For Parents I have a question.. (Team Selection Criteria)

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mom2newgymnast

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Jul 8, 2014
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This is something I've been wondering for a while, but I've been worried about asking because I fear it might be controversial and I'm kind of thin-skinned. And it's a bit of a spin off of some recent posts, although not in response to any specific post..

Why it is so bad for a gym to be selective, have age limits, have form/scoring requirements to move up, etc? Whenever a gym that does any of those things is talked about, it's usually portrayed as a strong negative. But why really? Don't most sports have teams/clubs/leagues/whatever they are harder to get on than others? What is wrong with a gym focusing on a team that they feel could win at states or compete in college or qualify elite for example? Why is that a bad goal for a gym?

Now, I'm going to add some clarifications, before I get completely downvoted. I'm not saying that they should kick someone off team because they had a bad meet, mental block, injury or whatever. And I'm not saying that they should ONLY care about winning and hold their gymnasts back to win or train excessively or whatever. I believe that is wrong personally. And I do understand, as a parent, being peeved if my child wasn't accepted on a team because they were too old or they were told they had bad form or something similar. I would probably be pretty upset in the moment.

But I don't really think a gym is wrong for not accepting a child on their team if they don't fit their criteria. It IS a business and if their business goal is to try and get the most athletes to college for example, should they have to accept everyone that tries out even if they know that isn't realistic for that child? For example, if they tell them they are too old for their DP team, but they can join Xcel or the rec team, why is that so wrong of a gym? Most teams have size limits so they can effectively coach the athletes they have, so it's not really realistic to just accept everyone. Thoughts?
 

Tigtimes

Proud Parent
May 12, 2015
256
Loaded question. Was going to reply anonymously but couldn’t figure out how. I don’t see a problem if those standards are told up front and realistic expectations remain. We tried a gym that is how you state above, I respected their directness and openness on their process and expectations. Did I agree with all of them, no, but knew what it would be going in so I couldn’t fault it. We ended up not staying due to the commute distance not because of their standards.

I can see how these things can get very complicated though especially for members who start there but then no longer meet the expectations in their opinion. Guessing the stress levels at these types of gyms are high for the long term. there is a sense of arrogance they exuded that did honestly bother me but again we knew that going in.
 

JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
7,318
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Why it is so bad for a gym to be selective, have age limits, have form/scoring requirements to move up, etc? Whenever a gym that does any of those things is talked about, it's usually portrayed as a strong negative. But why really?

Excellent question... I am super interested to read all the responses here...

Bill Hader Popcorn GIF by Saturday Night Live
 

gym_dad32608

Proud Parent
Aug 7, 2018
365
53
I think these things are cyclical and with the recent history scandals of USAG, the competitive mindset is definitely out of favor. In its apex, we get the win at all costs, chew em up and spit em out Karoyli et.al. Now we are swinging towards the "everybody wins/all are welcome, let the athletes decide" mindset. So it is very out of favor to imply a focus is on being competitively successful and winning. But I agree, with OP. Nothing wrong with it done correctly. I also think there has been lines blurred about what the DP program really is intended for.
 

MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
809
Virginia
I think it matters most when it comes to accessibility of the sport. This is a children's sport and realistically 99% of them are not going to the Olympics. I don't think it needs to be "everybody wins" but I think there should be a level of inclusiveness so kids can have opportunity. Maybe everybody can't last or can't advance but sometimes kids are told they can't even try and that is where I have a problem. In areas where there are lots of gyms I dont think some gyms having the "higher standards" for team are an issue as long as they are transparent about it because then parents can pick the program that is right for their kid, but sometimes if there is one gym in town and they wont let your 10 year old even think about being on a team thats just sad to me.

I think some parents get preachy about higher standards being a bad thing (and I know I can be vocal about this) because their kid would likely have been pushed out of gym because of inflated standards when they could otherwise be a very successful gymnast. I know if my kid had been required to hit super high scores, or have some specific beam skills she would have been left behind and/or quit and she is thriving now in optionals. I wonder how many other kids are thriving because they were given a chance, and how many were unfairly pushed out of the sport. Once again when there are lots of available gyms this isnt as big an issue, you move on and find one that gives your kid opportunity to maximize their specific potential. This happens where we are located alot we have had kids come from other gyms and girls leave for other gyms because of gym philosophy and fit etc. maybe they want a more strict experience or a less strict experience...thats great there are options here.

BUT where there is less opportunity, or everyone has the same inflated standards I feel it hurts those kids who could have maybe otherwise been successful.
 

3_little_gymnasts

Proud Parent
May 9, 2020
12
42
The description in the OP is very similar to how thing are in UK, at least as far as I can see. Most gymnastics is rec, there are limited opportunities to compete. Gyms are very selective about who gets on competition teams. Artistic development groups are usually age 5-7, if girls aren’t on these by this age they’re unlikely to be able to compete WAG. Floor and vault competition groups are more inclusive but obviously don’t give the chance to compete on bars and beam. In general the system places a lot of value on having specific skills at a specific age.
 
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NutterButter

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Jan 24, 2013
880
I think it's sometimes perceived as a negative because families don't necessarily know there are other options out there. And often we hear from families on chalkbucket that their kid isn't fitting in their gym for a reason that may be solved by a gym change. Take the 'too old for team' line that many families are given...yes the kid may be too old for the gym they are talking to but rarely is the kid truly too old for the sport. I think most families simply go to the gym that is closest to them and initially don't know what questions to ask or how to evaluate one gym from another.
 

ProudGymnast

Gymnast
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
126
It is not concerning, at all. Sometimes it is a draw in for some people who hope their five year old will be an Olympian. Some children want to train more and reap more benefits. Some people have college dreams.

The problem lies when they sacrifice their athletes to reach this goal. Doesn't matter if they are trying to create Olympians, there should not be any type of abuse or sacrifice of the athletes body to get there.
 
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LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
133
I suppose I too have expressed some undue dislike for exclusive/elite gyms. I don't mean to criticize or change these gyms, I guess I'm just supportive of our model of gym. Our gym is not elite by any means. I suppose I'm just glad to have found a place where everyone can succeed, where older or less skilled kids are not automatically declined for team or moved to Xcel. But that's my idea of happy, not the one that is right for everyone.

On another note, on chalkbucket I often see that the main suggestion to gym problems is to Change Gyms! I understand in cities there are many gyms within distance. However if I was to have trouble with my gym that wouldn't be the option. Our little town is 1.5 hours away from anything else. If I was rejected or moved to a not very good Xcel program I would be annoyed. Commute is big! I'm not too experienced in the means of elite gyms but that would be my reason.

Interested to hear other responses.
 

RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
862
I think if gyms have a stringent criteria for team selection and move ups that's just the way it is and it's best to know that from the start. Ideally, the gym is pretty transparent about their expectations for team members and for move ups. I don't see any problem with running a highly competitive program, but it is rough for families without a lot of nearby gym options. The thing I've been surprised about recently are posts where kids eager to join an Xcel program are turned away- esp when they are just trying out for Bronze. I'd like to think there is a place in team gymnastics even for kids who start late or aren't superstars.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,281
48
I think these things are cyclical and with the recent history scandals of USAG, the competitive mindset is definitely out of favor. In its apex, we get the win at all costs, chew em up and spit em out Karoyli et.al. Now we are swinging towards the "everybody wins/all are welcome, let the athletes decide" mindset. So it is very out of favor to imply a focus is on being competitively successful and winning. But I agree, with OP. Nothing wrong with it done correctly. I also think there has been lines blurred about what the DP program really is intended for.
That does make a lot of sense. Thanks for that perspective.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,281
48
I think it matters most when it comes to accessibility of the sport. This is a children's sport and realistically 99% of them are not going to the Olympics. I don't think it needs to be "everybody wins" but I think there should be a level of inclusiveness so kids can have opportunity. Maybe everybody can't last or can't advance but sometimes kids are told they can't even try and that is where I have a problem. In areas where there are lots of gyms I dont think some gyms having the "higher standards" for team are an issue as long as they are transparent about it because then parents can pick the program that is right for their kid, but sometimes if there is one gym in town and they wont let your 10 year old even think about being on a team thats just sad to me.

I think some parents get preachy about higher standards being a bad thing (and I know I can be vocal about this) because their kid would likely have been pushed out of gym because of inflated standards when they could otherwise be a very successful gymnast. I know if my kid had been required to hit super high scores, or have some specific beam skills she would have been left behind and/or quit and she is thriving now in optionals. I wonder how many other kids are thriving because they were given a chance, and how many were unfairly pushed out of the sport. Once again when there are lots of available gyms this isnt as big an issue, you move on and find one that gives your kid opportunity to maximize their specific potential. This happens where we are located alot we have had kids come from other gyms and girls leave for other gyms because of gym philosophy and fit etc. maybe they want a more strict experience or a less strict experience...thats great there are options here.

BUT where there is less opportunity, or everyone has the same inflated standards I feel it hurts those kids who could have maybe otherwise been successful.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I do understand where you are coming from for sure.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,281
48
I think it's sometimes perceived as a negative because families don't necessarily know there are other options out there. And often we hear from families on chalkbucket that their kid isn't fitting in their gym for a reason that may be solved by a gym change. Take the 'too old for team' line that many families are given...yes the kid may be too old for the gym they are talking to but rarely is the kid truly too old for the sport. I think most families simply go to the gym that is closest to them and initially don't know what questions to ask or how to evaluate one gym from another.
I do think that is part of it. And to be clear, I was referring to facebook groups and other places too. It just seems like a lot of times if someone complains about a gym being "selective", the default response is to agree with how bad that gym is. And sometimes they probably are crappy gyms, but sometimes I do think it's just a bad fit like you said. I do agree that no child should be too old for gymnastics as a sport though.
 

cmg

Proud Parent
Jul 2, 2018
151
63
I think the bad rap came from the fact that many (not all) of the exclusive gyms ended up also being abusive. When kids have to be a level 10 by a very young age coaches are able to have a lot of control over younger kids so the abuse could go unreported or just accepted by the athlete since it seems like standard protocol. Also, these gyms tended to have a "parents are not allowed to watch" rule. I believe these rules are changing. I agree that a gym has the right to set their own standards and if they want to be considered elite etc. than just hope if you kid can make it on their team, they also have good coaching techniques because I don't care how talented you are, at some point a gymnasts will have struggles with skills and you will want a coach that can help your kid get through her struggles not just encourage them to quit, abuse them, or any other horrible thing we have read about.
 
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mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,281
48
It is not concerning, at all. Sometimes it is a draw in for some people who hope their five year old will be an Olympian. Some children want to train more and reap more benefits. Some people have college dreams.

The problem lies when they sacrifice their athletes to reach this goal. Doesn't matter if they are trying to create Olympians, there should not be any type of abuse or sacrifice of the athletes body to get there.
Oh I agree with that for sure. Ironically, I'm actually very against the push to start young , skip levels, train huge hours, etc. I really was referring more to the in between type gyms. lol. But I guess that that is hypocritical of me to say. I guess I just don't think a gym is necessarily bad for having selection standards. But I do think a gym is bad if they are treating their gymnast's like disposable objects and not people.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,281
48
I think if gyms have a stringent criteria for team selection and move ups that's just the way it is and it's best to know that from the start. Ideally, the gym is pretty transparent about their expectations for team members and for move ups. I don't see any problem with running a highly competitive program, but it is rough for families without a lot of nearby gym options. The thing I've been surprised about recently are posts where kids eager to join an Xcel program are turned away- esp when they are just trying out for Bronze. I'd like to think there is a place in team gymnastics even for kids who start late or aren't superstars.
I do agree that gyms should be transparent about their expectations. It would be rough for areas without a lot of options.
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
3,948
Yes, I have a stringent selection criteria for my team. They need the natural talent, strength, speed, good technique etc.

More than anything it is fit the benefit of the gymnast themselves. We don’t get it right 100% of your time and sometimes a kid ends up on team who might not have it. Those kids haven’t had the most positive experience.

A moderately talent kid, in a team of super talented kids, will compare themselves constantly to their team mates. When they don’t learn skills at the same rate, they feel like they are no good.

In such cases, often the decision to move to a different type of group is one we make together with the gymnast and their family. They end up much happier when they are in a group where their skill acquisition is on par with their other classmates.
 

Livelovegymnastics

Gymnast
Fan
Mar 20, 2022
57
I honestly agree with you 100%. I just do
I think it matters most when it comes to accessibility of the sport. This is a children's sport and realistically 99% of them are not going to the Olympics. I don't think it needs to be "everybody wins" but I think there should be a level of inclusiveness so kids can have opportunity. Maybe everybody can't last or can't advance but sometimes kids are told they can't even try and that is where I have a problem. In areas where there are lots of gyms I dont think some gyms having the "higher standards" for team are an issue as long as they are transparent about it because then parents can pick the program that is right for their kid, but sometimes if there is one gym in town and they wont let your 10 year old even think about being on a team thats just sad to me.

I think some parents get preachy about higher standards being a bad thing (and I know I can be vocal about this) because their kid would likely have been pushed out of gym because of inflated standards when they could otherwise be a very successful gymnast. I know if my kid had been required to hit super high scores, or have some specific beam skills she would have been left behind and/or quit and she is thriving now in optionals. I wonder how many other kids are thriving because they were given a chance, and how many were unfairly pushed out of the sport. Once again when there are lots of available gyms this isnt as big an issue, you move on and find one that gives your kid opportunity to maximize their specific potential. This happens where we are located alot we have had kids come from other gyms and girls leave for other gyms because of gym philosophy and fit etc. maybe they want a more strict experience or a less strict experience...thats great there are options here.

BUT where there is less opportunity, or everyone has the same inflated standards I feel it hurts those kids who could have maybe otherwise been successful.
I agree with everything said above! To give an example: I started gymnastics pretty late and for the first year of my gymnastics career, I was with kids 5 years younger than me. I know that the coaches probably didn't see much potential from me but they still included me in their program. And now I am about to be a level 9 gymnast. The point is if they didn't give me a chance I wouldn't be where I am today and they would not be able to see my true potential. So I think it is very important that everyone is given an opportunity and a chance to prove themselves first.
 
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