For Parents Pros and cons of lower levels

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StephensMom

Proud Parent
Feb 27, 2021
6
34
Just curious what you all would consider the pros and cons of gyms competing lower levels. I have seen in different places that some gyms don’t compete until level 3 or 4 or so on. We’re just getting started in this competitive world (daughter on pre team) so this is all new to us and I’m just wondering why a gym would decide to compete level 1 or 2 or wait longer, etc.
 

Tmacs

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2019
230
Lower levels definitely hook kids into the sport. So I can see why gyms compete them.
Our gym starts at L2. The huge benefit I see is very solid instruction in basics with the carrot of leotards, meets, team feeling. My daughter hated pre-team. Quit and restarted a few times. But as soon as she stated L2, she was all in. The amount they worked on round-offs and other basics and shapes would have been hard for her without the goals of meets.
 

Janneke

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2022
52
Different country, but here you compete starting from level 1, no exceptions, and you need a qualifying score at 2 separate meets for being allowed to move to the next level. My child was ready for it, it gave her a goal to works towards. She would have hated to have to wait for a higher level before competing. She loved it.
 

MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
828
Virginia
I think there is no harm in level 1/2 as long as a) the gym doesn't take it too seriously b)keeps it pretty inexpensive (1-3 local meets and no $400 leo) c) coaches parents that these levels are "just for fun" so you don't have people seeing Olympic gold cause there kid got a 9 on floor at level 1.
 
Jun 20, 2022
13
46
My daughter's gym started at level 2. I think the lower level competitions are helpful to get used to competing in front of a crowd, get the nervous jitters out, etc.
 
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StephensMom

Proud Parent
Feb 27, 2021
6
34
Ok, so why wouldn’t a gym compete the lower levels?

You all seem to think it’s overall a good thing. Our gym typically starts at level 2. We live in a metro area with several gyms so all the competitions are within an hour of us. My daughter started pre team in July and the plan was to have until next year to get ready for level 2. Now, her coach is saying she would like to enter my daughter and a couple of the other girls in one or MAYBE two competitions this year as level 1s but it’s up to us. It doesn’t seem like you all would see any downsides to this.
 
Jun 20, 2022
13
46
Ok, so why wouldn’t a gym compete the lower levels?

You all seem to think it’s overall a good thing. Our gym typically starts at level 2. We live in a metro area with several gyms so all the competitions are within an hour of us. My daughter started pre team in July and the plan was to have until next year to get ready for level 2. Now, her coach is saying she would like to enter my daughter and a couple of the other girls in one or MAYBE two competitions this year as level 1s but it’s up to us. It doesn’t seem like you all would see any downsides to this.
Level 4 is the first mandatory level (I think) so a gym that is focused on getting athletes to Optionals sooner may want to bypass the lower levels and start there. That was obviously not our experience but just hypothesizing based on what I have learned from reading here.
 

gymgal

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,686
just a parent here - I personally think level 1 is useless. I like the idea of level 2 for older gymnasts who want to experience team and may not stick with gymnastics for long. For younger gymnasts, I feel the time is better spent in training the skills, not the presentation and routines and then they enter the competition arena at L4 or maybe a couple low pressure meets in L3. My best scenario would be inhouse teams (or meets with a couple of local gyms) for levels 2-3 where the team atmosphere and meets are experienced but the pressure and expenses are very low. Older kids tend to learn the routines/form faster than younger ones so having them train and get ready for meet season is less difficult. The young ones need a lot more time on it and it takes away from valuable training time.

As for pros for those lowest levels - I think gyms have determined that there is more retention when the gymnasts know they can get on a team in one to two years. It's a goal to work toward. Of course, team is a money loser for the gym. It's better to keep them in expensive rec classes but that reality doesn't pan out due to the higher turn over rate when gymnasts don't want to wait a few years to see if they can make team. That's why I think the inhouse teams are a good middle ground.
 
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MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
828
Virginia
To me sometimes competing the lower levels is like standardize testing in schools. Don't you just hate when the teachers just teach the test instead of actually educating you? They arent really teaching you anything useful they are teaching you how to pass a very specific test (I know this isnt all teachers and all schools etc so don't roast me on this its a generalization).

Compulsories can feel like that too (sometimes) like they are training you to score good at meets instead of teaching you some of the foundational stuff you need. I've seen plenty of gyms that have 9.8s at level 3 but very few optionals (check out mymeet scores thats why people say check out their level 10s when picking a gym not their level 3/4s)

This can be especially true with levels 1 & 2 when the kids are really little it can take a long time to teach them that floor routine and to score well doing it. Thats time that may be better spent perfecting that roundoff or backwalk over that will matter more as a foundation for harder stuff to come.

Thats why I said levels 1 & 2 arent bad if you are doing it for fun and not too worried about placements because you can teach them the routines well enough so they can perform and parents can clap but if you are trying to train to "win" level 2 you are probably wasting some time perfecting routines instead of perfecting your basic skills.
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
448
This can be especially true with levels 1 & 2 when the kids are really little it can take a long time to teach them that floor routine and to score well doing it. Thats time that may be better spent perfecting that roundoff or backwalk over that will matter more as a foundation for harder stuff to come.
Definitely. Last year in the month before states my daughter's gym spent about 90% of the time up training. It's all about priorities, and "winning" level 2 isn't very important in the grand scheme of things.
 
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StephensMom

Proud Parent
Feb 27, 2021
6
34
To me sometimes competing the lower levels is like standardize testing in schools. Don't you just hate when the teachers just teach the test instead of actually educating you? They arent really teaching you anything useful they are teaching you how to pass a very specific test (I know this isnt all teachers and all schools etc so don't roast me on this its a generalization).

Compulsories can feel like that too (sometimes) like they are training you to score good at meets instead of teaching you some of the foundational stuff you need. I've seen plenty of gyms that have 9.8s at level 3 but very few optionals (check out mymeet scores thats why people say check out their level 10s when picking a gym not their level 3/4s)

This can be especially true with levels 1 & 2 when the kids are really little it can take a long time to teach them that floor routine and to score well doing it. Thats time that may be better spent perfecting that roundoff or backwalk over that will matter more as a foundation for harder stuff to come.

Thats why I said levels 1 & 2 arent bad if you are doing it for fun and not too worried about placements because you can teach them the routines well enough so they can perform and parents can clap but if you are trying to train to "win" level 2 you are probably wasting some time perfecting routines instead of perfecting your basic skills.
Thank you for that! Makes so much sense. We chose our gym because it’s close to us and has a good reputation for the culture there. There is another gym that seems to produce a lot of high level gymnasts but I’ve heard the culture isn’t as good. My daughter is still so young and I was thinking the statistics are not in favor of her becoming a high level gymnasts anyway so we would go with the better culture and shorter drive. That being said, I don’t know level 2 looks like as far as putting pressure on winning. We’re not there yet but I’ll guess we’ll find out.
 

Coach Kate

Coach
Fan
Oct 13, 2021
238
31
I know at the gym I grew up in, it was about skills and progressions. We started competing at level 4 (which is more comparable to the current level 3). Having to spend time teaching little kids the details of those early compulsory routines can feel like a waste of time when you could be teaching them their roundoff backhandspring or other crucial skills.

As a level two coach several years back, I definitely felt this pain. We had to work so hard to teach littles beam choreography and rhythm so they could compete a lever.

I am not anti compulsory but I don't think competing levels 1 and 2 and learning the routines to score well matters at all. I think focusing on complexes, conditioning, actual dance class, and gymnastics basics is a much better use of time.
 

ProudGymnast

Gymnast
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
140
In my observations competing level one/two is good in a couple cases, but not necessary for your gym career. Prime example would be it is good for the young gymnast that needs to learn the emotional skills and other lessons that competition teaches- such as how to lose gracefully.
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
4,017
The con of competition at the lower levels is that it slows down the gymnasts progress.

By not competing you don’t have to spend months learning and perfecting routines. You can do skill development 52 weeks a year.

The pro is that they get competition experience. When they do start competing, if their fellow competitors have being doing it from a lower level, they will be less experienced with perfecting routines, controlling nerves etc.
 

Pineapple_Lump

Coach
Judge
Jan 31, 2008
1,186
I think potential talent plays a big part. A physically talented child with the right training can spend one year in pre-team or one year pre-team and one year level three then move on to level four. Bigger/more selective gyms can pick out enough these kids to make financially viable groups and push them through. The less talented outliers potentially spending longer in pre-team/ repeating level three.

A less physically capable child (or competitive program/coach) needs more time, so for some gyms using level one and two are the way to do this without the gymnasts/families feeling like they are repeating. Hopefully the more talented outliers in this scenario are skipped ahead when ready.

I think the demographics of the area play a big part. For example when you get an area with a lot of gyms competing level one, and you want to start the kids at level four - the potential loss of customers may be a factor in your choice - even if you have a 'better' gymnastic program. Ultimately gyms need to pay the bills and this often plays a role in the decisions made for the gym's circumstance.
 
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ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,534
62
It’s about them learning about meets at the lower levels as much as gymnastics.behaving, saluting the judges, being on time (parents thar is), doing the hair, sitting still etc…..
 
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Oopski

Proud Parent
May 25, 2012
494
Texas
My older daughter started competing at age 5, old level 2(basically level 1 now) and while it was adorable, was kinda pointless. She then spent 4 more years competing compulsory routines. She ended up retiring after competing level 8, age 13.

We then moved states / gyms and my younger daughter started competing at age 9, level 4. She’s now 12, level 8, with level 9/10 skills.

So yea, didn’t really make a difference one way or the other on where they ended up. If anything younger daughter has ended up “ahead” but hard to say if that’s from starting competitions later or not.
 

raenndrops

Coach
Oct 24, 2009
6,804
The 'Wood, Ohio
Before the "Great Level Shift," (For those who are fairly new, years ago they decided they needed an Optional level before Level 7, so they shifted the compulsories - Levels 1 & 2 were sort of combined into New L1. Then L3 became L2, L4 became L3, L5 became L4, and COMPULSORY L6 became L5. This left room for a new OPTIONAL L6.) our team started with Old L4. Then, since it was the same level, we competed L3.
When they did the most recent compulsory changes, we started offering L2.
The cons are more sessions to attend at larger meets, more expenses earlier on, and newbie parents freaking out over "low" scores or thinking it would help to bribe their precious gymnast to get scores up.