For Parents rec vs team

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Feb 25, 2009
My 5 y/o dd loves gymnastics and is doing really well (she just got her pullover this week - yeah - she was sooo excited!!!!!) The problem is the current gym we are at is just starting a L3 team and want older girls on it. One coach at least said that, the other one said it is based on skill, so I am not entirely sure which it is. Anyways, we really like this gym, and our kids seem to really love it. Do I keep her there and just let her keep getting bumped up in rec classes and wait until she is older to see if she wants to go to team there? Or do we move her to another club that is the same distance from our house that already has teams from preteam on up. They already saw our dd at an open gym and bring a friend day and said she would be on team there. My dd loved the idea, and asks why she can't be on team at that gym until she is older to be on team at her current gym. She likes the idea of being with the same kids for longer than 12 weeks. I tried to find a kid my dd age that would do summer gym and couldn't find any at her rec level.
What are the advantages of team vs rec at such a young age, or is there any - especially because in this instance it would involve switching gyms? Any advice would be good as I am new to this whole gym thing.


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
Personally, I would go with a gym that already has an established team, with at least a good amount of girls in each of the compulsory levels and some in optionals as well. Does her current gym already have a level 4/5/6 team? Do they have young girls on it? It isn't a requirement, but is nice to have girls of the same age to be on team with. DDs old gym had a few her age, but most were older. She now is with 9 other girls that range in age from almost 6-9 years old and it really is nice to have lots of girls her age.

My DD moved to team a few months before she turned 6 and competed level 4 last year as a 6 year old. She had a blast. She was at a gym that really didn't have set guidelines to getting on team, was very lenient about who could be on team as well. She wasn't ready to be on team, but was thrown into it and did as well as she could in the situation she was in. She loved her teammates and most of her coaches, but it was just not a good fit for her.

She is now at a new gym and it was a very hard decision to leave her old gym. She wouldn't have been on team (would have been on pre-team all of last year) until this year anyway there and they are very structured, organized and she really is loving it. I don't regret the time she spent at the other gym because she really did have a blast, but it was hard to leave teammates, etc. Hard to break old habits/skills learned incorrectly, etc.

I would try to put her where if things are pretty good for the most part (gyms ALWAYS have some issues), she can stay and grow as a gymnast, a gym with a good compulsory and optional program would be nice. Changing gyms is difficult. I had no idea my daughter would be on a team when she changed gyms. She has come a long way. Had I known, I might have researched more and thought about it more before letting her move to team at her old gym.

Good luck! It really is a fun sport to watch and they get so much more out of it than cool tricks. LOL. Forgive me if I make no sense, I am not good at putting my thoughts into words. I am sure someone more eloquent will come along and say what I said, only easier to understand. :D


Proud Parent
Oct 10, 2008
I would switch gyms why would they only put older girls on a level 3 team, I thought level 3 was for younger girls beween 5-7.

Well, I think it just varies based on the gym. There is a great gym near me that seems to be bringing along its girls to be level 2s when most of them are about age 8. I am sure there are some younger girls going into the year-before-competition group this summer, but the ones I'd seen were 6 this past year. And they do very well in competition. My daughter will probably compete level 2 at age 7 and she has a long way to go in this year and a half to be ready, but I do think she'll be ready.

As far as the advantages of moving to a pre-team program, generally rec classes are about an hour and there's not as much you can do in an hour. The first 15-20 minutes or longer have got to be warm up and stretching. In a rec class they generally don't push the kids as hard. Pre-team they are going to make sure they stretch to discomfort. There should be more conditioning in a pre-team program. And with workouts 90-120 minutes generally you can get more done per minute of driving time.

On top of that you will generally pay less per hour of pre-team. Around here, a private gym's rec class will be about $15 per class hour. For a 3 hour per week pre-team you might pay $10 per class hour. Or to give you another example, our county rec classes are $6/hour. County pre-team is $3/hour. Team falls below $3/hour. Rec classes are the bread and butter paying for the facility.
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5yo is young enough that switching gyms will be more of an adventure than anything else. I would probably try the new gym first to see if you like it. But the more established team is the way I would probably go especially since the drive is about the same. At 5yo she will make new friends the first time she goes to class. That is the age where they live in the moment and the kid they are with at the moment is their best friend.

Rec class is for fun only one a week for about an hour so only really basic stuff is covered. Children of all skill levels are in the rec classes from those who should be on a team down to those who can't even walk across the floor without falling down. There is a minimal financial and time investment and its just for fun.

Team is another aspect of gymnastics. The kids are usually fit with skills and potential to be coached. Team can practice in my gym can be anywhere from 4 hours a week to 24 hours a week depending on the level. Children are usually required to attend all practice times. There is also a big financial investment especially as the kids get into the upper levels. Most kids on team that I have had experiences with "LOVE' gymnastics!! So much so that is their first choice of activity and they love being at the gym. Parents have to be on board as well to make sure the committment to the team is there. Choosing Gym over other activities (like b-day parties etc).

It's a huge committment for the whole family to have a kid on team but Its alot of fun there too for those kids who just love this sport.

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Honestly the difference between rec and team and your dd's age is time in the gym(more) and money(more). Those are 2 big factors you need to consider before you go changing gyms and getting her in a team program. Will she be able to handle more hours of practice/learning routines and can you afford it(team leo, warm ups, gym bag, meet fees and on and on).
Keep in mind that levels 1-4 in the USAG system are not required and are considered "intro/rec" by USAG.

Ask lots of questions before making the jump to another gym. How many hours/week of practice, how much $, how many meets, how many coaches and how big is the team? How do their higher level teams do in competition? I would not go off of what someone said when dd was at an open gym----ask for her to actually practice with their L3 team, get an evaluation from the coach and get your questions answered. Also you said you really like the gym you're at, so check there also about what the real story is for being on their L3 team. In other words, get as much info as you can before making a decision.

Some gyms have pre-team and the girls learn the routines/skills for that level with only minimal competition time and others go full out and all the kids do is learn L3 and compete, compete, compete. The 2nd option can be rather stressful for some kids at a young age----also meets can pretty much suck up a whole weekend, so definitely talk about what your family can handle.
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