How many injuries are normal?

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Proud Parent
Feb 2, 2012
I have been fretting a bit about the number of injuries and the taking of risks at dd's gym and I really don't know if I should be, or if it just goes with the territory. I know there will always be some, but these kids are not competitive gymnasts working high level skills, they are a prety mixed ability bunch from age 6 and fairly small to some older more able girls. DD is 7 and pretty strong and tight so I try not to worry but I'm not sure...

There are two girls out of DD's class at the moment with fractures - arm and ankle.
Last session, on Saturday, four girls left the class because they hurt themselves - nothing major, but one fell awkwardly off the vault and hurt her neck, two fell on beam and hurt various bits and one had someone land on her head in the pit.
That same session DD was on bars and was being spotted by the coach's daughter (pretty sure she isn't a coach), who was 'just helping out'. Most of the time she was picking her nails while the kids dangled and wriggled and tried to pull over the high bar over one 6" crash mat. One of the mums was on the way down to suggest they put another mat down, but one of the other coaches luckily suggested it first. They had been at it for a good ten minutes by then though.
DD has also had someone land on her head in the pit and bitten through her tongue. They do all pile in without waiting for the person before to get out.
But what really started me thinking was that a few weeks ago my daughters group were on floor and another group in the background were on bars. One of the girls had a nasty fall from the bars. She jumped to high bar, swung up and peeled off, landing on her head/neck- paramedics, neck brace, spinal boarded out of there. Tough for the other kids to see. One of the other mums knew the girl in question and her comment - 'I hope it isn't her neck again, she's broken it once doing that'.
A couple of weeks later my dd did exactly the same thing, jumped and peeled, but luckily didn't really hurt herself. Coach was nowhere near. DD is 7 and has only just got that skill over the mat as opposed to the pit, but no-one was spotting her.
When just a few weeks later the kids are being spotted by an unqualified person, who doesn't seem to be paying attention, it gives me the impression that they don't worry too much about safety themselves.

One of the other parents said it's a standing joke that the paramedic stations himself just around the corner!

Does it sound, through the waffle, as though I should be worried, or are you just rolling your eyes and thinking 'what does she expect' because I can't tell. Maybe I'm just being silly?!
Find a new gym.
Pits need to have clear rules, no one should ever be 'jumped on' in a pit.
On of our BG members stated the other day that you have to be a qualified coach to spot kids.
If they are jumping between the bars at that age a coach should be standing in.

Why are they jumping between the bars... From what I have seen and read about the British level/grade system, kids at seven/eight are not required to do this. If kids are unable to do it safely then they should be working other skills till they are bigger and stronger.
I have never seen any gymnast land on their head and or neck in the way that you describe. Even if a child "has a skill" a coach is still there spotting for the younger girls on the vault and bars. Girls that are working independently on bars are doing a specific drill with appropriate mats.

I would be highly alarmed that so many girls repeatedly have falls resulting in head and neck injuries and nothing has changed. Yes, injuries can be a part of gymnastics, which should prompt the coaches to take every possible precaution to prevent them.

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I'd be taking my dd and finding a new gym . So many red flags in what you wrote. Just way too many terrible disasters about to happen. Health and safety would have a field day in that gym.
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OK I can't even count the number of RED FLAGS you described for "your kid is in a dangerous gym" Run don't walk to somewhere safe.
I gotta agree with most of the opinions previously stated. It seems that you have recounted a year's worth of accidents and near misses happening in a few? month's time. It could just be a run of bad luck or some crazy lunar phase making the kids crazy, well maybe. What concerns me is that there have been 3 med-evacs in such a short span. I also have to raise my eyebrows over your daughter's fall from the unevens doing the same thing as a team mate who also fell the same way a few weeks earlier. In a perfect world the coach would figure out why the child fell, and make changes to keep future kids safe. They don't have to stop teaching the skill, but they do need to start teaching the gymnast how to survive the skill. As a coach I feel it is my responsibility to learn from not just my own mistakes, but from the close calls and accidents my gymnasts expirience.
Check out the other gyms in your area. Do not share your mission's purpose with anyone, just go visit a gym to expirience the saftey ambience. Tell them you have a daughter may want to start gymnastics if your asked. Do tell them that all you want to do at this time is to observe, and thats all. Things to look for are discipline that keeps the kids attentive and under control. Are there groups that are way louder than needed, some is alright cuz ya gotta have fun and thats how kids do it. Do the coaches include informative safety warnings that are skill specific when presenting a new skill (any body knows not to fall down and not to miss the beam and don't go off the mat).
If you notice a big difference between DD's current gym and the others you visit, then you should change right away. You should also consider telling the gym director why you are moving your child. Maybe your words (gentle is best) will bring about a positive change.
Injuries happen occasionally at any gym.

I'd say this goes way beyond "occasionally," and what your describing sounds like a very unsafe gym.

I'd leave and never look back. Honestly, I probably wouldn't finish out the month, or even go to an additional practice. Just send them an e-mail saying "we're leaving, here's why, adios"
Thank you for your comments, you've reassured me that I'mnot overreacting and being an over protective mother. I'm not normally the typeto fuss or wrap them in cotton wool, but I realised at the weekend how anxiousI feel when I watch practice, which can't be right!
BTW these things have all happened in the last six weeks max, because that'swhen DD went in to that group.

The other parents seem ok about it (the odd jokey comment), which is why Iwondered if it was just me, but when I think about it there is very much aculture of not complaining or criticising because progression seems to relytotally on getting on with the gym owners, who I find quite scarey in any case.

Why are they practicing that skill? They do practice skills which are higherthan they will need for quite a while, like the jump to high bar, cartwheels onbeam and so on. I don't necessarily thinks that's a problem as long as the kidsare up to it and progressing at their pace, but all the girls work the sameskills over and over until they 'get them'. Once they have they are allowed topractice unspotted so the coach can focus on those who haven't got them. It’s abit of a conveyor belt. There is such a range of abilities, age, strength,maturity etc in the group and obviously it's also possible to get a skill oneweek and lose it again when they are not being spotted.

It's not only a safety thing it's getting to DD that when she does somethingwell there is never a coach watching. She landed three beautiful cartwheels onthe high beam last week and looked around after each one but no-one waslooking. She's only seven and my heart went out to her. After the third one shedropped off the beam and went to do something else :(

The coaches work really really hard. I can't get my head round how they managesuch a mixed class and help the ones who are struggling whilst allowing the strongerones to keep progressing. With certain skills I think it's fine to practice onyour own, but watching them do bars and beam without a spot gets my stomach alltied up in knots.

This is what I do, I try and talk myself round and justify it! But that's a lotof injuries and it's really good to get some other opinions from you. We'relooking at another gym tomorrow - here's hoping DD likes it.
BTW my English is fine, but somehow pasting it from word managed to joing a load of words together and make me look like an illiterate as well as over-protective mum !! :D
I think you should go and look elsewhere. It sounds like they are trying to do their best with a large and mixed group but that doesn't benefit your dd (or the other children who have been injured) Allowing children to jump into the pit on top on each other is appalling class control and is a really bad sign. If they can't control the children doing something so basic as waiting their turn then how can you trust them to coach properly for skills?

Did you fill out an accident form for your dd biting through her tongue when someone landed on her. If you didn't - run fast - they aren't even following BG accident requirements.
In 10 years of coaching I've seen about 5 broken toes, 10 ankle injuries (maybe 2 of them were broken and 3 or 4 of them were coaches) one 2 busted heads (one was my daughter and she basically hit her head while not doing any skills) 1 root canal, 3 or 4 bit tongues, and a couple of busted knees. Along with the bruises that come from falling on beam.
That's over a 10 year period of time so I'd say you've got a reason to be concerned. Sounds like the safety of some of the cheer gyms I've seen.
DD has also had someone land on her head in the pit and bitten through her tongue. They do all pile in without waiting for the person before to get out.

I am only a new gym mom and not an expert in gymnastics injury statistics, but this alone would send me looking for a new gym. Basic common sense dictates that you don't let kids jump on top of each other. Sure, accidents happen, but poor supervision is no accident.
Injuries do happen at every gym and that's normal. But injuries that occur due to neglect are unacceptable.
Smiles all round this morning - DD tried a new gym yesterday and loved it to bits. She had a great time, learned two new skills and massively improved another. I could hear the coach making lovely comments to the girls and everything was so tightly organised.
I felt so relieved as we left.
Interestingly, even though we have never voiced any of our concerns to her, so as not to worry or demoralise her, she said in the car "I liked that it felt like a very safe place". She's not daft my daughter!

Thanks for the nudge.
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Fabulous news. Our kids safety is number one, fun comes second in reality. SO glad she feels safe.
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