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Apr 6, 2022
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What are reasonable expectations when it comes to your child's progress in the gym? My daughter is 8, training Gold for the summer. Her gym is small and uses Xcel in place of L3-5. As a silver, she practiced 8 hours a week, bumping up to 12 in April. She is training 15 hours over the summer then will drop back to 12 for the school year. She has some natural ability (in both flexibility and strength) and tends to pick up skills quickly, particularly if working with a coach 1-on-1 (she can be less focused on her own or in a larger group).

My concern is that while she's certainly gained skills in the past year, she is a long way from "perfecting" many of them (I use that term loosely). For example, she had her first kip well over a year ago and still struggles to get straight arms consistently (truly has maybe only done it a couple of times). She has a lot of non-flight skills on beam, but can only get through her routine without falling maybe 60% of the time. I have mixed feelings on the current coaching staff, but generally I cannot say enough good things about her head coach.

Her practices are 4-5 hours long, so needless to say, I don't observe more than maybe 30-45 minutes, sometimes not at all. My question is, without knowing precisely what is going on during practices, what should my expectations be in terms of her overall progress? And at what point is it ok to voice my concerns to the coach?
 

ProudGymnast

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Feb 16, 2021
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She sounds like she is progressing like a normal child at the surface glance you have given. At 8 you have less body awareness and are less detail oriented then those that are older, polish comes with time. Unless she mentions being really frustrated with coaches and progressions I would leave it be.
 
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gym_dad32608

Proud Parent
Aug 7, 2018
404
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To answer your question, your expectations should be that she is enjoying herself and in a positive environment. While not an exact measure, she should be moving up a level roughly every year, certainly not unusual to repeat though. At 8, unless you have concerns about safety, you should leave it be. Still too young to be overly worried about progress. Have seen plenty of girls get a little older, more physical development and coordination, and it just clicks. Just be quiet and enjoy the ride. It goes by quick.
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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Progress in gymnastics (like anything) is not linear. You can’t chart how long anything can and should take, it’s not like walking up a set of stairs,

Kids may look like they are stagnating, then have several sudden jumps forward, then look like they are going backwards. It’s all very normal.

As some new skills are learned it can make other skills appear to be going backwards as the gymnast gets their head around different ways of working and moving.
 
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ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,534
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Sounds normal.

Kip’s are not easy. Flipping on a 4 inch beam 4 feet off the floor, not easy

My kid at that age had 33% hit rate on her CW on beam. Yep one out of 3. Until this day we shudder when she has a great warm up
 

rd7

Coach
Proud Parent
Aug 18, 2011
193
4-5 hour practises at 8 years old? Is that the norm is the US, sounds like a lot? After a year of those hours I think I would expect a straight armed kip by now.
 

LJL07

Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,859
If she has had a kip for over a year, I would expect straight arms by now with those hours too. If she is only working the kip occasionally and concentrating on routines during meet season, I can see where she wouldn’t have straight arms yet. Is she in a really large group? Is she unhappy with her progress, or is she pretty content?
 
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katrid11

Proud Parent
Sep 1, 2020
90
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I get what you mean by "perfecting" but that part of it takes time, body awareness, and maturity.

Body awareness comes with each kid at a different time. We have girls on team that have gorgeous tight BHS for the beam but haven't learned air awareness and miss every landing yet others with bent knees BHS on beam but land every one (DD). DD is a wobbly on every skill as she learns it and some younger girls are tight and stable from the get go.

I wouldn't be highly concerned YET. The kip would make me pause but it depends on the number of girls in practice with the coach and a few other things. We did a handful of privates to eliminate DD's bent knees on her kip. Slightly bent out of a habit that needed to be broken (not keeping quads tight). Think tons of kips with a piece of paper between your feet to eliminate the bent knees!
 
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JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
448
4-5 hour practises at 8 years old? Is that the norm is the US, sounds like a lot? After a year of those hours I think I would expect a straight armed kip by now.
It's based on level, not age. A 5 hour practice for an upper level gymnast doesn't seem crazy to me. On the other hands, a 5 hour practice for an 8 year old that isn't kipping with straight arms seems very extreme.
 
Apr 6, 2022
8
37
4-5 hour practises at 8 years old? Is that the norm is the US, sounds like a lot? After a year of those hours I think I would expect a straight armed kip by now.
4-5 hour practises at 8 years old? Is that the norm is the US, sounds like a lot? After a year of those hours I think I would expect a straight armed kip by now.
She started off 2 days a week (8 hours total), which we felt was reasonable at the time, and about half as many hours as she was asked to do at a different gym. So even 12 hours seems ok (and she handles it well) but I don’t disagree - I had thought she’d be more consistent with that skill after a year of 8-12 hour /week practices.
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
448
She started off 2 days a week (8 hours total), which we felt was reasonable at the time, and about half as many hours as she was asked to do at a different gym. So even 12 hours seems ok (and she handles it well) but I don’t disagree - I had thought she’d be more consistent with that skill after a year of 8-12 hour /week practices.
It’s not that the total hours are crazy, it’s the length of practice. My daughter is doing 4 hours a day but she definitely didn’t START at such a strenuous level.

Is your daughter is school when she’s doing 4 hour practices? If so, a lot of jobs would pay OT if you worked that many hours in a day.
 
Apr 6, 2022
8
37
If she has had a kip for over a year, I would expect straight arms by now with those hours too. If she is only working the kip occasionally and concentrating on routines during meet season, I can see where she wouldn’t have straight arms yet. Is she in a really large group? Is she unhappy with her progress, or is she pretty content?
From what she says, they don’t work kips as much as they probably could/should. As a silver, it wasn’t required and she was the only one on her team that had it so I think they probably did spend more time on other things.

She is generally in a group of 8-10 (so not too big) sometimes larger depending on the day. Some days she seems content, other days she seems frustrated. Generally speaking though, she’s happy and loves going to practice which I realize is the most important thing!
 
Apr 6, 2022
8
37
It’s not that the total hours are crazy, it’s the length of practice. My daughter is doing 4 hours a day but she definitely didn’t START at such a strenuous level.

Is your daughter is school when she’s doing 4 hour practices? If so, a lot of jobs would pay OT if you worked that many hours in a day.
I totally get that. Seems to be pretty standard in our area though at her level (again, not necessarily age). We inquired at two other gyms and they were both 4-hour practices, either 3 or 4 days a week, although one would’ve required her to leave school early.
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
448
I totally get that. Seems to be pretty standard in our area though at her level (again, not necessarily age). We inquired at two other gyms and they were both 4-hour practices, either 3 or 4 days a week, although one would’ve required her to leave school early.
Assuming that you're in Michigan, there are some very good gyms in the state that have produced many many elites. I don't know about Xcel but my experience with some of the SE MI JO programs has been great (if somewhat intense).
 
Apr 6, 2022
8
37
It's based on level, not age. A 5 hour practice for an upper level gymnast doesn't seem crazy to me. On the other hands, a 5 hour practice for an 8 year old that isn't kipping with straight arms seems very extreme.
Assuming that you're in Michigan, there are some very good gyms in the state that have produced many many elites. I don't know about Xcel but my experience with some of the SE MI JO programs has been great (if somewhat intense).
We are relatively new to the sport and really had no idea what to expect. I think the plan is for her to score out/switch to JO after next year, but I know every gym (and gymnast!) is different.
 
Apr 6, 2022
8
37
Progress in gymnastics (like anything) is not linear. You can’t chart how long anything can and should take, it’s not like walking up a set of stairs,

Kids may look like they are stagnating, then have several sudden jumps forward, then look like they are going backwards. It’s all very normal.

As some new skills are learned it can make other skills appear to be going backwards as the gymnast gets their head around different ways of working and moving.
Thank you! Your response, and others like it, make a lot of sense.
Progress in gymnastics (like anything) is not linear. You can’t chart how long anything can and should take, it’s not like walking up a set of stairs,

Kids may look like they are stagnating, then have several sudden jumps forward, then look like they are going backwards. It’s all very normal.

As some new skills are learned it can make other skills appear to be going backwards as the gymnast gets their head around different ways of working and moving.
Thank you!
I get what you mean by "perfecting" but that part of it takes time, body awareness, and maturity.

Body awareness comes with each kid at a different time. We have girls on team that have gorgeous tight BHS for the beam but haven't learned air awareness and miss every landing yet others with bent knees BHS on beam but land every one (DD). DD is a wobbly on every skill as she learns it and some younger girls are tight and stable from the get go.

I wouldn't be highly concerned YET. The kip would make me pause but it depends on the number of girls in practice with the coach and a few other things. We did a handful of privates to eliminate DD's bent knees on her kip. Slightly bent out of a habit that needed to be broken (not keeping quads tight). Think tons of kips with a piece of paper between your feet to eliminate the bent knees!
Thank you for this! I do think body awareness is a huge part of it that may naturally come easier with age. From time to time, I do think she’d benefit from private lessons, but her coach doesn’t really encourage them and I don’t want to overstep.
 

katrid11

Proud Parent
Sep 1, 2020
90
47
Thank you! Your response, and others like it, make a lot of sense.

Thank you!

Thank you for this! I do think body awareness is a huge part of it that may naturally come easier with age. From time to time, I do think she’d benefit from private lessons, but her coach doesn’t really encourage them and I don’t want to overstep.
With my DD, the only reason we did any privates last season was b/c our gym had a coaching shortage and practices were not as directed on girls' needs as they had been previously. When the girls to coach ratio is higher than desired, it has impacts on each girl's performance and the ability for coaches to correct the skills.

Generally speaking I try to avoid privates unless absolutely necessary. I prefer coaching staff that is confident enough that the skills will be obtained in practice time without a private. In DD's case, a few hours of 1on1 time fixed an issue that a 2-3 min a practice was not.
 
Feb 2, 2022
78
44
I think it's impossible to speculate without a conversation with her coaches -- they will know better than anyone what her progression should be. I agree the kip seems a little strange but it's a very difficult skill that requires tons of repetition to achieve correctly. My daughter is training gold and they work on kips constantly - they have to do something like 25 with straight arms before moving on to the next activity - at every single practice. Sometimes it takes girls 30 or 40 tries to get to the 25...but my point is they put ALOT of time into it.

Regarding beam, at our gym, if a girl keeps falling they downgrade until she stays up. So if she's learning a new skill, falling seems part of it.

Also, I have noticed with our daughter that sometimes when she's learning a new skill, especially something she's excited about, her form on other skills will suffer a little. This will get cleaned up come routine time. Like she won't point her toes during a BWO because she's more focused on sticking her ROBHSBHS. I wouldn't worry too much about form stuff right now.
 
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Apr 6, 2022
8
37
I think it's impossible to speculate without a conversation with her coaches -- they will know better than anyone what her progression should be. I agree the kip seems a little strange but it's a very difficult skill that requires tons of repetition to achieve correctly. My daughter is training gold and they work on kips constantly - they have to do something like 25 with straight arms before moving on to the next activity - at every single practice. Sometimes it takes girls 30 or 40 tries to get to the 25...but my point is they put ALOT of time into it.

Regarding beam, at our gym, if a girl keeps falling they downgrade until she stays up. So if she's learning a new skill, falling seems part of it.

Also, I have noticed with our daughter that sometimes when she's learning a new skill, especially something she's excited about, her form on other skills will suffer a little. This will get cleaned up come routine time. Like she won't point her toes during a BWO because she's more focused on sticking her ROBHSBHS. I wouldn't worry too much about form stuff right now.
Thank you! Without knowing for sure, I would say they do not train kips as much as they should. I have heard it is one of those skills that requires a ton of repetition and I just don't think that is happening, unfortunately.
 
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