Parents Contradictory advice?

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I'm so confused! We're trying to decide whether to move DD from level 2 to level 4, rather than spend a year training level 3. Much advice I've gotten says to move her up as quickly as possible but now I'm reading stories about girls that moved up too fast and were miserable. How do you decide when they're ready to move and when to hold them back? I don't want her to be bored with level 3 nor intimidated with level 4.
It is an individual decison and I would rely on the coaches advice. My daughter skipped level 3 and missed learning some critical developmental elements like a standing back handspring and arm circling on vault. Now at Level 10, I think she still struggles with not progressing through each level ( she struggles with BHS on beam and with vaulting). Also, what are your goals...If you want to get to elite then move quickly, if you want staying power (say for college) then I think the slower path is better. Just a mom's thoughts.
I think that it totally depends on the child and the gym. I think the issue with your gym is that they don't seem to treat each child individually. A year at any level can be too much or too little for a child, depending on the kid. Or are you talking about the new gym you were looking at.

I think it depends on the gym as well. My DD's gym doesn't seem to be as strict on things and she will be moving to L4 in April most likely. They don't score the best in the meets, but it seems like the kids are all happy and they are having fun. My DD isn't super talented or a future elite or anything, so I am happy where she is.

I still struggle with the decision to let her move to L4. She turns 6 in July, but I don't think that in the grand scheme of things that it would hurt her to wait 6 months-1 year. The problem is that we don't compete anything here until L4 and she would be bored if she stays in her current class for the next year. I have a feeling she will do L4 for 2 years, which is fine with me. I just want her to have fun doing what she loves. :D I really wish we had AAU here or gyms that did competitions at L3.

Will the coaches consider doing L3 for now, but letting her advance at her own pace? That would be the ideal situation I think. Then she gets the opportunity to get everything step by step, but also advance if/when she is ready.

Good luck with the decision.
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Shawn, I think you are in a great position. Skylar obviously is a natural athlete and she is very young. She has just competed level 2, that leaves 8 levels until level 10. Supposing, beside the fact that she might decide to quit when she is 9 to be a cheerleader or ballerina (or whatever kids love to do), she does one year at each level, she will still only be a 14 year old level 10. Very impressive.

Kids with good, strong basics and polish can go far. Kids rushed through levels without all the basics can begin to struggle at the optional levels.

Having said that, maybe by next season she will have all the skills for level 4 and the confidence to compete it, then she should go for it. Most coaches have the girls train through the summer and see what skills the girls have before recommending levels, this means that they will only compete a level they are truly ready for.

A lot is about personality, some about natural ability.

In the end you should feel comfortable enough to trust the coaches you have chosen for your child.

Good luck, and to quote a famous Gymdad.

"remember gymnastics is a marathon, not a sprint" this is so very true.
I guess my questions would be is where are her skills now. Is she doing the Level 3 skills as of now or is she close to having them. Our Pre-team is working on their level 3 routines. Just stated to learn them this month. They don't compete but it is good training. DD is working on a lot of her level 4 skills now. I am hoping she will have most of them before summer to make learning her routines much smoother. I know at our gym if you can't do a skill then you don't compete that event.

So I would look at how she is doing with her skills needed for level 3 and level 4 and see where she is standing and what will challange her with our giving too much pressure. Also I would talk to your daughter and coaches to see what each think.
I tend to agree with Anne, My daughter skipped a level. It took her a long time to fix the skills she slopped through for a couple years. Now as an optional gymnast she is still has some struggles.

We made the decision this year to not move her up just because she has the score and some of the skills. She is waiting, working hard and becoming a stronger gymnast.

it is a decision that you and your DDs coach should make.
I don't know what to tell you... we didn't have a gym that had Levels 2 and 3. Our old gym started a team in September 2006. DD was doing rec one hour per week. In February 2007, they asked if she wanted to try their "Developmental" class, which was preTeam. A month later, she was on Team and six months later (Sept. 2007) she competed as a Level 4. In December 2007, she placed 13th at States and tied for 4th place on Floor. Our coach moves girls up when they are ready. There are no requirements that they stay at any level for any amount of time. In fact, she just moved one girl from Level 6 to Level 7 after just a couple of meets.

I think you have to look at the individual athlete. My daughter started gym just over 2 years ago. (Jan 06, and she was already 7 years old) She did a hotshot/preteam arrangement for about half a year and then competed level 3. She won all 3 meets she attended and then jumped this year to level 5 provincial. (we have Provincial and invitational level 5's at our gym) Now she's finished her season, just Provincial Championships to go, and she won all 3 meets as a level 5 also. I heard from her coach at the meet on Saturday that she'll be skipping level 6 and going straight to 7 next season, but depending on skills, she may even do 8.

With good form I know she'll do well at whichever level they place her. The kids perform roughly the same skills at each level, it's the polish that sets the winner apart.

We have a great coaching team and I trust their judgement completely.

From the video I saw of your daughter, I think she'll do well skipping a level, but only her coaches know the other factors like how fast she acquires new skills and how strong she is etc..

Good luck making your decision:)

She has most of the level 3 skills. She can do the entire bars routine, although the shoot-through is inconsistent. She can do most of the beam routine except she doesn't have the swing to push-up position. The vault is the same except higher and she can do that. And the straight-arm backward roll is the only thing she's still working on for floor.

She does learn skills fairly quickly, which is why I'm afraid she'll get bored. She didn't start this team until August 1st. By December she was getting bored with the tedium of working the same routines without learning anything new. Thankfully the competition season started in mid-January which gave her renewed excitement. Also, after the first two meets, they finally started doing the level 3 skills. Skylar, of course, had already taught herself most of them but she was happy to finally be doing them in the gym. Now she is practicing at home trying to get her cartwheel on the low beam (consistently; she has done quite a few but doesn't always make it) and she desperately wants to get her kip. But they're not doing this at practice. She's doing it on her own.

If she could do level 3 for a few more months and compete it in the fall while learning level 4, that would be ideal. Unfortunately that's not how our gym works. They do a full year of level 3 and then they change to level 4. It's not a very individualized system.
I guess we are pretty lucky. Our pre-team is level 3 and some gyms in our area include level 3 in the meets so my dd has been able to do 3 meets to date and will do two more next month as L3 and one at the end of May as L4.

My dd also tries to get new skills. She has her ROBHS, standing BHS, she wants her back tuck and front tuck something awful !! She has her shoot through on bars, still does not have the mill circle but is close. Has not tried front hip circle. Is also working on kip.

I think L3 has been good for her. it has given her a chance to go to a few meets (L3 meet schedule is not as heavy as L4 & up) and get her feet wet. It has also given her time to get used to learning routines as well as working on L4 skills.

our gym did have 3 girls move up from rec to L4 last June. One quite (didn't like the jump from one day a week to 3 days a week) which is sad because she was good, one moved back to L3 after a few meets and one is doing great. I think it depends on the gymnast. I don't think getting a good L3 base is bad. I can see all the L3 elements leading to elements in L4 and up.

Good luck.
There are pros and cons. And, yeah, they actually seem contradictory. It's your call, and a tough one. As you consider the move, just a couple of things to keep in mind:

Half the kids in level 5 are out by 6. (Here are the USAG Stats on number of participants). In light of this, consider the best decision for right now, not some long term goal.

Level 2003 2004 2007 total average % previous of level

5 17841 17416 17400 52657 26329
6 10779 8772 8832 28383 14192 0.54
7 8335 6725 7357 22417 11209 0.79
8 6517 5432 5333 17282 8641 0.77
9 4308 3543 3284 11135 5568 0.64
10 2319 1900 1691 5910 2955 0.53
Elite 163 143 97 403 134 0.05

How devestated would your daughter be if she tried level 4 over the summer and had to drop back or if she could get the skills but not polish them enough to place during competition? If those things wouldn't bother her, definitely try it.

I had one kid progress through the rec program (even took a 2 year break in there). She's spent a year at each level and done very well. In here career, she's had two meets where she didn't finish in the medals in all-around, and one of those she was competing with a broken metacarpal. She's currently finishing her gymnastics "career" as a level 8.

My other kid skipped most of rec and did what other people are calling hot-shots or some other fast track. She did a year of 4, one meet at 5, then moved right to level 6. She certainly was lacking some of the polish of the girls who hadn't skipped levels. She didn't place well as a level 6 and the optional coach had her work cut out for her when dd2 started training 7. Doing well as a gymnast takes polish, not just skill acquisition. Sadly, taking the time to polish is not nearly as much fun as learning the new skills, but it has to be done. Please don't rush simply because your fear your daughter will get "bored."
I think that this is a hard decision and one that you need to make based on your knowledge of your child and with the input from her coaches. I guess I am the voice of dissent here, but what I find disconcerting about your current gym is that they seem to insist on one year at each level no matter whether the girl is ready to move forward or not. This may be fine at higher levels but at Level 2, I don't see the point if she is ready and has all her Level 4 skills next season. Why make her do Level 3? I do understand the stuff about polish, but if she has the skills solidly then why not do Level 4? She will be 7 if I have her age right and that is about the right time for Level 4. Does the new gym have a Level 3? If they are willing to assess her and let her compete at her skill level (whatever that may be) then I would go there. It does sound like a more high pressure environment, though, so you need to be sure that she would do well in that kind of situation.

Here in Virginia, we do not compete anything below Level 4. My daughter is 6 this year and doing just fine at Level 4. I am glad that she was not held back because of her age. She had all her Level 4 skills before the season started and is now working on polishing them along with learning her Level 5 skills. Because the levels build on each other, a lot of the Level 5 training applies to Level 4 (i.e., learning the double bhs, learning to vault over the table). What I like is that her coaches teach skills based on how each girl is doing with current skills. Her coach says he is not coaching Level 4 so much as he is coaching beginning competitive gymnastics. Those girls that have mastered a skill and are ready to move on are taught the next progression of the skill. I feel like Lily will be well prepared for Level 5 next year.

Anyway, all I am saying is that if Skylar has all of her Level 4 skills when the season is set to begin next year I don't see why she shouldn't do Level 4 at age 7. On the other hand, if is still struggling with the Level 4 skills, she should compete Level 3 while continuing to work on Level 4 skills. If she has a rough Level 4 year, she can always repeat to get the polish she needs. I am willing to bet she will do great at Level 4 and be ready for Level 5 the following year.

To Mariposa's Mom, I just wanted to say that I think your dd will be fine in Level 4 so don't worry too much! My daughter was 5 (turning 6 in October) when she moved to Level 4. She is having a good season this year and enjoying herself immensely.


Lily (6yo Level 4)
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Megley, you kind of hit the nail on the head. Skylar doesn't already "have" her level 4 skills because she's never had the opportunity to train them. The way our gym works, the girls are competing AAU level 2 right now while they learn the level 3 skills (of which Skylar can already do most of them). There is no opportunity to learn level 4 skills until this time next year, after they have trained the rest of this year on level 3 and begun the level 3 meet season next January (2009).

The new gym that we're considering would start her training the level 4 skills right away and have her compete level 4 this fall (2008) and then begin training level 5. If for some reason she is not ready to compete L4 this fall, the coaches can take them to some L4 meets next spring. Either way she would be training to compete L5 by next fall (2009). I like that flexibility. It sounds like they progress each girl individually rather than having time requirements for the whole team.

I did ask Skylar if she had to choose, would she rather score really good at the meets perfecting tricks she already know or would she rather learn new tricks even if it means she might not score as well. She said she'd rather learn new tricks. I don't know what that's worth from a 6-year-old but I know it's true. She's one of those kids who needs to keep progressing and learning new things. She's like that at school, too (in kindergarten but already reading a year above her level).

We do plan to check out a couple more gyms and talk to her current coach. But, her coach is pretty firmly entrenched in the gym policy and I don't think they'd even consider skipping her up, which is too bad because other than this, we really like it there.
megley-thanks! i am not worried about her. i am worried about me. LOL. i am so not ready for her to be doing all this.

shawn- i can definitely see the pros of how your gym does it. your daughter's routines looked very polished and her form is great. if all the girls are like that, they must be doing something right.

like i said, we have no lower levels. at DDs old gym, in the advanced classes they really work on just strength and form, etc. at her current gym in her developmental/preteam class, they mostly are getting skills. i am assuming they will work more on the strength, etc on team.

so, my DD has the skills, but they aren't polished. if that makes any sense. some of the older girls in her class look more polished, but i think it is their personality, etc. my DD hasn't quite realized you have to look pretty while doing the skills, LOL. she is just happy to be able to do them.

i would talk to your DDs coaches and also check out other gyms. good luck!
The new gym that we're considering would start her training the level 4 skills right away and have her compete level 4 this fall (2008) and then begin training level 5. If for some reason she is not ready to compete L4 this fall, the coaches can take them to some L4 meets next spring. Either way she would be training to compete L5 by next fall (2009). I like that flexibility. It sounds like they progress each girl individually rather than having time requirements for the whole team.

I think this is all good as long as the coaches are willing to be flexible and not push her to compete before she is ready. I think that is what was causing the problems for the other poster. In other words, the timetable should be just a guideline. Nobody can really say for sure right now whether she will or won't be ready for Level 5 in the Fall of 2009. That said, if she is willing to take on faster paced training, I would move. My only caution would be to monitor the situation. Watch practices, pay attention to her attitude about going to gym, just try to make sure it is still fun. It's hard to hit the right balance of fun and challenge, but if you can do it she will thrive. Best of luck to you!


Lily (6 yo Level 4)
Mariposa's Mom, it will be fun! Level 4 is really fun because the skills are not that difficult and the girls have such a great time at the meets. I'm sure that your dd will do great! :)

It's so great to be able to talk these things through with moms who understand and have been there.

I think what we're going to do is have her evaluated at the two other gyms that we're considering. We'll then have three "outside" opinions on what level she should be. If they agree that she ought to be at level 4, we'll approach her current coach and see what she says and then go from there.

Skylar just has so much potential and she really loves doing it. I just don't want to mess up anything for her.
My two cents......shawn I am sure skylar will be fine at level 4. She can always go back. My dd switched gyms as a level 3 and the new gym only had level 4. They put her into the level 4 team but it was already september and she did not have the skills. Especially in bars. She stayed until dec when we moved to florida...this is a very competitive state. level 2 compete level 2 and learn level 4. In our gym every level works two levels ahead. We ended up moving her back to 2 and she loves it. She is very polished on her skills and had scored well in her first meet. My daughter was more comcerned about competing then what level she was at. She is 7 1/2 and wants to score well. This worked for us. I am glad she tried 4 but she really wasnt ready.
our gym starts competing l2 they stay l2 6m then l3 6mon a year at l3 I believe is to long l4 6m to 1year depending unless the coach sees that a girl is getting all of her skills very easly and follows instructions well the which is also the owner evauluates them and moves them according.We had a girl that was on my dd's team and once they moved to l4 last month they had her practice a month with them then seen she was ready for L5 and moved her and she is doing great.there was another girl that competed this past fall has l2 they moved her past l3 and moved her to our l4 she was getting all the skills with ease so now she is in l5 and also doing great.Most of my dd's team generally pick up the skills at the same rate if the girls that were picking them up much faster and easier they move up I believe thats how it should work.The girls need to be looked at indivually

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