parents. Not everyone is ok....and that is ok! Maybe she has found her happy little niche and it may not be what you once thought it was but focus on her outlook and use that as your guide. You got this!
 

MILgymFAM

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I just wanted to add- it’s also totally ok to step back as needed to keep yourself in check. I tend to not participate in ballet mom forums overly much because they tend to make me feel negative feelings- that my daughter doesn’t have the body type or is behind the dancers who got pointe shoes as baby gifts (I joke) instead of for her 15th birthday like my daughter. I have to actively pull back and remind myself that no matter how amazing all those other girls are, my daughter is doing amazing things too... even if the path is slightly different.
 

CLgym

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@Mish -- I am sorry to hear your daughter is going through something similar, although it helps to know I'm not alone. I have been trying not to talk/push too much about gymnastics with my DD, but am embarrassed to admit I am not always successful. It definitely helps not to watch the livestream!

It's interesting because my DD really hasn't hit puberty or a big growth spurt yet. She grew about 2 inches between age 11 and 12 (pretty typical for her), and hasn't had any noticeable body changes quite yet. So the regression can't be explained away by puberty. I suspect there is a mental/fear component, particularly on beam. But also some physical limitations. No major injuries either (although some aches and pains).

@profmom -- I remember following your daughter's story through the years. It is super encouraging that she has continued to find joy in the gym! I have suggested Xcel to my DD, but she is not interested right now. I think part of her enjoyment of gymnastics comes from the friends in her group. Although, as others progress and she is held back, that might change.

@PeanutsMom -- In retrospect, my original post focused too much on scores. I used them as shorthand to show progress was being made up to L7. I definitely don't measure my DD's success by scores or even skill acquisition. But what we are going through now is just brutal, and has nothing to do with the podium. Basic skills are just gone. It's like a truck stuck in mud -- and the more you spin your wheels, the deeper you get into the mud.

@txgymfan -- It's good to be back! This thread is proving to be therapeutic for me
 

CLgym

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@MILgymFAM - I knew I could count on you for some pearls of wisdom! This hit the nail on the head for me: "When I was around other parents I would feel the need to explain or be embarrassed at her struggles- what I should’ve been was embarrassed that I cared so much." I think my need for reassurance right now (and the reason behind my post), is that I am anxious about the meets when DD's struggles will be on full display and the new (younger, first time) L8's will blow her away. I have never had a problem with repeating levels, particularly this year with COVID breaks, but to repeat and do worse across all events feels yucky. In a vacuum, I have come to terms with DD's gym journey, for better or worse. My husband and I spent a lot of time discussing whether we wanted to continue to invest our family's time and resources in gymnastics, but concluded that as long as DD was happy then we were too. Unfortunately, the very nature of meets, comparing one gymnast against another, makes it difficult to stay in that vacuum.

@MuggleMom - Yes to everything you said! And thanks for your cheerleading at the end - I can definitely use the encouragement
 

gymisforeveryone

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Having trouble with cast to handstand, yurchenko timer and beam series are usually good indicators of gymnast having a growth spurt. Most of my gymnasts learned those skills pretty fast, then entered puberty and had a little growth spurt and the center of mass in their body changed and those skills became hard. Beam series are scary, and when they grow, the back handspring might feel a little different than it used to be, which makes them think it's "off", which makes them scared to connect it. That's normal. Cast to handstands require good timing and technique and when they grow, they have to adjust their timing and technique. That might take time. Also, they get frustrated, because that's an "easy skill" that they used to have and they think that they are suddenly really bad gymnasts and even all the little kids can do them no problem, which leads them to believing that they suck and not even wanting to try to hit the handstand most of the time, because they don't want to fail. Yurchenko timers are also highly technical and even a little change in the run and round off can lead to very different entry to the table, and when the entry is bad, you can't flip even if you wanted to. And that usually happens at one point, because again their center of mass has changed a bit. Yurchenkos can also be scary like the beam series, because you are going backwards towards a stationary object and your round off feels a little of, so to save your head from hitting the table you might want to throw your head back to see the table earlier.

She's still young and probably has many years of physical growth ahead of her. so this might just be the first time she's starting to feel the effects of her body changing. When girls have not yet hit puberty they usually grow slow so they have plenty of time to adjust, and also the skills that they usually do pre-puberty are pretty simple and easy and not very scary, so the optional levels are usually where most of the gymnasts have their first real struggles.

So don't worry, she will get through it :)
 

CLgym

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Also, they get frustrated, because that's an "easy skill" that they used to have and they think that they are suddenly really bad gymnasts and even all the little kids can do them no problem, which leads them to believing that they suck and not even wanting to try to hit the handstand most of the time, because they don't want to fail.

^^ This is spot on with where my daughter was mentally most of the summer/fall. She was (still is? I've stopped watching) avoiding anything that would identify her inability to complete skills she's had for years. For example, at bars she would spend most of her time working bail stations/drills (something new for everyone) rather than work on pirouettes (which would highlight her lacking cast to handstand). Before I stopped watching, I would see her skip stations, or wait for a turn only to give it up to the girl behind her. She has an amazing ability to look busy while doing nothing (need help moving a mat? she's your girl). Of course, this resulted in things going from bad to worse. I did talk to the coaches, who also suggested a growth spurt. But, if I'm being honest, she doesn't appear to have had a big growth spurt yet and is only in the very early stages of puberty.
 

gymgal

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Everyone has given such good input already. I feel you already know what you need to do (no worry so much about it) but knowing and doing are completely different and that's the big struggle. I would say to just let your dd take the lead here. Yes, it sucks to sit back and watch them struggle and then as parents to see it at the meets as well but it is her journey and if she still feels that gymnastics is beneficial to to her, that's all that matters. Also - these lock downs caused a lot of girls to lose skills, grow, develop fears, etc. which is completely normal. How she is dealing with it may just be different than her teammates - as you said, she is avoiding certain skills instead of trying harder to get them back. Doesn't mean she won't get them back but it just may take longer.

My dd struggled in the lower levels, did well in platinum/7 - though her skill fears and performance anxiety increased here and never went away - and then she struggled again in 8-10. We had frequent discussions regarding whether she was still feeling positive about gymnastics in general and she always wanted to continue so we supported that. That's not to say everything was all roses. She had a lot of bad rides home. For a long while, my most used comment was "you will get it when your mind and body is ready". Initially, she hated it but over time, I think it really helped her to understand that she could get the skill or confidence but she had to be patient.

As for your old gym and a specific body type - try to erase that from your memory. It is hogwash. I have seen all body types over the last 10+ years both in developmental programs and in college.

For growth spurts - it is not just height. She could be gaining a little weight which is completely normal but will affect her abilities. It can also be the hormones behind the scene that are revving up, causing changes in bones/muscles/tendons - not to mention all that go with those hormones, which often is an increase in fears and decrease in confidence.
 

Tigtimes

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First you are not alone by a long shot. We have been around awhile and I would say age 11 is a tough one. My kid was a disaster. Looking back now growth is not only physical but often mental and I would say mine had a mental growth spurt then - suddenly there is fear and doubt and confidence issues. Skills suddenly disappear and then what I would call the plague would set in - trouble on one event would bleed to others till at some points everything went lost. First year level 8 (now age 12/13) was a roller coaster of losing then gaining back skills, she pulled it together at the end and qualified to regionals and placed well. Summer before 9 was great and then the plague again. So level 8 was repeat mostly because of bars fear and bars were her best event. Second year was a total regression, add in the growth spurt of 3” and it was messy. It was a good 2 years constantly losing everything and I mean everything - giants, beam series, simple floor skill— and then she would crawl back up. It was an exhausting time to parent but not once did she not want to go to practice even when she did her best to avoid things and the tears would be many.

So now the light at the end of the tunnel. Something changed, maybe it is maturity (just turned 15), maybe she has adjusted to her new 5” taller body but really I think it is that her brain finally finished its mental growth spurt. since returning from shut down new skills (even some level 10 ones) are coming fast and easy. The fears and doubts have subsided and those that remain do not cause havoc but are overcome quickly. So hang in there things will level out, it may take a while but your daughter sounds very talented and is still very young. You hang in there too, remember to breathe each day. It is a journey this whole thing !
 

PeanutsMom

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Having trouble with cast to handstand, yurchenko timer and beam series are usually good indicators of gymnast having a growth spurt. Most of my gymnasts learned those skills pretty fast, then entered puberty and had a little growth spurt and the center of mass in their body changed and those skills became hard. Beam series are scary, and when they grow, the back handspring might feel a little different than it used to be, which makes them think it's "off", which makes them scared to connect it. That's normal. Cast to handstands require good timing and technique and when they grow, they have to adjust their timing and technique. That might take time. Also, they get frustrated, because that's an "easy skill" that they used to have and they think that they are suddenly really bad gymnasts and even all the little kids can do them no problem, which leads them to believing that they suck and not even wanting to try to hit the handstand most of the time, because they don't want to fail. Yurchenko timers are also highly technical and even a little change in the run and round off can lead to very different entry to the table, and when the entry is bad, you can't flip even if you wanted to. And that usually happens at one point, because again their center of mass has changed a bit. Yurchenkos can also be scary like the beam series, because you are going backwards towards a stationary object and your round off feels a little of, so to save your head from hitting the table you might want to throw your head back to see the table earlier.

She's still young and probably has many years of physical growth ahead of her. so this might just be the first time she's starting to feel the effects of her body changing. When girls have not yet hit puberty they usually grow slow so they have plenty of time to adjust, and also the skills that they usually do pre-puberty are pretty simple and easy and not very scary, so the optional levels are usually where most of the gymnasts have their first real struggles.

So don't worry, she will get through it :)
This is so true!! My daughter was a 4'6" 5th grader when COVID closures it. She was the tiniest one on the team. Now she is 4'9" and her vault is literally making her mad every practice! Her steps always feel "off" and she misses her vault. Her legs grew even more than the rest of her so her run keeps changing and boy is that Yurchenko timer the bane of her existence right now. Luckily her giants, cast handstand, and her beam series actually improved, but man is vault another story. She has been doing that vault for 18 months now and she thinks it should be better than it is. Really she is just having to adjust everything to this new "taller" body she has grown into. (she is still the smallest of her age group by several inches).
 
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ldw4mlo

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DD still likes going to the gym most days. She has good friends there, and is almost always able to find small signs of progress. However, not gonna lie, it is pretty painful. Feels like banging your head against the wall. And DD does suffer from anxiety (treated with meds). I often wonder if the gym is contributing to anxiety-related behaviors exhibited at home (e.g., trouble sleeping, somatic complaints).
But I am sort of dreading the start of meet season.
Covid times in general could be contributing to anxiety as could your stress.

You spent a long time talking about your take on things....

Her take, in the brief time you mentioned is she likes going to gym mostly.

You feel how you feel, that’s not right or wrong, it just is. More importantly is she ok with the situation? Seems like she is. So let it go....

For me the best part of this year is even if we get to a meet, it’s just not worth stressing. Covid has taught me that what was previously expected, not so much anymore
 

CLgym

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@ldw4mlo — I wish I could dig into my daughter’s feelings more, but she keeps a lot hidden behind a very thick shell. She absolutely does not want to talk gymnastics with me (or anyone as far as I can tell). She has periods during which a suspiciously high number of headaches or stomachaches keep her from practice. And engages in a lot of avoidance behaviors in the gym. So it’s hard to for me to know exactly what’s going on. But, yes, you are correct: When asked directly she says she wants to continue gymnastics.

@Tigtimes - Thank you for sharing your “light at the end of tunnel” story. A little hope goes a long way!

@gymgal - Great perspective. Did you ever question your daughter’s stated love of gymnastics? I sometimes wonder if, for my DD, it’s the friendships and personal identity as a gymnast (more than the sport itself) that keep her going back for more. For example, she zero interest in backyard gymnastics or even watching it on TV. Oh, and interesting take on preteen “growth” being about more than inches! Thanks
 
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