WAG To push or not to push?

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Mar 29, 2023
My daughter is a young level 3 and since she made team she doesn't practice at home. She has pre-tops practices twice a week for an extra 3 hours each (she's too young for tops, but there are girls who do tops through the same practices and there are girls from L3 through L8 or L9). I try (sometimes it's hard considering how much we spend on gymnastics) not to push her. I usually just drop her off, pick her up, and let her be. There are three other girls (one a year older than my DD, and the other two about a year and a half or so) who are clearly being drilled on skills at home. I see it on IG and FB all the time, too - parents pushing their "baby beasts" to win. I've heard the girls get upset and say that their parents tell them winning is everything. It's hard not to be affected by it when you see them cleaning up throughout season, when you see the coaches giving them extra attention and consistently saying "good job" to them (even during competitions when they don't give the same attention to ANY of the other girls on the team) and when they are rapidly progressing and leaving my DD in the dust. I know these things happen... I read it in threads on here all the time.... even though the coaches tell us not to push them, not to practice at home, etc, they also seem to be rewarding it by favoring those kids. My question is, are Elite gymnasts usually pushed at home? Should I be pushing her if that's what she wants to do (she wants to do tops and hopes)? Should I make her condition or train elements (beam etc) here? She has a pull-up bar and a laser beam (and a regular trampoline outside). But that's it. My gut tells me I shouldn't push her, but my brain sees the progress and rewards the other girls are getting and I start to second guess myself. I want to trust the coaches, but it's definitely mixed messages -though I sometimes wonder if the coaches are humoring them? I don't know anything about elite gymnastics except it's extremely difficult to get anywhere close to it....
You are doing the right thing by keeping gym in the gym. Burn out is real and gymnasts who practice at home (particularly when it's the parents pushing it) are more likely to burn out long before they get to the upper levels. Those girls may be ahead for now but as hours increase and skills become more advanced, they will practice less at home and things will even out. Also, while a year or two doesn't seem like much, at this young age there is a big difference in body awareness so as your daughter ages, you likely see improvement from that alone, which also may explain why the other girls appear more polished.
My job as the parent is to provide opportunities. My kids job is to take them or not.

The other thing about pushing is you can push them right out of the thing you are pushing them towards.

Regarding compulsory gymnastics. I see many a gymmie who based on their parents SM posts, you’d think they were the next Biles, only to be done at L4.

I had a mom who pushed so hard about practicing my violin I quit in 6th grad. As an adult I regret not being able to play. Swore not to do that to my kid.

I never require or push her to practice. Thats between her and her coach/teacher. When she was younger she never practiced or did extra. As she got older she now understands things like conditioning and practice are necescary to be good/competitive.

Shell be a senior next year. Still doing gym L8/9 and still playing viola. Which I get to hear now because she practices now :)
@Korbut1974 What do you mean by "pushed". Are the other girls at your club training at home? Or do you just mean that the parents are intense?

By the way... welcome to ChalkBucket! Tell your friends.
Do you think that the girls are happy? They may be winning, but if they have parents at home telling them that winning is everything, they probably feel a lot of pressure to not disappoint.
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I think you are doing the right thing. I think you should push your dd to work hard in the gym, listen, make corrections and be a good team mate. Be her best. At home you should 'push' her to have fun with her gymnastics. Goof around with friends making up silly routines if she wants, play gymnastics. They need to keep the fun and the love of gymnastics to enable them to push through the hard times at gym.
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What you write about is your interpretation of things and how you see them through your eyes. Whether they are incorrect, made up or not the fact that you feel this way and see it this way indicates that you are probably in the wrong environment.

Of course its not healthy to push and drill your young child to win at all costs! To train continuously in and out of the gym. It doesnt take much research to figure out that this mindset created all the issues that USAG is trying to fight against. There are plenty of other gyms that can produce elite athletes that dont foster this type of environment that implicity pushes these types of behaviors.

One other thing to consider, your daughter does have a talent ceiling. Meaning perhaps the other girls are just better than her. I dont mean for that to come across as mean and as a parent we hate to think of our child as limited. But I have found in this sport, the best path for joy is to focus on yourself, accept who you are (or your child in this case) and celebrate those personal victories and milestones. Its a dangerous loop to start the comparing game of "she trains outside the gym", "she has privates", "she gets more attention", that's why my daughter is not doing as well.... Just focus on her. I hope that makes some sense.
NO! Home is the safe place where a kid can just be a kid. There's no reason for privates at L3 or most levels. Either she will want to put the effort in to be the best gymnast or she won't but it's all her, says the Mom of two gymnasts, one who wanted to be Elite and worked to get there and one who could have been an excellent high level gymnast but didn't want to do the work. She had fun with gymnastics but walked away in middle school. I could not have gotten my second daughter to do the training that my eldest relished. It's a lot harder to be a high level gymnast than an outstanding compulsory gymnast. This is a long game, don't get caught up in "she's doing it, why isn't my kid?" mindset. It won't help and you'll end up being frustrated and resentful. There are no guarantees that any one gymnast will be a superstar despite extra training and IG accounts. Just support your gymnast and give her opportunities to be a kid outside of the gym.
I don't have experience with elite level gymnasts so I can't answer your question as to if that is necessary to reach elite level.

My daughter absolutely loves gymnastics and seems to have quite a bit of natural talent. She has big goals and dreams (college and elite). I want to give her what I can to reach those goals so I will do things like drive a little further for a gym that meets those needs. But I will not sacrifice her joy in life. I feel like if I was pushing her to practice all the time or making winning everything it would take the joy out of it and I am not willing to do that. I guess every family has to decide for themselves what sacrifices are worth it to reach the level they want for their gymnast. I feel like this is similar to moving for a gym, if that is what you think is necessary for your family then by all means do it. Personally, I don't see the benefits to pushing my child. I would prefer that she learn how to be internally motivated.
Thanks everyone for your replies. You’ve basically reinforced the rational side of my brain. I get it - my kid might not be as talented, but I really don’t want to push her so hard to find out. Training constantly at home really doesn’t seem healthy in the long run. The girls and their families are all friends and all they do is practice at the gym and practice at home. My daughter does well enough for being over a year younger than them without training at home ever. We don’t even have anything but a gym mat and a pull up bar. Season was difficult because of the comments overheard from the parents and the girls (winning is every thing, my dad says I have to win, I can’t talk to you because you don’t win). The coaches seeming to favor them is really what I don’t understand and what made me question my gut instincts. Maybe they already know my kid won’t go as far - which is fine. As long as she enjoys it she’ll be in the end. dreams change. All the time.
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