For Parents Need to vent a little

PeanutsMom

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I need to vent a little. I am a little leery of putting this on here because I am pretty sure other gym parents are on here and I have NO idea if any of our coaches are on here, but it has gotten to the point where my child is noticing and I need some advice.

Our gym has always been a place where the focus is on personal growth. Or rather, it WAS a place where the focus was on personal growth. Kids were allowed to compete and move up levels if they has passion and determination even if they didn't make it to the podium at every meet. This was one the things that drew us to this gym. We had been at a gym when my daughter was in Kindergarten and the focus even then was on getting higher level skills and pushing through even if injured. I watched one of their gymnasts (a level 8) take a header of the high bar doing a clear hip handstand and rather than immobilize her they made her get up. She was very obviously in shock. We left after that and a few other instances.

We took some time off and came to this gym in 1st grade. By second grade kiddo was Level 3. Did full seasons of 3,4,5,6 and this year 7. This past year is when things have CHANGED! We never really had a TOPs program before, but now we do. The TOPs girls compete 1 meet at each level to test out. Doesn't matter their score as long as they test out. They train with the Optional programs (most of these girls are 8-9 years old). They get ALL the coach's attention. They get spotted. They get to train upskills. Some have been invited to the extra practices. Others get 4-5 hours of private lessons per week. I could completely let it slide IF my own gymnast (who is 12) wasn't coming home saying that "so and so got all of coach's attention again." It is to the point where many families are starting to notice. Girls who are doing well could be doing so much better if they got any correction/help/spotting from our coaches. There are a couple of girls (level 7) who the "rumor" is that they are trying to push to 10 this summer. Its as if all our girls who have been training here for years have been forgotten for the new shiny thing in the gym. Yes these girls are good, but they are getting one one one training and full hands on spotting. Rumor has also been shared that our head coach made a comment to the other coach that attention needed to be spread around, but so far nothing has changed. When multiple girls are feeling resentful of the new kids that doesn't promote team atmosphere. We have some AMAZING gymnasts who have been cast aside. My daughter isn't likely going to be a national champion, she may not even make it to level 10 (who knows, she is working towards 8 as 6th grader), but this gym WAS always about pushing yourself to YOUR best and loving the sport. I miss that philosophy and am kind of disappointed that our gym is becoming stereotypical instead of about personal growth.

Thanks, just needed to get that off my chest.
 
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PreciousJ

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I'll let other more experienced parents weigh in, but I love that you shared your honest feelings. I know I would feel the same way in this situation. For my DD, what I want her to get out of gymnastics is: Fun/socialization, learning to challenge herself, learning focus, and learning that success does not always equal winning. It would be hard to achieve any of that in the type of environment you're describing. It must also be super disappointing realizing that the gym is currently not meeting your DD's (and many others') needs at the expense of the TOPS group. That's not fair to *any* of the girls.
 
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mom2newgymnast

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Ugh, I totally see why you are frustrated and disappointed. I would be too! Have you tried talking to the head coach (the one you said commented that attention needs to be spread around)? So the new, TOPS, girls are in the same training group as the older girls that have been there. And the coaches are spending most of the practice on them? It sounds like they really need to have their own practice times separate from the optionals. Are there any other gym options close by? I hope you can work something out. :(

We don't have the same situation, but I can relate about the general feelings of "unfairness" when a gym changes their philosophy after you've been there for years. Dd has been at her gym preschool classes and she's a level 9 now. She's competed 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9. Always done well, but their philosophy was more of a slow and steady approach and focus on basics. She is now 13 and a level 9, which is pretty much as young as she could be going through their program. Recently though, they have been scoring out of 5, skipping levels frequently and also taking in much younger kids from other gyms. So, she has gone from the youngest to one of the oldest in her group and there are many 9 and 10 year olds in the level below her. And now she is too old and mature to get in to their day program because they only seem to want the tiny super stars. Kind of crappy if you ask me. But luckily she is happy with her coaches and doesn't really want to be in the other group anyway. What does bother her a lot though is how cocky some of these little ones are. 8,9,10 years old with iPhone 12s on instagram and snapchat and tik toks bragging about how great they are drives her up a wall.
 

mom2newgymnast

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Yikes. *facepalm*

@PeanutsMom are the TOPS girls new to the gym?
Sorry if that came out bad. :(I am sure jealousy plays a small part in her feelings.. she didn't get a phone until she was 12 and it's only an iPhone 8. (the horror! lol) But some of these girls at her gym do think they are all that. Some of the stuff they say is pretty obnoxious.
 

PreciousJ

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Sorry if that came out bad. :(I am sure jealousy plays a small part in her feelings.. she didn't get a phone until she was 12 and it's only an iPhone 8. (the horror! lol) But some of these girls at her gym do think they are all that. Some of the stuff they say is pretty obnoxious.
Oh no, I totally agree with your DD that the behavior of those girls is obnoxious!
 
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PeanutsMom

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Ugh, I totally see why you are frustrated and disappointed. I would be too! Have you tried talking to the head coach (the one you said commented that attention needs to be spread around)? So the new, TOPS, girls are in the same training group as the older girls that have been there. And the coaches are spending most of the practice on them? It sounds like they really need to have their own practice times separate from the optionals. Are there any other gym options close by? I hope you can work something out. :(

We don't have the same situation, but I can relate about the general feelings of "unfairness" when a gym changes their philosophy after you've been there for years. Dd has been at her gym preschool classes and she's a level 9 now. She's competed 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9. Always done well, but their philosophy was more of a slow and steady approach and focus on basics. She is now 13 and a level 9, which is pretty much as young as she could be going through their program. Recently though, they have been scoring out of 5, skipping levels frequently and also taking in much younger kids from other gyms. So, she has gone from the youngest to one of the oldest in her group and there are many 9 and 10 year olds in the level below her. And now she is too old and mature to get in to their day program because they only seem to want the tiny super stars. Kind of crappy if you ask me. But luckily she is happy with her coaches and doesn't really want to be in the other group anyway. What does bother her a lot though is how cocky some of these little ones are. 8,9,10 years old with iPhone 12s on instagram and snapchat and tik toks bragging about how great they are drives her up a wall.
I can't talk to the head coach as he is also the owner and as other parents have brought up concerns he really shuts them down. One of these parents has a daughter who is phenomenal. The more she has brought concerns, the more this poor girl is ignored.
As for going to another gym, there isn't an option. The only other option is the gym we left early on due to safety concerns and environment of win at all costs. Which is honestly why we liked this gym so much better = personal growth, fostering lifelong love of fitness and the sport, reaching YOUR potential. This is the part that is so hard to swallow. This is where the shift has come. It is now seeming to be about winning and pushing girls to get to the top as fast as possible and picking and choosing A). parents that will pay for all the extra time/lessons/privates and B). those who are willing to pull kids out of public school and home school and put gymnastics first above anything else. This second point is not a possibility for many as parents BOTH work in order to pay for gym. The girls who are moving up quickly all have a least one parent who is a stay at home parent OR works from home and can take to practices in the morning, privates midday, or whenever the coaches are free. We, as well as many others, do not have this option.
I actually got off work early yesterday and since gym is on my way home, I watched the tail end of practice. Observations: The younger TOPs girls were goofing off and not doing the assignments with their group. 2 were doing as many back handsprings as possible down the floor trying to out do the other. One was on tumble track with her group. She took 3-4 turns before exiting the trampoline while all the other girls waited for her (none of them want to be THAT girl that tells the 7 year old to get off the trampoline). One didn't help set up any of the stations with her group. She was doing leaps while they set up all the stations. She also did not help clean any of the stations up at the end. I hadn't really seen the issues first hand. All of this happened in 45 minutes, so I am curious as to what happens the other 3 hours of practice. I can understand why the other girls are frustrated and resentful.
 

PeanutsMom

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Oh no, I totally agree with your DD that the behavior of those girls is obnoxious!
@PreciousJ @mom2newgymnast this phone instagram behavior happens at our gym too with these younger girls. They have "followed" all the level 9/10s and tag them in all their posts learning "new skills" on dedicated gymnastics pages. (my DD follows the older girls as most have been her teammates for a couple of years). Its new skill after new skill and all with the coach having hands on spotting which just rubs in the favoritism with the other girls.

And yes, most of the TOPs girls are new to the gym. One of the superstars did level 4 and 5 in 2020 to test out and did 6/7 this year. The "rumor" (and I say this because it is heresay) is that they are trying to get her to 10 this summer. Most were part of the rec program then the new TOPs program. All TOPs girls have pretty much skipped compulsory and best tested out to jump straight into Optionals. At this point all have scored out of 5 and at least 6 having done only 1 meet at level 4/5. Most are getting pushed to higher levels as quickly as possible. One meet for a test out score then the next skill, next level.
 

cmg

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The girls that move up very quickly will most likely burn out or get too frustrated once there are skills they are not good at or they develop fears on something. Many previous posts on chalk bucket have indicated that gymnastics is a marathon, not a sprint and those that try to sprint ahead sometimes (not always) end up quitting once they get to the higher levels. I know it is hard to watch other gymnasts getting more/special attention, but just be patient. Slow and steady wins the race. Trying to get someone from a level 4 to 10 in one summer is a huge mistake in my book. But my daughter has taken the slow road so I would not be able to relate to that kind of speedy progression. I think the slower progression helps develop muscles, tendons, bones, muscle memory etc that also helps prevent injuries in the future. Let us know what happens in a couple of years....
 

Gymx2

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Hopefully, this is just temporary insanity at your gym and things return to normal in another few months. If this group of young show-offs doesn't really like to work and just want to fly up the levels as fast as possible they probably won't be there in a few more years.
 

mom2newgymnast

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It does sound like a really unfortunate situation there. So sorry! I honestly don't understand what made the coaches/gym decide to push these girls so much? What's the point of taking an 8/9 year old to level 10 after only a couple of years in the sport? Do they have elite goals in mind?

I have no advice. But I agree with @cmg that I think this path will probably not turn out that favorably for them. Many of the girls that were fast tracked at our gym are currently hurt or leaving the sport. My daughter gets jealous at the attention and the skills they are doing at a much younger age, but she is also still competing at 13, has never had an overuse injury and still loves the sport. And she has made it through puberty and a vastly different body, something they all will have to go through eventually. So I just keep reminding her that she is in a good place right now. But I totally think your frustration is justified as the coaches owe it to all of their athletes to provide coaching and support and a safe and encouraging environment.
 

PreciousJ

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Hopefully, this is just temporary insanity at your gym and things return to normal in another few months. If this group of young show-offs doesn't really like to work and just want to fly up the levels as fast as possible they probably won't be there in a few more years.
This is a good point. These young ladies may think it's cool (and very Instagram-worthy) to fly through the levels and be an 8 year old L9/L10. But it sounds like they lack the focus to possibly compete successfully at those challenging levels, especially if they've basically only competed a handful of times.

That said, it's clear that something has to give here. The resident gymmies are clearly being overlooked in favor of the new talent. I know @PeanutsMom said that the HC/owner has shut down feedback from another parent, but maybe there would be power in numbers - could you and other parents agree to put your concerns to the HC? Do you think it might "soften the blow" if you presented your concerns in an email, asking to set up a parent meeting? I know ideally you don't want to create an "us vs. them" environment, but the TOPS group should not get to dominate the training patterns of the entire gym.
 
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PreciousJ

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It does sound like a really unfortunate situation there. So sorry! I honestly don't understand what made the coaches/gym decide to push these girls so much? What's the point of taking an 8/9 year old to level 10 after only a couple of years in the sport? Do they have elite goals in mind?
Makes me wonder weather the HC/owners want the "prestige"/elite tag that some associate with TOPS and young L10s. I get the impression this elite status was not in place when the OP's DD started at the gym, but correct me if I'm wrong.
 

cogymmom2dd

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It’s likely that they are receiving this special treatment because they have parents that are willing to hemmorhage money to the gym for the sake of training for their kids.
My DD’s both have friends at other ‘elite’ gyms and their parents have mentioned that they are always pushing privates and some do them just to get the attention of a coach for an extended period of time, which IMHO is pretty sad.
They probably know that if they approached you, a seasoned parent from the gym with a kid on a traditional path for many years that maybe hasn’t done privates consistently and suddenly said that they were going to start requiring X amount of privates, you would question them as to why the sudden change and what the point of practices were. I know I sure as heck would be questioning a change like that so they focus the attention on the money trail... the parents willing to pay for privates, the parents willing to pull their kids from traditional schooling to do gym school plus privates.
Im sorry there really aren’t any other options near you. Tell your DD to keep her head up, keep working hard.
Those girls will end up burning out or injured if they keep doing what they are doing at such young ages.
 
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LJL07

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I didn’t read all the responses, but one culture shift I would like to see is moving away from hyperfocusing on 8 and 9 year olds with level 9 skills. They are almost always homeschooling and doing a zillion hours. As someone already mentioned, it is a marathon not a sprint. I guess the gyms focus on the little hotshots because it makes the gym look good, but how many of these kids will make it through high school??
 

Bella7

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Wow! I really don’t understand why you would push a 9 year old into Level 10. Think how many years she will be at that Level. Furthermore their bodies are developing and this level of training can’t be good for growth plates and injuries surely!
 

skygirlpc

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I can't talk to the head coach as he is also the owner and as other parents have brought up concerns he really shuts them down. One of these parents has a daughter who is phenomenal. The more she has brought concerns, the more this poor girl is ignored.
As for going to another gym, there isn't an option. The only other option is the gym we left early on due to safety concerns and environment of win at all costs. Which is honestly why we liked this gym so much better = personal growth, fostering lifelong love of fitness and the sport, reaching YOUR potential. This is the part that is so hard to swallow. This is where the shift has come. It is now seeming to be about winning and pushing girls to get to the top as fast as possible and picking and choosing A). parents that will pay for all the extra time/lessons/privates and B). those who are willing to pull kids out of public school and home school and put gymnastics first above anything else. This second point is not a possibility for many as parents BOTH work in order to pay for gym. The girls who are moving up quickly all have a least one parent who is a stay at home parent OR works from home and can take to practices in the morning, privates midday, or whenever the coaches are free. We, as well as many others, do not have this option.
I actually got off work early yesterday and since gym is on my way home, I watched the tail end of practice. Observations: The younger TOPs girls were goofing off and not doing the assignments with their group. 2 were doing as many back handsprings as possible down the floor trying to out do the other. One was on tumble track with her group. She took 3-4 turns before exiting the trampoline while all the other girls waited for her (none of them want to be THAT girl that tells the 7 year old to get off the trampoline). One didn't help set up any of the stations with her group. She was doing leaps while they set up all the stations. She also did not help clean any of the stations up at the end. I hadn't really seen the issues first hand. All of this happened in 45 minutes, so I am curious as to what happens the other 3 hours of practice. I can understand why the other girls are frustrated and resentful.
I have very little experience in this sport, my 7 yr old daughter isn't even competing yet. But I don't think I would want to be at a gym that I was unable to talk to the head coach/owner.
 

PeanutsMom

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So many of you have great insight. I few things. This quote "as the coaches owe it to all of their athletes to provide coaching and support and a safe and encouraging environment." really stood out. THIS is where the feelings of helplessness and frustration come from. Not all girls are being "coached" equally. Like I stated previously, we have some really amazing, talented athletes who have many years (lots of middle schoolers on our teams who are training level 8 skills) and could still make Level 10 early in high school. Just think of how amazing our whole team could be if all the athletes that are now 6th/7th grade make make level 10 as HS students? However, this will be difficult if they don't get coaching help.
 

duyetanh

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I actually got off work early yesterday and since gym is on my way home, I watched the tail end of practice. Observations: The younger TOPs girls were goofing off and not doing the assignments with their group. 2 were doing as many back handsprings as possible down the floor trying to out do the other. One was on tumble track with her group. She took 3-4 turns before exiting the trampoline while all the other girls waited for her (none of them want to be THAT girl that tells the 7 year old to get off the trampoline). One didn't help set up any of the stations with her group. She was doing leaps while they set up all the stations. She also did not help clean any of the stations up at the end. I hadn't really seen the issues first hand. All of this happened in 45 minutes, so I am curious as to what happens the other 3 hours of practice. I can understand why the other girls are frustrated and resentful.
Actually this would bring me quite a bit of relief as a parent. Doesn't sound like these girls care much, and most of them will burn out. Sounds like a pretty dysfunctional group honestly. The ones who continue to work all the time, even if they are not getting this special attention, will be the ones who make it in the long run. And man, if I was one of those parents of the girls fooling around? We would be having a come to Jesus moment....because this sport is expensive enough as it is, and I am not paying this exorbitant monthly fee for social hour. Yes, it's supposed to be fun. But there is a difference between fun and disobedience and disrespect.
 

duyetanh

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I didn’t read all the responses, but one culture shift I would like to see is moving away from hyperfocusing on 8 and 9 year olds with level 9 skills. They are almost always homeschooling and doing a zillion hours. As someone already mentioned, it is a marathon not a sprint. I guess the gyms focus on the little hotshots because it makes the gym look good, but how many of these kids will make it through high school??
Answer: Not many.
There are always the few that pull this off. But for most, the injuries pile on, social life becomes more important, they are sick of hurting all the time, etc. My kid, if she stays with the sport through high school graduation, will be a level ten for five years, and that is more than enough for her...we take it day by day, month by month, etc-you get where I am going with this....we have no idea if she will make it to the end. People seem to think that once you make level 10, you are golden. Not so. She hurts every day, and always has nagging pains. That is a lot to take, even when you are passionate about a sport. And when it starts compromising how you perform, it can be a problem. So far she has managed to hang in there. But if the day comes when she wants to walk away, I will have no regrets for her. I am so proud of her and what this sport has taught her, and the person she has become....it has given her so much, and it has also taught me a lot as a parent.
 

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