For Parents Xcel to JO Advice

XicGymMom

New Member
Proud Parent
May 24, 2021
3
47
Country
USA
My daughter is going to be 10 next month. She was in recreational gymnastics from 4 years old to 8 years old. At age 8 she did pre-team Xcel and at age 9 she competed Xcel Bronze. She has expressed her desire to move to JO for the past year. I asked the director of her program at her current gym and she said they tend to not move girls from JO from Xcel and that she would be too old to be with the L3 girls. A gym mom friend advised me to get a second opinion. I contacted another local gym and they were able to evaluate her. The coach said that she would need some work (especially on upper body strength) but it wasn't something that couldn't be done. She would just have to work harder. The coach did mention the age difference as she would be 10 and most of the L3 are 7-8 years old. Next step is a possible try out. We are waiting to hear back. I'm conflicted on what to do. She loves her current gym and team mates but she really wants to be in JO and she knows it will require more of her time, effort and a lot of hard work.
 

PreciousJ

Member
Proud Parent
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
148
Georgia
Country
USA
I haven't been in this exact situation, but I can't stand this "too old" jazz that some coaches and gyms are pushing. :(

My DD is 10 and just finished her 2nd season of Xcel Bronze (long story...), and will be moving up to Silver, which is in many ways similar to L3. She turns 11 two months before competition season. We've competed at meets with L3 and L4 girls in the past where there have clearly been girls your DD's age competing. So, YES, it can be done, but the only limitation is the coaching mindset. Such a shame when they try to define gymnasts with desire and talent into a rigid age structure like that.
 

XicGymMom

New Member
Proud Parent
May 24, 2021
3
47
Country
USA
I haven't been in this exact situation, but I can't stand this "too old" jazz that some coaches and gyms are pushing. :(

My DD is 10 and just finished her 2nd season of Xcel Bronze (long story...), and will be moving up to Silver, which is in many ways similar to L3. She turns 11 two months before competition season. We've competed at meets with L3 and L4 girls in the past where there have clearly been girls your DD's age competing. So, YES, it can be done, but the only limitation is the coaching mindset. Such a shame when they try to define gymnasts with desire and talent into a rigid age structure like that.
I totally agree with you. I feel like my DD's current gym really invests a lot of time and effort into the younger girls and overlooks the older girls who have passion for the sport and are eager to learn. I'm hoping that all this starts to change as older gymnasts continue to compete at the national and Olympic level. Gymnastics is such a beautiful sport and it would be a shame to limit girls of any age to follow their dreams.
 

PreciousJ

Member
Proud Parent
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
148
Georgia
Country
USA
If she does wind up being the oldest on her team, frame it as a teaching moment. Encourage her to lead by example - be a good listener, work hard, help out the coaches and teammates, etc. I think my daughter has matured by being the oldest on her team (although she has a teammate a few days younger), and she has absolutely no problem with any perceived age difference. We're fortunate to be on a team where the girls all get along. Age difference is only a "thing" when you make it one - and that applies to coaches and gymnasts.
 

XicGymMom

New Member
Proud Parent
May 24, 2021
3
47
Country
USA
If she does wind up being the oldest on her team, frame it as a teaching moment. Encourage her to lead by example - be a good listener, work hard, help out the coaches and teammates, etc. I think my daughter has matured by being the oldest on her team (although she has a teammate a few days younger), and she has absolutely no problem with any perceived age difference. We're fortunate to be on a team where the girls all get along. Age difference is only a "thing" when you make it one - and that applies to coaches and gymnasts.
Thank you so much! Those are very good ideas. I'm new to this community and it's comforting to know that there are such kind people who take the time to read and provide sincere feedback. I wish your DD the very best in her gymnastics journey. :)
 

Gymx2

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
715
Country
USA
If your daughter is really determined to pursue JO, I would make the switch. If it's something she really wants then it's better to make the move now than spend another year wondering. She may be the oldest one in her group next season, but if she is really determined to make the switch I bet she'll be happy learning the skills and not as bothered about her age compared to the other girls. It also may change a lot in a year or two and she'll find herself with similar aged teammates. As long as you leave your current gym on good terms then it should be possible to move back to that Xcel program one day if your daughter does decide she was happier in Xcel. Good luck to her! :)
 

coachj20

Coach
Coach
Feb 14, 2020
4
21
Country
USA
My daughter is going to be 10 next month. She was in recreational gymnastics from 4 years old to 8 years old. At age 8 she did pre-team Xcel and at age 9 she competed Xcel Bronze. She has expressed her desire to move to JO for the past year. I asked the director of her program at her current gym and she said they tend to not move girls from JO from Xcel and that she would be too old to be with the L3 girls. A gym mom friend advised me to get a second opinion. I contacted another local gym and they were able to evaluate her. The coach said that she would need some work (especially on upper body strength) but it wasn't something that couldn't be done. She would just have to work harder. The coach did mention the age difference as she would be 10 and most of the L3 are 7-8 years old. Next step is a possible try out. We are waiting to hear back. I'm conflicted on what to do. She loves her current gym and team mates but she really wants to be in JO and she knows it will require more of her time, effort and a lot of hard work.
I agree with some of the responses here. "Too old" is a term coaches like to use when they're worried about getting to a gymnast when they're young in order to have a superstar performer. Odds are, your child wants to do gymnastics for fun, not to be the next Olympic gold medalist. 8 Years old is a common age in our Xcel bronze groups that we have, and have had no problem. If your kid happens to be extra talented in the sport and she gets good strength and flexability, she could be a platinum or even diamond gymnast by age 12-13. These levels are equivilent to JO levels from level 6 to level 8. Most diamonds wont reach a skill level much higher than that. I say, if she wants to do it then let her! Hope this helped.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PinPin

jillc

Member
Proud Parent
Apr 1, 2016
124
41
Country
USA
I guess my only question would be why does she want to move to JO. I feel like some girls say they want to move only because JO is perceived as “better”. Being in JO doesn’t mean you are a better gymnast or have more potential - just in a different program with different requirements.

But if you think she has good reasons (probably that she wants the additional hours and that come with JO) — then I would give it a shot.
 

PeanutsMom

Member
Proud Parent
Jun 14, 2019
125
Country
USA
I am so sick of the too old mentality. My daughter is 12, a level 7, and rising level 8 who was basically left alone by the optional coaches because they are starting a HOPES/Jr. Elite program at our gym. All the coaches time goes to a level 4 who is 6 and the 8-9 year olds who are in Optionals. The girls who are in high school and level 7 have been completely ignored because they are too old to make level 10 by the time they graduate. Most of these girls are stagnant and not progressing because no one is working with them. Its a sad and unfornate aspect of gymnastics. My daughter was always about the same age as the largest group in each level. She competed level 3 at 8, level 4 at 9, level 5 at 10, level 6 at 11, and level 7 at 12. The message at our gym (before she quit this past month) was that she didn't make to 9 by age 13 and was therefore not worth the effort of the coaches. It infuriates me. If your daughter wants to go to JO level 3 at 10, do it and allow her to be her best, not what some coach thinks is best.
 

raenndrops

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Oct 24, 2009
6,668
The 'Wood, Ohio
Country
USA
I would have her stay in Xcel (assuming it's a quality program) and at age 13 petition to JO as an optional if she has the skills.
That would be a good idea, but at 14 (or 9th grade), not 13 ... if her current gym would be agreeable to petitioning. There are some gyms that don't want to "deal with the hassle" and others that just flat out won't let a gymnast go from Xcel to Developmental (aka JO).
 

Musicmama

Member
Proud Parent
Nov 27, 2015
253
Country
USA
If she wants to do it then absolutely let her try!

My dd went from XB to L4 (I’m not recommending this, btw, going to L3 would be MUCH more manageable from XB and the L4 season was super rough on my dd) when she was almost 9yo and yes, the upper body strength thing was an issue for her (she was the last girl on her team to get a kip), but she worked super hard, had a great L5 year the next season, and has moved up every year since then (until possibly this coming year due to some minor injuries that kept her from competing this past season).

It’s a shame that some coaches are reluctant to move girls from Xcel to JO. No, it’s not always a good idea, but if the gymnast is motivated and has a decent ability level then I don’t understand why there’s so much reluctance.

The age (“too old”) thing is bizarre to me also. A ~12yo XS girl moved over to L4 at the same time as my dd and had 3 great seasons in JO 4-6 before deciding she wanted to do something else with her time and energy. She was amazing with the younger girls on the team and it was nice to have some variety in the ages too.

I wish your dd the best regardless of what happens with her levels!
 

Aussie_coach

Moderator/Coach
Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner
Jan 4, 2008
3,578
Country
Australia
The age doesn’t really seem much of an issue. There really isn’t much age difference between 7-8 and 10. We have kids from age 8 right through to age 23 training on the same team.

It’s not an issue at all, because we have always done things that way so it just seems normal to everyone. Just like being with their big sisters.

What would concern me is that this new gym doesn’t seem very confident in her. Saying she would have to work hard and it’s not impossible is not the best energy to change gyms on.

I would do it if you found a gym that actually seem enthusiastic to have her in the group.
 

Mrsboots87

New Member
Proud Parent
May 31, 2018
19
33
Country
USA
My daughters’ gym is agist as well on their JO team. They have quite a few girls who make it to D1 schools and others who still get scholarships in other divisions as well. Frequently win team and so on. Very good gym. While I think it’s unfortunate that girls with a lot of heart and potential but are older are looked over and not considered for the JO track, I can understand why a particularly competitive gym might be more strict about the ages of their lower level gymnasts. They are looking at the long term ability of a gymnast and how many scholarship qualifying girls, national qualifiers, and team wins they could contribute to because it reflects on how “good” of a program they have. Nothing wrong with them wanting to stay competitive. There are gyms out there that are less competitive and will take older girls into their lower levels because they aren’t as focused on having the youngest best team out there (even though I’m sure some are still pretty competitive). You can try looking for a more age accepting gym if that is your daughters goal.

My daughters compete Xcel partially because of their dedication and partially for the slightly laxer attendance requirements. However even my gyms Xcel program competes at the top required skills for each level and has higher than average practice hours for their Xcel teams, and the coaches do a lot of strength training and focus heavily on correct form. Some of our Xcel girls “graduate” out of platinum or diamond into the optional levels. So if your daughter is not deemed a good fit for JO now, tell her to work hard on her strength and her form. Move up through the Xcel program and then see again about moving over to JO in optionals where ageism isn’t as bad usually. If your gym has a good Xcel program, they will care just as much about strength and form as the JO program does, just the skills being developed will take a different path.
 

ldw4mlo

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,027
61
Country
USA
Saying she would have to work hard and it’s not impossible.
Without knowing tone or context. Without seeing the evaluation that the potential new gym saw. That sounds very honest yet open minded. And realistic. Something I like with anyone I deal with.
 
  • Like
Reactions: raenndrops