Dilemma about level and competing - what would you do?

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Proud Parent
We have a little dilemma on our hands wna just want to see how you all would handle it. This is a long one, sorry...

DD first year competing Prep Opt Novice won state last year. She is 10 now. We decided to give up swim team for gymnastics and move into JO program. She has been training with a group of "level 4s moving to level 5" since June. Some progress has been made - now has ROBHSBHS (needs to get legs a little straighter), front tuck (needs to improve landing) and is generally progressing nicely on beam (always had great long-hold handstand and can do cartwheel, needs bigger leaps and jumps but always sticks them).

Seems bars is giving some trouble - kip specifically, as she do squat on most of the time and now has started really jumping to high bar. Vault is "ok" but we're having troubling with landing as she tends to fall forward most of the time, but that is not the biggest concern.

The issue is in our gym if you can't really perform all of the routines/skills then you can't compete that level. So coach wants her to workout with a group of girls in similar situation - they are not really ready to make the move up to level 5, but are beyond level 4. They may different skills they are struggling with but bottom line is they will not be moving to the level 5 workout until they get the skills they are having trouble with.

So DD will not be able to compete level 5 until she gets her kip, which means she may miss several meets at the beginning of the season (we start around mid-Ocober). She will learn the level 5 routines and work on all those skills but will do it with this group during the level 4 workout.

The dilemma is that DD loves to compete, just loves the meets and I fear she will be sad missing out and may get out of that "competing mindset" if too much time goes by. Might she also get bored just practicing for several months? Would she be better off competing level 4 this year but still working on level 5 bar skills? Is it feasible to compete the first few meets as level 4 and then switch to level 5 when she gets her kip? If so, I worry that trying to learn the level 5 routine half-way into the season might be too hard.

What would you do?? Thanks!!!
My opinion is to let her work toward level 5 and not worry about the competing. This might be just the incentive for her to get her skills. Is there any way she could compete at level 4 while working level 5 skills and transition into level 5 partway through the season? Talk to your dd about what her goals are and what is important to her. At 10, she should be able to help make these decisions.
Your description is really common in lots of gyms. My own DD going from 4 - 5 had a similar issue. We have 2 seasons one from Oct - Dec and one from Jan - may. We also had a L4 group trying to move to L5 that practiced with the L4 that is very common too. She competed L4 for the Fall session while working on the L5 skills when Jan came she was ready for L5.

Having a gymnast wait isn' a bad thing its more of a safe thing. It's better to be a strong L4 than a weak L5. Learning to accept not moving up or having to wait to move forward is part of this sport and all gymnasts I think have had to wait for something (getting a skill, moving up, etc).

Sounds like your coach is doing the best thing for your DD. In my area it has been my experience that the JO program is definitly a more focused program than the PrepOp program and there is more attention to form and execution.

She will need to learn how to handle not being able to move forward if her skills aren't where the coach needs them to be.

My DD is a L7 gymnast and she has alot of L8 skills and a few L9 skills but that doesn't mean she is ready to move up (even though she wants to) she has to gain her L8 vault and a 8 move on the beam before they will move her up to L8 so she will compete L7 and if at some point she gets her L8 skills they will move her up and allow her to compete L8. But after years of doing this It is so much better to not move forward and be stronger at the current level then move up and have a weak season. Nothing breaks a spirit or confidence quicker than not getting a ribbon ever in your current level.
First of all, I think it's pretty nice that the gym allows that option. In many similar situations a gymnast is forced to go back to level 4 for another year, so providing an alternative is good for those girls struggling with only 1 or 2 skills. But as far as the answer to your question, it really depends on your daughter and what she would respond best to.
I was in a similar situation as a gymnast with just missing 1 or 2 skills and was forced to go back and compete level 6 again. I was miserable with that solution. I begged the coach to let me just train level 7 and not compete until I was ready which would have made me much happier, but she would not agree to that plan. so in your DDs situation, I would happily accept being in the level 5 training group, learning the routines, and fine tuning skills until ready to compete.
On the flip side, some coaches/gymnasts would rather compete the lower level to gain more meet experience, allow the athlete to experience success at the lower level, or for a variety of other reasons. The reason my coach decided to hold me back in the above situation was largely because I was an incredibly nervous child who fell apart when competing and she thought more experience competing easier routines would be good for me.
I know the above probably wasn't much help, but here are a few things to think about in your DDs particular situation.
Is the kip the only skill she needs? If it is, how close is she to getting it? If she's really close, as in looking like she will get it before the team is too far into the meet season, maybe the training group would be the best bet. But if she's not even close, maybe another year at level 4 so she could keep competing would be good.
If the kip is the only skill, is there anyway she could compete level 5 on the other 3 events and just skip bars? That way she could compete the routines she does know and still work on getting that pesky kip.
I would suggest to talk it over with your DD and her coaches. Let the coaches know she loves to compete and find out if competing level 5 this season is a reasonable goal for her. And ask if competing level 4 is an option and if they think it would be beneficial for your DD. Most importantly, ask your DD what she wants to do.
It is a really tough situation to be in because there really is no knowing how long that darn kip is going to take to learn and get consistent and just so many what-ifs. Good luck figuring it out, I hope you find the option that makes your DD the happiest!
I would not go to do meets as a L4, I would stay with group that is stuck in between, but working L5, and most likely she will have all 4 events ready before end of season. I know a L5 who could not not get KIP quickly and they opted to go back to L4 and have regretted that decision. The L4 bars will not help that kip or squat on. We had several girls on DD's L5 team that did 3 events til they got their kip. By the last sectional they all had it!
If it were me I would have her work out where she is and start to compete when she has all of her skills.

Our gym found itself in an oddly similiar situation this season and HC has decided that the girls will actually compete Prep Silver instead of L5 this fall. (normally our gym does compulsory in fall and prep op in spring). There were several girls who are one skill shy of L5 or still needing light spot on it (my DD included - her issue is vault - does it but still needs a light spot, has everything else) but these girls were scoring 37AA+ by L4 states and finished 1-3 AA at states in L4 then in Top 4 at Prep Op States & Regionals). HC did not see having them repeat L4 ( they would be bored to death and it would not be fair to girls they would be competing against) but will not move them up until they have all of the skills for the next level. She also had only two ready to go to L4 so would not have had a full L4 team either.

Doing Silver will let the girls who have their skills use them and the others still compete and add them in as bonus' when they get them. It will also give her a full 'team' .

At first I was disappointed that DD would not do L5 right now but now I think it will work out well for everyone & I don't have to listen to the 'stripper' music :D

Next year they may do L5 or may do one meet and score out and go to L6 as most of them have most of the L6 skills anyway.

Good Luck
ITA with Blackie that its a waste of time to do L4 bars since there is really no progression to L5 bar skills. I think the current plan of having her train with some other girls that are also working on other L5 skills is the best fit right now. Sounds like she needs to get a bit stronger on vault and conqueor the kips.

This being between levels will probably happen again if she stays in gymnastics. Most kids have been through it at least once. At our gym, she would not have been put on the L5 team and would have stayed on pre-team(which is basically what she's doing now). Some gyms that do L4 would have just moved her back down to L4 with no option to compete L5 this year. I do like the flexibility in your gym's program.
She can totally compete level 4 and do a move to level 5 during the season when she gets the skills. There are certain rules about you need to quailfy at X amont of meet to do states, and what not but I am not sure of the specifics, other than that I am 99.9% sure she can make a move to level 5 during the season. The only problem I see is she will have to devote a lot of time to perfecting the level 4 routines to do well at meets and she would still have to train level 5 as well, so it might be a lot to do. I say talk to the coach and ask. I'm sure your daughter is not the first kid to ever be in this situation, and I am sure they will have a good solution for you. Good luck!
know lots of gymnast that competed L4 while working on L5 and did very well with it. My DD was one of them she competed from Sept - Dec as a L4 while practicing L5 and when Jan came around she was ready for L5. She like your DD likes to compete so she was very happy doing L4 untiil she was ready. I think it will depend on the gymnast if this a route to take or not
Personally I think there is too much emphasis on competing and would just let her train. Of course she's 10 and may really like competing. When she's ready to compete L5 I'd let her start then. I wouldn't have her compete L4 unless that's really what she wanted.
My daughter is in a similar situation. Her trouble is the kip as well. It's very frustrating for her and for me (though I have to keep reminding myself that I have no control over any of it so I should stop losing sleep over it!). She won her States meet at level 4 last year, so there's no good reason for her to compete level 4 again. She will compete level 5 regardless this year, starting in October, but I don't know if her coach will have her compete on bars if she doesn't get her kip by then. Of course, there's no way for her to get a good AA score without a bar score, but at least she will have a chance to compete, which she LOVES. And hopefully not being able to compete on bars (or competing but getting a really low score) will be the incentive she needs to get the kip. She becomes super motivated during meet season, so I keep telling myself that once she starts competing she'll find her kip. She has a number of her level 6 skills on beam and floor. Too bad she can't trade them in... anyone want to trade a back walkover on beam for a kip? Surely that's a fair trade?
Thanks for all the replies. DD and I talked again and she really wants to focus on these level 5 skills. While she can compete level 4 and still work on level 5 skills, she believes it will hold her back on vault and bars as the requirements are so different. Even though she loves to compete, she is willing to miss the first few meets if she does not have her kip yet and the vault landing is still troubling her.

I was afraid she would get "bored" just training for possibly another several months without competing, but she said that it was fine because she wants her total attention to be on level 5 skills, even if she can't go to the level 5 workout just yet. I think she is a little worried about what the other girls will think when she does not attend the level 5 workouts, but hopefully it doesn't get too much attention

Thanks again. Will keep you posted on her progress!
Your dd has a very mature outlook regarding her gymnastics---good for her. i think she'll see more progress in getting the L5 skills just training those only and not trying to juggle L4 routines/meets plus learning the L5 skills.
Well, DD is very driven about her sports. Even when she was swimiming last year, she always did what the coaches asked her to, does not goof off, and never "dogs it" in practice. I respect her tremendously for being focused and hardworking, as she is only 10.

However, and this is a big however....she is quite hard on herself. And I think she needs to go with the flow on certain things. She worries about what others think sometimes and when going into something new she panics about how she will accomplish it (since she is focused on succeeding). I have come to realize she is analytical and needs to process things. I think all of this level 4 vs. level 5 stuff kind of threw her. But now that she has "processed" she is clear about what she wants to do.

Go figure.... :)
The dilemma is that DD loves to compete, just loves the meets and I fear she will be sad missing out and may get out of that "competing mindset" if too much time goes by. Might she also get bored just practicing for several months? Would she be better off competing level 4 this year but still working on level 5 bar skills? Is it feasible to compete the first few meets as level 4 and then switch to level 5 when she gets her kip? If so, I worry that trying to learn the level 5 routine half-way into the season might be too hard.

What would you do?? Thanks!!!

I would have her uptrain and not compete. In fact if there was a nearby affordable program where I could park my daughter in preteam until she was ready to compete L5 I'd love that. The vast majority of things I want her to learn come from the work, not the show.
I also think that allowing your DD to train level 5 rather than compete 4 might be more beneficial for her. Level 4 routines are stocked with skills that aren't really used in the other levels. Level 5 starts the building of skills for futher higher levels. If competition is what she lives for, perhaps her watching her teammates compete may be a motivator for her to get the kip. And don't worry, she will get it sooner than later. Kips are really all about timing. Once she gets the timing down (when she should push down on the bar to get herself up), she will get it. Good luck to her this season!! My DD will compete Level 5 USA once she has her 7th birthday in January.:)
Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to give you an update and get your opinions....AGAIN! In a nutshell, there were a handful of girls (maybe 4 or 5) that were working on the borderline of level 4/5. They were working out with level 4s with the plan of training level 5 skills and hoping to be ready to compete level 5 this season. Well, as the summer went on they couldn't quite get the level 5 skilld consistently enough. My DD is still struggling the kip.

Coach had said that he thought she should continue to focus on level 5 skills even if she came to the level 4 workout and maybe she would not compete the first couple of meets if her bars were not ready. WELL...there has been a change of approach and I don't know if it is the best for DD.

Coach wants her to compete level 4 for the first half of the season with the plan of moving up to 5 midseason. DD was a little panicked that she again would be working the level 4 routines in practice and things like vault would suffer because the flat-back level 4 vault she has mastered, but she needs to work on the front handspring vault.

She can still work on kip in practice in addition to mill circle for level 4...BUT I just wonder if competing level 4 even if for half the season is a waste. I am just so torn!

What do you guys think?
I think I would talk to the coach about just not competing right now and focusing on L5 till she is ready. We have seen girls that were supposed to do the split 4/5 season and for some reason, it just hasn't worked. Not sure if enough emphasis wasn't placed on getting the level 5 skills/routines or what. My daughter and a few teammates moved to level 5 in April. They just aren't competing until Spring season (we have a fall season and a spring season). They may do one meet in the Fall season (our home meet) but otherwise, they are just training for level 5 while the rest of the team that is ready in their level are competing.

If there is an option to just train for level 5, that is where I would probably go. Especially if your DD already had a good level 4 season. My DD was getting 9s on all events by the end of level 4, so she is ready to move on to level 5. Of course I had no input in all this, so maybe you don't either. Good luck in finding a good solution!
As a parent of a 2nd year level 5, I feel for you. My DD moved up to level 5 last year and her kip killed her. Luckily, she has alot of confidence and knew it would come. It was just a matter of time. Her score improved a full 2 points by the end of the season, but I really think they moved her up to quickly. I know they love the competition and I don't see anything wrong with competing level 4 until ready.

She will do great, no matter what you decide. Good luck!

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