level 5 placement

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My 8 year old daughter just moved up to USA 5. One of her level 4 coaches (who has coached her since she started gymnastics) approached me to say that she wants her to stay level 4/5 (compete at 4 but learn 5 skills) because she feels she needs another year. Her specific concern is that my daughter (who is very small) will not be able to vault safely. She was moved up despite her coaches wishes because she scored so well during the level 4 season.

The gym owner and another coach evaluated all of the girls who moved up to level 5 and reported to me that she is fine at level five, strong enough, and ready to train.

My daughter came home last week and said she should move back to level 4/5 because she cannot vault safely. A substitute coach (not her new coach) was working with her on the vault and was not spotting as well or letting her use a power board (?) to make the vault. She was "sliding". I should also add that her level 4 coach expressed her vault reservations to my daughter earlier last week also. And she is a perfectionist who doesn't like to struggle with skills.

I respect all of the coaches who have different opinions and do not know what would be best for my daughter. I am told that her level 4 coach is very protective of her girls and gets very attached and that this is the reason she wants to keep her. I have some concerns she would be bored with another year of level 4, as she scored very well all season and a lot of this comes very easily to her. She is a child who definitely needs a challenge. But, her safety is my biggest concern.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.


well, that is a hard one. I coach 4's and 5's and my biggest problem with one of my littlest 7 year olds in her vault. She is extremely small and lightweight so she has struggled. She now vaults pretty well but my advice is to look to the coaches to do a lot of drills to teach her how to punch the board with her chest up (will prevent the sliding) and not go into the vault piked. She will slide, and she will do handstands on top of the table.... it's part of learning the new skill...
How are her front handsprings? How well does she block? These are all things to work on as a new 5. Can she straight jump to the top of the table?
I wouldn't worry too much mom... unless you see her getting hurt every day or them ignoring the "teaching" part of coaching... she will do fine!
Just keep in contact with the new coaches and voice your concerns. (my sugggestion also is not to do it infront of your little gymnast... if others think she can't... she probably won't! Sounds like that has already happened a little!)
Good luck and keep encouraging her!
Feb 26, 2007
I think if it was my DD and she was scoring as well as you say, I would move her up. A good coach can help her to learn her vault safely, she has already learned the vault preflight and how to hold her body tight in the right shapes.

I would rather have her not vault at all, then become bored with skills she has easily mastered.

I am going through the same thing with my 8 year old, she is competing a lvel four equivalent this year as the coach wants her to do it for the first season. But, we are looking at moving her up for the last comp as she only lacks the FHS vault over the table.

My DD right now is finding her routines boring and wishes she was training her higher level skills. Boredom is not a good motivator, she has two months to go and then she is moving up, regardless of the vaulI read a great quote somewhere " If she can run, she can vault"! I tend to agree, the best vaulters in our gym are the girls who run, hard and fast.


Proud Parent
May 11, 2007
Pacific NW
I don't think size has to be a barrier to doing a FHS vault. Some of the littlest 7 and 8 year olds at my dd's gym are great vaulters. I've seen girls weighing around 50 pounds score in the 9.5 range on level 5 vault.

While I appreciate your coach's concern, I'm not sure it's helpful to tell her she can't vault safely. She doesn't need to get this idea in her head. I would sit down with the head coach and talk it through. Whether she stays 4 or goes 5 this year probably isn't going to be really significant in the long run, but the coaches should be presenting a united front instead of giving your dd mixed messages.


I wouldn't worry about the vault too much. Everyone tends to have an event that is harder for them than the others so vault is probably your daughter's hard event. Being small isn't a good reason for not being able to vault. As long as your daughter's coaches are teaching her proper technique and doing drills that will help her with her specific weaknesses, she should be fine. She may need more spotting than the other girls and she may not score as well, but I don't think that's a big deal.

In a practice situation the coach will use matting and spot her to make sure she's safe. In a meet situation the worst case is she has to sit out on this event until she gets stronger. But she's got months to work on this vault before the next season starts.

I would encourage your daughter to keep trying her best on this event. From your description it sounds like she was just not able to vault well. She may equate not being able to vault safely with not being able to vault well (especially after the remarks her old coach made to her about her vaulting ability), but these are two very different things. I think this is common for kids who get skills easily - they haven't learned how to cope with a challenging skill yet so it may be a few years into their career when they start learning how to work though a difficulty. Anyway, it's the coach's job to keep kids safe and ONLY if the coach can't spot well would I consider this an unsafe situation. This can be the case with older, larger kids, but if your daughter is small a coach should be able to spot her just fine.


Aug 29, 2007
I only hold the girls back a level if they are having issues with more than one event. Season is a long way away, and I'm sure that with the correct amount of effort on both your daughter and coaches she should be able to vault pretty deciently once the new season begins. Vault has been an issue in the past at my gym with our little ones. But our group of girls that are currently Level 4 are vaulting over the table pretty safely. Not to say its a pretty vault yet, but it will be by the time they compete level 5 in November.

I would sit down with the head coach, give them your concerns and make a decision together. But having one coach put it into your daughters head that she can't do it. I don't know about that. All the coaches should be on the same page, as not to confuse you or your daughter.


Vault has always been tough for my DD, she weighed about 40lbs at level 5 although she had a great block and a powerful run she just never got a lot of "spring" off the board. It took a lot of drills but it did eventually sink in.

I wouldn't worry too much about it. If there is an issue with conflicting opinions with the coaches I would just talk to them.


Thanks for the great input! Funny enough, she came home yesterday with no complaints and said her coach gave her a tip about her head position that prevented her from sliding. I'll just keep tabs on her progress with the new coach and see how things go.


Glad to hear she had a better practice. It seems there is always one event they struggle with. My dd almost got held at l5 because of bars (they were really bad) - then all of a sudden it clicked and she did really well on bars at level 6. Now going to level 7 I think she is going to have some fear issues to deal with on beam.
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