For Parents Understanding the decision criteria for movement between JO and Xcel programs

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Globe Trotter

New Member
Aug 16, 2022
2
49
Hi,
My daughter has been in the JO program at level 6. This year the head coach decided to send some of the level 6 girls to the Excel program to the Diamond level, and others to level 7. Her argument is that it's based on skills and that those sent to Diamond do not have the skills, but it clearly isn't, as some girls, including my daughter, have skills that are very competitive if not flat out higher than some who were sent to level 7. In your experience, do gyms take organizational criteria into consideration when moving girls around, such as having a competitive Excel group, avoiding overloads of a level where too many gymnasts would impede progress, and other criteria like that? The worst part is that they never communicated any indication that this would happen. They always seemed to agree that she would make it to level 7 where her friend is going...
As you can imagine my daughter has felt betrayed and abused. We feel treated like cattle that serves the interests of the gym and not the gymnasts.
 

CuriousCate

Proud Parent
Jul 12, 2016
659
I'm sorry that happened to your kiddo, particularly without any discussion or warning. Is there another gym she can move to? Or has a meeting with the coaches been arranged to discuss?

Our gym encourages kids they do not think will qualify for the next JO/DP level to consider Xcel if the gym thinks they are "too old" to repeat or "too old" to stay in JO overall. This summer, for example, they encouraged several girls to switch over to Xcel rather than moving to level 6 who were all heading into 7th grade. They seem to make this decision based on the goal that the girls who stay in JO will be level 10 by 9th grade, 10th at the latest, for a better chance to do college gym.
 
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Globe Trotter

New Member
Aug 16, 2022
2
49
We also considered this, but age did not seem to be the criteria either...as other girls (including those with lower skills) of the same age were sent to level 7.
Thank you however for your observation about the likelihood to reach level 10 before the end of high school or 10th grade. It makes sense, if only it could be transparently discussed...
 

pt coach

Coach
Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2009
195
We move kids between DP and Diamond on occasion, but not due to age or group numbers. The most common example is when a gymnast in either level 7 does not have all of the skills on all of the events to move to the next level, but does have some of the skills. We see this as a way to compete the next level skills where they can. For example, last year we had several level 7s who were missing bar skills or tumbling to move to 8 but had really good flipping vaults. We chose to have them do Diamond so they could get practice competing their vaults, while working to achieve level 8 skills on bars or floor. If they repeated 7 they would not have had that opportunity.

This does not sound like your situation. I would ask for a meeting to discuss.
 

MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
782
Virginia
Or gym doesnt move girls over to Xcel unless they have asked for that change. If I were you I would be hurt/upset as well. Big changes like these should be a discussion on what is best for the athlete not for the gym. I know that may be unrealistic... I know gyms are a business... but they need to remember they are a service that primarily servers CHILDREN so they should still act in the best interest of the child.
 

BusyMomof2

Member
Feb 2, 2022
57
44
This happened at our gym this year. In our case, a few of the L6 girls were missing something that the coaches thought would help with their success in L7 (not necessarily USAG requirements) and suggested a year of Xcel before moving to L7. Similar to you, people were not happy and several left the gym. The one mom who told me about it said her kid's emotional maturity was sited, which she didn't agree with. So not necessarily skills based.
 
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Aussie_coach

Staff member
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Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,891
So much comes into play for a desicion about which level and pathway to send each gymnast on.

Sure skills play a role but gyms may also be looking at strength, flexibility, technique, commitment, if you pay your bills on time, age, height, muscle twitch speed, coachability, projected skill acquisition, scores, attitude, effort in training etc etc.

For most parents this would be a very hard conversation to have. Saying something like “your gymnast does t try hard enough” or she is too old, or we think she has peaked and will slow down now because of a growth spurt. Very rarely goes down well, so the gym will say “it’s skills”.

Gyms are business’s abs they will put the needs of the gym over the needs of the individual gymnast. The way it comes across will vary. But as a gym owner I would love to have a squad for every age and level, give everyone the hours they want etc. But it’s not possible, I need to make decisions that make the gym work financially.

Gyms will do their best to put gymnasts first but not if it will not also benefit the gym.

I am not defending the gyms actions, it sounds like it all could have been handled a lot better. More saying, for those who say, go to a gym that cares more about your kid. Recognise that this can and dyes happen everywhere.
 

ZB55

Proud Parent
May 6, 2020
38
I would be upset if my gymnast was moved to xcel without a private conversation explaining where she specifically was with her skills and their short and long term plans are for her (e.g. will she lose training hours? forever be xcel? bring her back to level 6, 7, or 8 next year?) What I see more commonly is that girls just repeat level 6 if they don't have their level 7 skills, especially because you can pretty much compete level 7 difficulty level at 6. Also though, sometimes xcel might be recommended for girls who deal with a lot of fear issues.
 

gymgal

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,608
I would set up a meeting with the HC to figure the specifics for your daughter. What exactly is she missing and what is the plan moving forward? You are making a (reasonable) assumption that the move is a negative but it may be a lateral move for just the season so that the gymnasts can compete higher level skills or clean up messy skills and then move back to DP. I would not make any decisions without first getting more info directly from the HC
 

GymAir

Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Aug 28, 2018
85
I’m curious how her bars skills are. In general, Xcel doesn’t really keep pace with DP on that event - not requiring a kip until platinum for example.

My other thought is that it’s less about the level being competed, and maybe more about the training group they feel will be best for her. Maybe one will uptrain more than the other, or focus on bars strength and technique. You can make a lot of guesses, but I really would want to hear the gym’s plan for her after this next year.
 

mommyof1

Proud Parent
Jan 31, 2012
2,539
The car
It is really very gym-dependent. My daughter was at one gym where JO kids were constantly threatened that they'd be sent to Xcel if they didn't score high enough or perform certain skills consistently. Towards the end of her time there we found out that the gym's primary goal was placing well at states, and that they were manipulating kids and families to get kids to contribute to the team score (e.g., repeating kids who should not have repeated in hopes of having them win AA at states, making false statements about move-ups to encourage injured kids to compete). Xcel appeared to be a cash cow for the gym because the team was huge and tuition was almost as high as for JO for a fraction of the hours.

At another gym she attended it was all about skills and what the kid and family wanted in terms of training hours and competitive intensity. At that gym all levels 5+ and platinum trained together. Platinum had the option of fewer hours. Kids competed whatever level they were prepared for and could switch levels during the season as appropriate. This was a smaller, newer gym that was building its program, didn't even have enough kids to field a full team at some levels, and couldn't afford to alienate families by treating kids poorly.

All that said, objectively it often comes down to bars. A lot of kids who are generally athletic can pick up tumbling easily but struggle with the timing on bars, and Xcel is designed to suit these kids.
 
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ReluctantGymMom

Proud Parent
May 11, 2020
289
32
So, I worked front desk at our gym and I can tell you... you're unlikely to get a clear-cut honest answer if it's not obviously about her skills, and they probably want to avoid having that conversation.

Our gym only moves girls to xcel if they are very very clearly not going to be able to compete, our xcel program is very strong (the silvers have skills on beam that our level 6s didn't have for example) and it's a gentle nudge that is discussed with parents. However, we had girls across several levels repeat and I know they didn't talk to the parents.

It came down to 1) your kid is unlikely to get the skills and would do better repeating, 2) your kid doesn't show up to practice so we don't feel the commitment is there and 3) your kid didn't qualify to regionals so we're automatically considering having them repeat unless they prove us wrong. there's also the much less frequent: your kid doesn't mesh with the team and you as a parent cause friction with other team parents, so we'd like to nudge you towards moving gyms because you're not happy here. It happens.

Parent actions definitely end up influencing coaches decisions (usually negatively towards the kids), but they try to take parents out of the equation.

It's worth asking what the plan is with using xcel, does she come back to optionals later, etc and then decide whether that's the gym for you
 

PeanutsMom

Proud Parent
Jun 14, 2019
196
At my daughter's previous gym the head coach/owner decided who he wanted to try to get to level 10/elite. If you weren't on his list, he tried to get girls to quit, move to XCEL or T and T. He literally told one of the coaches to get certain girls quit voluntarily, not coach them to frustrate them and their families, and to focus on specific girls to move them from level 6 to 8 in one summer or look for another job. She quit because she didn't like playing favorites. I saw the text messages or I wouldn't have believed it.
 

ReluctantGymMom

Proud Parent
May 11, 2020
289
32
At my daughter's previous gym the head coach/owner decided who he wanted to try to get to level 10/elite. If you weren't on his list, he tried to get girls to quit, move to XCEL or T and T. He literally told one of the coaches to get certain girls quit voluntarily, not coach them to frustrate them and their families, and to focus on specific girls to move them from level 6 to 8 in one summer or look for another job. She quit because she didn't like playing favorites. I saw the text messages or I wouldn't have believed it.
^^^^^^^

I've seen this happen. Certain girls got put in a group together and weren't coached in the hopes that they'll just leave
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
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Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,891
Wow, really! They would try to get girls to quit!!

How does a gym like that keep its doors open.
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
185
Wow, really! They would try to get girls to quit!!

How does a gym like that keep its doors open.
Based on what I've seen, team is a money loser (especially higher levels, which require a lot of time dedicated to few paying kids) and gyms keep their doors open through a constant stream of new little kids doing their first rec classes -- additionally, "ninja" stuff seems to be all the rage to get more cash from the parents of boys.
 

Carly

Proud Parent
Jan 3, 2016
280
Based on what I've seen, team is a money loser (especially higher levels, which require a lot of time dedicated to few paying kids) and gyms keep their doors open through a constant stream of new little kids doing their first rec classes -- additionally, "ninja" stuff seems to be all the rage to get more cash from the parents of boys.
I have heard the same thing. The rec kids pay a lot more per hour of coaching than the team kids. And there are a lot more rec kids at the gym than team as well.
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
185
I have heard the same thing. The rec kids pay a lot more per hour of coaching than the team kids. And there are a lot more rec kids at the gym than team as well.
And, at least at a lot of gyms, any minimally trained body can handle the rec classes. Whereas an optionals team is typically coached by the most experienced, and surely highest paid, set of coaches at a gym.

I've always felt that my daughter was getting a deal on her team training fees based on what the coaches put into her. The payback, I assume, is prestige for the gym from at least respectable placements at comps.
 

PeanutsMom

Proud Parent
Jun 14, 2019
196
Wow, really! They would try to get girls to quit!!

How does a gym like that keep its doors open.
Because all the way up through compulsory levels you have different coaches who get the girls all the fundamentals and then at the higher levels, when those girls don't move as fast as the HC/Owner wants he tries to push them out. We loved our experience there from levels 3-5. Even 6 (year 1 of optionals) wasn't bad. Once you get to 7 it was fast track..a meet or 2 at 8 and 9 then push to 10. If you didn't show that potential, he no longer wanted you in his optional group. You didn't even work with HC/Owner until Optionals. Level 6 he watched you and he chose who he wanted from there on out. Anyone else, forget it. You coach yourself, move to XCEL, or quit. The girls who stay are all fighting to be in his favor and it so unhealthy. It why we left.
 

ZB55

Proud Parent
May 6, 2020
38
Level 6 he watched you and he chose who he wanted from there on out. Anyone else, forget it. You coach yourself, move to XCEL, or quit. The girls who stay are all fighting to be in his favor and it so unhealthy. It why we left.
That's so repulsive. Great job to escape that unhealthy environment.