The future of elite gymnastics

One of the very interesting conversations from the forums recently has been about the future of elite gymnastics. Many of the contenders for National Team spots have dropped back to Level 10 to focus on college. What will the future bring?

FlippinLilysMom started the conversation with the following…

Just curious what other peoples thoughts are on the future of elite here in the USA. I feel like the allure of being an elite gymnast is starting to fade with the current generation. So many of the up and comers for 2024 and 2028 have decided the elite route is not for them and gone back to level 10 and changed their focus from worlds/olympics to NCAA. I don’t foresee the US having the huge depth that they used to. Maybe a core group of 10-15 who are continuing down the path versus the 50+ we used to see.

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The events of the past years have highlighted the problems in elite gymnastics. Parents and gymnasts are going in with more insight as to what it really means to be an elite gymnast.

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I think the allure of being the youngest junior elite or doing elite for 5+ years has faded but the dream of going to worlds or olympics hasn't so we'll probably see more elites qualifying in the year leading up to the olympics

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Just curious what other peoples thoughts are on the future of elite here in the USA. I feel like the allure of being an elite gymnast is starting to fade with the current generation. So many of the up and comers for 2024 and 2028 have decided the elite route is not for them and gone back to level 10 and changed their focus from worlds/olympics to NCAA. I don't foresee the US having the huge depth that they used to. Maybe a core group of 10-15 who are continuing down the path versus the 50+ we used to see.

I've got to say... I am feeling this heavily. The Olympics and social media have really pushed many toward college.

My daughters was always to get in the game for 2024... and could we qualify elite... yes. 6 release moves on bars... with and E dismount... check. Beam... we could do that too. Vault... 1.5... sure... but getting the 2+ twisting Yurchenko... we could get it if we trained hard enough... probably... but it will always be on the edge... could easily lead to injury. Floor... same as vault... could probably get it... but could easily lead to injury.

Once they see the future of college... protecting from injury something that these athletes never looked at before.

And seeing the future of Olympic champions hasn't helped at all either. Let's face it... the athletes I have of this ability are not impressed with either the GOAT Tour or Dancing With The Stars. They see that as the future of an Olympian and the just don't care.

Sorry if I'm being negative here... but it is a very tough road for most.

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So many of the up and comers for 2024 and 2028 have decided the elite route is not for them and gone back to level 10 and changed their focus from worlds/olympics to NCAA.

I'm not sure that I see this happening any more than in previous decades.

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I'm not sure that I see this happening any more than in previous decades.

Hard to say... being directly involved with this class of athletes... I have seen tons of them drop back or quit all together... but maybe I just didn't know how many were involved before. To me it really seemed like the TOPS and camp structure was peaking and then it just blew up. There was tons of talent and it was definitely different as we did our last camp at Flip Fest.

The education of the coaches coming to camp was very different as well... this could play a huge part. They were changing "average coaches" into super elite coaches... it was a very powerful educational system. I was part of that and will never coach the same again due to it. I am still learning every day... but now I have to seek out that education... it's not just waiting for me.

@GYM0M might have a unique perspective on this as well. I would love to hear.

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I think NLI could play a part too. They no longer have to be an Olympian to make a name and earn money. Many college gymnasts are able to earn some money and a few will earn a lot. The colleges that help all athletes take advantage of NLI ( like Arkansas) will increase the draw towards a successful college career and could take some of the advantages away from the top level elites.

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Just curious what other peoples thoughts are on the future of elite here in the USA. I feel like the allure of being an elite gymnast is starting to fade with the current generation. So many of the up and comers for 2024 and 2028 have decided the elite route is not for them and gone back to level 10 and changed their focus from worlds/olympics to NCAA. I don't foresee the US having the huge depth that they used to. Maybe a core group of 10-15 who are continuing down the path versus the 50+ we used to see.

I agree that there will be a drop in numbers in the near term but I see it more as a temporary lull than a broader trend/change from elite. I definitely think we are in a transition period. There is a multitude of factors at play here, the obvious scandals, the leadership of USAG, and it seems like it is almost demanded that any mention of "elite" be quickly followed by some negative comment about it to name a few. All these things lead to some hesitancy with parents/gymnasts pursuing this path. I think as these things get worked out, and some of the seniors that have a foot in both generations (pre/post scandal) transition out (meaning become less prominent in the broader gymnastics community) we will see the numbers increase. There are more than enough gymnasts that want to pursue this route and there are also plenty that have had and are currently pursuing this with positive experiences and results. In my n=1 our gym has several elites and a current and past national team member(s) that are plenty adjusted, not injured, having fun and in a positive coaching environment. I just say this as an example that elite gymnastics and positive experiences can co-exist even if it doesn't seem that way now. As far as NIL, its a chicken/egg thing, the gymnasts that are monetizing their social media brand are successful because they achieved a following doing elite gymnastics. And the programs from power conferences that can help with NIL success are, in general, more interested in girls that have spent some time in the elite world. Elite is for sure not for everyone, there are big sacrifices to make personally, physically, $ and family.

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I think part of the downturn in numbers could be due to COVID shutdowns over the last year and a half. I would think the girls training elite would be more impacted by any gap in training that could make it even harder to achieve elite/national team status.

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I think part of the downturn in numbers could be due to COVID shutdowns over the last year and a half. I would think the girls training elite would be more impacted by any gap in training that could make it even harder to achieve elite/national team status.

In many cases I’m sure you are correct… however… our two came back stronger and they both decided that they were no longer interested in elite.

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With my DD and her team it's not even close, Collegiate is way more appealing than elite. Not that any of them are on the path to elite, but the only reason my DD or her teammates would want to do elite is to get on a D1 team.

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I question whether this is just a part of the pandemic - the gymnasts had a taste of life without gymnastics or, at the very least, lower hours and they have a different perspective on whether elite is worth it. Families are also questioning the cost/time factors following these breaks. I have a feeling that the next level of gymnasts coming up will have the elite drive, especially after 2024, and if in fact the pool is smaller, that will be more motivation for those up and coming gymnasts (not as much competition)

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I think parents and gymnasts alike are much more aware of the sacrifices of being an elite gymnast in the US and may be making the decision with their eyes wide open.

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Another thing to consider. The athletes in elite are trained to a level to be right on the edge of their abilities and only when they are in peak condition. They will push well past 90% of their abilities during peak phases. The problem is that when they are not peaked… this is 100%+ of their abilities.

Top Level 10’s and college athletes can easily operate at 75% or less of their actual ability.

Why risk injury for not much when you can stay healthy and have fun for a $150,000+ scholarship package?

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I think I kinda understand what you are saying but I also don't. I think you are saying that if an elite athlete doesn't perform at 100% then they cant do their elite skills? Not that they can only do any skill at 100% effort. Either way, it also seems that there are two viewpoints of elite here, one viewpoint seems like elite is a career path and its olympics/world championships or bust. My viewpoint is that it's just another level of competition like xcel to JO to elite and most of these girls are looking to go to college. Just like people climbing mountains or jumping out of planes, there are people that want to push themselves to the highest. While others may shake their head, they do get enjoyment and fun out of it. The challenge of setting a high goal and reaching it drives some in elite (yes, some do it for unhealthy reasons). It doesn't make them better or worse than any other gymnast doing xcel or Level 10. As far as college scholarships, elite is the path with the highest success rate of obtaining a college scholarship. Even girls coming out of level 10 that do get scholarships to top 25 programs, the majority of them have spent some time either as an elite or in the elite development program (Tops, Hopes, development camp, elite qualifiers). Why? Because like a 5 star college football recruit, elites are almost "can't miss" prospects in college coaches' eyes, they can do all the college skills without issue and have the mental toughness to perform in pressure situations.

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I agree, doing a few years of elite is a firm qualification for college. Also why would you not want to spend some time competing the same code as olympians or world champion level gymnasts. Just to say you have done it.

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