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Hi Everyone,

I am a newbie to the boards and to gymnastics. My 4 1/2yo daughter has been involved with a toddler program since age 2 and is now on pre-team. Heres my question for you all.... at what age do they start putting them on high-beam? Last night, my daughter was asked to go onto the high beam (without no additional mats) and she absolutely refused. Just curious to hear any thoughts.

Many thanks for the help!
Was she allowed to hold the instructor's hand?

I teach some preschool classes, and for me, they go on a high beam a bit earlier. I teach a 'parent and tot' class, for children ages 1-3. Some of the 3 year olds go on the high beams...while holding the hand of a parent, which in turn encourages younger classmates to do the same. I usually add an 8-incher, though. For classes without parents, our curriculum teaches it for 3-4 year olds. Although I have had cases of 6's downright refusing to be on a high beam. It definitely varies with the individual, as well as who else is in the class.
I have worked with a lot of systems. One gym doesn't really do much beam with beginners except climbing over and under, and activities like walking up a slanted beam. One keeps the entire younger class on the low beams, but we do a couple more exercises. it's kind of difficult for them focus wise, but we don't have a lot of choices with structure due to the nature of the program. So we just have to mix it up the best we can and work with it. One occasionally does a "high" beam rotation but only with certain classes, others (like parent/tot) only do some beam activities in things like obstacle courses.

Preteam at all gyms did some high beam activity, but the youngest would just do different type of walking, jumps, scales, trying to hold on toe, not really all their skills. I believe current USAG recommendations are that preschoolers not really go on equipment above their chest height because they shouldn't fall from that height, so I keep that mind. I have let younger kids walk with a spot on high beam with a mat underneath, but I don't have them do skills they will fall on where it won't be easy to guide them down. We used a medium beam for handstands for the young preteam group at one gym (who are all over 5 though).
Thanks Gracefulone and Gymdog for your thoughts. Although she is very comfortable on a medium beam (ie. 3 ft?), she was terrified of the high beam. Frankly, I dont blame her... she is very short and the high beam is above her head. I am definitely concerned about her falling. It will only take 1 fall from that height to put fear into her for quite awhile (not to mention getting injured).

(BTW... There were 4 girls in the class, each had thier own high beam. No additional mat and no hand holding from the coach).

Do I say something to coach??? I am brand new to this and dont want to come across as the paranoid (annoying, interfering) mom.
I think it is fine. You can just say you noticed it and ask them how they plan to proceed with it. I don't think they will mind or that it will come across as interfering. It is pretty common, children that young haven't developed all their balance, coordination, spatial ability, not to mention they are smaller than us, so to some it is more scary than others. Usually by age 6 or 7 I notice much less fear over movement or trying new things on the higher beams. At the preschool ages even a matter of months can mean a lot, a child can "gain" a lot physically just from 4.5 to 5, you know? So in a lot of classes where it might be something like 4-6 age range, there can be a lot of difference between the youngest and the oldest. So they might not be very concerned and just planning on trying her on lower beams for awhile. It could have just been a "let's see who will do it" type thing.
We have our kids go up on high beam right from our 2 year olds program but at this age they are always holding an adults hand or have an adult with hands around or near their waist for spotting. In the 2-3 years classes every child has a parent in class so there is always someone available to spot.

From 4 years of age our kids go into regular classes, without a parent, we use high beams but will always ensure a kid has a hand to hold or a spotter. Once they move up to more advanced programs we expect them to be able to use the high beam on their own, but this is a prerequisite of moving up. If the child is too scared to go up on the high they stay in the lower program and work on their confidence until they are ready.
DD was working high beam right around her 3rd birthday. It takes time to build confidence. I remember DD crying she didn't want to do over unders when she was 3 and the coach just let her be. Now she is doing v-ups on the high beam at the age of 5.
Well, 1st off, Welcome to CB! Next... My kids are daredevils so they went on the highbeam when they were 1st told ( about 4..) Don't worry though, she will eventually face her fears but I think 4 is really young (even for my kids!) Just give her time and she will do it:) Maybe she can hold on to a coach on either side to feel that she is safe.
I would just mention to the coach that going to high beam without a grown up around did scare your dd. See if either the coach can spot her or let her go back to a lower beam and do the same skills as the others---build her confidence up. Is she the youngest and the smallest? Sometimes coaches forget they have a younger one and go with what would work for a child 1-2 yrs older.

Falling off high beam would probably cause more fear down the road than injury at this point. I think it things are taken slowly, one day, you'll just see her pop up on the high beam(sounds like she may need a boost though!)
My DD actually went on the high beam at about 7 days old! Hubby coaches and I brought her to the gym to visit everyone. The female head coach who is a close friend was holding her and got up on the beam with her. I nearly had a heart attack!

DD hasn't used high beam in her class and she is 3.5, so close in age to your daughter. She has been walking on beams since she could walk though while holding her dad's hand or mine. She has always loved to jump off the beam. She will walk on the high beam just fine by herself and jump down. I on the otherhand am freaked out by her doing that.
As a rule of thumb, a child should never be on an apparatus which they can not get on by themselves. If they can't get on themselves, the surface below the apparatus should be raised. If they can get onto the apparatus unassisted and refuse, there is a reason, and I wouldn't force the issue or call attention to it right off the bat.

Of course there are exceptions, like hanging on a bar over a pit...

But there are no skills a child can do on a high beam which can't be learned on the low beam/middle beam first.

Fear is a huge obstacle for many gymnasts. IMHO, a child should NEVER be forced to do something that they are afraid of, but should always be encouraged to do a drill/skill/similar activity which will help them progress to that activity which they fear.

Your daughter is RIGHT when she is afraid to go on a high beam...nature instills that natural fear in many people. The important thing is that she doesn't develop anxiety and feel shame for not doing something when she isn't ready.

Patience is the only answer. She'll do it when she's ready.
Thank for all the input everyone! I was able to chat with her coach yesterday (during dd#2's class). She said she will be sure to spot her and seemed to understand my concern about her confidence.

To answer Gym Law Moms question.... yes she is the shortest and the youngest of the class (the other 3 girls are 6yo).

Thanks again!!
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