I need some advice

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Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
Any of you who have been around for a while know that DD has always struggled with form. The problem seems to have just compounded since she broke her arm last year and was out for 8 weeks.
She is currently a L4. The problem I am facing is that I think the way her form issues are being addressed have destroyed her confidence and things seem to be getting worse. Basically they have been getting ready for a local performance, and it seems after each rehearsal she seems to have been downgraded in what she is allowed to do. Lower level girls doing ROBHsBHS while she is doing handstand forward rolls and cartwheels. She is still doing ROBHSBHS in part of it, but the other girls in her level are doing as many BHS that they want.
Her coaches don't feel she is giving 100%, she tells me she is as tight as she can be and is trying. If they say something, she is tight for that pass and maybe one more, then she is sloppy and loose again.
I understand why they are not letting her keep going. They are trying to correct the form - and I don't have another suggestion to approach the coach with on working with her. I just know that the "ok, now you are not allowed to do 'X' you have to do handstand forward rolls or whatever" while cooing over an adorable L3 ( who is very cute, works hard and has pretty form) is destroying my DD's confidence. She feels like they don't like her.
One other teammates told her this L3's ROBHSBHS is much better than hers. Honestly, it is tighter and faster. A year ago DD was a much faster tumbler.
She has grown about 3 inches in the last year- could that affect any of this?
Last night DD used the "Q" word. I would hate for her to quit over this. I know she still loves gymnastics because she does them all day all over the house. I have told her that we made a committment and that after States we will see how she feels at that time.
DD does not want me to talk to the coach about this.

I am at a loss
One of the girls at Flippers gym is in the same situation. She has all of her level 7 skills, competed it last year - just doesn't have good form. Her mom is convinced that she simply will never be able to meet the gym standard to move up to level 8. The result is that this child is bored and unmotivated - and gymnastics is becoming work instead of being fun. This family is considering moving their daughter to either competitive cheerleading or a gym that competes AAU instead of USAG. Our old gym competed both, and we always referred to AAU as the kinder, gentler gymnastics. AAU levels require nearly the same skills, you just don't get marked down as severely on form and falls. For those who struggle in the very rigid USAG environment, AAU is a great alternative that allows kids to move up, keep learning and enjoy gymnastics in a more relaxed environment. Several gyms in our area offer both USAG and AAU competition formats for girls with different skill and interest levels. BTW - AAU competitions are much less expensive then USAG.
First off growing 3 inches in a year could be a major factor in this. And the fact that she broke her arm and now has to readjust to a growth spurt and start to put more weight and pressure on her arm can be very frustrating. I know it is hard to deal with these "setbacks" but reassure her that every gymnast goes through this in their careers and she needs to be patient and work though it.

Maybe enroll her in a ballet or dance class that focuses on body awareness--this will help her remember to be more tight all the time instead of just for a few passes or skills.

Tell her that quitting is NOT the answer and that EVERY gymnast goes through frustration. The strong ones are the ones that push through it and perserveare. And she IS ONE OF THE STRONG ONES!!!

Injuries and growth are 2 major set-back things for gymnastics I believe.

Would help to sit down with one or all coaches involved and tell them DD's frustrations and find common ground to keep her happy and moving ahead in the gym. I have found over the years that most coaches just dont' realize how frustrated or unhappy the gymnast or family is and given a chance would fix the situation. I know this is not true for all clubs but, I dont think it could ever hurt.

Our gym started doing dance this year and it is a great add. We have done it in the past with little sucess. This teacher is just working a song and a dance with them and buggin them on form it is really helping with body awarness for all the girls. She is one of the team gymnasts moms. That helps also

Best wishe to you we are pulling for you here at CB
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As an alternative to dance, my DD tried "tween" yoga. She absolutely loved it. It helped her improve balance, staying tight, and looking long. She only did one session. We haven't been able to fit it in since, but it definately helped. And she liked it because they always commented on her flexability! It was a chance to do something that didn't focus on gymnastics. She has asked to go back, so I'll have to see if I can fit it in somehow.
Great advice and suggestions from everyone--obviously her breaking her arm and growing 3" in a year will greatly affect her form! My oldest DD started falling off beam left and right a year ago--when her body shape changed during puberty. Took months to get it back.

And personally I'd talk to the coaches about it--despite your daughter not wanting you to say anything. I wouldn't approach it like "everything you're doing is destroying her confidence' but more along the lines of "DD is losing confidence every week and is now talking about quitting. I know she loves gymnastics. What do you recommend we can do at home and you can do in the gym differently to help her?"
Thanks guys, it's great to have support. I have emailed HC, let her know what is going on and asking that she not let DD know I emailed her as she didnot want me to tell coach. I know she would be very angry but if HC doesn't know it will get worse.
With the growth and injury aside, all bodies are made and built differently. Some gymnasts are just not very in tune with form. Usually, hard work and determination will help overcome some or all of that "handicap". But, for a percentage of them, they just can't get there no matter how hard they try and what remedy they choose to use (including dancing, etc.). All they can do is to try harder and work at it more.

For example, we had a girl in TOPS training who went from L4 to L8 in 2-3 years. She was throwing L10 skills by the end of that period. She also had extraordinary drive and aspiration (that emphasis might have been a part of issue). She had everything but form. So, she was stuck at L8, as it's no longer just up to the gym to determine advancement. After 1-2 years, she digressed to the point that she was doing low L7 skills at L8 and eventually quit. To give her credit, she went from an intense and self-consumed individual to someone who was pleasant to be around (even for the adults). When she left, she actually left with a smile (which lends me to believe there were other things going on as well).

With that said, I feel that what you have on hand is something you must address now (like you're obviously doing). If she really has now exhausted her motivation in pushing form and not meeting the current gym's expectation, I would suggest going to a gym that is more relaxed and less demanding. Depending what's available in your area, this may mean having to change leagues like others have suggested.

One more thing to add... I think it's an overkill and it's rediculous to push only form at L4 level. That really cuts off opportunities for kids who are viewed as form challenged (especially the really young ones). As you and I both know, at a young age their bodies and body-awareness are always changing. It's not a guaranty that their bad form cannot become acceptable (if not better) in the future.
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Thanks NotAMom,
It may be that form will never come and that ok. This has all really come to a head over this performance they are doing, not competition ( at least not yet- first meet next week).
DH wants to pull her out now as it has her so upset. I want to give her the season to see how she feels. Guess this will be a whole other problem.
Hopefully I will get a positive response from HC.
Some kids really struggle with form. My youngest gets it and therefore scores high, though in the gym she can't be bothered and it looks nasty. My oldest is just begining to get it and she is 13. For years she has been hit with every form deduction known to judges. Bent knees, bent arms, legs apart etc She just doesn't seem to feel when she is tight.

I think yoga is a great idea, it is also non competitive and cross training is always great for gymnastocs.

I do also think that the AAU suggestion is a good one, we also have a seaprate system for girls who might not do as well with the Provincial streamed girls. They can still succeed with less pressure.

Though as I am often reminding my eldest, no little girl ever went to a meet hoping to be last, but at every meet it happens to someone.

Good for you for letting the HC know, she needs to know where your DD is at mentally, gymnastics is tough on the mind, body and soul.

(((HUGS))) to you both.
Ok, I want to preface this with a disclaimer: my advice here should be taken with a grain of salt, because I know if you were to switch gyms, my gym might be one of your options; in other words, this advice comming from a biased source.

That said, if things just aren't working for you and your DD wants to quit, you might see how she handles a change of scenery, take her to another gym for a workout or two. We have at least four girls at our gym that quit elsewhere, but loved training with us enough to get back into the sport.

I wouldn't do this unless you have to; I know a number of parents in our area that seem to switch gyms every time their kid has a bad week, and I absolutely do not reccomend that. But switching is an option you might keep in mind if things get worse.
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