For Parents How to Get my 11 YO Daughter into Xcel to compete?

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Hopeful_Xcel_Mom

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Apr 5, 2022
11
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Gymnastics feels a little exclusive – like I’m struggling to break in! My daughter started rec classes Sept 2019, when she was 8 and has done well. I’d love for her to join a team. I asked & was told they’d evaluate her. She can do:
• Handstand
• Split
• Front & back hip circles on bar
• Cartwheel & round-off
• Bridge kickover
She can also walk amusingly far on her hands! They want her to also have:
• Back handspring
• Kipping pullup

That should be achievable by September, shouldn’t it? She just turned 11 last month & is small for her age, which I suppose that’s an advantage. So now, I want to have her in classes/ coached to help her meet those milestones so she can compete with Xcel Bronze this fall.

I tried classes a 2nd day each week. Another location has a class exclusively back handspring class, so I signed her up…. The girls were all STANDING STILL probably 40-50% of the hour. I don’t find that acceptable. Meanwhile, the numerous older girls in the gym were moving near constantly.
Ugh… how we break in?

I’m NOT asking for her to be let on to a team when she lacks the requisite skills! But she’s ~85% of the way there now. I’d like coaches to teach her those last skills & if she’s able to learn what they teach, then she should qualify for the team. Is that a reasonable expectation?
 

CuriousCate

Proud Parent
Jul 12, 2016
643
You don't actually need a back hand spring or a kip for bronze (don't even need a kip for silver) but each gym has their own requirements for team levels. Personally, I have never seen a kid get a kip on their own with good form - I've only seen it accomplished while already on a team, getting the higher reps in. I'm sure that it has happened and that others may have eamples of this, but it is a finicky skill to nail timing. I'm surprised they want a kip before even getting on a team. Are there other gyms to consider? Or could you get her some private tumbling lessons to get the back handspring?
 

Gymx2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
808
With her current skills I would think she'd be ready to do Bronze in any Xcel program, but I don't know what your gym requires. If it seems to be difficult to join Xcel at this particular gym I would look around at a few others in your area and have her do a tryout or two at nearby gyms. Good luck!
 
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LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
125
She would be very ready for Bronze by USAG standards, another gym might be an option. Your gym's standards for Xcel Bronze seem awfully tough. Back handsprings and kips often come more slowly than previously learned skills. Both require spotting/verbal corrections/coach involvement. Those are difficult requirements before making any team, Xcel or DP. I have seen kids compete without a kip until Xcel Platinum. While I don't want you to uproot to another gym for any reason, sometimes requirements to move up levels with be more of a hinderance than a help for your child. If she is not progressing on those skills in her normal class times, it may be time to look elsewhere.
 

Carly

Proud Parent
Jan 3, 2016
261
I agree with all of the previous responses. When you asked the coach, did you say Xcel or just team? Maybe they were thinking you were asking about level 3 but you don't even need a kip until level 4. I hope that they meant a pullover on bars and not a kip. In general it takes girls a long time to get the kip. They usually start working on it while they are level 3s and really focus on it after the competition season is over so they have it when the level 4 season starts. These girls are typically practicing 8-12 hours a week.
Do they have a pre-team program at the gym? I think most gyms have a pre-team program where they work to get the required skills and then are invited to team right before summer practices start.
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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You are absolutely right, gymnastics is a very exclusive world.

Most gyms are picky about who they put on their teams. They look for kids with a very particular set of physical traits, generally athletically choosing Kids In the top percentage of physical strength, flexibility and speed.

Many gyms are also quite exclusive about their choices based on factors like age, personality etc.

Its possible that they aren’t intending on choosing her, but know that it would not be popular to tell parents they are not taking her for something like age etc. So they set requirements that are not really achievable.

Though not impossible, we have had once a week red kids get their kips before.
 

Dahlia

Proud Parent
Sep 27, 2013
324
Are there other gyms near you? You might want to call around and ask about the xcel program at those and see about a tryout.
 

Hopeful_Xcel_Mom

New Member
Apr 5, 2022
11
44
I get it, but the thing is, my daughter is thin, flexible, small for her age, and fairly strong (her core especially.) She's a bit timid (i.e. she goes along with the group) but obedient to coaches.
The only attributes I could see are detrimental is that she doesn't have a "fierceness" to her - a competitive streak to be bold & strive to win. (Again, she can be timid). But she does what she's told. (Ha, but teachers & coaches, not quite as much her parents!)

All in all, it seems extremely reasonable to me that she could at least get an initial shot on an intro-team. And from there, yes, she'd have to perform to earn a spot in higher levels.
 

Hopeful_Xcel_Mom

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Apr 5, 2022
11
44
YEAAH! I'm so encouraged by all your posts!

Honestly, location #3 that said kip & BHS were required for Bronze was a long drive. & yes, it was clear we were talking about Xcel because she said we could do levels as well, but the # she said my daughter would be at (I forget what #) was all girls around 7-8 years old, so she'd probably feel a bit awkward.

Location #1 (where she normally goes), basically said, "Hmph, yeah, she's prob good for Bronze," but their apathy was a turnoff, TBH. If you see a student with potential, wouldn't you at least ASK the student or parent about their interest in competing?
(There are other things I'm not super happy with, like they have almost no way to watch practices - tiny window in the door only. And they STILL to this day have some wacko Covid restrictions, like no water fountains. And they just got rid of masks like 3 weeks ago.)

Finally, location #2 (Where she's taking BHS class), responded to my initial inquiry with, "Tryouts are by invite only."
Like... dang! I felt shunned! Thankfully, that person cc'd a colleague on her email, who followed up to say they'll put my DD on a list so she can try out. That's when I asked about clinics & they told me about BHS class.

Last night in BHS Class, they were moving a lot more and she mastered back walkover for the first time! :) It was so nice to watch her & see her surprised smile as she did it!!
 
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GymAir

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Aug 28, 2018
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I read the original post as a kipping pull-up as opposed to a strict pull-up, but either way pull-ups are part of the strength needed for a kip.
 

gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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I read the original post as a kipping pull-up as opposed to a strict pull-up, but either way pull-ups are part of the strength needed for a kip.
this is the way I read it as well, not that a kip was required but after people started posting, I thought maybe I misinterpreted.
 

Carly

Proud Parent
Jan 3, 2016
261
Just an fyi because you mentioned that location 3 would put her with girls around ages 7-8: girls are placed in gymnastics levels for team (Xcel and JO/DP) based on ability not age. However, the ages can vary widely from gym to gym.

Hope that you can find a gym where your dd will be on the team!
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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I get it, but the thing is, my daughter is thin, flexible, small for her age, and fairly strong (her core especially.) She's a bit timid (i.e. she goes along with the group) but obedient to coaches.
The only attributes I could see are detrimental is that she doesn't have a "fierceness" to her - a competitive streak to be bold & strive to win. (Again, she can be timid). But she does what she's told. (Ha, but teachers & coaches, not quite as much her parents!)

All in all, it seems extremely reasonable to me that she could at least get an initial shot on an intro-team. And from there, yes, she'd have to perform to earn a spot in higher levels.
Being small for her age may not be what they are looking for.

Age can be a big factor, some gym would just not consider starting an 11 year old.

But personality factors can vary. Being obedient again isn’t always what they want. They may be looking for fearlessness, competitiveness, drive etc.

It can be all sorts of other factors too like attendance, paying the bills on time, muscle twitch speed, strength, flexibility, natural toe point, how quickly they take on corrections. Even just a personality that meshes well with the coach.

It can be factors totally outside your control, like how full the team is already.
 

BusyMomof2

New Member
Feb 2, 2022
38
43
In most parts of the US, meet season is almost over and gyms are looking at the teams for next year - who is moving up, staying where they are, new additions, etc.

If you have other options in your area, I would call to inquire about how to be evaluated/try out for Xcel Bronze, or even Silver. Some gyms are annoying about age and previous experience. The good news is that not all gyms are like that and hopefully you'll find one that is the right fit.

We live in a major metro area and there are lots of gyms we can go to, but the reason I love ours is because team is team. I hope you can find the same -- somewhere where age/height/past experience isn't the most important factor but instead a love for gymnastics is. Best of luck!
 

twinmomma

Proud Parent
Jun 13, 2013
1,191
California
Honestly, there's more than artistic out there. Especially for an 11 year old who hasn't already been on an artistic team yet. T&T (Tumbling and Trampoline) are a great option and so is Acro. You didn't say where you are, but if she loves gym and just wants to compete, I'd highly recommend both of those.
 

Hopeful_Xcel_Mom

New Member
Apr 5, 2022
11
44
girls are placed in gymnastics levels for team (Xcel and JO/DP) based on ability not age.
That makes perfect sense, but it's still a bummer for 2 reasons:
1. I wouldn't want her to feel like she's a failure - like in school, if you're an 11 YO with all 7-8 YOs, it would obviously be because you're "behind." I know it is NOT a failure, but I think she'd feel it is. She tends to be self-conscious in general anyway.
2. A big part of the reason I want her to compete is the camaraderie with other girls. Of course she can enjoy time with younger girls, but it's not as advantageous vs. being with her peers. A few years in elementary school kids can make a big diff.
All of that aside, most posters are saying she does seem to have the skills for Xcel Bronze, making me even less willing to compromise & put her in DP Level 2.
 

Hopeful_Xcel_Mom

New Member
Apr 5, 2022
11
44
Honestly, there's more than artistic out there.
Wait, what? There is?!? LOL, as I said, gymnastics seems confusing & exclusive & tough to break into! It took me a while to wrap my brain around the difference between Xcel & JO/DP (and I just yesterday learned that term for JO/DP from this board!)
I've inquired about DD "joining a team" at 3 gyms now and not a one has mentioned the existence of other types of teams.
Honestly, if I ask "Can my DD join a team?" & they HAVE other teams, why would they not say so?? That almost seems rude to not bother to clarify. (And yes, I went on the websites first to read up.)

Man, I really wish she just liked soccer, lacrosse, or basketball instead. This is starting to get irritating.
 

Hopeful_Xcel_Mom

New Member
Apr 5, 2022
11
44
Being small for her age may not be what they are looking for.
Well, 1 coach who evaluated her just said when puberty hits & girls get bigger they gain weight, of course, & have more weight to pull up - so the fact that she's still small means she has less weight to pull up vs. the average 11 YO. That was the advantage she mentioned, which made sense to me.
Age can be a big factor, some gym would just not consider starting an 11 year old.
:( You're confirming that I wasn't imagining it when I said gymnastics seems exclusive & tough to break into.

As I said in my other post, I really wish she just liked soccer, lacrosse, or basketball instead, because this is frustrating.

I can totally understand that if you want to compete at elite levels, you simply can't "start" at 11 or even 8... I get that. Pro dancers often start at 2 or 3 YO also.

But isn't that partly why Xcel exists? Because plenty of parents want their kids to compete for all the other benefits of team sports, and have no intentions of ever perusing NCAA or the Olympics?
Anyway, thanks for your insights, much appreciated!
 
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Dahlia

Proud Parent
Sep 27, 2013
324
Wait, what? There is?!? LOL, as I said, gymnastics seems confusing & exclusive & tough to break into! It took me a while to wrap my brain around the difference between Xcel & JO/DP (and I just yesterday learned that term for JO/DP from this board!)
I've inquired about DD "joining a team" at 3 gyms now and not a one has mentioned the existence of other types of teams.
Honestly, if I ask "Can my DD join a team?" & they HAVE other teams, why would they not say so?? That almost seems rude to not bother to clarify. (And yes, I went on the websites first to read up.)

Man, I really wish she just liked soccer, lacrosse, or basketball instead. This is starting to get irritating.
T&T and acro exist, but are way less common than artistic I don't know of any gyms near me that have these teams. I'm sure they exist, but most gyms don't have them plus artistic. It's highly likely the gyms you talked to do not have these as an option.
 
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