MAG The Junior Year struggle

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Men's Artistic Gymnastics
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Proud Parent
Feb 28, 2018
We have reached Junior year Slog. Son has done gymnastics since second grade, and was good enough to continue, but no superstar. I don’t really care about performance, but it gave him friends and a great sport out of school. Now that schools are back up, his group of 8 has declined to 4, and the remaining boys are younger so he’s not experiencing the social bonds. Ordinarily I would ask to bump him up to practice with the olders, but they are losing teammates too.. He still likes gymnastics, has no interest in college gym. I’ve told him to just work on skills. I won’t make him compete ……we do this every year Son:Not competing ME: Why not? SON: Not perfect ME:Try Anyway

but now since his buddies are gone, less motivation. Since he’s a junior and he has few extra curriculars that take the time and effort of gym, i would like him to be able to present that as a sport he has been dedicated to. He doesn’t actively fight me, he still works in practics but he doesn’t have his enthusiasm. How should I motivate him to finish through HS. Would his coach discussing with him help.
I wouldn’t force him to continue. Gymnastics is just too expensive and too much of a time commitment on the part of the entire family for it to be worthwhile if the kid is not 100% in love with the sport. If you are worried about college applications, it is not too late for him to pick up one of the sports where former gymnasts tend to shine (diving, pole vault, etc.). A solid essay that weaves gymnastics, a new sport or activity, and other parts of his resume together into a story with a larger theme will also help.
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I wouldn't push it either. He'll get into college just fine. My DD left gymnastics her junior year after years of pre-elite/Level 10. She loved gymnastics but was ready to leave. I figured she was old enough to know what she wanted even though I was sad to see her walk away. She tried diving and discovered a new love. She also found time to get involved in new clubs that she had never had the time for. She wrote about her gymnastics journey in her college essay and was honest about why she left. She was a much happier person during those pressure cooker years of high school.
I have a high school junior as well and she has been doing gymnastics since age 7. So, I completely understand what you are saying with college applications. I also have a kid in college so we have been through the process. If it was my dd, I would not force her to continue. It is a lot of time and money, especially for the next 2 years.

Maybe he can find another sport or club at school or do some volunteering to boost his college application. He could definitely write it up in an essay or just let the admissions counselor know why he stopped gymnastics.
JUnior year is so tough, and even more so these days. So sorry he is losing teammates as that is so huge.

If he wants to keep practicing but not compete, maybe see if there is a way for that to continue. or find out what the motivation is to do that. Maybe he likes the physical activity. If so, crossfit might be a good compromise. OR maybe he just loves gymnastics but not competing.

If he is willing, I would totally have him talk to the coach. As the parent, i would not go to the coach, but have him do so. Maybe they can figure things out!

Good luck!
We had this situation a couple of years ago with my son in another sport. It was the beginning of Covid and practices were shut down for several weeks. When it was time to go back, he wasn't all that interested anymore. The few friends he had there had moved on. We initially pushed him to continue for the sake of college applications and to keep him active but he had lost all desire. A few months later we decided it wasn't worth the expense, that he truly was done.
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My daughter also left gymnastics her junior year. As with many teens, she eventually reached a point where her love for the sport just wasn't enough anymore to justify the time commitment and the wear and tear on her body. It was a hard decision and she went back and forth a few times, but once she was sure, that was it and she has fully embraced life after gymnastics. She's joined a few clubs at school (including landing some leadership positions), tried a new high school sport that she loves, is making money at a fun part time job and has more time to spend with family and friends. Also more time for studying and homework - junior year classes are no joke!

As for colleges, we've gone through the application process with one kid already. Colleges want to get to know who their applicants are and if they are a good "fit" with the class they're building each year. She's not worried that they might see her simply as someone who didn't stay committed to one single all-consuming activity until graduation; hopefully they'll see the bigger picture of commitment, growth, courage, leadership, time management, etc.
So we had a discussion today about why he wasn’t enjoying gymnastics any more. I asked if it was just friend related, and his response was that he was doing skills which were “scary” and he was afraid. I told him that he should just take it slowly and to tell his coach what he was afraid of. It doesn’t seem to be a traditional mental block, he still has all the previous skills, he just isn’t feeling comfortable with the new stuff ( and because he’s at 10, it looks scary to me too). He does have a history of anxiety around this time of year when he’s busy with school and starting to work on routines. He has gotten over it in the past and by Nov, he’s usually settled and feeling more confident. My guess is without his friends to share his fears with, he’s a little more mentally wobbly. He did say his new routines are really hard and he has lots of new skills. For now, I’m going to back off and if he doesn’t want to go to practice he doesn’t have to. But he’s always ready for practice and only wants to miss for football games or activities with school friends, which is OK.

The good thing is the gym is relaxed. If he doesn’t want to compete he doesn’t have to. There are a few boys who do gym as a second sport and don’t even practice in fall or spring. The coach usually has individual meetings with the boys once a month to discuss progress and goals, so I’m hoping he shares his fears, if they persist.
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