Should a gymnast move up a Level

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Aug 1, 2009
My nine year old dd competed level 5 last year - she scored ok, but wasn't in the medal running most of the time. She wants to move up levels and her coaches have said as long as she gets her fly away by the end of the summer she can move up. I've been told by some that she should move up and that it would be better for her to do level 6 two years then level 5, but others have said that she should compete level 5 again. What are your thoughts?
Oct 6, 2007
Pittsburgh, PA
Well... I was in the same situation 2 years ago. I wound up repeating L5... and have zero regrets! I had a winning season, finished with a state title on beam, and silvers on floor and all-around. It boosted my confidence up SO much. If I had moved up, I probably would have had an awful season. It was nice to stay back, clean up the skills I had, and work on/clean up L6 skills in the meantime. And honestly, 6 was not a fun level for me. I would get in and out of that one as fast as possible. The judging (at least here in PA) is ridiculously harder and alot of girls quit. I didn't even do a full year of six... I moved up to prep op mid-season. :p

Just pitching in my two cents. Take it for what it's worth. I would sit down with a coach and talk about the pros and cons of each... get their honest opinion. Good luck! :D
Jan 31, 2009
Absolutely nothing wrong with repeating a level, working on the basics, and boosting her confidence levels. Level 6 is hard - judging is harder than previous levels. If she repeats and works on the six skills over the year she will be in a great position to get past Level 6 - which is often the end of the road for many gymnast.
Good luck
I've been told by some that she should move up and that it would be better for her to do level 6 two years then level 5,
I assume these are other parents who are telling you this. I would listen to the coaches. I don't think you're unique in facing that situation. In fact, pretty much every gymnast will run into wanting to move up but either couldn't or hesitate to at some point. Yes, moving up may boost her confidence and will boost her and your ego temporarily, but if she is not ready, moving up prematurely will hurt her progression, performance and interest in the long run.

My take is if she is comfortable with most of L6 skills then it may be time but not anytime before that. Of course, by moving up I mean actually competing at L6. Some gyms have an intermediate transition/training designator for kids who are ready to be trained for the next level.
Aug 1, 2009
Thanks for the comments. The coaches seem to be pushing for her to move up to level 6. They said it was up to us, but I told them I would defer to their judgement. My dd understands that if she did level 5 again she would probably be very successful in terms of awards and that as a level 6 she might not score as well, but she still seems to be leaning toward moving up. Our gym will not let girls move up mid season, so if she starts the season as a 5 she will need to compete as a 5 all year and likely won't work much on her level 6 skills unfortunately. At this point we have told the coaches that she definately wants to compete so if she can't compete 6 at the beginning of the season, she should probably stay as a 5.


Our gym tends to push kids to move up faster (but many do repeat levels if they don't have the skills needed). Our coaches feel that gymnastics at the compulsory level isn't a whole lot of fun, so getting them to Optional quickly is what they aim for. They don't push medaling at the lower levels at all. If your DD wants to move up and the coaches are saying teh same thing--I say go for it. Just make sure she knows that level 6 IS a tough level!! Both my girls had the worst year as a level 6, but did great as level 7s.
They don't push medaling at the lower levels at all.
Based on what I've seen I think that approach can do more harm than good. It's not so much the lack of medalling that matters but what it implies. Kids who don't have good fundamentals (along with confidence) at a lower level will tend to struggling as they move up the ranks. It tends to push the drop out rate much higher. Before you know it, only the more naturals or persistent die-hards will remain.

With that being said, doing the contrary (i.e. having gymnasts repeating levels) may look to others like they are doing it for the sake of podium showing. In such cases, it's really not fair to the gymnasts who are doing well but are just moving up the new level.

To be very frank, granted there is no perfect system, I don't particularly like the gymnastics progression method. Perhaps that should be a different thread. The rankings, progression and such (except maybe at the elite and WC/Oly level) give absolutely no indication for where a gymnast is relative to all others (in any sample group except for the same level). Not only that, some very good (but apparently less than perfect) gymnasts who advanced quickly up to the higher level (either through a system similar to what your gym does or readiness in skill ability) can rarely see the podium at all. Even though placement isn't everything, having it every once in a while does work well as a motivator.
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gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
All I can say is L6 is tough and bars seems to really be the challenge. If her bar work was only so-so at L5, then I don't know that I'd push to move to L6 this season. The judging is certainly tougher----they expect better form, stronger vaulting and tumbling and the girls starting to look like they are performing.

Our gym had 15 on last year's L5 team and 1/3 either didn't get moved up to L6 or chose to repeat that level. A few needed to work more on vault/tumbling and a few were not strong on bars. This 2nd year should have all of them doing much better as an AA gymnast than just 2 events.

I really think you and dd should sit down with the coach and have them weigh in. Where do they see the struggles if she moves to L6? What are the pluses in staying at L5? You said your dd did not get many medals at L5(and its not all about the medals) and was told she would not place well at L6-----do you think realistically she can handle 2 seasons like that? Will it shoot her confidence to see her other teammates get medals again this year while she does not get nearly as many?


Nov 17, 2009
region 8
Move up to lv 6 and repeat that lv or move to optionals. look, the sooner to optional skills the better. No elite gymnast perfected compusaries.
Pretty feet win the meet and 38's should move to state.


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Jan 4, 2008
If she wants to move up and her coaches want her to move up. It sounds like a good goal to move her up. How well she does at level 5 is not a good indicator of her success later on. Many kids struggle with compulsories but shine when they get to optionals.

I don't think medalling is important. Its your daughters enjoyment and progress in the sport that is important. Winning medals should be deemphasised. The focus should be on enjoying training and competing.


Proud Parent
Nov 4, 2009
North Carolina
There are many things to consider and I know my list doesn't include all of them.

1. Does the gymnast have the skills for the next level or are they really close
2. Are these skills clean
3. Is the lack of scoring due to the fact that these are compulsory levels and the gymnast's strong suits aren't being highlighted? Some kids just don't score well in compulsory routines but rock at optionals.
4. How does the gymnast feel about getting medals?

One thing I can tell you is it would be a bad idea to assume they will do better just by doing the level again. I know more that one girl that this all but destroyed their gymnastic careers. They were told they would score better at the lower level and the first meet that they didn't, they all but gave up on themselves.
I'm saying this would be true for all gymnasts but we need to be careful with our reasoning for moving up or not.
They were told they would score better at the lower level and the first meet that they didn't, they all but gave up on themselves.
The people who told them that might have been wrong but the gymnasts should have known better (assuming that they aren't like 6yo). If they gave up solely due to this disappointing surprise, what are they going to do when there are really issues in life.


If she is able to swing either way and is TRULY prepared to compete Level 6 reasonably successful, meaning has all the skills and can score competitively (not meaning win, but get scores she is pleased with), then I feel the decision will lay on her character.

Is she one that needs tangible success to feel good about herself (medals, good scores, etc)? If so, hold back while working Level 6/7 preparedness.

Is she is one that can set goals personal to herself and honestly feel good and energized by succeeding in these goals, i.e. who cares about scores and how I place, I got my "whatever skill" in practice! Then she could get through a ho-hum Level 6 season okay. She needs to be rather balanced in what drives her. She needs to care and be successful enough to score out of Level 6, but not be too worried if she isn't scoring over 33.'s (or whatever) and not placing. AND fundamentals for good optional gymnastics MUST BE encouraged.

It's going to take some time to get through either repeating as a successful Level 5 or moving through to a so-so Level 6. If she defines fun and success in scores and placing then keep her Level 5. If she defines fun as hard work and mastering new skills, and she is ready, then move her Level 6.

FUN should be first, or she will lose interest.

That was a lot of talking in circles, but I hope it helps.
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