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jm_gymmom

Proud Parent
Fan
Apr 21, 2020
7
I’m beginning to question whether we need to look at other gyms for my daughter (8 yo training level 4, coming off a very successful level 3 season). This is a tough one too, as we absolutely love our current gym. We have friends there, the coaches are loving and kind, and I fully trust that my child is safe and cared for when she’s there. I don’t see DD being thrilled with me suggesting checking other gyms out either. However, our gym is more recreational focused/lower training hours. She has college dreams, though I’m not sure at 8 she knows really what her dreams are. I want to put her in a position to be able to chase those dreams but I’m unwilling to sacrifice traditional schooling at this time.

Parents of optionals who have made changes from gyms you loved…what age/level did you know you needed to move on? How did your daughter handle it and were you happy with your decisions? Or maybe you chose to stay put and could share how things are working out.
 
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rlm's mom

Proud Parent
Aug 21, 2021
109
39
We made the switch when OD was reaching level 8 and MD was a 6. But out gym had extremely good coaches and teams on compulsory level so didn't feel the need to leave earlier. Our old gym was everything you describe plus more! DD's had a hard time leaving but were happy they did. They barely had any team-mates left in optionals so were happy to join a gym with much larger teams. They were aged 8 and 10 I think. Think they both understood it was for their best.
Good luck with the decision making!!!
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,418
Baltimore, MD
I’m beginning to question whether we need to look at other gyms for my daughter (8 yo training level 4, coming off a very successful level 3 season). This is a tough one too, as we absolutely love our current gym. We have friends there, the coaches are loving and kind, and I fully trust that my child is safe and cared for when she’s there. I don’t see DD being thrilled with me suggesting checking other gyms out either.

Then stay there for now.

She's level 4 and 8 years old. Building a passion for the sport is far more important than having the absolute best-of-the-best technical coaching at this level.

If you and she feel like she's not getting the quality of coaching she needs when she hits optionals (level 6/7), then maybe reassess. But for an 8 year old L4, enjoyment of the sport is far more important than technical perfection.

Sorry if this comes across as undiplomatic, but you are getting WAAAAAY ahead of yourself if you're worrying about preparing for college gymnastics right now.

The primary challenge in getting a kid ready for college gymnastics -- the challenge that must be conquered before all other challenges -- is building enough passion for the sport that she'll want to stick with it from now until she graduates college. Any sort of technical development is secondary to that.

If she's happy where she's at, keep her where she's at. Reassess in about 4 years.
 
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Lucia

Proud Parent
Fan
Jun 6, 2019
73
Then stay there for now.

She's level 4 and 8 years old. Building a passion for the sport is far more important than having the absolute best-of-the-best technical coaching at this level.

If you and she feel like she's not getting the quality of coaching she needs when she hits optionals (level 6/7), then maybe reassess. But for an 8 year old L4, enjoyment of the sport is far more important than technical perfection.

Sorry if this comes across as undiplomatic, but you are getting WAAAAAY ahead of yourself you're worrying about preparing for college gymnastics right now.

The primary challenge in getting a kid ready for college gymnastics -- the challenge that must be conquered before all other challenges -- is building enough passion for the sport that she'll want to stick with it from now until she graduates college. Any sort of technical development is secondary to that.

If she's happy where she's at, keep her where she's at. Reassess in about 4 years.
I know your post wasn’t meant for me, but can I just say I read it at a good time when I needed to hear these words? My level 4 daughter is at a gym that does technical really well, and her perfectionist personality seemed to fit well there. But instead of passion, she has become more anxious and less joyful about the sport, and asked to try some other gyms. She/we have found one that, while not the high level of technical coaching she was receiving, is safe, solid and as she says, “joyful.” My husband and I have both stressed a bit about letting her leave the coaching of her current gym, but if she can’t find that fire that made her fall in love with the sport in the first place, she won’t stay in it for long. I remind myself she can always change again when at higher levels if her needs aren’t getting met, but I needed your reassurance today!
 

txgymfan

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Fan
Sep 4, 2008
3,446
Houston
I know your post wasn’t meant for me, but can I just say I read it at a good time when I needed to hear these words? My level 4 daughter is at a gym that does technical really well, and her perfectionist personality seemed to fit well there. But instead of passion, she has become more anxious and less joyful about the sport, and asked to try some other gyms. She/we have found one that, while not the high level of technical coaching she was receiving, is safe, solid and as she says, “joyful.” My husband and I have both stressed a bit about letting her leave the coaching of her current gym, but if she can’t find that fire that made her fall in love with the sport in the first place, she won’t stay in it for long. I remind myself she can always change again when at higher levels if her needs aren’t getting met, but I needed your reassurance today!
Good for her for recognizing and telling you what she needs. That is a great lesson in itself. Celebrate that as well.
 

jm_gymmom

Proud Parent
Fan
Apr 21, 2020
7
Then stay there for now.

She's level 4 and 8 years old. Building a passion for the sport is far more important than having the absolute best-of-the-best technical coaching at this level.

If you and she feel like she's not getting the quality of coaching she needs when she hits optionals (level 6/7), then maybe reassess. But for an 8 year old L4, enjoyment of the sport is far more important than technical perfection.

Sorry if this comes across as undiplomatic, but you are getting WAAAAAY ahead of yourself if you're worrying about preparing for college gymnastics right now.

The primary challenge in getting a kid ready for college gymnastics -- the challenge that must be conquered before all other challenges -- is building enough passion for the sport that she'll want to stick with it from now until she graduates college. Any sort of technical development is secondary to that.

If she's happy where she's at, keep her where she's at. Reassess in about 4 years.
Not undiplomatic at all. Experiences and thoughts of others with more experience than me is what I’m looking for. I felt like optionals was probably the answer. I also know we’re far from college, but I don’t want her to turn 16 and still love gymnastics but not be in a position where she can pursue her dreams because of decisions I was responsible for. Such a balance.
 

GYM0M

Proud Parent
Jul 23, 2013
1,389
So, our family most likely has had the unicorn experience. When my dd started at her gym, she had BIG dreams at 5.5 years old, but we didn’t have a clue about much of anything in terms of college and elite gymnastics. They had one L9, who retired about 2 months after we started, two L8’s, and one L7. No college recruits. That was it for optional levels, but what they did have was a hunger to learn and a passion for the sport. Fast forward 10 years and we’re still there. Her coaches still have the same hunger and passion. It’s because of their dedication that she is now an elite gymnast. The road has not been easy & we still have major hurdles, but she’s happy and healthy and still loves to go to gym everyday, well, most days. All this to say just bc they don’t have the knowledge right now doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to help your dd succeed and achieve her goals.
 

Tmacs

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2019
154
So, our family most likely has had the unicorn experience. When my dd started at her gym, she had BIG dreams at 5.5 years old, but we didn’t have a clue about much of anything in terms of college and elite gymnastics. They had one L9, who retired about 2 months after we started, two L8’s, and one L7. No college recruits. That was it for optional levels, but what they did have was a hunger to learn and a passion for the sport. Fast forward 10 years and we’re still there. Her coaches still have the same hunger and passion. It’s because of their dedication that she is now an elite gymnast. The road has not been easy & we still have major hurdles, but she’s happy and healthy and still loves to go to gym everyday, well, most days. All this to say just bc they don’t have the knowledge right now doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to help your dd succeed and achieve her goals.
Love this! Our gym has very few upper optionals but I believe that they will have quite a few more in a few years. It's a lovely place with positive and exceptional coaching. I would never trade it for a "larger" elite gym.
 

cyrano123

Proud Parent
Sep 18, 2020
1
47
I’m beginning to question whether we need to look at other gyms for my daughter (8 yo training level 4, coming off a very successful level 3 season). This is a tough one too, as we absolutely love our current gym. We have friends there, the coaches are loving and kind, and I fully trust that my child is safe and cared for when she’s there. I don’t see DD being thrilled with me suggesting checking other gyms out either. However, our gym is more recreational focused/lower training hours. She has college dreams, though I’m not sure at 8 she knows really what her dreams are. I want to put her in a position to be able to chase those dreams but I’m unwilling to sacrifice traditional schooling at this time.

Parents of optionals who have made changes from gyms you loved…what age/level did you know you needed to move on? How did your daughter handle it and were you happy with your decisions? Or maybe you chose to stay put and could share how things are working out.
We made the change from pre-team to another well known gym BUT only because my DD said she was bored at her old gym and not learning anything new. I followed her lead because SHE (not me) is the one who spends 16-20 hrs at the place a week so of course I was going to go by how she felt. She's really been thriving at her new gym since moving there a few years now (thanks me still for bringing her there) and still LOOOVES the sport. You can't go wrong if you follow your daughter's cue.
 

langd0y

Proud Parent
Jan 7, 2020
10
42
Having a successful L3 season might be a good sign, but I would base it on if your DD is getting the proper raw skills and form. If the base mechanics are being taught there, then you don't need to move until maybe L6.

Our DD is 8yo competing level 6 this season but has always done pretty long hours. Competed last at L3 before covid and haven't competed since. The coaches taught form very well and core strength and everything done in parts to try for perfection. If you're getting that, no need to go anywhere.

I do find it odd for a USAG club to be more 'recreation'. If she is getting what she needs in shorter training hours, they must be pretty good.
 

JayYellow

Proud Parent
Dec 14, 2021
1
42
Moving gyms is a tough decision. I agree that there isn't much of a need to switch in the lower levels but with that said the longer you are at a gym the harder it is to switch mentally, socially, etc. At least in our city, it seems like moving gyms for any reason short of a relocation to a new state is like a divorce. Once you leave it is really hard to go back. Before you make any decisions I would sit down with your current coaches and find out what they see for your girl's future. What level gymnasts do they currently have. If their competition team only goes up to L6 or so I'd want to know what they are doing to build the program past what they have now. Usually, when a gymnast starts training at a new gym they have a bit of a backslide as they get used to their new gym and coaches, and the coaches learn how to work with them. There is value in having coaches that have invested in their gymnasts for years.
I also agree that I would put a lot of stock in what my gymnast wanted. Ask her if she would want to leave her gym for a more serious gym even if her friends didn't go. You don't want her to quit the sport because she is miserable or worse ...hurt. There isn't a gold medal in the world worth what many of our elite girls have had to go through.
When you start looking for a new gym make sure you have your goals clearly defined in your own head. What isn't a good fit at your current gym? As you check out new gyms you can focus on those things. I would encourage you to also be careful not to get wrapped up in other athletes and their parent's drama. Just because your gym isn't a good fit for their gymnast doesn't mean it isn't good for yours.
Most of the time- right off the bat, the new gym is going to call the old gym to make sure you are in good financial standing, etc. So even though it feels private, your current gym is going to know you are looking. That isn't necessarily a deterrent but I think it is helpful to know. I would take to the owner and coaches about their programs, their philosophies, and their training styles. I would check out their training schedule and try to sit through a couple of practices at my kid's level and a few levels above them. How are they talking with the kids? What is the atmosphere like? How many injuries do you see? If you pick the week before a big meet- you can see what the mood is like when everyone is stressed. If you decide to switch, have your daughter practice ideally 2 practices at several different gyms. When it is time to switch you and she will both know it's time and you will both just know you found the right place. I was looking for a place that was mentally healthy, physically healthy, and coached great gymnastics. We asked everyone we knew about their experiences at their gyms. We asked retired gymnasts why they retired. We asked neutral coaches at camps their opinions, we asked my high school and college friends who had kids that were gymnasts what they knew and what their coaches said about the gyms in our area. I wouldn't leave a gym without 6 months of research and soul searching at least unless a traumatic event happened.
We had been with our small gym for years. We loved them. We considered at the end of each season if we needed to leave or stay. They were close to our house and easy to get to. They provided an excellent base of skills and cared about her very much. We stayed through L7. The upper-level teams were super tiny and we felt like it was time to switch. Switching gyms was hard. We switched to a new gym at L7 that had large teams for 7, 8, 9, and 10 and had already had several girls go onto college teams. They also have a physical trainer from our local children's hospital on staff checking in to make sure the girls are landing correctly and are safe. It took several months for her to feel at home but once she adjusted she loved it. It is a much longer drive and greater sacrifice for the family but it is easier to make the sacrifice for a gymnast that has shown dedication and determination for years. After talking with the owner I knew it was the right place for my gymnast. My girl knew it too.
Good luck with your decision and have a great competition season.
 

Jenny

Coach
Proud Parent
Sep 17, 2012
3,382
If she has lovely basics stay for 2 more years then reassess. Level 7 is a good time to look around.

If she has poor shapes and techniques then move now. It is incredibly hard to correct those later on. And those will stall her out later on.

Winning at lower levels is sort of irrelevant to long term success. You need to look at the quality of the basics and conditioning she has.
 

doublestrike

Proud Parent
Jun 16, 2018
169
57
I wouldn’t trade happiness for an 8 year old level 4. My daughter trained at a top gym with elites from the time she was 3, they were the state champions at level 4 and 5 (6 AA champs in deferent age levels), out of these gymnasts only one made it to college gym, from an exceptional training background. Injuries, other interests caused girls to quit. If she’s still in the sport at level 6 or 7 I’d switch then if you think technique is holding her back.