MAG Should we move my son from L5 to L6?

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Men's Artistic Gymnastics
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Aug 20, 2009
Hi, I've never posted here before, I have a 9 year old boy. He did 2 years of L4 (should probably have moved up after 1 year, but didn't have his kip) He competed L5 this past season, and didn't do well, it was a really rough year for him. He got a couple vault medals but never placed on any other events. The plan was to keep him a L5 this year. Over the past few months he has really improved, and is doing as well or better than the boys who were moved to L6.

Now the dilemna.....we have 2 coaches, one coach (his main coach for the past 3 years) wants to keep him a L5, saying that if he competes L5 he will likely be in contention for 1st place on most events.....and that if he goes to L6 it will likely be a repeat of his L5 year....he thinks we should boost his confidence this year and that next year he'll likely be a great L6.

The other coach (the L6 coach and the director of the program) says we should move him to L6, keep him interested by working new skills, and that he'd do okay.

What do you think? I have no idea what to do. I can see both arguments, but just don't know which is better. By they way, my son says he wants to do 6, but that's not really a surprise, all his friends are L6 now.
What I usually do in situations like this is let the kid make the decision. I make sure that they understand that the choice is between having an easy and likely (but not certainly) high-scoring season at one level and having a challenging season at the other. But I generally leave the final decision to the kid.
9yrs old seems quite young to be L6? IMHO the longer a gymnast spends on the basics, the more technically proficient they become later. But then this is a complicated and controversial issue to debate that will not help your son in his decision -

So the main question is what will make him "swing higher" (be happiest) - being able to train with his mates or having a confident L5 season with lots of ego-boosting bling? A lot depends on his personality type and as its his sport, he has the answer. As long as he is making an informed decision yo can rest easy that its the right one for him - he's the one who has to turn up to training and do the conditioning drills when he's had a hard day at school and face the prizegivings at the end of a disappointing meet - the least we can do as parents is afford our gymnasts the respect of 'owning' the decisions they make in their sport.
Thanks for your input....that's something I hadn't really thought of, letting him make the decision. I mean, we've asked for his opinion, but still felt like it was our responsibility to decide what's best for him.

The thing is, he is a pretty competitive kid, and was very disappointed when last season he would go an entire meet and be the only one on his team with no medal, we even had some tears over it. But now I think he feels like he's being left behind. His friends get to go to an extra day of practice, they get to try new skills, etc. etc. So, even after explaining to him that if he moves up he may go another year with no medals, he still insists he'd rather do L6. My worry (and the one coach's worry) is that if he goes through another year like that it may break his spirit, and then he'll start wondering if all the hard work is worth it.

On the other hand, I think he may actually do okay at L6.....he's really doing awesome in the gym right now. And last year we had a lot of changes, and he was distracted, something I think is better for him now.

Thanks again for your input, I'll consider letting him decide :)

Oh, and is 9 young for L6? His teammates who moved up are also 9 years old????
Is it possible for him to stay in L5 to hopefully have a better season, boost his confidence, perfect the basics) and be able to uptrain some L6 skills? It would give him the best of both worlds and also he would have an advantage next year going into L6 with some of those skills already. I would ask the coach about this option.
I would definitely ask DS....He probably has a pretty clear picture what he wants anyways....(weather he has told anyone or not !LOL)

Can't he come to all the practices along with L6 and train up?? It would just help his L5 season and maybe he can do a few meets L5, kick butt and then finish up at L6 with a meet or two?

In the end he has got to be happy with the sport to keep it up in the long extra year wont hurt...Most boys I have seen rush 1 level per year end up quitting at L6....The ones that repeated levels are doing great and are really motivated.. I guess their basics are ROCK solid.

Good Luck...I am sure you will decide the best thing for him:)
Another option is to train 6 but sit out the competitive season. This will allow him an extra day of workout per week which is very helpful toward his future gymnastics career besides getting to stay with his friends and take off the pressure of competition.

If he does end up being ready for L6, he can compete or simply do the L5 routines.

Part of me wishes I did this for a L5 I had a few years ago. He had a decent chance of scoring well on Vault, High Bar and Rings but had a mediocre PB routine ( no HS, needed higher swings ) and PH routine ( needed more time solidfying false scissors and learning timing ) and his circles were way too immature when trying to work the spindle in there. His floor was very much a crapshoot and was his worse event. However, he did medal and place very high on V and HB and could have medaled on SR and even made state through the qualifier.

My concern for a gymnast sitting out a competitive year is they will put lackluster effort into their training even if training routines takes out a huge chunk of training time per year.
I don't think he'll want to sit out the year. We asked him again, and he still says he wants to do level 6. But he has finally been clear about why.....friend #1 has always been a year ahead of him, they did one year of level 4 together, friend moved to L5, and then this past year they did L5 together, and now friend is moving to DS says this is his chance to catch up with friend #1.....actually makes sense. And then friend #2 has always been the same level as DS, he had a really good L5 season, so is now going to L6, so now DS is worried that both friends will be ahead of him. Again, makes a bit of sense, in a 9 year old kind of way.....

We did a private this weekend where he worked on L6 skills (with the coach that wants him to repeat L5) and he did okay. This coach thinks he can do L6 but will struggle, unless we do tons of privates to get him ready (which I don't think we are financially ready to do)

So for now we are going to think about it a little bit more. Coach #2 actually wants him to compete a couple meets at L5 first and then move to 6, so we have a while to decide for sure. (although I'm not sure what benefit he would get from moving up mid season) Plus, there's been major drama at the gym, so we'll probably wait until all the dust settles from that as well.......
Is it his strength/flexibility that is lacking or his skillset? If it's strength or flexibility,just add in 1-2 days at home.

If he doesn't have good shoulder flexibility, I don't know how he is going to be able to a front handspring step-out.

Is his ring swing good enough to turn over dislocates?

How is his kip?

How is his circles? Does he have any chance of getting a spindle in 4-5 months?
His Strength and flexibility is good, he's one of the most muscular AND flexible kids in the gym.

He has the vault, and then entire floor and HB routines for L6. This is where HE starts questioning why he isn't a L6. My son has round off BHS, BHS, Back Tuck....and it looks awesome.....and there is a repeat L6 who can't do the back tuck at all (but again you start questioning is the coach moving kids too fast, and I keep telling him we don't need to concentrate on what the others are doing, but what is best for him) His swings on HB are great, swinging way above horizontal.

PB and rings, I'm not sure.....I know he said he got his kip on PB, and I think he said he has dislocates (although I'm not really sure what that is) The big obstacle is that darn mushroom....he struggles to get 5 circles (I don't think he did all 5 in any single meet last year), let alone getting anything beyond that......Not sure what spindles are, but I doubt that he'll get them. We've talked about it, and head coach is willing to just let him get a bad score on pommel and concentrate on the other events. The other coach is more thinking about putting him in a position where he can be an all around contender.

The more I talk it out, the more I really think he should stay a 5. We definitely have the option of having him train L6 hours, and still compete a 5, so maybe we'll go that route......
Sounds like he is doing awesome....

The darn circles are just practice!! Can you build or buy a used mushroom??
He could practice at home....

Does DS have his giants? Press handstand on PB?

A kid on our team was clearly DONE with L5...He busted his butt for L6...And did well....He competed without giants, but with all other bonuses on all events...He finished 7th or 8th in FL which is NOT bad....But he got tons of medals in L5 and was ready to not get many for L6...He understood he would be at the bottom of the totem pole...
Now he wants to repeat L6, and is going for top spots...He is 11...

Good luck again, I am sure he will be right where he should....
It sounds like your son could have a decent year in L6, medalling on some events, maybe making it to state where he will probably not be podium material when it comes to AA.

A spindle is basically a type of circle where you turn the opposite direction you are circling. Just think turning while you are circling. I think you also need flairs for L6 if memory serves.

If your son competed L5 he would probably crush it which is good as well. It's conjecture at this point.
I agree with what most say here - ask your son what he wants to do. Keep in mind there is a BIG difference in skills from L5 to L6 in boys gymnastics and most boys in their first year don't do especially well. It is a shock when they hit that level as the judging is much harder and so are the skills.

I would probably go with the suggestion of repeating L5. That coach has been with him longer and knows him better. And a season of 1st place will put him in the right frame of mind when he goes to L6. I would ask if he does L5 can he uptrain L6 skills. Most gyms will do this.

In the end your son has to be happy with the decision.
Have you made a final decision yet? I would honestly let him make the decision--if the coaches are offering different opinions. Why? He knows what it's like to go without medals and still wants to do it again. If you hold him back, he may lose his drive anyway. I can totally see him working harder to keep up with his friends.
Thanks everyone! We haven't made a decision yet, he's been off the past 2 weeks because he went back to school before everyone else did, and practice is during the day. Next week fall practice starts, so he'll be back with everyone, and I think this will come up very soon.

This is coupled with the fact that our level 5 coach may be leaving, along with one of the level 6' on one side there is pressure for him to replace the level 6 spot (so the team will have enough boys to compete in the team competition) on the other side there is pressure for us to leave the gym as well (not pressure really, we are just trying to make the best decision for our son). We are taking it day by day at this point and I think at some point the decision will become clear. (I hope)
But I will definitely stick around and keep you guys posted :)
Just an update. This past week the coach finally 'officially' invited him to work out level 6 hours. The plan for now is that he will train level 6, compete one or 2 level 5 meets, and then we'll decide if he should move to level 6.

His problem now is that he is nowhere near getting the level 6 mushroom routine, no flares or spindles....he just plain can't do them....but the coaches now think that he has a chance at medalling on other events for L6, so we'll have to reassess as competition season gets closer.

Thanks again everyone!
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