For Parents Just staring out with a 6 year old..

octobermom

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Hi All!

I am a new gymnastics parent, and am realizing that this is a sport and a process that I know nothing about. My daughter is six and has recently started gymnastics as a USAG gym. (I am also just learning what a USAG gym is.) We started with once a week and she has fallen head over heels in love with it. She asks to be there every day of the week and is constantly practicing at home. Within her first class, the coach was asking what felt like a million questions about how old she is, when her birthday falls, if she has ever done this before, and if she wants to do it more often...etc. I have decided to add a couple more classes during the week for her (which she is so excited about) but I can't figure out what is too much. Our gym seems so busy, and we do have to waitlist for two classes (Wed, Thurs) but I was able to get her into Mon/Tues plus a four day gymnastics camp this summer that is 6hrs/day.

She is a child of decision and is the type of kid that once she decides on something... that is it. That is it for her and she will be accomplishing it no matter what anyone says or what may be realistic. She saw the older girls practicing during her class, saw the trophies, watched them jump and twirl and do things that quite honestly scared the hell out of me, and decided on competitive gymnastics. But I do not know how to even make that happen. How does one get into competitive gymnastics? What is the process? Is she already too old to be on par with the other kids that started four years ago? I've read about the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know what we would be getting in to, but I do not know how to start this journey with intention.

Part of that is parent rambling, but for real questions I’m hoping someone can help me with...

How many days a week is enough/too much for a six-year-old just starting out?

What steps are there in this process?

What does the price commitment look like going into this? (I know it's not cheap)

How long do we have to plan? ie… How long does it usually take kids to go from rec to pre-team to competing at her age?

Is she going to face hardships being already six when she is starting?

Most importantly... how do I encourage her dreams of competing and doing all the things (she dreams big - as of now she wants to be the president or an Olympian), when the percentage of girls who make it to the Olympics is so small?

Also... any advice for new moms getting into this is absolutely welcome. Things that helped your child, and your sanity... throughout this process and this journey to help them achieve their dreams.
 
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Ty’s Dad

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1) I believe 2 to 3 days a week should be fine

2) Each gym has their own process so it’s hard to say the steps

3) Price going in should be like $75-$100 a month (depending on which state you’re in). It’s not that expensive starting out, but once you move up levels 8-10 and the elite world that’s when it gets crazy

4) As far as move ups, that depends on how fast your daughter gets the skills and the requirements to move up.

5) My daughter started at 7 1/2 and now she’s 12 and a level 10 Hopes so starting at 6 is fine

6) As far as dreams it’s a very long process and tell her she’s not going to be in the Olympics this year so take your time and trust the process.
 

Aussie_coach

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There is nothing wrong with a young gymnast dreaming of the Olympics and definitely no need to burst the bubble and tell her how unlikely it is.

Generally short term and mid term goals need to be relatively realistic. Otherwise it can be disheartening when they are not achieved.

But not long term goals, those goals should reach for the stars. They light a fire in us, and by the time she is old enough for it to even be a consideration, she will have worked out just how realistic it is.

6 is not a late age to start. In most cases you can look at kids who started at 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 and given the same amount of natural talent they will reach the same level by age 8 or so.
 

gymmomo2g

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Alright, I'm a longtime lurker, first time poster, so here goes nothing. My daughters have been doing gymnastics for a little over 3 years now, and one has been on team for about a year. So I definitely don't have the experience and knowledge that some of the parents on here have, but I'm happy to share what I do know.

As far as age, and progression to team, the journey is different for every gymnast. My YDD started gymnastics at 5, has been on team almost a year, and is a JO Level 3 at 8 years old, hoping to move up to Level 4 over the summer. ODD started gymnastics at 7, and has been back and forth about competing. She's finally decided to give it a try, and starts training Xcel Bronze in June at 11 years old, hoping to move up to Silver over the summer. 6 years old should be just fine starting out. Sure, there are the little phemoms doing handsprings at 3, and while they are amazing to watch, they are definitely not the norm. The ability to listen, take direction and focus during practice will go a long way for a gymnast.

In respect to how to get into competitive gymnastics, my girls were both singled out by attentive coaches in rec classes, and invited to advanced classes on the team track. It sounds like her coach may be considering something like this for her, with all of questions being asked. However, your best bet is to talk to her coach. Express that she is interested in team, and ask questions about their process, such as do they have a pre team, and how to go about getting her onto it. What would be the plan, as to how she would advance through the levels, and what are their requirements for moving up. Ask about financials. Gymnastics can be a very expensive sport. Tuition varies across the country, but I pay $262/month in tuition at Level 3, the lowest competitive level at our gym. Once she gets to competition level, there are all of the expenses for meets. Here are our projected expenses for next season, as a JO Level 3:
-Competitive Leotard $300-400 (used for 2 years)
-Warm ups $100-200
-Team bag $50-100
-Meet fees/coaches expenses $1000
-Travel expenses such as gas/airfare, hotel, meals, etc.
-Gate fees for spectators (varies greatly, I've seen free all the way up to $25/person, and I'm sure they go even higher)
-USAG membership $60-70
-State membership $20-25
-Levels 4 and up at our gym are required to use grips for bars $35-40 (or more, depending on where you get them/what kind, etc), and they last 3-6 months. My daughter does not use grips yet, as she is only Level 3, so I have no personal experience with them, this is just the information in our team handbook.
-Levels 6 and up have optional routines, which means they are tailored to each gymnast (Levels 5 and below use compulsory routines, meaning every USAG gymnast in the entire country does the exact same routine). Optional routines require choreography ($200-400) and floor music ($50-80), kept for 2 years, with modifications if needed.

These are the fees for the JO team at my gym, in Missouri. Like I said, they will vary across the country, but it gives you an idea. My advice is to go into this with eyes wide open about the costs, because it would be heartbreaking for a child to put their heart & soul into training, just to have it taken away. Xcel is lower cost at our gym, as it is lower practice hours and smaller local meets.

As to how to encourage her dreams, we as parents know the odds of getting a D1 NCAA scholarship are pretty low, and being an Olympian are even lower. But I approach it like I do everything else with my girls. Shoot for the stars, and you can be whatever you want in life. I give them all of the love & encouragement I can. If they want to be an Olympian, I will do everything I can to make it happen. And in the likely event they don't become one, at least they had valuable and fun life experiences. Gymnastics teaches so much more than just the skills. It teaches dedication, team spirit, perseverance, goal setting, how to handle losing gracefully, along with being a humble champion. At 8 years old, my YDD is already amazing me with the life skills she has learned. She broke her arm 10 days before state, so she couldn't participate. But she still begged me to drive her 2 hours to the state meet, so she could cheer on her teammates. So I did, and she was an amazing cheerleader.

And my final advice is to enjoy the journey. I LOVE watching my girls perform! They amaze me with the skills they are able to perform, and the joy they get from doing it makes our crazy gym life totally worth it.

Oh, and you found a wonderful resource in CB! There are so many great threads on here, with valuable knowledge from experienced BTDT parents. Best of luck on your journey!
 

GYM0M

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The way one gets into competitive gymnastics is to ask your current gym about the process and to let them know you are interested. Now would be better than later, but not because of her age. Come this fall, lots of newbies hoping to be olympians will enter into programs across the country.
Your dd’s age is fine. She may be behind the 4 year veterans her age, but she will catch up quickly. Let her continue to dream. The fact of the matter is that some girls that have the Olympian dream will achieve it. BUT!! There will be hardships along the road. There will be a skill that she struggles with. She will lose. Her body will ache, hurt, and bleed, and that’s without an injury.
What is too much? That’s often a hot debate in here. The important thing in these early times is that they develop a love for the sport. It’s the love that they develop here that will help them get through the tough times that may lie ahead.
Prices vary, but in terms of commitment, rec is per session, team is per year. Some things to invest in....a pumice stone and a good hand moisturizer for bars. Keep the hands soft, less rips. Don’t waste money on home gymnastics equipment. These often breed bad habits. If you feel you must have something at home, get a chin up bar for strength or resistance bands for stretching and flexibility. My dd (15) also uses a foam roller to roll her back, but it’s doubtful your dd will need this anytime soon, but it could be used for over splits.
Gymnastics is most definitely a marathon not only for the gymnast, but for the parent and family. At this point, the stars are the limit, and I have always been a proponent for dreams, but just a thought to keep in the back of your mind in case your dd’s journey takes you and your family to those upper levels, elite even.....it NEVER EVER gets better or easier on YOU as the parent!
 

gym_dad32608

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  1. I have no idea about training at that age, mine seems like forever ago, but its not cut and dry. Depends on intensity and duration. So 1 hour of intense training is not the same as 1 hour of unfocused training (I realize at that age it might be a moot point but hopefully you get the idea I'm trying to convey). Daughter is level 10/Hopes, trains 25 hours a week.
  2. It depends on gym and coaches, some factors are going to be: do they have a robust optional program (level 6-10), do they have elites, do they have a history of placing college athletes? Gyms like that might have a more structured approach to advancement such as very specific skills that she must be proficient at. Other gyms might advance based upon combination of skills attained and attitude. Bottom line, at this age, I would mainly be concerned with a positive and supportive environment that works for her.
  3. Price is HIGH. Just some breakdowns in our area, around 575 a month tuition, plus 300 or so competition leo, estimate 1,500 coaches fees for JO season. Maybe another 1000 for travel, 800 for floor routine with music. plus assorted gear, leos, camps, etc.
As far as the other questions, just let things play out now. Number one factor at this initial stage, in my opinion is being in a positive and supportive environment that allows her to have fun and grow in the sport. The skills will come quickly if this is the case. Its an incredibly long haul and your daughter is fine at that age to accomplish everything. I have seen girls at 8 yo look amazing only to flame out at 13-14 for a variety of reasons. I have also seen girls 10 yo seem stuck only to truly blossom and achieve incredible things in their teens.

Be prepared for injuries, they will happen, hopefully mostly minor sprains and aches. I don't think anyone has gone through without at least one injury that put them out of the gym for a period of time. Unfortunately, I have seen ones that have ended their participation. We had a senior this year who had D1 college interest only to dislocate her knee a month before season on beam rotation and end her "career". I say this to be realistic with you.

My final word of advice is to stay out of the parent room! Sooo much chatter and gossip, it never is a good thing and leads to parental anxiety (this coach said this, my DD is doing that, did you hear about....etc). Come meet season you will meet parents on daughters team that have shared interests and probably your kids are friends. I just find it a much healthier situation. As mentioned before, an incredibly long journey, just enjoy the process, soak in the smiles and the experiences!
 
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mommyof1

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If your daughter is interested in preteam and you are willing to support it, now is a good time to ask about the process. Many gyms start their preteam groups at the beginning of the summer. Some gyms allow kids to join preteam midseason, some don’t.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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There may have been an era in the past when kids had to start super young and train at super high intensity from a young age to make elite, back when they were expected to make elite before hitting puberty.

But that era is over, and I say good riddance to it. Nowadays, more and more of the top gymnasts are in their mid or late twenties. Which makes sense; a 26-year-old elite has 10 years more practice (not to mention 10 years more maturity) than a 16-year-old one.

The current metagame favors longevity. Starting late -- not that I would consider 6 to be late by any stretch of the imagination -- is not a significant disadvantage.
 

katrid11

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Your DD is not too old and NEVER worry about what the other girls have done, are doing, or will do. Each girl will have her own path in gymnastics. It is critical you keep this in mind. Too many times people get caught up in what girls are doing what skills. Well they each have their own strengths and will learn skills when their body is ready for it. Also other things come into play.

Ask about pre-team and team at your gym. Our gym is selecting kids right now for pre-team and team b/c training starts in June for the next season. And don't worry if she has some skills and not others - good coaches can see where a girl can get to before season starts.

As for costs - that is gym dependent. Ours changed to a strict monthly fee during COVID so our coach fees for meets is rolled into the monthly. We will pay $450+/mth plus another $2500 for the competition leo/warmups/bag/shoes and meet fees (about 10 meets at $50-100 each) plus $10-25pp admission fees for spectators.
 
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Canadian Gym Mom

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My daughter started gym when she was around 3, but it was only fun and games (as it should be). Their bodies are usually not ready to learn "true gym skills" before they reach 5-6 anyways. I think 6 is a perfect age to start gym!

About the amount of time in the gym, I'd say don't rush into it too soon. The hours (and money) ramp up fast enough! 2 to 3 times a week to begin should be more than enough. But it's the club that decides. And note that sessions for the competitive groups are much longer than the recreational groups.

Also, summer time is a great time to join the competitive program because this is normally when they'll be forming the teams for the entire season. The kids also have more energy at this time of year because they aren't in school. I wouldn't wait to ask the gym about their process for joining the competitive program if you don't want to miss the boat for the upcoming season.

Let us know how it goes!
 
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FlippinPrincess

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How many days a week is enough/too much for a six-year-old just starting out?
- I think 2 is sufficient and I would not do more than 3. The hours only increase and despite what you read, a child really can do great things with less hours when the coaching is good. Take your time and enjoy this.

What steps are there in this process?

What does the price commitment look like going into this? (I know it's not cheap)
-SO expensive! Know that going in.

How long do we have to plan? ie… How long does it usually take kids to go from rec to pre-team to competing at her age?
- this is so dependent on the child and the gym

Is she going to face hardships being already six when she is starting?
-My daughter was 6 in level 3 (turned 7 mid season) and was in the youngest group with LOTS of older girls. Your girl is just fine.

Also... any advice for new moms getting into this is absolutely welcome. Things that helped your child, and your sanity... -
-Stay in this forum and read lots of old threads. That helped me stay sane, block out the "crazy" and do what was best for my daughter. There are some EXTREMELY knowledgeable parents here - listen. Don't get swept up in levels and move ups - enjoy the lower levels where the skills are safe and fun because things get real before you expect it.

Good luck!