TOPs Under 7 years old?

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teamgirl

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Jul 1, 2009
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Has anyone ever heard of gymnasts under the age of 7 doing the TOPs program? I understand they can not test but are they allowed to train at 5 years old? What is Baby TOPs? Is it for gymnasts not on a team or for gymnast under the age of 7 years old or for both?
 

UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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I am not sure about baby TOPs but my DD started TOPs training at age 4. We have 2 girls at our gym who train TOPs and they are 3. The younger girls start out with less hours (5 hrs/week) and move up more hours as they get older.
 

gymdog

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They can test as a 7 year old if they're turning 7 by, December? anyway, whatever, you can test as a 6 year old under that circumstance.

Gyms training programs vary and it would be impossible to comment on the specifics of how any one program is run without being familiar with that gym. Should 5 year olds be doing the full regimen as if they're testing tomorrow, well, I don't think so, that certainly wouldn't be my preference. Are they ready for some of the strength training exercises, of course as long as they've been appropriately placed at that level for their ability.

Younger than 5, possibly, I don't know, I think I may be more reserved in this aspect than some. Certainly they should not be doing the bridging exercise (shoulder flex test) at that age per USAG recommendations and I also think you need to take it easy on some other things. But starting to do some basic conditioning is likely fine (again individual basis). I just don't think it's necessary and possibly inappropriate for kids to be going HOURS per week at that age, but again I may tend to be more reserved on this issue. That's just my opinion based on my experience. If training kids for competition at such young ages was a "best practice" then as a governing body we wouldn't have capped entry into the first intro competitive level at age 6 (and the first required level isn't even until age 7), in my opinion. Yes, I know there's currently lower level competitions including younger kids and while i don't object to a couple informal rec preteam meets, I'm not sure how I feel about all that either.
 
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gymnut1

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Im sorry but I think training TOPS for 5 hours a week at 3 years old is quite silly. Maybe a fun session including some of the TOPS ideas for an hour but 5 hours. Not necessary. I saw someone refer to TOPS in another discussion as 'monster conditioning' I really like that phrase.

Do you think children can be 'overconditioned'?
 

bogwoppit

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Burnout much? Really 5 hours a week at 3 years. I think if you poll all the elites in the US 90% of them weren't even in the gym at 3 years, let alone doing TOPS training.

I know of at least two girls here who started gym at 7 and are now at L8/9 at 11 years old and both of them without mega hours or TOPS.

We should also ask why many elite clubs do not particiapte in TOPS. WOGA for instance and AOGC (Shapiro and Mattie LArson) just pulled out of TOPS despite qualifying 5 girls for national testing.

Just looking at the National Team and how hard it is to find a healthy gymnast among them for Olympics or Worlds, maybe, just maybe, this selection system is just too much for a body to bear and it all begins when TOPS puts them on the radar.

Maybe some gyms push to hard. Though I do think that TOPS can be used carefully with older girls or the skills used as conditioning without testing for younger girls. I just really don't see the need for preschoolers to be sweating in the gym, they should be having fun.

Okay, now I am crawling sideways off my little yellow soapbox!
 
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MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
I agree that TOPS training that many hours under age 6 is quite ridiculous. Sounds like a "money maker" for some gyms giving them a reason to charge parents more money :rolleyes:. I agree that a monthly session for an hour or two showing the kids the types of TOPS exercises is enough to be beneficial. Training that many extra hours that young only spells one thing. BURNOUT.

I think too many parents of young kids get caught up in this idea of rushing their kids through the skills and levels when gymnastics really should be a LIFETIME sport. As many people say, "Gymnastics is a journey NOT a sprint."
 
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cathiann

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Burnout much? Really 5 hours a week at 3 years. I think if you poll all the elites in the US 90% of them weren't even in the gym at 3 years, let alone doing TOPS training.

Maybe some gyms push to hard. Though I do think that TOPS can be used carefully with older girls or the skills used as conditioning without testing for younger girls. I just really don't see the need for preschoolers to be sweating in the gym, they should be having fun.

Okay, now I am crawling sideways off my little yellow soapbox!

Climbing on that soapbox with you--I agree totally. When our gym had a formal TOPs program (they do TOPs training now with the HOPES kids--two of whom qualified for National testing), the program was only 2 hrs a week--and you didn't start until you were 7. Our gym doesn't do the mega hours some do, but even that puts alot of stress on the gymnasts bodies.
 
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socko

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I agree with you that you can train successfully without 2 a days or mega hours or TOPS. The purpose of the TOPS program was (originally) to teach coaches how to train elites in their home gyms without the girls having to relocate ...but in the last several years, it seemed the more you qualified to testing or camps, the better you appeared (i.e. Hill's, Texas Dreams, CGA). When you think of the gyms who don't do TOPS (i.e. WOGA and now AOGC), why should they? They know how to train elites so why should the parents incur the costs of the testings, national testings and camps training their coaches on what they do already.

I noticed that several gyms qualified kids to National testing but are not going (Orlando Metro, AOGC, Hawaiian Island Twisters, Paragon to name a few) so USAG lowered the cutoff and added "qualifiers"..so what will TOPS mean this year with all of this? I think TOPS is a huge moneymaker for USAG (you figure each kid in TOPS pays a minimum of 50 bucks extra a month for the "training" (and with 3500 kids in the TOPS program the $$ is huge!!) I think that good gyms include this type of training as part of their regimen without formally calling it TOPS.
 

canadiangymmom

Active Member
Jun 26, 2006
566
Ontario, Canada
Make room on the soap box!!! I have to agree that 5 hours a week sounds absurd for a 3 year old! I hope, at least, that the 5 hours is ALL the gym training, not just straight TOPS training.

I can't speak on the benefits, vs drawbacks of the TOPS program as it's not offered here. Our *hot shots* (age 4-7) train for 2 hours a week. Some conditioning, but mostly movement, fun and beginner skills, ex-lunge position. I can only say that, talent aside, training hours aside, even coaching aside, the kids who go the farthest are the ones who LOVE the sport and want to be there. I just can't wrap my head around the idea of 5 hours a week being the choice of many 3 year olds, or a commitment that will develop their passion.
 
Apr 15, 2009
94
Washington State
Wow - just have to add my disbelief about 3 yr olds training TOPS 5 hrs/wk! I recently started coaching preschool gymnastics at our gym and I can't imagine most 3 yr olds have attention spans large enough to train like that. Even if some of them do, is there really need for this type/amount of training at this age?
 
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starmaker

Guest
All I wanted to add was that my dd starting official TOPS testing at 6 years old 3 hours a week (although she did some TOPS conditioning in regular workout). After just 2 months of training, dd tested at 6 years old as a 6 year old. Of course her test results were never submitted and did not count for anything.

Basically her coaches wanted her to go for two reason: Experience and Exposure. Olivia was obviously not ready to test but enjoyed doing the things she could- straddle presses, chs, leg lifts etc.

Either way Olivia really enjoys the training and the testing. Every child is different and some just really can't handle it. DD has an 8 yo teammate that cries and refuses to go. Yet dd never complains and other little ones don't seem to mind at all either.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
I don't think our gym does the TOPS testing and I am not sure if my dd would really enjoy it long term. She is a very hard worker and loves perfecting skills, but she is more of a "cross-trainer" type of kid who loves doing other activities such as dance, swimming, rock-climbing and skating that give a good workout but is in a totally different environment than the gym.
 
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gymnut1

Guest
All I wanted to add was that my dd starting official TOPS testing at 6 years old 3 hours a week (although she did some TOPS conditioning in regular workout). After just 2 months of training, dd tested at 6 years old as a 6 year old. Of course her test results were never submitted and did not count for anything.

Basically her coaches wanted her to go for two reason: Experience and Exposure. Olivia was obviously not ready to test but enjoyed doing the things she could- straddle presses, chs, leg lifts etc.

Either way Olivia really enjoys the training and the testing. Every child is different and some just really can't handle it. DD has an 8 yo teammate that cries and refuses to go. Yet dd never complains and other little ones don't seem to mind at all either.


3 hours at 6 years old is very different to 5 hours at 3 years old and I would say Liv is at the unusually talented end of most 6 year olds
 
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Megley

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I assume that it is 5 total gym hours, with some TOPs thrown in and not 5 hours of TOPs. Even so, that seems like a lot of hours for a 3 year old. My dd did not start gym until she was 4 and even then, she went only 3 hrs a week. I agree that there's a huge difference between a 3 year old and a 6 year old! I can see introducing some TOPs training around age 5 - my dd did start that type of training (though our gym does not test TOPs) at around age 5. Three just seems way early.

Meg
 

bogwoppit

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All I wanted to add was that my dd starting official TOPS testing at 6 years old 3 hours a week (although she did some TOPS conditioning in regular workout). After just 2 months of training, dd tested at 6 years old as a 6 year old. Of course her test results were never submitted and did not count for anything.

Basically her coaches wanted her to go for two reason: Experience and Exposure. Olivia was obviously not ready to test but enjoyed doing the things she could- straddle presses, chs, leg lifts etc.

Either way Olivia really enjoys the training and the testing. Every child is different and some just really can't handle it. DD has an 8 yo teammate that cries and refuses to go. Yet dd never complains and other little ones don't seem to mind at all either.


Liv is an unusually talented 6 year old, and I can imagine she loves TOPS. But she is a long way from being three years old. The difference developmentally is massive between 3 & 6.

I think there are wonderful elements in TOPS. I know another poster here whose child returned from living abroad recently. She had not trained TOPS. Her gym asked her to test, she trained for 3 weeks and made it to Texas. Some kids just have it, even without all the training.

I think most parents and coaches would agree that there are many things a 3 year old could be doing that will have more long term gain than 5 hours a week of TOPS training.

But as always, to each his own.:cool:
 

UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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oooh...wait a minute...I started something here!:) It kinda sounds like I belong to a torture chamber kind of program!!:eek: And that is really not what it is. I should have specified how many hours were actually spent in TOPs stuff. Oops.

Our "little girls" actually train L2 for 4 hrs/week (3 times per week for 1.5 hrs) and do about 45 min to an hour of TOPs stuff once a week. Once the kids hit age 6...the hours increase. Our TOPs kids actually train LESS than the "regular" L2s...or regular L4,s 5s, 6's, etc. Even the older girls (7-11) who test TOPs train less hrs than the "regular" older team girls. The whole thing is actually designed to prevent burnout. My older DD (L4) who is almost 9 actually trains more hrs than the 7 year olds who are on TOPs and training L5. However, I will say that our gym trains more hrs than any other gym in our area. Our HC is pretty hard-core.:p

We have one three year old (she is almost 4), 3 four year olds, and 2 five year olds in our "little" TOPs group. They are specially picked out of the preschool rec classes. Three year olds in TOPs are very rare...as are 4's. We only have 12 girls total out of our gym picked to train TOPs. We had 2 girls (both age 9) qualify to national testing this year.

Anyway...sorry if I misrepresented what's going on at our little gym! Peace!;)
 

bogwoppit

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Phew, I thought we'd have to excommunicate you for a minute there. Bwahaha.

It's always fun to have thesee discussions though, interesting to see what everyones thinks and then get back to normal!
 

UnoMas

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Aug 16, 2008
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Phew, I thought we'd have to excommunicate you for a minute there. Bwahaha.

It's always fun to have thesee discussions though, interesting to see what everyones thinks and then get back to normal!

I would have serious withdrawals if you excommunicated me!!!:p
 

NotAMom

Active Member
May 27, 2009
894
Region 6 (Northeast)
We have one three year old (she is almost 4), 3 four year olds, and 2 five year olds in our "little" TOPs group. They are specially picked out of the preschool rec classes.
Assuming that your gym is normal size and the pool of rec kids at this young age isn't extraordinarily big, the "specially picked" part seems bogus to me. Unless it's the water, why is that more kids are extra talented in your neck of the woods? As I pointed out before, a selection approach such as this is nothing more than a business tactic to invite parents to spend more money so that they feel good about being a part of an elite group.

We also have a gym across town from us that is far hardcore. They have a habit of selecting many kids who have potentials to their TOPS training, which is huge as compared to ours at the time (we don't have TOPS anymore).

Evidence has shown that other than the very few that advance to elite, the end results are very much the same between their TOPS kids and those from a much less aggressive program. In fact, 3 of their once TOPS girls moved to our gym and ended up to be competing at the same level as my L7 gymnast in the same age group (who declined the invite to participate).
 
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