Parents Elite sports that require “other” lessons

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My daughter is an artistic athlete (prefer not to say due to it being a small community), and her private lessons are 1.5-2 hours away once per week and last 1.5 hours. Private ballet is 1 hour away, and though weekly would be best, we typically go every other week. They are in opposite directions, and I don’t think she could handle those back to back anyway, Gymnastics (rec) is 25-30 minutes away for an hour each week. Ballet and gymnastics are to help with her main sport. We also take her to practice in local facilities, and she practices at home on certain skills. We live rurally, and what is local is just not very good. I homeschool, and we have three other children. Her lessons are during the day, and they cannot be moved. My other kids do things, too, not as intense— but it’s piled onto this. I have to be honest— never being home is affecting our homeschool routine, and I’m struggling. I have two kids who need more support with school, though she is a model student. I actually came down with shingles, which is triggered by stress. Her sport has no forum, but I know gymnastics parents might be able to relate. I don’t want to give up homeschooling, and she’s made it so far in her sport. I feel she needs more frequent ballet and to stick with gymnastics to learn a front walkover, but I just can’t do this anymore. If you struggled, what did you do? She’s done Outschool dance, but in person is better. Do you let something go? She hasn’t gotten her walkover in a year as it isn’t practiced enough, and I asked for tips if she could just work on it at home since she’s close, but some said not to do that. I wish everything was in one place, but it’s not. I wish you could just go one thing, but it seems so many things require lessons in other things. I need less. She is 8. WWYD
 
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Gymnastics would actually be the first to go. We tried YMCA privates last school year all year. Summer tumbling the summer before. Clinics this summer. No complete front walkover. She lands both feet too far out. I thought about getting mats for home, but I don’t want to risk injury. My three other kids hate being dragged to all her stuff, and school work isn’t the same outside of our home quarters.
 
Since you asked, I will give you hard truths, or rather my hard opinions. The words 8-year-old and "elite sports" in no shape or form go together. Unless your child is some type of prodigy on the Simone Biles level (who I don't think was even developed until 10). If she is a prodigy, then I would suspect that she has been identified at a national level and is starting to receive intense instruction from national-level coaches (whatever sport that is). Any other sports she is involved with are solely for fun and an outlet. In other words, if she is a prodigy, then investing in cross-county drives at the expense of family and siblings with secondary sports is not needed, rather just fun time at home interacting with family or peers is just as beneficial.

I appreciate that we can all get caught up in whatever sport our child is pursuing, we always want to try and give them the best opportunity to succeed. I will admit my own shortcomings in falling down the rabbit hole of pursuing the "opportunities" to the nth degree. Reading your posts, sounds like you are in this spot. I am highly skeptical, and I mean no offense, that an 8 yo merits such intense involvement in all these areas. I would urge you to genuinely self-reflect, what is the end game here? Is she really a prodigy? Is this going to be her career, decided at 8? The family needs and happiness? In the context of those answers, I would probably pare back many of those secondary sports.
 
@gym_dad32608 I’ve definitely had all of these thoughts. I feel like I’m living the life of a one kid family, and I’m spread thin because I actually have four, and I put them each into something. I will tell you the sport without directly writing it out: it rhymes with “whirling” and starts with a t, if that helps. She holds state titles, but we’ve managed to “dodge” going to Nationals, despite her qualifying the last two years. For some reason, nationals are highly encouraged, and while I know she is good in our state, I know others are better in states with different programs. This year we plan to go mainly to appease her coach but also telling ourselves to have fun no matter what. Nationally, it would be hard for her to compete against girls her age who have studios that provide them with all they need, such as tumbling and dance. I’ve been wanting her to learn a walkover now because I thought it’d be easier at a younger age, but going once a week to a class that doesn’t touch on them each time isn’t helping. I refer to it as an elite sport because it requires so much but not because she is elite. The lessons are a lot, so I was hoping we could drop the gymnastics class. She practices in a gym, but they only allow us to come early hours, and that takes its toll. So she practices outside, but the weather is changing. I think she could learn walkovers at home, but some warn against this. On top of kid activities, we also have things like orthodontist appointments… I just wonder how anyone does this happily, and I feel competitive gymnastics would be harder.
 
*I want her to learn a walkover* because different organizations for this sport allow it, and her coach agrees—college requires it, but I fear it’d be so hard for her to learn it while older. Is it safe to try at home since she is close?
 
I would not let her try a walkover at home unless you know how to correctly spot and teach her the skill. She could end up learning it incorrectly and then it's more difficult to break a bad habit. Instead of gymnastics, an acro dance or tumbling class might be better suited to her needs.

I agree with the advice that you got from gym_dad. We all want our kids to do the activities they love and succeed but if it's at a big cost to the rest of the family, a compromise may need to be made. I think that you'd get different advise if she was much older. How does she feel about her sport? Would she be just as happy doing another, more low key activity?

My dd and most of her teammates lived and breathed gymnastics when they first started on team. I think that there were 17 of them the first year. They were about 6-11 years old from what I remember. Only 5 of them are currently still doing gymnastics or made it to senior year of high school.
 
@Carly she has been in this sport since age 3, and Covid caused a big disruption because she could no longer handle online lessons (and even online competitions). She used to do beauty pageants, and sometimes we both miss those days, but we did not care for the people. We put her into this sport as a talent for that as it seemed like she had some natural ability, and I didn't know at the time how "elite" it was... she has outgrown our ceiling height for practice, so I think I am feeling the extra stress of having to drive her places just to practice in addition to her lessons, especially as the weather cools down and she can't go in our front yard to fill in when we cannot. She is very close to reaching the advanced level in her organization, so I do hate for her to quit. Unfortunately, it's not part of a studio or gym, so we have to get the "extra" stuff in other places. We've tried Violin, and that didn't go well. She's done a lot of dance and now of course tumbling type stuff. She is definitely a kid who needs to move, but she also loves to be challenged, rhinestones, and pretty costumes. She enjoys it, but it is also all she knows. She gains confidence from it because I would say this is one thing she has typically been able to work at and succeed at. Just the supplemental stuff to make it better makes it that much harder. I know some gymnasts have to take ballet separately, and I wondered if some ever "dropped" it because it was too much on top of gymnastics, but now I read even some studios offer ballet as part of their program. And I write all this about one child, but I have four, and we homeschool. I sometimes think these sports are just better for smaller families. There is no way my three boys are doing her sport, and I have even asked the one who might be good at it, too! They say no. Tumbling seems to be infused into so many things these days because tricks are impressive, but sometimes I wish everything could be its own separate thing. I am just kinda whining. I guess we should NOT attempt the walkover thing. But aren't doing the daily drills possibly as bad? I've received some tips and drill suggestions. She goes into/comes up from backbends at home already, cartwheels, does roundoffs, etc. Just this dang front walkover, lol.
 
I'm sorry that you are in such a difficult situation. Would it be possible to drop some of the extra stuff for now and pick it up again in the summer when she would have more free time? Could she drop the gymnastics class and just do some private lessons only for the skills that she needs? Or maybe a cheer gym would have a better class for her.
 
I'm sorry that you are in such a difficult situation. Would it be possible to drop some of the extra stuff for now and pick it up again in the summer when she would have more free time? Could she drop the gymnastics class and just do some private lessons only for the skills that she needs? Or maybe a cheer gym would have a better class for her.
Thank you! I think that is a good idea and what we may need to do. Previously, she was taking privates to learn the front walkover where my son does his martial arts training, and that worked out well. But now they are unable to provide it; the class she is in now only has two other girls. I am going to ask if they can really focus on the walkover again. I thought I made it clear, but they spend a lot of time on cartwheels (which are good) and back handsprings (just drills for my daughter). At this point, I do not care if she learns a back handspring. It is allowed in her sport, but every tumble will either be done on a hard wooden gym floor in jazz shoes (yikes) or on a football field. And I am just not crazy about what I see some do on gym floors as impressive as it is---they have no give.
 
She's 8; your health and the quality of life for the rest of your family are suffering; no sport is worth that.
Thank you. Yes, I think the shingles I developed is physical evidence of my stress. I have other stressors, including both my husband and I having ailing parents. I was honestly stressed telling her coach that we couldn't join the corps team and that my daughter would need to be a soloist this year. I know she was very disappointed; but maybe now that she knows I have shingles, she can associate it with the fact I am trying not to kill myself over this sport. I really hate to remove her from the sport, but I definitely need to take things off my plate. I thought for certain she would have gotten her walkover well over a year ago, but there are only so many things she can practice in a day's time. If it is too dangerous to work on at home, I don't want to do that.
 
And I just didn't get stressed out--I agonized over it. I had a problem with one of the team parents last year who would make off-putting comments about other teammates and eventually my own, and I honestly never want to be around that again. She will be a full corps member, and that weighs on me. But I had to cut back. I am not sure how people do it all.
 
And I just didn't get stressed out--I agonized over it. I had a problem with one of the team parents last year who would make off-putting comments about other teammates and eventually my own, and I honestly never want to be around that again. She will be a full corps member, and that weighs on me. But I had to cut back. I am not sure how people do it all.
Please don't beat yourself up; it sounds like you are doing the best you can. Remember even the people who look like they are doing it all probably have worries and problems in their lives; they are just good at hiding them from others. No one is perfect.
 
I grew up somewhere where the sport you’re talking about was a big deal! The best girl in my town did competitive dance 5-6 days a week and doing that sport was a side thing for her. Looking back, she was probably doing it for 10-20 hours/week in addition to dance. The other two girls that joined her in the activity’s fall season were not great and came from other sports and dance and probably spent 20-40 hours/week in the summer just being passable sidekicks to her.

The other bonkers sport I know where private lessons create a lot of tension and drama is synchro swimming. I was on a parent mailing list for a major national club after my daughter flirted with the sport. I never took myself off of it because the parent drama made me feel better about gymnastics. That team eventually had to institute a cap on private lesson hours/month/athlete because a small contingent of parents were preemptively booking out every hour of pool/coach time per month for their girls so no one else could access private lessons. It made the difference between who made junior national squads and who didn’t and seemed to cause a lot of heartache. Some parents didn’t even know privates were an option because the parents who knew about them deliberately avoided mentioning it to new parents! Imagine the drama when they heard about it after nationals via a team-wide email!

My daughter chose gymnastics after trying synchro because she said it was “less pressure”. She was 6 at the time and fairly oblivious, so that said a lot.

Honestly, your daughter probably has enough skills right this minute to be really successful with some of the best HS marching bands and dance groups in the country…colleges, too. I hate to say it, but being elite in that activity is more of a dead end in some ways than being just really good. I would keep an even focus on dance and gymnastics and let the other sport build slowly. And front walkovers are weirdly complex even though they seem straightforward- they are later in the gymnastics DP progression for a reason.
 
Kara, thank you so much. I actually did confide in one mom of a soon-to-be college athlete who told me she would break out in hives thinking about the team commitment, and eventually, they had to stop doing it. She told me my daughter could still have a good career with out it. But as you see, I am still struggling, ha!

LPMom, wow---that is a crazy amount of time between dance and this sport. I do know some of the best studios, though, offer it all in one place. And so, the really good ones do it all and practically live there. We cannot even compete with that because we don't have those types of programs here. Which makes me wonder why nationals are so encouraged when some of these kids are going to come in near the bottom. It's a reason why I haven't felt super compelled to go to the national competitions. My daughter has been developing just fine without going to them. I often hear that being around good athletes makes them better---but I honestly think it just makes the parents feel more nuts like they need to do more and more... My daughter does have a lot of great skills. She lags in some areas for the sport, but she is working on them. In this sport, you only advance based on wins that are not protected from advancement by judges. If you are in a hotspot for it, you end up with "novice" and "beginners" who appear to be more advanced simply because they haven't gotten their required 1st places. Some organizations restrict content, but the main ones do not. And it is an honor system approach, so some just flat out lie or break the rules. I have rambled. I can't say I love that part. I didn't realize front walkovers were later on in the progressions, so thank you!
 
Coaches POV regarding the Forward walkover. If she has the right flexibility this should be easy enough to achieve for an eight year old with decent instructions. If you have paid for multiple privates and she still can't do it - the flexibility or coaching is lacking and honestly if the coaching was good - they would work on the flexibility or let you know you need to address that before wasting time and money on lessons for this specific skill.
 
Coaches POV regarding the Forward walkover. If she has the right flexibility this should be easy enough to achieve for an eight year old with decent instructions. If you have paid for multiple privates and she still can't do it - the flexibility or coaching is lacking and honestly if the coaching was good - they would work on the flexibility or let you know you need to address that before wasting time and money on lessons for this specific skill.
She’s very flexible. It could be a core strength issue or her not feeling her muscles, if that makes sense? She was told that and that she lands with her feet too far apart. I just can’t imagine her trying to learn this as a teen. Maybe some do?
 
If she is flexible in her shoulders she should be able to learn a forwards walkover in a few privates or be given strength exercises to work on safely at home.

Didn't know this sport was that intense and competitive but no sport is worth the stress you and your family are currently feeling.

It's hard to see the wood for the trees when you're in the middle of it but maybe try to take a step back and see what is truly important for you and your family at this time.
 
If she is flexible in her shoulders she should be able to learn a forwards walkover in a few privates or be given strength exercises to work on safely at home.

Didn't know this sport was that intense and competitive but no sport is worth the stress you and your family are currently feeling.

It's hard to see the wood for the trees when you're in the middle of it but maybe try to take a step back and see what is truly important for you and your family at this time.
Thank you. I have been very disappointed about the lack of front walkover; it seems like this class really wants them to work on cartwheels and back handsprings. One of the girl's mothers asks always about the BHS, so I wondered if that was the reason, but I was also clear about walkovers. I understand they have to keep it varied, but in my mind drills for a back handspring are a waste of time for my daughter.

But a school year of private YMCA lessons didn't do the job, either! We don't have a lot of "top notch" anything in our area. And I don't really need to add on another lengthy commute, which is why I was wondering if we should just give up on this idea and take something off my plate. Finding practice locations and the sport itself is probably more stressful than going to the gymnastics, but having a day where I do not have to leave the house is something that is rare!

The sad part is once you are proficient with a tumbling skill, then begins the even harder work of tossing a stick into the air, executing the skills, then catching the stick. They don't throw, really. They thumb flip toss it to get rotation. You need to mark spots, spot the stick, etc. etc. etc. There is no time to struggle to get up, and I'm definitely not letting her do anything on a hard floor until she is really good at it!

It is a very obscure sport, until you are actually in this "world." My mom was a majorette. Still, I had no idea. I've never liked that advancement was based on winning. We typically make friends with the competition and try to trust the process that everyone will get their in their own due timing, but last year was kinda miserable for me. I thank God my daughter is still young and doesn't internalize too much about how the process works.

Anyway, any small changes I can make might help me. I do not want to get shingles again. Take care of yourselves, and when you are old enough, I highly recommend the vaccine!
 

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