Parents Elite track, what does it mean?

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nycgymmom

Coach
Proud Parent
We have a few new girls in our gym that are elite and/or on the elite track. Whathe exactly does that mean?
 
My DD just started on this path about 6 months ago, for her it means practicing her regular hours with her JO teammates and she also trains additional hours on just the HOPES/elite skills and routines. She is also taking ballet now once a week. She will be competing with her JO team in some meets this year and will also be competing in HOPES/elite qualifier meets in the hopes of making it to the HOPES classic championship and being invited to developmental camps at the ranch. So the girls on the elite path are the ones hoping to make the national team and eventually the Olympic team (obviously only a VERY small number of girls will see this goal achieved). I also believe that once you qualify elite that you then only compete in the elite meets/competitions (meaning you can no longer compete JO). Again, we are very new to this journey so if I've shared anything incorrect I apologize!!
 
Elite and Elite track are not remotely the same thing.

I think there are many Elite track hopefuls. I think there are many kids doing Hopes and Tops.

Elite, actual Elite are a select few relatively speaking. And as far as the Olympics goes, what starting next Olympics 4 can go to AA. So even National Team of what 25-30............. Less than 20 percent will qualify for the Olympic team..
 
Elite and Elite track are not remotely the same thing.

I think there are many Elite track hopefuls. I think there are many kids doing Hopes and Tops.

Elite, actual Elite are a select few relatively speaking. And as far as the Olympics goes, what starting next Olympics 4 can go to AA. So even National Team of what 25-30............. Less than 20 percent will qualify for the Olympic team..
You are correct, there are probably a large number of girls on the elite track and very few girls who actually qualify elite (from what I understand only the top 18 girls in the 2 age groups actually get to even compete in the HOPES championship).
 
It is very common for gyms to have an "elite training group" or "pre-Elite" group -- whatever they want to call it -- as gymnasts train to try and qualify for Hopes/Jr/Sr Elite. It is important to identify and train high-potential kids with Elite in mind early on as the training and skill selection needs to be different in order to have success -- particularly for bars. It feels a little bit disingenuous for people to scoff at that and imply "you're not a real elite". It just seems really rude to me, especially because we're talking about kids. All former and current elites started somewhere and at one point would have been in that "not a real elite" category. Doesn't mean they're not training for it, putting in the long grueling hours and trying to make it. That last sentence applies to both gymnasts and coaches...the dedication required is on a level that you can't understand unless you've been a part of or witness to it. Of course, not all will actually make it, but it isn't inaccurate to say they're training elite.

It's a common misconception that elite gymnastics is a progression out of JO levels -- as in, if you're a good L10, you can move to elite as the next level in that progression. For a variety of reasons, it doesn't work that way. It may appear to in some cases, but it really doesn't. Competing JO is not a pre-requisite for competing Elite and many elites don't compete up through L10 prior to competing as an Elite. It is obviously rare not to compete JO at all, because everyone has to start somewhere, but it is not specifically required. Nastia didn't really compete JO in the traditional sense as she had quality elite-caliber coaching from day 1 and the plan for her was always elite. For most kids, they compete JO and are identified somewhere around L3-5 as having high potential. TOPS is often utilized as a pre pre-elite training program, more common for gyms that don't have current elites. This program is designed for both coaches and athletes so that there is a pipeline of talent that can gain access to national team training staff at an early age (and the coaches are developed right alongside their athletes).

Gyms that are trying to develop elites for the first time have a steep hill to climb and sometimes this effort isn't managed well. Sometimes young, talented gymnasts become guinea pigs as ambitious coaches get stars in their eyes. This is often why you see those young talented ones move gyms, sometimes more than once, in order to find a program that aligns with their goals. All of this is to say @nycgymmom, if your gym has an elite training group, the gymnasts in that group could be anywhere from a relatively low level JO gymnast trying to qualify to the next level (Hopes, Jr Elite, etc) up to a Sr International Elite (think Simone, Aly, etc). There are also both compulsory and optional qualifying scores that need to be met, so it can be a rather complicated matrix to decipher, but suffice it to say that group would be gymnasts trying to make it to a level outside of JO (Levels 1-10).
 
How early can you tell if your child is elite? I don't think my child is, but curious to know what they were doing at age 5-6.
 
How early can you tell if your child is elite? I don't think my child is, but curious to know what they were doing at age 5-6.
My DD was approached about training for TOPS when she was 7 (she was one of the oldest girls in her group, most of the other girls that she trained with were 5 or 6). I also coach preschool gymnastics and I find it pretty easy to tell which girls have the potential. For me it comes down to #1 strength (can they do the monkey bars without assistance, can they do a pullover, can they do a pull up, etc..), #2 listening skills (do they follow instructions and take turns, can they take direction, etc..), #3 lack of fear (are they willing to try new skills or are they scared). If I have a student that I think shows potential I will have them do a trial class with the coach that does our TOPS classes. Once a year they will do a TOPS tryout to determine which girls they will have join the TOPS training team. This is the route that my DD took, she tested for TOPS twice (once as a 9 year old and once as a 10 year old), she never made it to the ranch. Missing the cutoff score by a few points each year. As far as what skills they are doing I think it can vary. My DD was 8 when she first started competing as a level 3 and her scores were NOT great, we didn't think she would even continue in gymnastics after that year but the coaches saw something that we didn't and within a year she was working on her optionals skills and now at age 11 is training HOPES and level 9/10.
 
Excellent post by @Seeker! Agree with @FlippinLilysMom about fearlessness. I think that is as important as the physical attributes and sometimes you can't determine that until the kids are a bit older 8/9-ish. And JO scores in the low levels have nothing to do with long term potential!
 
I agree with everything said. My daughter is also training "elite" but I use that term very lightly. Why? Not because she doesn't put in the hours and time but because I feel like every other kid I hear about is training elite and HOPES now! I also know her chances of actually qualifying elite are very slim. However, she loves it, she loves homeschooling the program works for her! Plus I don't want to seem braggy so I don't really ever mention it. I just say she homeschools for gymnastics.

As for when to spot potential they also asked my daughter to do TOPS young - we declined. I had no clue what it was, my daughter didn't want to go to the gym an extra day, do a "scary test" etc. In the end she looks back and sort of wish she had tried BUT she is physically at the same point and now in the elite group with girls that put in all the tops hours. (Can do the same leg lifts, press handstand, rope climbs etc) So in a way if a girl has potential it's there early, it's there later, you don't have to worry about starting them with the extra hours so young KWIM? I also agree that scores don't fully matter b/c my daughter has never been a top placer, she's a 7th-3rd place girl every time. But who has the maxed out scariest skills with no fear - she does. I keep hoping one day it all pays off and she finally places first sometimes!
 
The Elite program is a separate program from JO. If you are lets say a L10, or a L8 TOPs/Hopes you are not Elite. You could be an Elite hopeful. You could be training to be an Elite gymnast. But you aren't Elite.

https://usagym.org/pages/women/pages/overview_elite.html
I get what you are saying, but "elite track" is a totally different way of training versus JO. And the gyms with this type of "track" do identify kids with that sort of potential fairly early on. I wouldn't think it's based on the desires of the child/family, but rather the child showing that sort of potential. The training is just too hard. The kids on that type of track should be differentiated from kids working up the JO levels one level at a time. Agreed that the USA has an incredible pool of talent though, so there are many children working towards this.
 
I get what you are saying, but "elite track" is a totally different way of training versus JO. And the gyms with this type of "track" do identify kids with that sort of potential fairly early on. I wouldn't think it's based on the desires of the child/family, but rather the child showing that sort of potential. The training is just too hard. The kids on that type of track should be differentiated from kids working up the JO levels one level at a time. Agreed that the USA has an incredible pool of talent though, so there are many children working towards this.


This is so true! In fact we have had an instance in our gym where a girl was put in the elite group and it was a mistake. It was clear very early on but mom was really into it. The girl literally was always exhausted, crying, her self esteem took a huge hit because she could not keep up and she ended up injured and asked to leave. People think that everyone can train elite if only they had the chance but this is not the case. Most girls working towards elite will probably not make it to have that official label, but there really is a difference.
 
In Australia we have a completely different program for those girls training on the "elite track" and they compete separately as well as having different criteria.
To explain to non gymnastics people it's easier to say she's doing elite gymnastics, but in the gym the girls are in the IL program and the term elite isn't used to my knowledge.
LJL07 - you're right that the training program is much more intense and they do try to identify them early, my DD started in IL at 5.5. From what I have noticed as well with the kids that are identified young is a lot of them have great mental focus and body awareness.
 
In Australia we have a completely different program for those girls training on the "elite track" and they compete separately as well as having different criteria.
s.
It's the same here in the US.
 

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