WAG Pre-Team and TOPs variance across gyms.

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CLgym

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2014
1,165
Regarding pre-team selection: Neither gym we've attended has ever held open tryouts, and at both gyms it appears that little girls are mysteriously selected for pre-team. When my DD was invited to pre-team (she jumped straight into the higher level pre-team because she was positively ancient at age 6) it was a very odd process. For several weeks she was pulled out of her rec class; She was tested (strength/flexibility) and interviewed (seriously!) by HC about her goals ("Do you want to be a champion?"). She held hands with the HC and was walked over to watch the L10 girls training.... Then she was invited to a trial week with the other pre-team girls (who were already selected because they had all come from the lower level pre-team). Finally she was selected to be one of the eight anointed. Bizarre. And, as those who have followed my story already know, we ended up in Xcel Bronze at that gym anyway, along with all of the other "old" 6 year olds. Pre-team selections were mostly made annually with some exception (my DD for one); the idea was to create a cohesive "team" and the girls even got their own special (tank) leo. Annual selection seems to be the case at our current gym too. If creating a new program/process, I would opt for more transparency!
 
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RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
862
Regarding pre-team selection: Neither gym we've attended has ever held open tryouts, and at both gyms it appears that little girls are mysteriously selected for pre-team. When my DD was invited to pre-team (she jumped straight into the higher level pre-team because she was positively ancient at age 6) it was a very odd process. For several weeks she was pulled out of her rec class; She was tested (strength/flexibility) and interviewed (seriously!) by HC about her goals ("Do you want to be a champion?"). She held hands with the HC and was walked over to watch the L10 girls training.... Then she was invited to a trial week with the other pre-team girls (who were already selected because they had all come from the lower level pre-team). Finally she was selected to be one of the eight anointed. Bizarre. And, as those who have followed my story already know, we ended up in Xcel Bronze at that gym anyway, along with all of the other "old" 6 year olds. Pre-team selections were mostly made annually with some exception (my DD for one); the idea was to create a cohesive "team" and the girls even got their own special (tank) leo. Annual selection seems to be the case at our current gym too. If creating a new program/process, I would opt for more transparency!

Wow, that is quite a process! Sounds more like joining a cult than a sports team. :eek:
 

catou

Coach
Mar 7, 2010
384
Québec
I coach a pre-team group. We have auditions once or twice a year. So depending of their age, they are place in one of these groups:
  • Defi (which is a program with levels), girls are evaluated few times a year. Last level, level 6, is pretty impressive. Usually the younger ones, 4-6 years old.
  • pre-CR: a pre-team group to prepare girls for the regional levels (level 3-4 I'd say for you). This is what I coach. Usually for girls who are too old (7-8 years old) to start defi or those who doesn't have the profile for it.
  • CR: for older girls with some skills. That program allow girls to train a maximum of 9 hours, so smaller gyms have a better chance against bigger ones.
Our rec program has advanced classes, so often girls come from these.

My group trains 8 hours/week. They are mostly too young to compete. The goal is to get them ready for next year, as they will be young enough. Here, girls have to be born in 2009 or earlier for the present season. Our competition season starts in November and ends in April or May. One of them is going to compete in April, as she is ready and old enough. Parents were advised at the beginning of the year that she might participate, but it would depend of her progress. So no pressure.

I like the idea of allowing older girls to enter team. We've had girls from rec who went from nothing to level 8 in a couple years.
 

fuzi

Coach
Gymnast
Judge
May 28, 2009
1,079
Region I
We hold evaluations for pre-team three or four times a year.

There are three pre-team groups. They have cutesy names but I'll be simple here:

PT1: ages 4-6 or Pre-K and K. Mostly looking at natural talent here. These are kids who walk into the gym and can just do a pullover, CW, and forward/backward roll. As pre-team director, I'm always having to explain to parents that most kids this age can't do these skills. We also look for listening skills, the ability to make changes, and a bit of fearlessness. One hour, 2x week.

PT2: Ages 5-7 or K-2. These girls either move up from PT1 or come from Girls Beg. or Int. recreational classes. 90 min, 2 or 3x week.

JO2: Ages 5.5+, no rigid upper age limit here. Currently the oldest is not quite 10, but we've had girls up to 12. If they want to do it and have the skills and strength/flex requirements, it's open. Usually girls on the younger side move up from PT2, while older girls (8+) come from our advanced rec classes. 2 hours, 2 or 3x week. They compete in some meets within a 90 minute drive with no state championship.

Most girls who do JO2 will continue to progress into JO3 and beyond. Some of the girls on the older side (usually 10+) will decide to switch to Xcel.

We also have an Xcel program. Anyone who has "completed" Girls Advanced can move into Bronze. The expectations for JO2 and JO3 are more challenging in terms of strength and flexibility, as more as rigid in terms of skills. But many girls who have moved through our Rec program will move into JO2 (or sometimes directly into JO3). The doors are open.

We don't do TOPS, although the pre-team and JO groups certainly work on all the physical abilities. We have a few girls right now who might have TOPS potential (honestly, they are probably a year too old relative to the TOPS standards), but none of us are interested in pursuing that route until USA Gymnastics shows some big changes. We are brainstorming about having them come in for an extra workout or two or practice with the optionals once or twice a week one the summer to work on higher level basics.
 
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EGPtriumph

Proud Parent
Mar 30, 2017
36
Like x 1 million. If your goal is to develop individual kids to their maximum potential, there is nothing wrong with being flexible with age requirements or allowing kids to progress at their own pace. By the way, sometimes it can be hugely rewarding to teach a child who struggles a bit and does not progress quickly but works very hard.



This is fantastic. Many gyms in the U.S. seem to have a different philosophy. Kids are pegged as one of two types early on—team material or one to keep around just to pay the bills. The “team material” kids get extra attention in rec and then get pulled into special “hot shots” or preteam classes right away, where they get the training they need to progress to team. The “revenue-generator” kids just sort of play around in rec and may get strung along thinking that they will have a chance to earn their way onto team. Or they get shunted into an Xcel program that is not serious and doesn’t meet their goals.

As your program grows and becomes more successful it will get easier to ignore the needs of individual kids in favor of your desire to coach winners and get kids to a high level quickly. At least this is what I have observed at our gym.
I love all your comments to this post. Spot on and exactly what I have observed as well.
 
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sce

Proud Parent
Mar 11, 2014
6,149
Pre-team at our old gym was 2 different tracks. One was called something like "Mini Team" and the other was called Pre-team. The Mini-team did TOPs-like training, but didn't actually do TOPs. They practiced twice a week. These girls went into Mini-Team at ages 5 or 6, with an occasional 7 year old in there. These girls had at least level 2 skills with decent form, but they didn't necessarily fit one body type. The goal is to get those girls on team at a young age.
My daughter came up through the regular pre-team track. This is where girls who are at least 8 are placed when they have level 3 skills with decent form. But there were some pre-team girls who were 10 and 11 too.

The level 3 team became a mix of mini-team (basically everyone on that team was offered a spot on the competitive team) and most of the pre-team girls. Some pre-team went to Xcel instead, or just stayed in rec.

I really liked this way of doing things, as it gives kids who may be late-starters or late-bloomers a chance at team. And honestly, some of the very best girls who went the furthest were pre-team girls, not mini-team.
I was going to suggest the idea of two different pre-teams. Contnue the current one, but start a younger group, focusing on the TOPS skills. This could lead to a TOPS groups and both pre-teams could lead to team (level 3 or Xcel). This would also allow the other pre-tema to be tailored more towards the older kids.
 
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