Parents Daughter not picked for pre-squad in only local competitive gym - what next?

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New2this

Proud Parent
For context we’re in the U.K. She loves gymnastics and started toddler classes at 18 months old at the only other local (but non-competitive) gym. In September she switched to the competitive gym, just before turning 5 in December. I would have switched her sooner due to issues with the first gym, but didn’t know the competitive gym even existed as they don’t advertise.

Found out this week she hasn’t been picked for the new pre-squad. The staff admitted the biggest factor in deciding was age (all the chosen ones are 3-4, with the exception of a 6 year old). Their skill levels are similar to my daughters (very low level, not graded), though being a little older my daughter is better at listening and staying focused during class, also she always wants to be there whereas the little ones regularly don’t and will act out.

It just seems a shame that it seems my daughter’s chances of competing are effectively over at age just 5. I don’t mean to sounds dramatic, but obviously the plan is that the pre-squad will feed into the older competitive squad. They will have extra training sessions and my daughter will never be able to keep up while just doing recreational gym classes. Even if I put her in extra rec classes, they’re shorter and obviously different, and won’t have the same outcome. Also their strong focus on age makes me think her chances are pretty much over already, even if she were to make huge improvements.

I accept their decision, I’m not going to demand she be let in, but is there anything I can do to give her a chance in the future? As I said, this is the only competitive gym in my area so we can’t switch. Due to personal circumstances we cannot move areas either. I’m also limited in what I can personally do to help as I know little about gymnastics (though I’m willing to learn).

I do plan to talk to the gym about this, but obviously want to be careful about how I come across, so any advice about how to approach them would be appreciated too. I don’t want drama, I just want to understand what I can do to help my daughter achieve what she wants.
 
I don’t think you should assume that your child will fall hopelessly behind because she wasn’t selected at age 5. My kid didn’t do any kind of rec gymnastics or pre-team. At 7-years-old, he was a competitive swimmer and a talented backyard trampolinist. I took him in for his first rec class and they put him on the team right away. One year later, he’s one of the top 8-year-olds competing in our region of the US. He’s passed all the kids who have been taking classes since preschool.

Hopefully, if your daughter sticks with it, the coaches will recognize her potential and give her an opportunity. 5-years-old is far too young to determine a child’s potential and I would hope that they would have the wisdom to know this. In the meantime, sign her up for swimming and dance. Those things will allow her to build the skills and the strength she needs to succeed in gymnastics. That will hopefully help her get recognized at the gym. She may end up preferring those sports and that could also solve your problem.

Good Luck!
 
I don't have much in the way of advice but I do have a lot of both empathy and sympathy. From my experience the whole set-up in the UK is dreadfully designed for actually developing little gymnasts and keeping them engaged with the sport. You're either on 45 minutes a week of recreational or one of the chosen few who makes it into a development squad when you're no older than six and there is absolutely nothing in between. God forbid you don't realise you're interested in the sport until you're 7 or 8. We were told at one point that if we were serious about our daughter's "career" we should have had her in a gym when she was 3 or 4 years old - smack in the middle of the pandemic when everything was shut. And now she's on the cusp of being "too old" because she's two years behind kids who have been doing intense strength and conditioning since before they were five.

We're lucky in that there are a handful of competitive gyms within driving distance of our house and there are couple of open trials she'll be going along to next month - slightly better prepared than when she last tried out last year and we discovered everyone else had been drilled for months to be ready by parents who knew more about how the system works.

What's most lucky of all is that she adores the recreational program she's on and is only dimly aware that competitive gymnastics is actually a thing (mainly from watching My Perfect Landing on Netflix) so she's going to keep on bouncing and bending and tumbling no matter what. Getting into a squad would simply be the icing on the cake, a chance to do more of what she loves so much.

It just feels very frustrating and frankly kind of unfair that kids' futures in the sport are effectively capped at such a young age. And it strikes me as extremely short-sighted of British Gymnastics to allow this to happen - if nothing else, the whole "if you didn't start at 4, forget it" approach is guaranteed to lead to talented young athletes being missed and never fulfilling their potential.
 
"Anothergymdad" , I am in the UK and in our county and region we have many options that are "in between". There is no need for a gymnast to start at 3-4 years old to be successful. That isn't just our club, there are several in the area that offer different levels of training and competition.

I understand that you may have had a bad experience with a club and that there are "elite" clubs that will only consider young children or high level gymnasts but that is not reflective of the many options there are in the UK.

Good luck to your daughter in her trials, maybe you could come back and let us know the outcome?
 
@New2this I'm sorry to hear that your daughter wasn't picked for pre-squad and absolutely ask the coaches what she can do to work towards her goals.
In the meantime are there other options, such as trampolining, tumbling etc? Or gyms that aren't so competitive but have floor and vault squads, or GFA squads that you are unaware of? If not how about acrobatic or freestyle dance, cheerleading, diving?
 
I wouldn't give up hope if she loves it. I would try to increase the frequency of her rec classes but then also seek other ways to help her improve. Perhaps there are Acro/tumbling classes she could take at. Dance or cheer studio? Could you buy a beam and bar to use at home? If she loves gymnastics and has a passion for it, you can find ways for her to develop even if it's outside the gym for now.
 

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