WAG Living in a sub par gymnastics state

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Amber

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2012
208
Region 8
Our gym is probably the 4 or 5th best gym in the state. 20 min away is the best gym in the state. I have been torn for awhile whether to move my younger DD to this gym, because DD is now a 9 yr old level 7, with some level 8 and 9 skills, and while our gym has an excellent reputation for producing great mid level gymnasts, our optionals are sorely lacking. They don't get enough coaching and seem to compete only the minimum. We don't have straps to learn harder floor or bar skills.

This nearby gym has optional girls who always score in the top 3 at every meet in our state. I have seen them, and they deserve their high scores. But I did a little digging, and it seems that when they compete at regionals or eastern championships,they score near the bottom! One girl has scored either 1st or 2nd AA at every meet in our state for years, but finished second to last at eastern championships (level 9). Her scores drop almost a full point on every event except vault. She scored in the middle at regionals (region 8). And this is a continuing thing all across our state. Our best gymnasts cannot hold their own against other states/regions.

So now I feel like what's the point? My DD has been top 3AA at about 95% of her meets. She competes regionally. She scores slightly lower out of state, but not much, maybe one AA placement lower. She is a level 6 National bars Champion (albeit AAU). I had a tiny sliver of hope that maybe she had a chance for a college gymnastics, but after seeing zero chance for the best girls in the state, why bother with changing gyms, having this hard schedule, her missing out on a ton? She does love it, and she feels like gym is her second home. But should I pursue better opportunities for her at the gym 20 min away, or have her change into a mediocre optional? Staying at our current gym would be very easy and comfortable. I know her HC feels she is very talented, and has had her on a fast track for a few years. Does the HC realize the fruitless ness of it? Why push her so hard so fast if there is no real endpoint/goal?

I guess I just feel really discouraged :(
 
That's so hard. Then again, it would also be hard to be in a super-competitive state and be a very solid gymnast that never places.

I can't imagine that a 9-year-old level 7 has zero chance of a college scholarship, no matter what state you're in. Yes, the very top tier division I schools are going to pick the girls that are placing at nationals, but you can read the stories of people here on the CB to see that those aren't the only girls getting scholarships. We had a girl on our team who never made it to nationals who is doing college gym. I believe her funding is partially academic and partially athletic. Do girls at the other gym get scholarships? It should say on their website.

In reality, it is far more likely that your daughter will quit before she gets to that stage anyway. Most will. And most of the moms of the ones that quit would have said at age 9 or 10 or 11 that the gym is their 2nd home and that they can't imagine them ever quitting. So ultimately the question is, which gym is best for your daughter. If your daughter is really driven in gymnastics she may start to see that her current gym is holding her back and she may want to go to the "better" gym. You should let her know that's an option. But it sounds like, at the moment, she is getting sound coaching from coaches who are invested in her progress.

I "made" my daughter switch to a more competitive gym when she was 10, but I had serious concerns about coaching and about safety and it doesn't sound like that's the case here. I'm certainly not telling you that your daughter will quit. I'm just saying that I don't think you should make your decision based on which place is most likely to get her a scholarship, since bottom line is that very few kids go to college on athletic scholarships. You should make it based on keeping your daughter safe, happy, and loving gymnastics.
 
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Mary A, thanks for your reply. I did check (not sure if I missed anyone) and there has been only one elite in our state, and she was from this gym 20 min away. She did compete as a Div I too. I think it's a possibility that DD could quit (13/14 seems to be the age of quitting) but maybe if I move her to this gym, if she doesn't quit, she at least has a chance! And if she quits, so be it, but we gave her a chance:) she will stay at current gym for the year...this is the last level they do ok at...

I sure do feel sorry for those in the ultra competitive states!
 
What is your optional team's make-up in terms of age, number of girls per level, how many years have the coaches had the girls at that level? It's hard to say what type of program you have without knowing how much experience the coaches have training upper level girls. They may just be an up-and-coming gym, learning as they go (which can take a long time if you only have a couple high level gymnasts, or if they keep quitting/switching). Or they may have many years of experience but are just not willing/capable of getting the girls to the higher levels with skills needed to compete nationally.

If your dd is currently happy and loves the gym and she is learning skills safely, I personally would just keep her there. You can always decide in a few years, if she is looking like she might want college gym. It seems like her coaches are at least capable of coaching the basic skills needed for upper optionals - if she is learning 8/9 skills, which also means they see the importance of up-training. Given that the other gym is not significantly better at getting the girls to the higher level competitions, I would wait it out a bit longer and see how your dd develops over the next couple years. You will then have more perspective, not only on her commitment going forward, but on both gyms' abilities to get the girls to the higher levels.
 
Gym gal, thanks for the insight:) current gym is pretty established: started about 10 years ago. Has 110 on team, including about 30 girls on Excel. This year, we have 14 optionals; 5 are level 6, 5 are level 7, 2 level 8s and 2 level 9s. We had a level 10 just graduate. All of these optionals are young (one level 9 is 14; rest under 12). Last year, about 6 older teen optionals just left for other gyms.

Why the mass exodus? Mostly, lack of coaching. Only HC (20 yrs experience) and assistant HC (11 years experience) are in charge of optionals. AHC is a floater who helps all levels and subs for missing coaches. HC is very involved with Tops girls and also directly coaches level 4-6. I have often seen, over the years, the optional girls by themselves on different apparatus, coaching themselves. They would go thru several rotations with zero coach involvement. I guess that's one reason why the optionals stick to minimum requirements. No one to teach them.

Levels 1-6 get about 2 coaches per level. Excel also. I have directly asked HC why another coach is not added for optionals, and was told HC doesn't want to give up control of that group:(

This is why our gym does very very well at levels 1-6. There is a lot of coaching and attention. Level 7-10, hardly any. Fifty percent of our gymnasts are level 3 and 4.

I am not super worried about safety, because of the minimum requirement situation. Girls up train heavily until level 6, and they repeat and repeat these skills for the next several years. But you won't see many D skills at our gym. No one around to teach it.

That is why I am at a crossroads. I could put DD in a gym 20 min away next year. She would get more direct coaching and learn much harder skills. I have been told talented kids homeschool at this gym, but I don't know much about that.

Just thinking about options and whether it's all worth it. DD may quit and become a great lacrosse player at 14, so who knows;)?
 
Given the new info, I would have to change my take on it and switch gyms, if it were my dd. While your dd may like it there now, I can't imagine she will be too happy about it once she realizes that she is not getting the coaching she is used to and her scores/placements will suffer as a result. She is so young. If she were a little older, you would be able to sit her down and talk to her about it logically but at this age, I am not sure she will really "get it". You could keep her there until she comes to the realization on her own but as a parent, I would have a hard time shoveling out all that money knowing she is not getting the coaching she needs and has been paid for. And while I understand the other gym may not be enough to get her to the top, she will still be in a better place coach and safety wise.
 
Gym gal,
That's the conclusion I'm coming to. It's really a shame, because the coaches are nice and we could have a great optional program, if only there were more coaching!
I figure I will use this comp season to really watch this better gym, and plant the seed of moving to a better place in DDs mind..that way, it won't be a shock:)
 
I agree with checking out the new gym. It sounds like the current coaching situation is going to be just pouring money into something you're not going to ever be satisfied with. You have already identified the source of the problem, and the problem doesn't seem like it will be resolved (at least not in time for your DD's optional career). That's never going to leave you at peace.

If the extra 20 minutes won't break the family, then why not at least invest your time, effort, and money into the 'best' that you can afford for your daughter, wherever that make take her.

Hope it works out for you both!
 
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I would see optional kids going through entire rotations with no coaching/spotting as a safety issue, for sure. And I'm sure you are paying for your child to be coached for that time. Yes, that would annoy me too. Sounds like you're right to be planting the gym-switch seed in your daughter's brain now. And maybe you'll have another chance to broach the coaching issue with the HC. But it really sounds like your current gym is mostly focussed on the lower levels, which is fine. They just shouldn't be surprised/annoyed when the kids with promise move on once they get to optionals.
 
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DD was at a smaller but similar gym. Great compulsory coaching, optionals were "leaders" who could "be independent" and "show the younger/lower level girls how to work hard" - translate into very minimal coaching (unless you paid for privates) and minimal skills perfected at level 7 and up - led to good placement for the girls with good form and strength at state level, because they were very clean, but not so good at regionals. 2 kids from this gym are doing college gym....and we are in a small area...but many, many quit at L8/9....age certainly a factor, but the reality of having not uptrained for years makes them really struggle at that point.

DD did very well as a 10/11 year old L7 for 2 years. constant placements, all except vault. Now at bigger gym with much more uptraining and higher standards, she is having to make up for the 2 years of no new skills....its been really rough on her at age 12 to go from high placements at state 2 years in a row to struggling to get acceptable routines. I would recommend seriously considering NOT waiting until your kiddo is hitting the puberty slump to move her:oops:. Her younger friends who also moved may be having to repeat, or re-learn (some not), but they are much less unhappy about it....

New gym is bursting at the seams with transfers from now closed old gym, but head coaches response has been to spend MORE time with the optionals, hire MORE coaches to cover the compulsories, and she sets a great balance of encouraging the young talented kids to move fast (2 11 YO L9s,) but also helping the older (14+) girls feel good about being L6s....and with the bulk of the optionals between 13-16 (a few 12s like DD) but enjoying gym whether they be L6 or L9 (no 10s this year) its a healthy place. Still don't know if she'll be able to break out from our small state, small region placements at Nationals, but its a good place to do gym! hindsight is 20/20, but if you think you should move, you most likely should!
 
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Hate to always sound like a broken record (for those that remember what that is) ;) but what is wrong with talking to the owners about your concerns? I hate it when parents wait until they are all 'fired up' before they come talk to me. 95% of the time there is an easy fix once I realize what their concern is. I love nothing more than when a parent or athlete says to me 'I want to learn harder skills'. Now we're talking! ;) Good luck no matter what you decide. :)
 
Gym sanity, if only it were that easy! I am friends with the gym owner. He really wants a rec only gym. When HC approached him for a job 10 years ago, there was no team. He never thought it would get this big. He told me will not interfere with team at all. HC has complete authority for hiring, firing, etc. HC must have control issues, since it's obvious the optionals need more coaching, but a new coach will never be hired!

Gym owner would completely understand when we switch gyms. He has zero emotional investment on the team side. He is about rec, birthday parties, and fun.

The saddest thing I have seen: a couple of years ago, we got a teen level 9 from another, more competitive state. Her bars were awesome! At first. Over the year, because of the lack of coaching, she started losing skills and starting looking sloppy (not hitting vertical etc). Her scores plummeted. She left after 2 years. Not sure if she's even doing gymnastics anymore. I don't want to see this downward spiral with my little DD:(
 
I agree with Gymsanity, and perhaps I am (only a LITTLE bit) jaded right now. We did have multiple meetings with DD old coach over her 2 years of L7, and the rational I was sold was that her second year of L7 would be uptraining for L8 (in fact we paid for L8 rates/did L8 hours...plus every other week privates - I was encouraged not to attend ANY practices or privates so she could "be in charge" of her gym....in theory a nice idea) - in all that time it would have been nice if the coach had mentioned if DD was struggling, or that maybe we didn't NEED all that extra time in the gym as she wasn't, in fact, uptraining...I understand a "let them grow" year - or a kid who hits puberty and fears and stalls out - but at new gym she is facing those fears, adjusting her skills to accomodate them, and doing a ton of small adjustments to present skill set (vaulting on higher settings while still doing trainers to flip, gianting every single day whether she wants to or not, working on bails, significant additions to her front tumbling while she continues to deal with back twisting fears - changing beam series and adding harder leaps and back tuck rather than crying for 2 years over BHS-BHS). All this could have happened last year, or at least been discussed instead of "she'll do so well at state, we adjusted this today, etc..."

NOT directly relevant to the OPs question, I realize, but there ARE often reasons that some gyms stall out at compulsory level, and it is true that when a kid is struggling or a parent wonders about the "long term" issues at a gym (or school, or music teacher, etc) some coaches/teachers will be very helpful, but if the record doesn't speak well there is probably a reason. My kids violin teacher actually called a meeting with me a year ago and then spent a year helping us find a new teacher who could help my kids progress faster/go farther....and she lost other students when we left, but gained huge respect in the community!

Sometimes parents need to do what is in their kids best interest, and I wish I had been a bit more suspicious last year when I was writing all those checks!
 
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Gym sanity, if only it were that easy! I am friends with the gym owner. He really wants a rec only gym. When HC approached him for a job 10 years ago, there was no team. He never thought it would get this big. He told me will not interfere with team at all. HC has complete authority for hiring, firing, etc. HC must have control issues, since it's obvious the optionals need more coaching, but a new coach will never be hired!

Gym owner would completely understand when we switch gyms. He has zero emotional investment on the team side. He is about rec, birthday parties, and fun.

The saddest thing I have seen: a couple of years ago, we got a teen level 9 from another, more competitive state. Her bars were awesome! At first. Over the year, because of the lack of coaching, she started losing skills and starting looking sloppy (not hitting vertical etc). Her scores plummeted. She left after 2 years. Not sure if she's even doing gymnastics anymore. I don't want to see this downward spiral with my little DD:(
Ooops, that sadly puts things in a different light.......I'm afraid the grass is starting to look a lot greener on the other side of the fence.... I hope you will let us know whatever you decide, and good luck with that difficult decision. :)
 
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Me!! Meeee!! (Waving hand frantically) No gyms around here and a daughter (possibly two daughters) who adore gymnastics. My middle one is really talented too, and it's incredibly unfortunate that her options are so limited. Currently there are mayyybe 3 level 10 gymnasts in our whole state. Mine is too young right now to really sit down and consider serious options, but we might be in your shoes in a couple if years and then I will be at a loss. @Gymsanity I don't find that the coaches are always that receptive to requests to learn harder skills. I wish they were!!
 
'I don't find that the coaches are always that receptive to requests to learn harder skills. I wish they were!!'
That's too bad, as that is clearly stated in our job description! ;) This past Wednesday I split the girls up for the day. I took the more advanced girls over to start on double back drills and timers. A few minutes later a little 7 year old L3 who has never even competed yet (two weeks to go) comes over to me and asks if she can try. My first response was 'no, you need to go work with the other girls.' But then I started to think how much guts that must have taken (she hasn't known me long enough, so I'm still the big mean scary coach), and she is naturally very quiet. She has a really nice RO 2 BHS, so I go over there and grab her and let her know how courageous I think she is for asking and wanting to try. She joins in and does all the drills she is capable of to the best of her ability. She gets a RO BHS BT with a light safety spot. Then I have her go and after her BT, we grab her in the air and turn her over (100% spotted) on the second salto! Not sure who had the biggest smile for the rest of the day, her or me!! You gotta love kids like that! :)
 
'I don't find that the coaches are always that receptive to requests to learn harder skills. I wish they were!!'
That's too bad, as that is clearly stated in our job description! ;) This past Wednesday I split the girls up for the day. I took the more advanced girls over to start on double back drills and timers. A few minutes later a little 7 year old L3 who has never even competed yet (two weeks to go) comes over to me and asks if she can try. My first response was 'no, you need to go work with the other girls.' But then I started to think how much guts that must have taken (she hasn't known me long enough, so I'm still the big mean scary coach), and she is naturally very quiet. She has a really nice RO 2 BHS, so I go over there and grab her and let her know how courageous I think she is for asking and wanting to try. She joins in and does all the drills she is capable of to the best of her ability. She gets a RO BHS BT with a light safety spot. Then I have her go and after her BT, we grab her in the air and turn her over (100% spotted) on the second salto! Not sure who had the biggest smile for the rest of the day, her or me!! You gotta love kids like that! :)
That is wonderful! My DD would love you. She has cleaned up her RO 2bhs nicely and has a RO Bhs bt (not competition ready, needs work), and they have her competing level 2. It is the same situation as OP's. Very, very limited gym options. No elite gyms, and really no gyms to get the kids to L10. It's a huge bummer. I've had several see DD tumble and do bars and say that she should be at least level 3. Very, very few go past level 7 around here. What can you do if there are no gyms in an area?
 
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