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Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
Dd9's development is looking a bit different than that of the other girls on her team, so I'm hoping some of you can offer me some perspective!

Dd has grown up in the gym. She was adopted internationally and initially had some developmental delays. At her OT's suggestion, we enrolled her in gymnastics classes when she was a toddler. She craved sensory input and the time in the gym had huge positive effects on her behavior, focus, etc. So we kept her in classes and she thrived. She joined pre-pre-team at age 4 and competed level 3 at age 7, then level 4 at age 8. She repeated level 4 this season at age 9. Her best skill is bars, and she saw big improvements in this event by repeating... but her other events did not show as much (or in some cases any) improvement. Tumbling skills especially have been tough for her to do with good form.

Part of this is because she has been going through a tremendous growth spurt. From age 8 to age 9.5, she grew 7 inches, from 4 ft to 4 ft 7 inches. Three of these inches were during her four-month-long second level 4 season. Her tumbling and confidence on beam were really affected. She will likely go through puberty (already showing several signs) and finish growing early, which I have learned is typical of adopted children who spend their childhood doing a lot of catch-up growth after early malnourishment.

Anyway, I have read a lot on this board about delayed puberty in gymnasts, but what happens when the opposite is true? It's likely that this girl will be done with most of her growth before she even reaches optionals. On the plus side, she is small framed but very strong, and will probably stay that way once she reaches her adult height.

Anyone have a similar experience or words of wisdom to share?
 

B&M's mom

Proud Parent
Sep 4, 2010
437
My kids haven't dealt with that issue. However, I was aware it was a possibility. Have you talked to your pediatrician about it? I know that there disadvantages to going into puberty too young. While there's no way to predict exactly how tall our kids will be, it's a lot easier for them if they can get to at least 5'. My oldest is now driving and just hit 5', she's noticed that now she doesn't have to sit on a cushion to see over the steering wheel.
 

Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
My kids haven't dealt with that issue. However, I was aware it was a possibility. Have you talked to your pediatrician about it? I know that there disadvantages to going into puberty too young. While there's no way to predict exactly how tall our kids will be, it's a lot easier for them if they can get to at least 5'. My oldest is now driving and just hit 5', she's noticed that now she doesn't have to sit on a cushion to see over the steering wheel.

I do have a physical scheduled for her next month and plan to talk to her pediatrician. I believe that to be labeled precocious, puberty has to start before age 8. She didn't really show signs until age 9, so technically she is on the early side of normal. In the past her pediatrician has told me that she is going to be petite. I do think she will end up hitting 5 feet but probably won't get much past that mark! She has a long torso (her sitting height is actually taller than her older sister who is four inches taller than her!) so in her case she will be more worried about reaching the pedals!
 

GymCMLA

Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2014
447
47
From thelarche to menarche is about 2 years. There's typically much growth then and about 1.5-2 more inches after menarche.
Adrenarche doesn't predict timing the way thelarche does.
You're right, precocious puberty is <8 yo
One benefit is less apophitisituses for your dd bc her growth plates will be closed sooner;)
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,441
62
That is a huge growth spurt to adjust to even if you take gymnastics out of it. No gymnastic experience but watching our son go from a boy in fall to a man by spring.

Time, time, and did I say time. She was doing gymnastics with her old body. She now needs to re learn and adjust to her new body.

You didn't mention how she is feeling, so I don't know. But that this happened is expected and you need to let her know its not that she has lost skills and such but that she needs time to make it work with her new stature. She hasn't gotten worse. She just hasn't gotten used to her new body yet.

Good luck.
 

OHGymMom

Proud Parent
Sep 30, 2012
23
My DD, also an international adoptee, was an early grower/bloomer. She went from being the shortest in her grade in 3rd grade to one of the tallest in 4th grade. She's now 16 and has only grown about 1/2 an inch since 5th grade (she can still wear her Leo from her state meet in 5th grade). She's about 5'3" now so fairly average in height. I do remember when she went through her growth spurt that her tumbling and beam work were a mess. She also wanted to sleep all the time. I actually thought she might have mono. Once her growth spurt stopped she pretty much was back to her usual gymnastics skill wise and she moved on to optional skills with her new young woman's body without too much angst. She still wants to sleep all the time but I think that's just being a teenager:)
 
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Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
My DD, also an international adoptee, was an early grower/bloomer. She went from being the shortest in her grade in 3rd grade to one of the tallest in 4th grade. She's now 16 and has only grown about 1/2 an inch since 5th grade (she can still wear her Leo from her state meet in 5th grade). She's about 5'3" now so fairly average in height. I do remember when she went through her growth spurt that her tumbling and beam work were a mess. She also wanted to sleep all the time. I actually thought she might have mono. Once her growth spurt stopped she pretty much was back to her usual gymnastics skill wise and she moved on to optional skills with her new young woman's body without too much angst. She still wants to sleep all the time but I think that's just being a teenager:)

Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. It really helps to hear from someone else whose Dd has gone through the same process! My Dd has also been sleeping a lot; we homeschool and some weeks she takes a nap every day, other weeks she doesn't need to. Growing that fast is exhausting!
 

Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
You didn't mention how she is feeling, so I don't know. But that this happened is expected and you need to let her know its not that she has lost skills and such but that she needs time to make it work with her new stature. She hasn't gotten worse. She just hasn't gotten used to her new body yet.

Good luck.

We have talked about it, and I think she gets it, but it is still discouraging for her when progress seems to take so much work. She is darn proud of how tall she is though; she has gone from being the shortest in her practice group to one of the tallest. :) Thank you for the reminder to help her keep perspective.
 

LilyChow7

Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Judge
Mar 28, 2016
32
31
When I was younger I never trained very big hours (9-12 hours a week). I hit puberty fairly early. But when I hit puberty I got everything physical happening except my growth. I just never had a growth spurt. I have just always been the short one and have not grown in over 4 years. My maturity, body control and muscle growth was instant though.

The only issue I really had was the uncontrollable growth of my chest. I went from flat to an E cup in a year. The only skill I found I was struggling with was turns and how to keep them down while I tumbled around the floor.
 

gracyomalley

Proud Parent
Aug 5, 2013
944
DD was a slightly early bloomer and it all started to hit when she was trying to move to L8 at age 10/11....fast forward 2.5 years and on the plus side she's less moody and ever so slightly taller (she's peaking out at 4'10" I think - which is average for women on her fathers side of the family, so no growth changes from all that gym - she's just realy short!), still very sleepy, and no longer doing gymnastics.

She got very vestibular, dizzy on bars, struggled with her BHSBHS on beam (after doing it her first year at L7) and went back and forth with back tumbling/twisting, etc...her coach moved, she had some difficult girls politics to deal with, and the perfect storm was that gym became an unhappy place for her - after fighting that for over a year she was done. She misses it still but is happier. I miss it for her - but after all, she wasn't going to be an Olympian and puberty, no matter how difficult and emotional, is NORMAL...so in the end she's now doing things where having a curvy body isn't a problem (cheer, horses, running) and setting her perfectionism on AP coursework next year as a freshman and writing novels...

I think it would have been easier to navigate puberty had she either been earlier in gym skills OR further along...she was right at the flipping vault, release moves on bars point. I also think although she had lots of coaches try to help the fact that she had to switch from the coach she'd grown up with to a new gym/social scene/coaching style right when skills were coming and going on a daily basis (and at an age where most of the other gymnasts hadn't hit that point yet...) made it hard for her -she didn't understand what was going on (or understand that the 12-13 year olds were having same struggles) and the new coaches didn't know her well enough to know what was what...lots of negativity resulted - both from a few coaches (who thought it would push her) and more importantly, eventually from DD.

For your DD I think its very important to let her know that she is very NORMAL - earlier than some but super normal. Maybe it has to do with being adopted, maybe her biological parents were genetically set for earlier puberty, but either way, its nothing to be worried about or wish away. There are lots of gymnasts who just naturally are slower growing kids so the beginnings of puberty are on average a bit later in this group - the sport self selects for that. I also know that even my stubborn DD admits that now that she'd at the tail end of puberty her body is much more settled and she feels able to learn new skills - in fact she did right before quitting. For her emotionally she just isn't cut out for upper level optionals, which is fine...hopefully your DD will have friends and coaches who can help her be patient with herself knowing that NO ONE stays in puberty forever!!!
 

JoyAvenueMom

Proud Parent
Aug 24, 2012
525
Central US
Some of the research I found on the subject of delayed puberty suggested that actually, gymnastics favors kids who naturally hit puberty later. So, it's hard to say that whether doing gym actually delays puberty, or if most of the early bloomers tend to quit the sport sooner. Regardless, there is no question that major growth and body changes are just hard. Small and strong is a huge advantage in this sport, and getting to her "adult" shape sooner may give her a long term advantage in optionals. (it just might make the first year really tough)
 
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coachmolly

Coach
Jan 18, 2009
2,990
VA
Such a huge growth spurt is a challenge to adjust to and takes time, but tell her to keep plugging along. While there are some areas where she might struggle, I'm sure there are others where she is doing just fine, try to dwell on those places.
I have a 10 year old team kid who went through a rough time with growing. Had been one of the best in the group and then just started to lag behind. Tumbling was especially hard- I started to wonder if she would ever get her ro-bhs with straight legs or be able to move on to harder tumbling. It's taken time, but just in the last few weeks she has really forged ahead and something seemed to click with her tumbling almost overnight and she has improved dramatically in a rather short time. So there is hope! But I know she was getting discouraged in the in between time. So I really encouraged what she was doing well- great presentation and attention to detail, very pretty walkovers, beautiful handstands.
She will adjust! Hang in there!
 
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ProudDad

Proud Parent
Feb 16, 2016
120
TX
DD had a spurt of less than half that and it significantly affected her... I can't imagine what 7 inches would have done to her :eek:. One of the big things was that she has had the same waist and hips since she was 2 (she can still wear her 24mo pants as shorts - 7 years later). This meant that not only was her center of gravity different, but her muscle development and fine twitch wasn't able to keep pace. Beam took the biggest hit - it took a good 3-4 months to get the control back... she was able to work on new skills as well, but that was because the coaches recognized that the spurt was the issue and focused on helping her adjust to her new shape. Just keep plugging along and everything will come back... for DD it seemed very sudden at the end of 4 months, for several weeks it looked like very slow progress - then suddenly it clicked and it was like nothing happened - no idea why it worked that way or if anyone else saw something similar with theirs.
 
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Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
DD was a slightly early bloomer and it all started to hit when she was trying to move to L8 at age 10/11....fast forward 2.5 years and on the plus side she's less moody and ever so slightly taller (she's peaking out at 4'10" I think - which is average for women on her fathers side of the family, so no growth changes from all that gym - she's just realy short!), still very sleepy, and no longer doing gymnastics.

She got very vestibular, dizzy on bars, struggled with her BHSBHS on beam (after doing it her first year at L7) and went back and forth with back tumbling/twisting, etc...her coach moved, she had some difficult girls politics to deal with, and the perfect storm was that gym became an unhappy place for her - after fighting that for over a year she was done. She misses it still but is happier. I miss it for her - but after all, she wasn't going to be an Olympian and puberty, no matter how difficult and emotional, is NORMAL...so in the end she's now doing things where having a curvy body isn't a problem (cheer, horses, running) and setting her perfectionism on AP coursework next year as a freshman and writing novels...

I think it would have been easier to navigate puberty had she either been earlier in gym skills OR further along...she was right at the flipping vault, release moves on bars point. I also think although she had lots of coaches try to help the fact that she had to switch from the coach she'd grown up with to a new gym/social scene/coaching style right when skills were coming and going on a daily basis (and at an age where most of the other gymnasts hadn't hit that point yet...) made it hard for her -she didn't understand what was going on (or understand that the 12-13 year olds were having same struggles) and the new coaches didn't know her well enough to know what was what...lots of negativity resulted - both from a few coaches (who thought it would push her) and more importantly, eventually from DD.

For your DD I think its very important to let her know that she is very NORMAL - earlier than some but super normal. Maybe it has to do with being adopted, maybe her biological parents were genetically set for earlier puberty, but either way, its nothing to be worried about or wish away. There are lots of gymnasts who just naturally are slower growing kids so the beginnings of puberty are on average a bit later in this group - the sport self selects for that. I also know that even my stubborn DD admits that now that she'd at the tail end of puberty her body is much more settled and she feels able to learn new skills - in fact she did right before quitting. For her emotionally she just isn't cut out for upper level optionals, which is fine...hopefully your DD will have friends and coaches who can help her be patient with herself knowing that NO ONE stays in puberty forever!!!

Thanks so much for sharing. I'm so sorry your Dd had such a hard time while she was growing. I would hope that all coaches would recognize or at least look into the idea of a growth spurt as the reason for a gymnast's struggles and give reassurance. Dd's head coach is being very patient with her and I'm so grateful for that.

I am definitely talking to Dd and reminding her that everyone develops at a different rate. Maybe this early growth will end up being a blessing in disguise, and she will be through the worst of it when it is time to learn harder skills. I'm so glad that bars still seem to be going well for her and that she is having successes there. But overall, I am working to keep balance in her life, so she doesn't feel like she is defined by how she performs at practice or how quickly she gets her skills.
 
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Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
Such a huge growth spurt is a challenge to adjust to and takes time, but tell her to keep plugging along. While there are some areas where she might struggle, I'm sure there are others where she is doing just fine, try to dwell on those places.
I have a 10 year old team kid who went through a rough time with growing. Had been one of the best in the group and then just started to lag behind. Tumbling was especially hard- I started to wonder if she would ever get her ro-bhs with straight legs or be able to move on to harder tumbling. It's taken time, but just in the last few weeks she has really forged ahead and something seemed to click with her tumbling almost overnight and she has improved dramatically in a rather short time. So there is hope! But I know she was getting discouraged in the in between time. So I really encouraged what she was doing well- great presentation and attention to detail, very pretty walkovers, beautiful handstands.
She will adjust! Hang in there!

I can totally relate to the bent legs! This has been a struggle for Dd as well. She is finally getting them straight in her bar work, but this is a constant correction on floor. Thanks for the words of encouragement! I'm hoping at some point it will just click for her too.
 

fuzi

Coach
Gymnast
Judge
May 28, 2009
1,079
Region I
I haven't seen a coaches perspective yet, so I'll throw my opinion into the mix.

Like everyone has said, growth and development occurs at different rates. Elites tend to be late developers and keep a "girlish" body longer. However, if you look at your typical level 9 or 10 meet, or a college team, you'll see quite the range of body types.

At the gym I work at, we've identified several benefits of growing and developing earlier. First of all, with puberty comes weight, height, and the ability to put on muscle. This often makes girls more powerful vaulters and tumblers. (Indeed, we have several level 6/7s that we are just waiting for puberty). There is a higher risk of injury during rapid growth periods, and when gymnasts go through this rapid growth earlier (and at a lower level), they are dealing with less pounding and lower training hours than if they go through this rapid growth at a higher level. It also means that they learn many of their major skills (flipping vault, giants on bars) with their "adult" body. It might take a little longer to learn in the first place, but then they have the skill "for life." Kids who grow later might learn these core optional skills young, but then have to completely readjust their technique with puberty. Finally, it means growth plates are closed, stronger bones, and hopefully less risk of factures. ;)
 

Half-Pint

Proud Parent
Oct 25, 2013
36
I haven't seen a coaches perspective yet, so I'll throw my opinion into the mix.

Like everyone has said, growth and development occurs at different rates. Elites tend to be late developers and keep a "girlish" body longer. However, if you look at your typical level 9 or 10 meet, or a college team, you'll see quite the range of body types.

At the gym I work at, we've identified several benefits of growing and developing earlier. First of all, with puberty comes weight, height, and the ability to put on muscle. This often makes girls more powerful vaulters and tumblers. (Indeed, we have several level 6/7s that we are just waiting for puberty). There is a higher risk of injury during rapid growth periods, and when gymnasts go through this rapid growth earlier (and at a lower level), they are dealing with less pounding and lower training hours than if they go through this rapid growth at a higher level. It also means that they learn many of their major skills (flipping vault, giants on bars) with their "adult" body. It might take a little longer to learn in the first place, but then they have the skill "for life." Kids who grow later might learn these core optional skills young, but then have to completely readjust their technique with puberty. Finally, it means growth plates are closed, stronger bones, and hopefully less risk of factures. ;)

Thanks for sharing all of these benefits with me! Dd has always been one of those lean types, very thin but with super defined muscles. She had well-defined quad muscles when she was two! In the past when she has grown, she has just stretched out (pants too short, but everything else fits exactly the same - very frustrating when you are trying to shop!). This latest growth spurt has been different, her shoulders are getting noticeably wider and her muscles are thickening up a bit all over. She is getting that broad shouldered, narrow hips look that says "gymnast." She looks beautiful!, but the coordination has not come yet. Your post gives me hope that better years are ahead for her.
 

duyetanh

Proud Parent
Feb 21, 2015
4,112
I haven't seen a coaches perspective yet, so I'll throw my opinion into the mix.

Like everyone has said, growth and development occurs at different rates. Elites tend to be late developers and keep a "girlish" body longer. However, if you look at your typical level 9 or 10 meet, or a college team, you'll see quite the range of body types.

At the gym I work at, we've identified several benefits of growing and developing earlier. First of all, with puberty comes weight, height, and the ability to put on muscle. This often makes girls more powerful vaulters and tumblers. (Indeed, we have several level 6/7s that we are just waiting for puberty). There is a higher risk of injury during rapid growth periods, and when gymnasts go through this rapid growth earlier (and at a lower level), they are dealing with less pounding and lower training hours than if they go through this rapid growth at a higher level. It also means that they learn many of their major skills (flipping vault, giants on bars) with their "adult" body. It might take a little longer to learn in the first place, but then they have the skill "for life." Kids who grow later might learn these core optional skills young, but then have to completely readjust their technique with puberty. Finally, it means growth plates are closed, stronger bones, and hopefully less risk of factures. ;)
I must say, as a parent of a child who was originally misdiagnosed with failure to thrive and will probably top out at 5 feet (please), some of the above post makes 'me' nervous. This sport just has something for everyone, I guess. Blahhhh
 

fuzi

Coach
Gymnast
Judge
May 28, 2009
1,079
Region I
I must say, as a parent of a child who was originally misdiagnosed with failure to thrive and will probably top out at 5 feet (please), some of the above post makes 'me' nervous. This sport just has something for everyone, I guess. Blahhhh

Sorry to make you nervous. I feel like the benefits of being smaller and shorter and developing later are well known in gymnastics. I'm trying to point out there can also be benefits of growing and developer earlier, or of being a taller or heavier gymnast. One of the things I love about gymnastics is that, at least once you get past the compulsory program, you can play to your strengths. And even with required skills, different techniques can work for different kids and different body types.
 

duyetanh

Proud Parent
Feb 21, 2015
4,112
Sorry to make you nervous. I feel like the benefits of being smaller and shorter and developing later are well known in gymnastics. I'm trying to point out there can also be benefits of growing and developer earlier, or of being a taller or heavier gymnast. One of the things I love about gymnastics is that, at least once you get past the compulsory program, you can play to your strengths. And even with required skills, different techniques can work for different kids and different body types.
No worries.:D
It just seems lately I have had a lot of interesting stuff to digest with this crazy sport, and at times it's overwhelming...especially when I realize I will never even begin to digest it all before she is don't with the sport someday lol...
 
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