Parents Discouraged

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My daughter has become very discouraged in gymnastics. She is in the level 4 team age 7 soon to be 8 next month. About 2 weeks ago she got her roundoff backhandspring then she hurt her finger doing it at open gym, she was unable to get it back before the last meet we had last weekend. Her team was the ones who were going 2 hours to do only vault then her and the other girls competed beam and a few did floor. In her last meet she was the only one who did not compete floor another girl besides her also did not do bars. I was very upset since my daughter literally cried herself to sleep the night before the meet. I spoke with the coach who stated she can not do floor until she gets her roundoff backhandspring (she felt that she will probally have it next meet). She also was kind of discouraging when I mentioned private lessons she said wait till next week. My daughter was alright in practice the other day but tonight when I picked her up she was crying again and said she wanted to quit. I saw them doing conditioning at the gym tonight and she said she almost passed out. She said she got her backhandspring without connecting. Before she went to gym tonight she was doing gymnastics in my basement and was excited to go class was even going to go to open gym. After class she was crying and wants to quit. She said she will finish out the last 3 meets. I can't stand seeing her go through this at 7 but I know deep down she loves gymnastics. She did okay at the events that she did and came in average with the other girls on her team. Has anyone else gone through this? She basically has stopped doing all her other activities and sports in order to do gymnastics. If she stays on the team she will have go all summer and give up the swim team she has stated in the past that she was alright with this but now she has said she doesn't want to do gymnastics. She mentioned recreational gymnastics but when I spoke with the head coach she said my daughter would be bored with this. Any advice?:(
It sounds like the coach has made the vital mistake of moving the girls up to fast and have them competing level 4 well before they are really ready. This as you can see is devastating for the girls to miss out on competing apparatus because they aren't ready. With a group of girls like that they should be competing level 3 while they work on level 4 skills and routines. That means they get the best of both worlds. They still get to compete, gain experience of what competition is about but do it in an environment where they are ready and at the same time work the harder skills. Once they have ALL of their level 4 skills then and only then should competing level 4 even be an option and then they can work level 5 skills while competing level 4.

I would discourage her from quitting gymnastics. As you say, you know she truly loves it but at the moment her judgment is being clouded because she is so upset with what is going on. She wants to quit not because she doesn't love the sport but because she doesn't enjoy the situation she is in. Remove her from the situation rather than from the sport. I just have a feeling that if she does quit both of you will regret it.

Is it possible to look for another gym. One with coaches who are more positive and encouraging. And motivate the girls with praise rather than by telling them they can't compete. A gym with more flexible coaches who care more about the kids than the gyms reputation.

She probably would be bored with recreational gymnastics in most gyms. Most gyms really only offer a lot of recreational gymnastics to those in levels 1,2 and 3. There is a bit of belief that once a gymnast reaches level 4 and above they should be memebers of the team in order to continue their training. This is mainly because training at this level safely and successfully requires a number of hours and not a lot can do it going once a week. Some larger gyms however do offer great recreational classes for gymnasts in levels 4-10 but again it doesn't sound like what she wants. If she is devastated about not being able to compete floor then competing is something she does want to do.

Why not another gymsport like trampoline, tumbling, cheerleading, team gym?
Panda Girls Mom,

I hope that things work out well for your dd. Is there the option of looking at other gyms in the area? I know that in our area there are quite a few. I am very happy w/ ours. It is pretty small. There are 15 girls who compete L3-L8. We did just add 3 add'l L3's but they are not competing yet - still working on routines and skills.

Our L3's are doing about 1/2 the meets of the L4 & up, but are doing all apperatus at each meet. They also work on L4 skills. DD got her ROBHS about 3 weeks ago, so she will do some add'l warm-ups with the L4 & 5's while the coaches work on BHS with the other L3's. She also got her shoot-through on bars Thursday.

All of our team girls warm up together (the higher level girls do some skills that L3's do not) then split to coaches and apperatus' once warm-ups are complete.

Before quiting, I would check out other gym's if that is an option. If not rec classes may be better than quiting all together.

let us know how things work out.
I certainly agree with Aussie Coach. This gym is doing things hit and miss for the girls. Either they have the skills to move up well before the meet season starts or they don't and you keep them back and let them compete a lower level while working on those skills. Trying to learn the skills that are to be competed during the season just makes no sense and stresses out the girls and parents. Also by only competing a few events, these girls will not qualify to their state meet since that is an AA score that is needed.

I would certainly look at other programs in other gyms. Would you and dd be ok with doing L4 again next year at some other gym? What I said to my gymmie when she said she wanted to quit, was did she simply want to stop gymnastics(didn't think so) or stop doing gymnastics at that gym? After she thought for a little bit, she said she did want to go on, but had to leave the present enviornment. Fine, we made the change and she is happy.

Some states also offer a rec type competition program. Goes by different names depending on the state. They have their own coaches, practices and at least in our state, their meet season starts when USAG is finished.

Since the L4s in your state are still competing this is a perfect time to go watch some team practices at other gyms. You don't have to talk with anyone---just observe and see if another gym has a different approach that may work better. If she feels she just needs a break after your meet season is over, then that's an option also.
I agree too, that if a girl doesn't ahve the skill she shouldn't have been put at that level. It is just going to get her frustrated. My oldest dd has struggled with teh RO-BHS. She has a fear of going backwards. We have found that it just taken hundreds of repeatitions for her to get confortable doing them. In our area, all girls compete all 4 events unless injured. That especially makes me think again that these girls were moved up too quickly.

I think your daughter is just frustrated (with herself, coaches, gym). At 7, she isn't able to process that frustration which is leading her to want to quit. My 10 yo gets like that at times still.

Give her time to sort it out, I wouldn't let her quit over something like this (being so abrupt). Have her finish out the season and then if she still wants to quit (the pressure will be off her at this point) have her try recreational. Otherwise I would try a new gym. Good luck to you!
I agree with everyone else - maybe let her try another gym and see what she thinks. Last year my dd was miserable at gym and not doing well at meets and I really thought she was done and was going to quit. It turned out she just wasn't happy where she was and once we moved gyms it made all the difference in the world. She now loves it again and is doing 10 times better because she loves it again. Mine was 9 when this happened so she was a little older and able to tell me how she was feeling. Your dd is still a bit young so may not be able to really express herself - good luck with whatever you do.
i also agree with what most people posted--she was moved up too early. this is why our gym is always careful about moving girls up. it looks like we 'sandbag' but the coaches have said it is more important that the girls have success than just 'compete' at a level. having seen it happen both ways--dd had a friend who failed to make state one year--i have to agree.
anyway--see if there is another gym so your dd can start with a clean slate--IF she still wants to do gym. a new environment could make a big difference
I agree that it does sound like she has been pushed to compete Level 4 when she is not ready yet. I think that, generally speaking, it is important for the girls to feel confident in their skills going into the Level 4 season. That said, we did have some girls begin this competition season without some of their Level 4 skills, most notably the ro/bhs, the mill circle and the beam dismount. They were permitted to compete and either get a spot or simply not do the element. Three meets in, they all have gotten these skills and are doing fine so I think it can work out to start the season without a skill and then get it along the way. However, it probably depends on the child and perhaps on the gym's policy about competing without certain skills. If they are told they cannot compete without a skill, that just puts pressure on them to get it and winds up making them miserable, particularly if they are perfectionists or hard on themselves. It might be a good idea to look for another gym that doesn't pressure the girls so much and/or has a Level 3 team so that she can still compete while getting her Level 4 skills. I doubt that she really wants to quit (from what you describe). She is just under way too much pressure for a 7 year old. Good luck!

Yes, we went through this. As a result, I may have a slightly different take on things.

My oldest took a break from the gym from ages 7-9. She left right before team. In the two years out, she took dance, she swam and she played soccer. She even took some rec gym classes (but only during the summers). At 9, she announced she wanted to go back. Two months later, she was on team. Sure, she didn't compete as a level 4 until she was 10, but so what?

It really doesn't matter who is at fault for the situation. You just want to fix things so your dd isn't miserable any more. That's good, and at 7, your dd is too young to have to give up everything else for gymnastics. Maybe instead of quitting, you could see if she wants to take a break? Let her do swim team this summer if she loves it. If the gym is her thing, she'll be ready to go back eventually. She may not make level 10 before high school, but chances are she won't do that anyway (Have you seen the stats on the number of girls who stay in to the end? Pretty dismal.)

FWIW, girls at our gym don't compete an event if they're missing skills. It happens more at the upper levels than at level 4, though. I tend to agree with the posters who suggest your gym may be pushing the little ones too far too fast.
we went through this same thing. My dd is also 7 . We were at one gym and werent happy she was a level 3 there. We moved to another gym and they moved her up to level 4. She did not have the skills. She was miserable. A lot of the girls were second year level 4 and were so much better then her. She needed spots on all of her aparatus. She never wanted to go to the gym. We ended up moving and she dropped back a few levels and she is doing amazing. She has been very successful competing and loves it.
I agree with what most are saying. I have seen at our gym girls not having skills early in the season and now they have them. The coaches may have tought she would get them sooner. If I were you I would see about a private lesson or two or a back handspring clinic for her to help her focus on the one skill for an hour. That is just me. I know I spent 3 hours with DD today at the gym and had her working on some skills and she got 3 new ones.

Maybe during an open gym she can focus on the skill and get it all worked out. It is heartbreaking when things like this happen especially to our babies. I would talk to the coaches and let them know where she is and how this is affecting her and see if they have a solution. I do hope things get better.
My daughter had a meet today and she did compete on floor she got her Roundoff Backhandspring and got a 7.7. The sad thing is she and another girl weren't able to compete in bars and as a result they are the only two girls at their level who won't be able to compete in states. My daughter had a 23.9 so she only needed a 7.1 in bars to qualify for states and they would not give her a chance. It would of been a long shot since she doesn't have all her bar skills but who knows what could have happened. I am glad she was not totally upset she was happy that she competed in floor. I am going to let her finish out her 2 meets then I am going to decide whether to switch gyms or stay. I think she would do better in a more encouraging and positive enviroment. Unfortunatly, the other gyms here start team at level 5. I am not sure if they will let her repeat level 4 or push her to level 5 at our gym. She is very consistent with her rountines in the events she does and has all her other level 4 skills.:eek:
Just my opinion, but if you decide to stay at the gym you're at, then I would have her do a full year competing all the L4 routines while working on her L5 skills. It is really different to prepare mentally and physically to compete AA for every meet and she probably could use the experience plus time to really refine alot of her L4 skills.

If other gyms don't offer L4(ours doesn't), then I feel it would be in her best interest to spend a season on their pre-team and really get those skills down solidly so she is ready to compete L5 on all events. The expectations of the judges is higher at L5 and there is a big jump in skills---2 kips, working on the high bar, doing vault over the vault table, harder tumbling etc.

Take some time and check out the other programs. Have other coaches watch her and ask for their HONEST opinion(not just what you want to hear). Then sit down and write down pros/cons on each gym and see where you're at. I really think you should be able to find a more structured and positive program elsewhere.

Good luck---keep us updated.
I hope that you have the time to investigate the other gyms and see where your dd has the best fit. Every gymnast and every family is different with their expectations of the gym experience. No one but you can tell you what the right gym to be at is. When you you feel the right fit you will know it. We did not have the option to compete at Level 4, we started at Level 5. You still have the same problems with skills, the girls are just a little older and better able to handle the stress of competition. We do compete Level 4 now, but no one competes until they are ready, that being said, some girls are not secure in their skills and sometimes they are not able to complete their routines. They still compete on all events unless they are injured.

This year we have 2 level 6's that cannot land their backwalkover on beam. They still compete because they are strong on the other events. My dd scores really low on bars, but good on other events, she still competes all.

I think you will be very happy when you find a gym that meets all your needs. It's out there, sometimes it's just a point of finding it.
Panda-girl... I think you need to do what your heart tells you to for your daughter. Thank you for responding to me in my thread about your gym. I think the best thing for you to do is to find a gym who will make sure your daughter gets the skills she needs and continues to work towards new skills towards level 5 too. Unevens is tricky but if the skill she doesn't have is the stride circle or shoot through who cares. After level 4, she will never have to visit those skills again. I think those two skills just set up level 4 girls for easy falls. They are inconsistent easy to fall on skills. I can't wait till Emily moves past the level 4 bar routine to level 5... She is ready. Now if it is the back hip circle or front hip circle then she definitely needs to keep working those skills till she has them down pat since they will always be part of higher level bar routines. Just do what your heart tells you and thank you again for your response and support on my thread too.

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