For Parents How much time does your young athlete spend training?

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kevchriswilli

Proud Parent
Sep 4, 2008
345
Dallas, TX
We are in a very competitive part of Texas... Most gyms train tons of hours around here...My level 6/7 newly 10 year old trains 3:30-7:30 M-Th, 3:30-7:00 Fri. and 8:00-12:00 Sat.... She gets out of school at 2:45, does homework and gets to the gym most days around 3:45. It is alot to swallow for me because she does not get hom most days until 8:00. Then it's dinner, bath, reading for 30 min. and bed. She is not much of a tv watcher (never has been) thankfully. This schedule is Level's 5's, 6's and any optional girls that do not go to 2 a days. Our 2 a days train 7-10/11 and then 3:30-5:30. Our level 4's train aroun 8-12 hours ( A very young group). I ask myself many a days... is it worth it.. but I have to let her follow her dreams until she says enough is enough. Oh yeah we do take days off when she needs it and never miss parties because of the gym.. I want her to have some life outside of the gym. :eek:

Oh yeah we have some great gymmies at our gym... One level 9 was Western Champion this year..
 

Granny Smith

Proud Parent
Jun 21, 2007
1,444
My dd is a 12 yr old level 8 gymnast. She is also in 7th grade at a catholic school. She goes to school until 3pm. She's in the gym 19 hrs a week. She goes M, T, and Th 4:30 - 8:30; F 4:30 - 7:30 and Sat 12-4pm. They used to do 20 hrs a week, but this yr dropped down to 19 and letting the girls go an hr earlier on Friday's. Dd goes the same amt of hrs that the L10s go, so this is the max for us/her. All but 3 of the girls (2 L6s and 1 elite) on team attend regular school. I think coach realizes that the girls do like to participate in some of the social aspects of school; therefore, letting them go a little early on Friday. I think coach is doing something right, she has produced L10 JO Nat'l champion, Nat'l team members and her gym is known very well on the college level. I think she realizes that a happy gymnast is a successful gymnast who wants to stay in the sport.

As for homework she does most of it at school. It is amazing to me how much free time she actually gets in school. She does not have a study hall, but when she gets a free 10/15 minutes here and there, she does her homework rather than talk to her friends. If she doesn't complete homework in school, she does it the moment she gets home until we leave for gym, because she normally doesn't get home from gym until about 9pm - then she eats dinner. Gym has definitely taught my dd time mgt and I do believe she is as good of a student that she is because of this sport. Her trimester at school is about to end on Friday and her lowest grade is a 92, which she is shooting for a 93 then she will have straight A's. I can't complain... :D

In addition to being a level 8 gymnast, dd also plays on a competitive travel soccer team. This yr she is basically just playing in tournaments, but she is still a member of the team and practices on W, the night she doesn't have gym. This yr, she has choosen gym as her first commitment, so she can only play soccer when it doesn't interfere with gym. This is only possible because my dh coaches the soccer team, but it has allowed dd the ability to still do something else other than gym, which most girls her level can not do because of the gym requirements.

As for friends and hanging out, well her best friend is also on team with her and she does plenty of sleepovers and such. Dd is a social butterfly who is far more active than her parents would ever be! ;)
 
Nov 5, 2007
663
My daughter is 10 training for level 9 and pre elite.She trains 4 hrs pre elite and 13.5 hrs optional.Total of 17.5hrs.Ofcourse more hrs are available but at this time just does not fit into our budget.Maybe after this season.
The gyms program is well organized and there is no standing around in practice.
We homeschool.So no homework but we use the time driving to the gym for reading.This was the first year we homeschooled and she has more time now outside the gym.


It seems like my daughter does fine even with less hrs than the other girls on her team.
I"m also concerned about burnout.
 
M

msl529

My dd is 12yrs old, L6. Monday though Friday 3:30-6:30 (15 hrs). Our Compulsories compare about midway thru the scoresheets at meets, on average.

Our HC's rule: "Family first, school second, gym last". We don't 'rock' the competitions we go to, but the girls have nice form, and are having fun at gym w/ positive, realistic coaching.

We have been (previously) at a 'hold-back' gym that trained harder & more hours. DD had fun her year there, but that gym lost a good number of compulsory girls every year because #1: They had overuse injuries; #2: They got bored doing 2 (or more) years per compulsory level & saw they were going to be on a LONG haul to get to Optionals.

We like our current 'middle-ground'!:)
 

momof5

Proud Parent
Oct 26, 2007
375
Definately be careful not just to use scores to judge whether a team is better. My dd old gym won alot of competions and consistently placed girls in the top 3 all-around. But out of a team of 20 girls in L4 last year 7 were repeaters. I am sure that the old team will smoke dd's new team this year too. This year the old gym has 6 girls repeating L4.
 
T

TeamDad

I asked all the team girls what they have for breakfast on meet days. It turns out that the girls that have pancakes consistently score higher than the girls who eat eggs:rolleyes:
 
Sep 27, 2007
105
My dd is L7, 11yo and right now trains 15 hours---after Christmas she will eventually move to 36 hours. Her gym adds the new hours slowly. She does a significant amount of uptraining and is also on an elite track. She attends a school that allows this type of training--so school is not an issue. She manages friends outside of gym--but she would be quick to tell you her gym friends are her friends. It works for us right now--it will be up to her if it works for the long term.
 
36 hours?! Wow. These kids are working harder them me, and I get paid for what I do. (somewhat embarassing really) Allow me to slink back under my desk while I finish this post. :)

Really great feedback in this thread. Thanks folks!


So from what I can gather:
L3-L5, averages anywhere from 4-14 hours a week. The number of hours is really up to each individual school policy. There doesn't seem to be much empirical athletic rational for the wide swings in hours. It just is, what it is.

- L6 starts to get standardized with Avg's 12-16 hours/wk almost across the board.

- L7 (and higher) is 16+ hours/week being somewhat standard with optional 'open' gym too. At this level, there is little question about the level of dedication. I'm sure there arn't enough hours in the day for some of these girls.

REALLY good points about friends being: "the other girls at the gym".

I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. And since we live a rural sub-division (with few other kids around), For Nastia to have more time with friends while training... that's a good thing. :) Maybe she'll come further out of her shell.
 
G

GymmomOR1127

I asked all the team girls what they have for breakfast on meet days. It turns out that the girls that have pancakes consistently score higher than the girls who eat eggs:rolleyes:

Team Dad - That is so funny! Our gym coach last year used to tell the girls to eat spaghetti and mashed potatoes for breakfast:)! We had a girl at one meet that scored 37.95 and she swears it was the spaghetti and mashed potatoes!
 
Nov 6, 2008
39
Midwest
Tim_Dad:

When my daughter was younger, 3rd - 5th grade, having her friends be her gym mates was fine. As she entered Jr. High, it became important for her to have friends in the school setting. They need a balance between the 2 in order to "fit in' and be included.

Your numbers seem right on for what I see in our area. I think the optionals need around 16 hrs a week. One thing not discussed is the need for a consistent flexibility/conditioning program. The gyms that go longer hours due to placing an emphasis on this portion would be a good thing. Your comment on girls quitting at 12/13 can in part be related to a higher need for this. Strength/weight ratio is really important and this age sees a lot of changes in their body, etc. Also, injuries can occur more often during stages of growth. Although this appears to be common knowledge among most coaches, I am unsure how many keep this in mind when setting up training for that age group.
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,841
North Carolina
DD is finishing L3, she goes 6 hours per week (some of the L3's do 4 hrs and some do 6). She will move to L4 in mid-December and she will go to 9 hours per week. Level 5 and up are 12 hours.

we are in a small gym, the girls do well at meets.
 

Granny Smith

Proud Parent
Jun 21, 2007
1,444
Your numbers seem right on for what I see in our area. I think the optionals need around 16 hrs a week. One thing not discussed is the need for a consistent flexibility/conditioning program. The gyms that go longer hours due to placing an emphasis on this portion would be a good thing. Your comment on girls quitting at 12/13 can in part be related to a higher need for this. Strength/weight ratio is really important and this age sees a lot of changes in their body, etc.

Just thought that I would add based on the above, that with dd going 19 hrs a week they do 5 rotations (with the exception of Friday, because she is only there 3 hrs, on Friday they do 4 rotations). The 5th rotation (roughly 45 minutes to an hour) is conditioning. They have a set amount of things they must do during conditioning and if they do not finish during the rotation, they must come back at the end of practice and finish what they have left. I agree with the PP that strength is extremely important, especially with their growing bodies....
 
N

nettyinpa

My dd is 7yo and a Level 5. She's in the gym 12 1/2 hours a week, that includes 3 1/2 hours on Saturday mornings. They also get 45 minutes of dance with that and they do spend 45-60 minutes, 2x a week conditioning. I honestly don't mind the Saturday morning practices. It's better than another weeknight out, IMHO. As far as homework goes she does it in the car on the way home. She's only in 2nd grade and usually only has 1-2 pages. We check it when we get home and she's off to bed. I also pack a dinner for her so she can eat as soon as she comes off the floor. She loves being in the gym and sees that, a lot of the time, as her 'play' time. However, we do try to make sure that on her off nights and on weekends she's doing something fun either at home with us, or out with her friends. Once she starts complaining about going to gym, that's it, she's done. When it's not fun anymore there's no need for her to be there. But, honestly, I don't see it happening! :)
 

Mom2Gymgirls

Proud Parent
Jul 25, 2008
293
Midwest
Tim_Dad:

Your numbers seem right on for what I see in our area. I think the optionals need around 16 hrs a week. One thing not discussed is the need for a consistent flexibility/conditioning program. The gyms that go longer hours due to placing an emphasis on this portion would be a good thing. Your comment on girls quitting at 12/13 can in part be related to a higher need for this. Strength/weight ratio is really important and this age sees a lot of changes in their body, etc. Also, injuries can occur more often during stages of growth. Although this appears to be common knowledge among most coaches, I am unsure how many keep this in mind when setting up training for that age group.

I agree with you on this. Our gym trains fewer hours than a few others in our area, but I also think that the girls don't get enough conditioning.
L4 - 6 hrs, 3x week
L5 - 9 hrs, 3x week
L6/7 - 10.5 hrs, 3x week
I'm not as sure about optionals. L8 goes 4 days a week, and I think L9/10 go 5 days per week, but anywhere from 15-19 hours.

Our gym does well at meets, but from what I can tell there is not much time spent uptraining until after the state meet for the compulsory levels. Plus, my opinion is that conditioning is not would it could/should be. I think that if the girls had an extra half hour of practice a day that they would get that much stronger. DD #2 is tall for her age, and every time she would go through a growth spurt, which was frequently, it would kill her on bars. Her muscles just couldn't keep up.
 
B

bpatient

. . . . I'm seeing young athletes aged 8-12, who claim to be training 20+ hours a week - and are in L4-7.

I can understand that much time being needed for L8 and up, but L4-7??? Something doesn't sound right to me.

I don't mean this critically (I can hardly cast stones, since my L9 daughter trains 12 hours a week--quite a lot for a sixth grader in a kid's sport), but I think it's interesting that parents so easily accept long training hours for their children.

Here's a statement from a group of scientists that have studied the gymnasts in the European and World Championships for some years: Among the junior and senior female athletes at those events, the authors comment that, on average, those elite athletes ". . . are trained much more intensely today than previously, usually 26-28 h/wk compared to 15 h during the seventies and 20 h during the eighties." (J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Nov;90(11):6022-7) I wonder what's the point of allowing even young children to devote as much time to training as world-class athletes used to train?

I can understand this for elite-track athletes: Gymnastics clearly rewards long and intensive training hours. But why, really, is it important for most kids to train for so long? Half of those Level 4 or 5 kids won't make it to Level 6. About 85% of female gymnasts leave the sport before they leave middle school. What are the real benefits, and what are the costs, of long training hours for the overwhelming majority of kids who join a gymnastics team?
 
Jul 12, 2007
967
I don't mean this critically (I can hardly cast stones, since my L9 daughter trains 12 hours a week--quite a lot for a sixth grader in a kid's sport), but I think it's interesting that parents so easily accept long training hours for their children.

I don't mean to cast stones either, but without the proper conditioning a L9 needs (and can not get with only 12 hours a week), I would think this could be as dangerous as overtraining.
 
B

bpatient

I don't mean to cast stones either, but without the proper conditioning a L9 needs (and can not get with only 12 hours a week), I would think this could be as dangerous as overtraining.

While your statement would undoubtedly be true of most gymnastics programs, it happens that my child is coached by someone who has unusual expertise in optimally conditioning gymasts, as that was the subject of his Ph.D. thesis. Despite her limited training hours, my dd is very well conditioned--but I accept that, say, her Pak salto would be much cleaner if she trained twice as many hours. However, when her coach some years ago asked if we would consider longer hours in an elite track, I emphatically indicated that I did want dd to be elite, but academically elite. Like other parents, my wife and I try to help our kid choose how to spend her time to her greatest benefit.
 
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