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surfergirl

Coach
Proud Parent
May 1, 2013
21
Hello. I coach preschool and rec gymnastics and cheerleading. My daughter is a competitive gymnast - age 8. Competed at old level 5 by age 7. Our goal/dream is for her to one day be on the National Team. Trying to decide between two gyms! Last season I did a very long commute to get her to "Gym A", however if she wants to continue there it would require a minor move - same state and we rent so moving is possible. I also have a young boy who seems to be interested in gymnastics.

Gym A - old school, small more individual attention, several elite boys and girls train there, no Tops Program (they found too many of the girls quit so they stopped using the program). Although they have never placed any girls on the U.S. National Team, they do have girl Olympians from other countries train there. They have put a male on the Olympic team. Owners are from another country, they very rarely spot girls learning new skills, little or no positive reinforcement. However, they are very "team" oriented and every single parent and child supports each other. Kids put in many hours. However, clearly defined small goals or lesson plans are unheard of. They would like my kid to be there 6 days a week, homeschool program. They do not offer a prep-op program or excel program, so she would most likely do level 5 this year. They certainly shoot for the stars and want to get any of their team girls to a higher level. They do NOT use weights on young girls and I like that. Gym is NOT in an area I want to move to, Oh they put a big emphasis on form and ballet.

Gym B - big gym, charges the most in the area. At least 50 kids just on prep-op/level 7 training. Total of 200 girls on team. No boys team. Very big TOPS gym. As far as I know, they have not placed any females on the U.S. National Team, but they also shoot for the highest level. A lot of positive reinforcement, a "fun" gym. Clearly defined goals. If my daughter goes with this gym, she will do prep-op this year, then test out of level 5 in Fall, 2014 before competing at level 7. This makes me nervous! Why have nothing on her record to show she completed the new level 5 until next year? If we had to move to another state, there would be no USAG scores for her for 1.5 years. Also because it is such a big gym, she is not working on skills which she almost had prior to coming the the gym and there is no individual attention. She is not allowed to work on front tucks or back tucks. They break skills down to very simple steps and do drills for weeks or even months before actually attempting a skill. Some of it - to me - appears to be busy work and done for "crowd control." They do use weights - over the head, ankle weights while jumping and on the beam - which I am not a fan of at this age. Gym B is a well known gym because of their TOPS program, also a few involved with HOPES program. They win at states and regionals for level 7, but after that many quit gymnastics. Oh, they are tested five times a month on strength, flexibility, and skills and everyone's results are posted. Almost no focus on ballet and not much attention to form.

If we go with "Gym A" they could make her do level 5 this year, then level 6 the next year, then go to 7.

If we go with "Gym B" she would do prep-op this year, then do level 7 as a 9 year old.

I am not very familiar with Prep-Op, but it seems the skills she is currently working on are lower than the new level 5. However, if she does not have to compete at USAG this year, they will keep training them until December which means there is a potential they will work on some higher level skills?


If you got this far, thank you for any opinions you may have.
 

kayjaybe

Proud Parent
Jul 19, 2012
620
You said: Our goal/dream is for her to one day be on the National Team

What is her dream? Is she following your lead or are you pushing?
 
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Jenny

Coach
Proud Parent
Sep 17, 2012
3,441
to me there are far more unwanteds at gym B - use of weights, busy work, no uptraining, no ballet or form, no boys team for your son, expensive and kids quit after level 7! That doesn't sound like a winner to me.

The only down side of gym A is the lack of positive reinforcement (are you sure about this - empty praise is as damaging as no praise) and requirement to homeschool (which may be OK for you anyway but nice to have the choice) Surely you could live a little out of the area if it is not your choice.

Either way she will be a 9 or 10 year old level 7 which is fantastic but most national team members/ elites are much further on by that age. Has either gym expressed an interest in training her for elite? Which gym does she prefer? Which coaches? Good Luck
 
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iwannacoach

Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Mar 25, 2012
2,877
region II
One gym trains elites on a regular basis, and the other has not/does not. There's a saying, that if you hang out around a barber shop long enough you'll end up, sooner or later, with a haircut. The point is that a child has to get to the elite level, compete successfully at that level, to up qualifying for the USA championships (or whatever the sponsor calls it) and compete well there.

Gym A looks more like a barbershop than gym B........

The only real question is can your dd thrive in the (gym A) atmosphere you described, because that's gotta happen for her to make it to the elite level..... pretty much at any gym. Elites seem to have little need forofferings of positives or goals, as they have goals from within themselves, and their positives are the moments where they've made progress or been complimented by their coach.
 

cbifoja

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2012
3,007
You said: Our goal/dream is for her to one day be on the National Team

What is her dream? Is she following your lead or are you pushing?

Parents talk this way all the time. "We" are headed to school. "We" have soccer practice. "We" do homework immediately after "we" get home from school. It seems that anytime a parent comes here to discuss their child's future goals/dreams in gymnastics that it is almost mandatory for someone to post the "don't live vicariously through your child" speech but I don't see anything in her post that indicates this COACH/parent is forcing her child to participate in gymnastics.
 
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cbifoja

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2012
3,007
Either way she will be a 9 or 10 year old level 7 which is fantastic but most national team members/ elites are much further on by that age. Has either gym expressed an interest in training her for elite? Which gym does she prefer? Which coaches? Good Luck

Is this accurate? Every meet we go to my DD is in the youngest age division and she will be competing L6/L7 this year as a 9YO. So she is behind if she ever wanted to try for elite? I would have thought that the OP's DD was on a good track for elite but I will admit to knowing very little about the process as that doesn't appear to be my daughter's path any longer (now she wants to be a D1 gymnast at a somewhat local university).
 

Jenny

Coach
Proud Parent
Sep 17, 2012
3,441
Most kids going elite know they are on that path by the time they are 10 and/ or are beyond level 7 by that age. Obviously there are exceptions. I was just wondering if either of the gyms had given the OP any indication that her dd was on an elite path or would be at their gym. The levels they had suggested didn't sound like she would be. Elite bound gymnasts tend to be extraordinary phenoms from a young age.
 
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GymBeeMom

Proud Parent
Jul 12, 2012
487
By 9/10, most (but not all), do seem to be uptraining toward elite level skills, regardless of level they compete. That DOES NOT MEAN a 12 year old cannot make elite someday but the majority of coaches have tapped and are training toward elite path by the age of 9/10...as far as I have seen. My DD is no longer doing gymnastics but was elite tracked and, at 9, was training (not competing) her pak, eagle grip on bars, double backs, BHS BLO 1 1/2 dismount from beam, etc...these are the types of things they work outside of what they are competing in order to reach elite...She competed level 7 as an 8 year old and was working toward level 8 or 9 for her 9 year old season. Hope that helps give insight...but please don't take it as gospel. Regardless of what they are training, the big question is HAS A COACH DISCUSSED ELITE TRAINING WITH YOU FOR YOUR CHILD. That is more important than age or level as far as I can tell...
 
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D

Deleted member D3987

oh my gosh...and everyone always wonders why so many kids quit. track...schmack...:)
 
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surfergirl

Coach
Proud Parent
May 1, 2013
21
I have told her she is free to quit and do another sport. I am not forcing her to do gymnastics. After I took her to the American Cup she actually went back to the hotel room and practiced her autograph!!! I was surprised, but she said she wanted to be able to do gymnastics at Madison Square Garden and she would have to sign autographs.
 

surfergirl

Coach
Proud Parent
May 1, 2013
21
Thank you everyone for your replies. She says she learns more at gym a then gym b, but b is more fun. But she will go to either gym. She seems to like the coaches about the same. She knows really an adult has to make the decision. Gym A has discussed elite level with me, briefly several times. They very much want to coach her with this intention. The first time I walked into gym A they asked her history, the goals. I said it was a big goal but we were thinking about elite. The coach asked her age and nodded as if he would accept the challenge.When they saw her compete, all of the coaches said she competes very well and they want her more hours in the gym.

She has not proven herself to gym B. We have been there for about 6 weeks and because they initially group kids according to a tops like test (she had never done this previously), and they never asked to see her skills, I feel she is not in the right training group. I have discussed this with the head team coach, but he still has not asked to see her skills. When I mentioned trying to test for elite to him on the first day he laughed. He didn't ask about her history or anything.

I like the barber shop saying and all of your input.
 

Skadoodle

Proud Parent
Jul 27, 2013
52
47
CT
I saw the word prep-opt in here a few times. Prep- opt and elite are polar opposites.


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surfergirl

Coach
Proud Parent
May 1, 2013
21
Hi Skadoodle - "excel" and and "prep-opt" are used in GymB. When I talked to head coach the first day he said it was an excel program to skip the girls to a higher level and anyone can compete in excel. My daughter says the coaches tell her she is in the "prep-opt" group. But yes the prep-opt group is not working on things that level 5 (new level 5) need to compete with. I have also noticed at meets the elite level gyms have girls compete at level 5. (not sure if they also compete at 6). If you have a minute could you explain more your answer…..I am ready to start packing boxes over here LOL so I am trying to get as much information as possible.
 
D

Deleted member 14190

Hi Skadoodle - "excel" and and "prep-opt" are used in GymB. When I talked to head coach the first day he said it was an excel program to skip the girls to a higher level and anyone can compete in excel. My daughter says the coaches tell her she is in the "prep-opt" group. But yes the prep-opt group is not working on things that level 5 (new level 5) need to compete with. I have also noticed at meets the elite level gyms have girls compete at level 5. (not sure if they also compete at 6). If you have a minute could you explain more your answer…..I am ready to start packing boxes over here LOL so I am trying to get as much information as possible.
=
Ummm not to prep and xcel, yes to level 4,5,7,8,9,10. :)
 

Skadoodle

Proud Parent
Jul 27, 2013
52
47
CT
Hi Skadoodle - "excel" and and "prep-opt" are used in GymB. When I talked to head coach the first day he said it was an excel program to skip the girls to a higher level and anyone can compete in excel. My daughter says the coaches tell her she is in the "prep-opt" group. But yes the prep-opt group is not working on things that level 5 (new level 5) need to compete with. I have also noticed at meets the elite level gyms have girls compete at level 5. (not sure if they also compete at 6). If you have a minute could you explain more your answer…..I am ready to start packing boxes over here LOL so I am trying to get as much information as possible.

We need a coach on here to clarify but my understanding is this:
Prep opt and excel programs are open to all kids. They can compete in meets but the requirements are easier than a JO program. They work out less hours and it is my understanding that they are separate programs geared toward kids who want to participate in the sport but may have started late or they play other sports and aren't interested in the full commitment that a JO program requires.
Just be careful because I don't think that's a fast track to elite. Unless a coach specifically has told you they believe she is elite material I wouldn't pack up my family with the hopes that would happen. Also if she's been offered to repeat the same level that's also not "elite" talk.

Here's what it says at USAG on prep opt/ excel

XCEL (P.R.E.P. OPTIONAL) PROGRAM
CONTACT YOUR USA GYMNASTICS STATE OR REGIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT THIS PROGRAM.
I. PURPOSE
The Xcel (previously known as PREP OP) Optional Program is designed to offer a broad-based, affordable competitive experience outside the traditional Jr. Olympic Program to attract and retain a diverse group of athletes. The program gives an opportunity for:
A. Class students to participate in organized gymnastics events.
B. Those athletes who have competed in the USA Gymnastics Jr. Olympic Program and have qualified to Level 7 or above but need a more basic introduction to optional competition.
C. Those athletes who have competed in the USA Gymnastics Jr. Olympic Program at the Compulsory level and would like to experience a basic optional program during their "off" season; while they train skills to move up in the JO Program, if they wish.
D. Those athletes who have either "retired" from the Jr. Olympic Program or do not wish to train or compete at Level 7 or 8.
E. Athletes not previously involved with USA Gymnastics to enter the program.
II. GENERAL REGULATIONS
A. Membership Requirements
1. A MINIMUM of an Introductory Coach membership is required in order to coach on the floor of a USA
Gymnastics sanctioned Xcel Optional competition.
2. Athletes participating in sanctioned competitions must be registered as a USA Gymnastics Athlete or Introductory Athlete member.
a. If a gymnast has never competed in the USA Gymnastics Jr. Olympic Program (Levels 1-10) but
wishes to compete in the Xcel Optional Program, she must register as an Introductory Athlete Member.
• If at a later time in the same competitive year she wishes to move to Level 4 or 5, she must
upgrade her membership by submitting a regular Athlete Membership application and paying the
difference in price.
b. If a gymnast already has a regular Athlete Membership, she is not required to change or purchase a
new membership for Xcel Optional.
B. Mobility
This program is an alternative program that is outside of the Jr. Olympic Developmental Program structure.
1. There is NO OPPORTUNITY FOR MOBILITY into or within the Jr. Olympic Levels.
2. Mobility within the Xcel Optional Program is determined by the State/Regional Administrative Committee.
C. Equipment
Xcel Optional competitions must follow the current Women's Rules and Policies in regards to the Equipment Specifications, using the compulsory competition specifications as a minimum standard.
D. Competitive Divisions
(Divisions (A-E) can be renamed (i.e. Division A, Rookie or Bronze).
Division A – Comparable to Compulsory Levels 1-3
Division B – Comparable to Compulsory Levels 3-4
Division C – Comparable to Compulsory Levels 5-6
Division D - Comparable to Compulsory Levels 5-6 and Optional Level 7 Division E – Comparable to Compulsory Level 6 and Optional Level 7 or above
A State or Region may use any or all of the divisions to suit their needs.
E. Age Divisions
Division
Minimum Age
A
Reached 4th birthday
B
Reached 5th birthday
C
Reached 6th birthday
D
Reached 7th birthday
E
Reached 8th birthday



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GymBeeMom

Proud Parent
Jul 12, 2012
487
I just keep in mind that Gabby Douglas was competing Level 4 at the age of 8... and 8 years later, she was an Olympic Gold Medalist!
Gabby was a phenom who competed level 4 at age 8 but what she competed and what she trained were very different. By age 9/10 her training was geared to elite.
 
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Natasha

Proud Parent
Jan 28, 2011
1,712
So gym A is where she competed this past year? You mentioned that they would have her compete one year each of 5,6,7. You also mentioned that they discussed elite training with you. These two things do not seem to be congruent to me, as L6 is really for girls that are not ready to make the jump from L5 to L7. A gymnast with the potential to do Elite should have no problem going from L5 to L7. Have they specifically said to you that they want her to train Elite or has it just been that they haven't outright said no when you brought it up?
 
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