For Parents Just Made Team, Any Advice or Tips?

skygirlpc

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Hi! Essentially, I’m congratulating your DD. In the right environment, gymnastics could be an amazing experience for her.
My experience with gymnastics has not been my daughter’s. She’s had the experience that most can only dream to have. Amazing coaches, supportive gymnastics environment, no major injuries, no major mental blocks, 2-time National Team member, representing Team USA internationally, and Junior National Beam Champion. There’s only a few more things she wants to add to her list.
But as her mom, it has not been the sunshine and rainbows that it sounds, but so faaaaaar from terrible. I’m not trying to sound patronizing or even discouraging. And you may not have parental experience that I’ve had, but as a seasoned veteran here and in this sport, I just caution you to prepare for the emotional rollercoaster that this sport could put YOU through. I never knew anguish until I saw MY child disappointed and discouraged to tears. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I was not prepared for those feelings.
Thank you for clarifying!
 
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skygirlpc

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I tried to use quotes, but for some reason it didn’t work. I am sure you don’t realize it, OP, but you are telling a mom whose kid is an elite on the national team she is patronizing because she is telling the truth about gymnastics. And others are also telling the truth about gymnastics. No one is patronizing you….it’s an absolutely wonderful, brutal sport and you asked the question. And before you ask, my kid did competitive gym from age 4-11 and tells me all the time that “gymnastics ruined my life,” so….yeah, I’ve been there and done it. Does that mean you shouldn’t allow your child to do it? No, but it means you need to be aware of the intensity, both physical and mental that’s involved.
So I shouldn’t question someone’s approach or discuss how that approach makes me feel if the person has a high level of experience and time in the sport?
 
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GYM0M

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So I shouldn’t question someone’s approach or discuss how that approach makes me feel if the person has a high level of experience and time in the sport?
Of course you can! You should feel free to express yourself and your opinions here. We all want this board to be an asset and while I feel that you read my tone wrong when I apologized (I really am sorry and did not mean to downplay your dd accomplishment or your excitement) and think we got off on the wrong foot, I hope that you come to see all of us as allies. That’s what this board is for!!!
Some practical advice as your dd starts this journey:
1.) Get a pumice stone and a good hand moisturizer. Keeping the hands soft will prevent rips until she’s ready for grips, and even after, really.
2.) Ibuprofen works best for sore muscles after hard conditioning days.
3.) Keep her on a balanced diet. Protein, carbs (mostly good carbs), fats, vitamins, etc. are all important. On long days with little to no break, add a little apple juice to her water bottle. It gives just about the right amount of energy to tiring muscles. Watch the sodium intake and have her drink loads of water.
4.) GK, lululemon, justice, and Tommy Hilfiger undergarments are far superior to most others for meets.
5.) Always prepare for emergency malfunctions at meets. Keep and extra set of hairspray, Bobby pins, clippies, bandaids, snacks, etc in your bag just in case.
6.) Write down little memories from meets and camps, especially funny stuff. Reading them before a big meet can help calm nerves and give a good laugh.
 

skygirlpc

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Of course you can! You should feel free to express yourself and your opinions here. We all want this board to be an asset and while I feel that you read my tone wrong when I apologized (I really am sorry and did not mean to downplay your dd accomplishment or your excitement) and think we got off on the wrong foot, I hope that you come to see all of us as allies. That’s what this board is for!!!
Some practical advice as your dd starts this journey:
1.) Get a pumice stone and a good hand moisturizer. Keeping the hands soft will prevent rips until she’s ready for grips, and even after, really.
2.) Ibuprofen works best for sore muscles after hard conditioning days.
3.) Keep her on a balanced diet. Protein, carbs (mostly good carbs), fats, vitamins, etc. are all important. On long days with little to no break, add a little apple juice to her water bottle. It gives just about the right amount of energy to tiring muscles. Watch the sodium intake and have her drink loads of water.
4.) GK, lululemon, justice, and Tommy Hilfiger undergarments are far superior to most others for meets.
5.) Always prepare for emergency malfunctions at meets. Keep and extra set of hairspray, Bobby pins, clippies, bandaids, snacks, etc in your bag just in case.
6.) Write down little memories from meets and camps, especially funny stuff. Reading them before a big meet can help calm nerves and give a good laugh.
Thank you! This is all so helpful!
 

GYMtime2874

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Oct 13, 2021
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Good Morning -
My 7.5yr old just got invited to team at her gym. Our gym does JO and doesn't do team until level 4 so she will be competing at level 4 starting in January. We are all very excited and nervous to take this next step. Do you all have any advice or tips for a newbie just starting the competition side?

I would recommend her to just do her and to believe that she can achieve anything. And remember for the first couple comps don't expect golds everytime :)
 
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Dahlia

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Also, keep in mind, the gymnastics journey and pressures of a child who is super talented and goes Elite is going to be WAY different than the average gymnast. And I can see how all of that could leave a negative taste on the parents' tongues and have them say not to start team at all. But it's also important to realize that just because some parents are unhappy that they started team, that your experience is not necessarily going to be the same. Especially if your dd is not super talented.

A vast majority of gymnasts don't have a hope of elite or national team. Most think they do until they figure out they don't, and that's fine. It's good for kids to dream and they figure it out in their own time. It's not good for parents or gyms to put pressure on the child to always place first or to move up to fast, etc. I've seen parents lecture girls on their errors in meets or for not placing first. I have friends whose daughters (not at our gym) were essentially given the silent treatment from coaches for not getting skills and such. It's sad and totally against what this sport should be. And these attitudes are not exclusive to gymnastics. There is toxicity in all youth sports, unfortunately, and us parents always have to be aware and on guard.

So as your dd progresses and competes, focus on the small things, celebrate improvement or accomplishing a skill she's been struggling with for a while not in terms of "yay you have the skill" but in terms of "you worked so hard for xxx skill and I'm so proud of you for your hard work". Make sure you're at a gym where coaches focus on improvement over focusing on results or moving quickly up through levels. There will be hard days for her, but if in the overall arc of the season she is enjoying gym and happy it's good. If this changes, reevaluate.
 

mom2newgymnast

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Congratulations to your daughter! I don't have anything really new to add, but I wanted to echo some of the previous posters. To me the best advice I could give is to tell her to have fun, do her best and be a good teammate. And for you to to just enjoy watching her do something she loves. No pressure, no emphasis on winning, no comparisons with others, no begging others to follow your young child on instagram so they can sell random products and gain followers and influence.

My daughter has been in the sport since she was 5 (on team since 6) and she is almost 14 now. It's honestly been an overall good experience for her and for us. She's been lucky (knock on wood) and not had to deal with too many major setbacks or issues. No major mental blocks, no repetitive/stress type injuries, no abusive coaching. Other than a couple of relatively minor breaks, no other injuries. She's steadily moved up in levels and had a decent amount of success. She's seen a lot of her teammates leave over the years, but new ones have joined. She still wants to go to practice and compete, even after growing/going through puberty and becoming way more interested in her social life and boys. :) Although next year she'll start high school so who knows what will happen then! It is expensive and time consuming and does affect things like family vacations, but I am pretty sure that she/we would still choose to do it again if we could go back in time, so no real regrets here.

But one thing I've learned as she moves up in levels, is that *I* personally no longer enjoy meets at all. It's not that I care how she scores really, it's the fear of her getting hurt or totally bombing an event and being upset and not being able to comfort her during the meet (and yes, it's happened. Level 9 is hard!) I honestly leave the competition area during beam. And sometimes floor. And, if she moves up to level 10, most likely I'll have to leave during bars. I just feel sick leading up to the actual competition because I'm so nervous for her and then the actual event.. ugh. So I would definitely say enjoy the lower levels when the risks are lower and they all look so cute out there! Good luck!
 

bookworm

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Ok, I'll bite...I've read this whole thread, with a few cringes here and there but after 17 years in the sport , and the last 4 happily "retired" as she graduated from college, here are my tips for team:

1. Hang on to your wallet!
* It is a hugely expensive sport between tuition, meet fees , leos, warm up suits , travel for you and her , and coaches (if she goes to things like TOPS testings... are they even doing those anymore without parents? Back in the day, you sent them off to the Ranch with their coach), extra fees for Regionals and Nationals , camps, clinics ...I ballparked that we spent 10K a year on gymnastics per kid.

2. Don't stay for practices (or at least do not watch practices all the time) :
** we lived 2 hours+ from the gym so I stayed in the area but not inside the gym. I went shopping, to the library, beach , even just read in my car,

3. Trust your gut on her coaches:
* I moved my girls twice because in the first gym, they had outgrown the coaching (couldn't teach my oldest a release on bars...in new gym a week and had a Tkatchev) and the second time, the coach was so busy with his Olympians he was never around to coach the 10s, and sorry, I'm not paying $500/month each for the gym mom at the desk to coach my level 10s so we moved ...and it worked out well and they got coached again.

4. Make sure your daughter does life events, even if she has to miss gym:
**Although gymnastics is a year round sport, my girls went to every father daughter dance , prom , family vacations etc and if it was on a gym night , we missed it. As I said to the coach, "in 20 years , my kid will remember that she missed the father daughter dance for gym and NOT that she never missed a practice so she's missing a practice" ... and like someone said , COVID proved you can miss practices and survive.

5. If your child gets an injury, listen to the medical professionals about return to the sport as your coach is likely to try to return them early:
**my daughter had a back fracture and was in a back brace 23/24 hours/day and I pulled her from the gym for her to recover because her coach at the time wanted her in there "conditioning" and I found out he was making her do bars ...she stayed out 12 weeks , recovered fully and never had any pain since (15 years out and counting) and when she returned did Regionals and went to JOs and won ....so I wasn't the CGM that her coach thought I was. Your child needs you to be her advocate even if it's an unpopular opinion with the coach...she's your kid.

6. If I had to do it over again, would I?
** Like B&M's mom mentioned, it is a huge family sacrifice for any family , especially when you get into upper level optionals. What I would say, is that if you don't think that you have the finances to go all the way, and I don't think any family should go into financial hardship for a sport, then don't sign on for team because it's kinder to pull the plug now but if you do, then ok. I think I probably would do it over again with a caveat ...I still am on the fence about Li Li's leadership at USAG....six supposed "independent" investigations and a lot of the old school enforcers are still on the competitive floor, and were just at Worlds this week so ...that would make me at least think about getting into it , and that's what both my girls have said that it depends how USAG is run going forward whether they'd allow their child in the sport.

I hope this helps.
 

Fijiwater

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Hi! Essentially, I’m congratulating your DD. In the right environment, gymnastics could be an amazing experience for her.
My experience with gymnastics has not been my daughter’s. She’s had the experience that most can only dream to have. Amazing coaches, supportive gymnastics environment, no major injuries, no major mental blocks, 2-time National Team member, representing Team USA internationally, and Junior National Beam Champion. There’s only a few more things she wants to add to her list.
But as her mom, it has not been the sunshine and rainbows that it sounds, but so faaaaaar from terrible. I’m not trying to sound patronizing or even discouraging. And you may not have parental experience that I’ve had, but as a seasoned veteran here and in this sport, I just caution you to prepare for the emotional rollercoaster that this sport could put YOU through. I never knew anguish until I saw MY child disappointed and discouraged to tears. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. I was not prepared for those feelings.

Jim Carrey Lol GIF by O&O, Inc
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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4. Make sure your daughter does life events, even if she has to miss gym:
**Although gymnastics is a year round sport, my girls went to every father daughter dance , prom , family vacations etc and if it was on a gym night , we missed it. As I said to the coach, "in 20 years , my kid will remember that she missed the father daughter dance for gym and NOT that she never missed a practice so she's missing a practice" ... and like someone said , COVID proved you can miss practices and survive.
Excellent advice here, not just for parents and athletes but also for coaches.

Think of gymnastics like Christmas, and everything else about your/her identity like Thanksgiving. Gymnastics is great, but it will tend to devour everything else if you let it. There's nothing wrong with loving the sport and being extensively involved in it, but you don't want it to become your (or your athletes') entire identity.

Make a deliberate effort to maintain friendships, hobbies, activities, etc, that have absolutely no connection to gymnastics, both for yourself and for your kid.
 
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lovofu

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I am sorry that you and GYMOM have had such a bad experience. Thank you for sharing your experience.
What they wrote doesn't mean it was a bad experience....just that it is ALOT. My DD has had a spinal cord injury, concussion and two ankle surgeries and she is among the luckiest. It's exhaustion and money and yes Joy on occasion but know this. TAKE THE VACATIONS with your family, let her miss for Halloween and sleepovers, NO PRIVATES....each athlete will get to their finish line and that line doesn't change whether you get there faster or a little slower. Don't talk about gymnastics with other parents in the gym, or at the very least DON"T believe everything they tell you. If you have questions ask the coach and if they won't answer find another gym. NEVER stay at the gym and watch. Good LUCK
 

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