Parents Introduction & Dilemma (long)

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I am excited to finally find a place to talk with other gym parents.

Let me first tell you about DD. DD will be 8 in June and just finished L4 in SC. She competed in 6 meets this year including state and one in Florida. She finished 1st AA with scores in the mid 37's at all the meets except the first one. She also finished first on all the individual events at the meets she won AA with the exception of beam twice. At state she fell of the beam going big on her handstand, but still won AA.

DD is very strong and flexible and LOVES the gym. She trains about 10 hours a week and begs for more.

I know that changing gyms is serious decision and the grass often looks greener on the other side, but isn't. I am not looking for a gym to cater to me because I think my daughter is fantastic (I don;t know). I want to be sure the coach and gym are willing to help her reach her highest potential (whatever that is).

Here is the issue - Our gym has great girls at L7 & L8 plus 1 at L9. They consider themselves a "college" gym and don't seem to have any desire to train anyone to become elite. They like the slow and steady track. Our girls train hard during the season on their skills, but don't train up. Only now that the season is over are they learning new skills.

This is fine, but I think DD could do so much more and she gets fustrated with having to wait on the other 5 girls in her group. Although I have been told that the girls will get to train at their own pace now that states are over, I have seen no evidence of that the last 3 weeks. She has really taken to the new skills. The L7 parents are amazed at her vault. I get almost no feedback and practice seems more like "open gym" lately.

The only other gym I would even consider taking her to is 45 minutes away and the arch-rival of our current gym. Do I just trust our coaches and keep on the slow pace? Do I go and talk to the other gym?

I have no idea what her future holds in gymnastics, but I feel like I need to at least give her all the tools she need to try.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.
Those are always very hard and personal decisions to make. I feel for you. My daughter has been at her current gym for all her competitive life but, was else where before that. She was 6yrs then and pre-team. DD is now 12 and a Level 7. Now that I have said all that here is somethings I have learned over the years. Please take them for what you want as they are just one persons observations. First off let me say what a good job she did at level 4 sounds like she had a great year. The first few years of team girls are so excited and driven and that is great. It also seems like they learn like sponges at the begining. As girls progress to optional levels things are harder. The newness and excitement wears off at this time some girls burn out. My DD had a team of 21 girls at level 5 of these only 6 are still doing gymnastics. We have lost girls to other clubs over the years a few have done well most have quit and or been burned out by the way too intense clubs. I guess what I am saying is weigh very carefully why, and what you are looking for at the other club. Then do some homework on the other club. Maybe even talk to some who have left and some who have stayed at the gym. Next find out what their philosophy is and if that is what you want. Theri are lots of girls at level 4 & 5 and then things get harder. Their is a reason their are very few Elite gymnasts. Having said all that best of luck to you and keep us posted. Sometimes a move is needed and other times we just need to sit back and listen to our kids and be patient with the coaches and let them do their jobs. This is always hard as we want only the best for our kids.:rolleyes:
I will weigh in on this I feel we made this decision and are now on the other side of the fence. My daughter competed L4 at a gym that was close to our house. We loved the coaches--they were very friendly, warm and loving. I will say that my duaghter did 1 year of 4 and one of 5. She was okay--but I always felt like she had potential beyond what was being challenged. That gym then moved about 30 minutes from our house. We began to feel like all of our time at gym was not well spent--even though we loved the coaches. She was scoring b/w 30 and 33AA and becoming frustrated. At this point she was 9 and I felt like she was going to quit. We decided to look around, but I was careful. We are blessed to have numerous high quality gym around our area...we decided to go where we thought she would have excellent coaching. They don't just take anyone--so it was this ordeal to evaluate and be "secretive" about it. That being said...we were offered a spot on an amazing team with amazing coaches. She changed gyms a little over a year ago and has been thriving and happy. That is not to say leaving the other gym was easy---it was one of the hardest things she has done in her 9 year old life. But she realizes that she has incredible opportunity to work under olympic coaches. For her, that made it worth it...she is in love with the sport, competed another year at L5 and won the state championship. She is also working up on skills---L8 and L9 even...and that gets her fired up for more. It has definitely been the right decision for us. My opinion is that you have to do what feels right for your child...I don't think I would choose gymnastics as the sport I wanted her to do, but if she is passionate about it, then we needed to do the best thing for her in the sport. Your old gym will be sad to lose your dd b/c she is talented, but you should remember that L4 and L5 are entry levels and mostly about basics. If your dd is talented and seems to have the build and say is you put her where the coaches can take that to the level she may be capable of going...but know that there is much more sacrifice involved as you go there. Best of is not an easy decision to make, but your heart and your dd's heart will help you lead the way.
Kiri -

Unfortunately I don't have any advice for you, but I did want to welcome you to Chalkbucket and say congrat's to your dd on an amazing season
Welcome to the group first off:) I love it here and I am sure you will too.
With your daughter, we are in the process of switching gyms now that our meet season is over too.
We left for a lot of the reasons you would like to leave. We actually wanted to leave last fall but the meet season at the time was weeks away so, we decided to just wait it out. My friend and I just got more and more disappointed in the gym over these next several month until we were counting down the weeks till we could be out of there. Not a good thing. So I would go check out the other gym. Watch a few practices, go to their open gym, talk to other team parents and just test the waters so to speak and then make your decision on whether to stay at your gym. It is hard to pull girls out from the only gym they ever knew. My daughter was finally ready to switch after state. Plus 4 of her teammates came with her:) so that didn't hurt either and we might have one more of her teammates following as well. As you can see, my old gym really upset quite a few parents this year.
I'll give you just a little background before answering your questions, so you know where I am coming from. I have two optional gymnasts, a level 7 (age 12) and a level 8 (age 14). The level seven sounds more like your dd. After her level 4 season, the coaches wanted to move her to level 7 (would do one meet at 5, one at 6, and then spend spring season at 7; we didn't go for it, though). The level 8 was never on hot shots or any early identification program. In fact, she took a 2 year break from gymnastics before she decided that was the sport she wanted to stick with. We've had many ups and downs. I also feel that youth sports, especially when we're talking about kids in elementary school, should be about fun.

I'm going to second what gym monkey's mom said about burn out and sticking with the sport. Of my youngest dd's level 4 team of 14 girls, only 2 are left. I've also got to agree with her about the learning like sponges. It's so fun and exicting at lvl 4 and 5 when they're learning all these new skills all the time. But, starting about lvl 6, it gets to be about perfecting skills. The newness does wear off, and you'll see the excitement junkies start to leave when the coaches say, no, we're not moving on to the next skill until this one is perfect. A teammate of my oldest dd made the comment (this week in fact), that she thought the girls who dropped out when they got to optionals were the ones for whom things came easily. It just takes much longer to get a skill when they're at lvl 8, 9, or 10. That's frustrating for some of fast track kids.

About going elite: Last year (2007), USAG's stats indicated there were 97 elite gymnasts in the US. I can't see that many gyms at all would offer elite programs as there just aren't enough girls out there to support very many. I wouldn't look at not having an elite program as a negative for the current gym.

Finally, your dd is scoring very high and winning AAs. Your current gym must be doing something right with her. Personally, I'd leave her where she's at for now. If she's still in the in the sport as optional levels approach, you could think about making the switch then if she has dreams of elite.
Finally, your dd is scoring very high and winning AAs. Your current gym must be doing something right with her.

This is the part of your post that struck me too. I was thinking, "well if it aint broke." She's currently doing well, having fun, loving the sport, and learning new skills. If this were a situation where she was not progressing, bored, etc., I'd be more inclined to say "go for it." Sometimes, slow and steady does win the race. For your dd to reach her potential the number one thing that has to happen is for her to stay in the sport into high school--most girls don't.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you can always make the switch later. Most gyms frown on gym-hopping, so if you leave now, chances are you won't be welcomed back. If you stay, however, you still have the option of going to the other gym for the higher levels. Given the time commitment and the cost of gas, if I could put off signing up for 45 minute drive each way, I would.
First of alkl, congrats to your dd for a great year! The thing about level 4, is that it is a very important year for establishing a foundation for whatever gymnastics she will do in the future. Even though she may feel like she is not moving as fast as she would like with the new tuff, swhe can't underetimate the importance of fine tuning the old stuff too. She is still very young and has plenty of competitive time ahead of her. It's very important also to be open with your coaches and let them know how you feel. Gymnastics is not like any other sport. There are no shortcuts and without a firm foundation she could move on and find herself scoring low 30's and feeling bad about herself and not be so enthusiastic anymore. Trust her coaches and develop a solid, open relationship with them, and if you can't, then by all means move on and find another gym. But be aware, the challenges get bigger from here on! Godd luck to both of you and welcome to the Gymnastics mom sisterhood!!!
I would like to start by saying welcome to CB and congrats to your dd on a great L4 season. My gymmie did switch gyms due to a very negative atmosphere at the gym where she did pre-team and L5 and 6. This gym did have the elite training track and just recently the 2 elites they had both tossed in the towel. One is totally out of gym and doing "regular teenage stuff" and the other is competing as a L10 just to get the college interest. So, being an elite is very rare as another poster mentioned and not many girls even stay at that level too long.

I do understand the concern about lack of communication. See if you can pull her coach aside and set up a time(cornering coaches right after practice isn't always best) to discuss what skills etc. dd is working on and what the plan is for the next year. Don't get into jumping 5 years ahead in her gym experience. L5 is more challenging skill wise and the judging is tougher. Express your concern about up training in a nice way---"will there be time for her to start doing drills for some of her L6 skills?"

As far as the other gym---do check it out. Drop in and watch a L5 team practice. Watch how the coaches interact with the girls. Do the kids seem happy? Talk with some parents----they will give you the inside details on booster club etc. that you may or may not feel comfortable with. Also, think long and hard---is it realistic for dd to have a 90 min drive to/from gym 3-4 days per week factoring in homework etc. Lets face it, the price of gas is not going down. Write down pros/cons on the other gym and see what your current coach has to say.

As others have said, so many drop out of gymnastics by L6. My gymmie did pre-team(no L4 at her gym) and the started competing as a L5. Out of the 11 girls on her team, only she and 3 others are still in competitive gymnastics and thats only been 2 seasons. Its a tough sport with injuries, burnout, fear issues etc. and you never know when they will pop up.

Let us know how things work out---we're always here to listen and provide support!
Thank you

Thank you for all taking the time to listen to me and for your responses. Just having a place to come to and know that I am not the only one struggling with all this is nice.

For now, I am on the wait and see plan. Her coaches have told me that she will be allowed to move ahead at her pace for the next 2 months or so. I haven't seen that yet, but the optionals just finished state. I am going to be patient to see if they let her move ahead and then talk to her coaches. I will only go visit the other gym if it looks like DD is not being allowed to progress and the coaches are unresponsive.

I will certainly keep you updated.

Thank you!
Hi and welcome! Just wanted to say that I've been a gym-mom for about 15 years and I have to agree with just about everything the previous posters have said. It's great that your gymie had a good year- she must be very talented! But, I've seen many girls do well at levels 4 and 5 and then it gets hard. Plus other factors come into play as they progress such as burnout, injuries, growth and bodily changes, and here's a biggie- fear! It's impossible to judge how a gymnast will be performing several years in advance. My advice is to stay where she is happy and feels comfortable. She's still young and has plenty of time to move up the ranks if that is what she wants to do. We have switched gyms a couple of times due to bad coaching. The first time was the best move we ever made. The second time did not work out at all even though the new gym was great. My dd had been with her teammates for so long that she couldn't deal with being away from them. Not only that, but there was such an extreme change in her workouts that it was hard for her to adapt. So I have to agree with the PP who said "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Besides, it's a sport, and at your DD's age, it's all about having fun.
Gosh - that is a really tough one. It does sound like she is doing really great where she is now. Of course if there are gyms that seem to have stronger programs, the temptation to check them out is very strong. I too can only speak from personal experience. My dd also had a very successful level 4 season- not quite as high as yours - but always top 3 on all events and all around. We moved gyms between level 4 and 5 - only because we moved to a different state. For various reasons level 5 was not a good year for my daughter, i.e. tough time adjusting to move and some health issues. Anyway, in our area we have a few gyms to choose from. One turns out elites and has the highest scoring gymnasts in the state (and is the closest to us). That is the first gym we tried when we moved. We realized quickly that it wasn't the right fit though. Then she tried another for a season and the team was just too big and she felt lost in the shuffle. Now she is at a gym (of course the furthest of the 3) and she has found a home. She may not place 1st at all the meets - but as a level 6, she pretty much medaled on all events at all the meets - sometimes even in the top 3. Most important though - she LOVES her coaches and her gym. I have always said I would rather my daughter be good and happy than great and miserable. Good luck in whatever you decide - and congrats to your dd on an awesome season.

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