Anon Is HOPES possible/worth it for my kid?

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TLDR summary: My kid will be 11 soon. She is competing level 6, has all her level 7 skills. Sweet, brave, coachable kid. "Elite" coach at our gym approached me to ask about moving my kid into the HOPES training group. Kid is waaaaaaay behind the others in the group at this point. And really she is not the kid that historically anyone would have picked out for that path, but over the past 18 months, she has sort of come into herself as a gymnast. Is it worth trying? With her current level/age, could she even have a chance of qualifying?

Background: This past summer our gym brought two new coaches in who have trained many HOPES gymnasts and maybe a few junior elite (?) in the past. They have a small group of 13-14 y/o kids in a HOPES training group that have all qualified for classics (?) this season. They have a very small group of 11-12 y/o kids in a HOPES training group as well, but the only ones who have competed and qualified thus far have been with the coaches for years and followed them with their move to our gym. Finally, they have a TOPS training group of about 3-4 kids, all aged 8-9 y/o.

My kid will be 11 this month and is a level 6, competing all level 7 skills, except her beam series (she has it but always goes a few seconds over time when she includes it and coaches don't want to change her choreography right now). She is a super happy and sweet kid, very coachable per every coach she'd ever worked with, and picks up skills IMO at a reasonable pace. She's rarely the first to get new skills, but she seems to make consistent forward progress pretty evenly across upgrades. Even after surgery from a gym injury this summer, not a particularly mental block prone kid that I can tell. Usually scores between 37-38. BUT, not a kid that anyone, including her very proud and biased mama, would think belongs in an elite-goal training group!

Question: The main HOPES coach found me in the parking lot at pick up yesterday and asked if we could schedule a time to talk about transitioning my kid into the younger HOPES training group. The middle-ground transition training group that includes the 11-12 y/o from our gym and the little ones training TOPS is the group my kid would join. The hours are the exact same as what she currently does.

The two girls who came with the coaches to our gym are nearly a year older than my kid and are already competing level 9 and 10 respectively. The two newer kids in the group who are from our gym originally are 8 months older than my kid (competing level 8) and just over a year older (competing level 9). The two from our gym I have known for years and you could always tell that this was their thing, so to speak. Gorgeous form, quick with skills, super strong, fearless, etc.

Would you consider this for your kid if she was interested? With her being so far off from where the others in her age group are, would it even be possible for a kid to gain enough skills in just two years to be able to compete 13-14 HOPES (that is what the coach said is the goal, not to try for 11-12)? Even with really kind coaches, would you think it would result in a tough situation for the kid should they decide they did not want to do it after trying it? What questions would you ask at the meeting? For those whose kids have done this, when did they begin this trajectory? For anyone whose kids began on the "older" side (ie nearly 11), did they enjoy it? Has it been/ was it worth it for them? Manageable for you? NB - We both work full time, although hubs works 80% from home and has some flexibility, and we have 2 other kids who are both competitive athletes on travel teams, so we are for sure outnumbered. We are fortunate enough to be able to afford the training and travel and we live <10 minutes from the gym, so it is convenient.

Thanks!
 
Not in my opinion… I would be looking for a high L8 with much L9 ability at the minimum at that age for Hopes.

Can she flip a vault? If not I would be an instant “no”.
 
Not in my opinion… I would be looking for a high L8 with much L9 ability at the minimum at that age for Hopes.

Can she flip a vault? If not I would be an instant “no”.
OP here.

Yes, she can flip a vault but has only done so onto floor-level mats in the pit, not actually onto competition floor.

I also would have assumed they'd want a higher skilled kid at that age, even if she has two years to train for whatever they are hoping to achieve with her. I agreed to the meeting, mostly because I was really caught off guard, so I'm going to go. Would it seem like I don't trust the coach's judgement or like I don't put enough faith in my kid if I straight up asked at the meeting "Why her?" I know that leading up to this, she had been repeatedly asked by the coach what her birthday is, and I guess the early birthday is beneficial with regards to age groups, but I really hope that would not be the only reason. My biggest concern as of 20 minutes ago is that somehow now my kid (and like every parent who stays for the full practices + all the kids) knows about this pending meeting and texted me from practice to ask when the meeting will be and when she could "start". I had not yet mentioned it to her, because I needed a TON more info to even consider it. I just don't want her being physically pushed to the point of overuse injuries trying to "catch up". Or emotionally pushed to the point where she feels like she has failed if she cannot do it or where she is driven from the sport. I'm curious what they have to say, but also feel like my mind just really is not open to this, so is it even worth the time to have a meeting with a closed mind...
 
Pretty much what they said. The one caveat for consideration is that depending upon her long term goals and if they are not talking about extra hours, then there might be a benefit to training at that level, if she wants to and can handle it. All things being equal, getting exposure and training at that level is going to be better than standard DP training. More focused coaching, higher skills, conditioning, and pushing each other. Again, as long as its a safe and positive environment. These things could potentially set her up for potential college experience. I just would not expect any success in HOPES or elite and she might hate that. I was recently at elite qualifier at Buckeye and I was amazed that some coaches were letting these girls try and qualify, more girls than not were obviously way over their head, sloppy form, falls, etc. But there they were.
 
The one caveat for consideration is that depending upon her long term goals and if they are not talking about extra hours, then there might be a benefit to training at that level, if she wants to and can handle it. All things being equal, getting exposure and training at that level is going to be better than standard DP training. More focused coaching, higher skills, conditioning, and pushing each other.

This is true... if she is getting access to more experienced coaching... this could be a large benefit.

I just would not expect any success in HOPES or elite and she might hate that. I was recently at elite qualifier at Buckeye and I was amazed that some coaches were letting these girls try and qualify, more girls than not were obviously way over their head, sloppy form, falls, etc. But there they were.

Hopes 101... fly high and smack hard. While Hopes is the path to Elite for some... it is filled with a massive amount of junk gymnastics. Little kids doing stuff that they are not able to consistently perform or doing with very poor technique.

In our time in Hopes we saw more competition crashes in single sessions than in any other form of gymnastics. Especially double pikes and pike vaults landing still fully in a pike position with the head down by the floor.

In Hopes there seems to be a very large separation between those that are capable and those that are not.

Hopes is FIG scoring... so one thing to remember is that scores do not rise based on the quantity of difficult skills "thrown"... only the start value goes up. Gymnasts that can throw hard skills inconsistently or with bad form typically see their scores "plateau" under the qualification scores. FIG deductions are fast and hard... .1 / .3 / .5 / 1.0. For example... have 4 passes on floor and take 2 steps on each as all the passes are a bit out of control?... get ready for a .3 + .1 deduction on each landing for total of 1.2 in deductions on landings alone. Fall on a pass?... that's 1.0... not .5. Those double pikes that land with the chest down but on the feet... possible .5 for a landed skill making the net gain on the skill negative.
 
OP here.

Yes, she can flip a vault but has only done so onto floor-level mats in the pit, not actually onto competition floor.

I also would have assumed they'd want a higher skilled kid at that age, even if she has two years to train for whatever they are hoping to achieve with her. I agreed to the meeting, mostly because I was really caught off guard, so I'm going to go. Would it seem like I don't trust the coach's judgement or like I don't put enough faith in my kid if I straight up asked at the meeting "Why her?" I know that leading up to this, she had been repeatedly asked by the coach what her birthday is, and I guess the early birthday is beneficial with regards to age groups, but I really hope that would not be the only reason. My biggest concern as of 20 minutes ago is that somehow now my kid (and like every parent who stays for the full practices + all the kids) knows about this pending meeting and texted me from practice to ask when the meeting will be and when she could "start". I had not yet mentioned it to her, because I needed a TON more info to even consider it. I just don't want her being physically pushed to the point of overuse injuries trying to "catch up". Or emotionally pushed to the point where she feels like she has failed if she cannot do it or where she is driven from the sport. I'm curious what they have to say, but also feel like my mind just really is not open to this, so is it even worth the time to have a meeting with a closed mind...
Go to the meeting. All of your questions are reasonable. If you have been able to observe these coaches and think they are good(both in terms of gymnastics technique and keeping kids healthy and happy) then, as others above said, giving your kid a shot to train with them could be a benefit whether she competes hopes/junior elite or goes back to the DP path. The reality is the VAST majority of kids who start on hopes/junior elite training end up going back to DP not continuing to elite, so that being a possibility should not in and of itself be something to prevent giving it a shot. Asking them about what the transition would look like if it comes to that is a good question for the meeting.
 
I would go to the meeting to listen to what they have to say. Maybe their motivations are different. Even though they are saying competing HOPES maybe they are really looking at getting her prepared for successful college recruiting and feel this smaller, more intense group is best for that. If you already know that your family is not willing or logistically able to handle the schedule that will come with HOPES/Elite, I think it's ok to tell them that without it costing your dd in the gym. You have other children who are athletes and this can be tough to juggle even at the level you're at now, without adding in more.
 
ll things being equal, getting exposure and training at that level is going to be better than standard DP training. More focused coaching, higher skills, conditioning, and pushing each other.

This would be what I would consider too. I had my kid do the "tops group" at her gym not because she had any chance to make to the next level but because they had better conditioning and more uptraining than her regular group offered. It put her a bit ahead in the long run but my kid and I had realistic expectations going into it and never expected to be a TOPs superstar just because we were in the tops group.

I would talk to the coach and see why they want her in the group. Is it because they want her to have access to "better training" to do better as an optional gymnast or will they push her (with perhaps negative consequences) to "catch up" to others in the group even though that may not be in her best interest.

Also what does your kid think is she interested in the challenge of the group? Does she have realistic expectations?

I wouldnt say no but I would ask questions and watch that group carefully before deciding.
 
Pretty much what they said. The one caveat for consideration is that depending upon her long term goals and if they are not talking about extra hours, then there might be a benefit to training at that level, if she wants to and can handle it. All things being equal, getting exposure and training at that level is going to be better than standard DP training. More focused coaching, higher skills, conditioning, and pushing each other. Again, as long as its a safe and positive environment. These things could potentially set her up for potential college experience. I just would not expect any success in HOPES or elite and she might hate that. I was recently at elite qualifier at Buckeye and I was amazed that some coaches were letting these girls try and qualify, more girls than not were obviously way over their head, sloppy form, falls, etc. But there they were.
I was surprised by a few of our local athletes (not our gym) who were part of that qualification. It just goes to show that every gym/coach/parent defines “ready” differently. That session might be a testament to a parent pumping the brakes if a gym or coach isn’t willing to do so.
 
Mom of a former HOPES kid here. Some questions to ask: cost (training elite can get very expensive very fast). School (will she be required to homeschool to accommodate the extra training). Goals (what are her goals? If it's to make national team and potentially international assignments then hopes/elite is the way to go. If its to compete in college she does not need hopes training to do that). Burnout (my kid was on the rise in hopes/elite but she burned out quick).
I'll be very honest and say that at her current age and level she is far behind where most other successful hopes kids are. She will need to gain a lot of big, scary skills in a short amount of time. Injury and burnout would be my main concern.
 
it is filled with a massive amount of junk gymnastics.

No Way Wow GIF


My exact reaction. I had no idea.
 
If she's interested and the meeting is to your satisfaction, then I would say "yes," actually. It's true that it might be a big jump and might not be for her, but in the meantime she might be getting higher quality coaching and it might also be fun. Sure, they may be trying to fill the group and yes, there are many gyms that bring kids into the HOPES program/competitions that really have no shot at elite, but if your daughter's gym got the whole group to Classics then maybe that's not the cases there. Mine was brought into the program "late," and was never really able to catch up to where she needed to be to qualify elite (though that was before they changed the age limits and lowered the scores - I don't think your daughter is that far off, actually.) Still, in the meantime she had some good successes and was able to improve her skills at a much faster pace than she otherwise would have, and also found that she prefers the intensity, conditioning and and training style of the tops/hopes/elite group. She chose to stay in the group long after she decided not to try for elite. She's not really the norm, but perhaps your daughter isn't, either. Some food for thought!
 
I’m just going to add that there is no age limit in Elite gymnastics.

We have recently seen this happen with a gymnast.

1. Age 10 - started gym with no previous experience
2. Age 10-12 - recreational gymnastics, 1 1/2 hours a week.
3. Age 13 - tested out of level 4 and competed level 5, (which is the same as US level 4). Her first year of competitive gymnastics
4. Age 14 - competed level 7
5. Age 15 - competed junior international (Junior Elite)
6. Now at age 16 competed Senior international Elite
 
True, but the goals develop with the gymnast. As the gymnast progresses, it opens the doors to new goals and new opportunities.
 
Met this morning to discuss what the coach's thoughts are and to better understand "why my kid?"

She acknowledged that my kid was technically "behind" to even try and qualify for 13/14 HOPES in 2 years but she seemed to feel very confident that she'd likely be good by 3 years from now, which would be the last year she could try for HOPES. I brought up my concern that I didn't want her being pushed to a point of injury or unhappiness and she agreed. She said that her plan was to keep the same hours for the rest of this year (23 hrs), go to 25 hrs as of June for the following year and then re-evaluate.

She said that her plan *is* to try for an elite trajectory, which really surprised me. But again, said that we would re-evaluate frequently. She also said that she never really tells the kids that the goal is international competition etc...simply that the goal is to try and be the best you can be and to have fun doing it. I have watched her coach and I actually believe this. She is lovely and positive and encouraging without being pushy.

As for "why my kid", her reply was pretty cool. She started by saying that she watches all the girls and that she knew from the day she arrived that she really wanted the chance to coach my kid. She said that there is just "something about her" that makes her feel like they's be a good team. She actually said that many of the coaches at the gym have made similar comments about the kid, which was just about the best thing I've ever heard (suckered much??!! Ha! I know, I know, but she really is the best kid! Even my older two and all the cousins say that they like her best! Ha!) She also felt that my kid is not being challenged enough right now and that her current coaches are limiting her progress by pushing for "perfection". She said that anytime she asks my kid to try a progression or upgraded skill, she gets it nearly instantly, even if it looks sloppy, and that her current coaches (really one of the two) is so preoccupied with getting her kids to make state teams and hit 38 that she needlessly holds them back. I totally agree with this about this one coach in particular but not for the other coaches at the gym.

I still have to talk with hubs and kid so certainly no decision was made. I will say that I felt shockingly positive about the conversation, especially after hearing from many of you that elite doesn't have to be the end goal...the end goal can just be better coaching and good progression of gymnastics. And she seemed to be trying to convey that point without my prompting.

Will let you know what we decide. We have a travel meet this weekend so I told her I would not be able to fully discuss etc until we are back, so I bought myself some time.
 
Soooo... This seems like two different and equally valid coaching styles.
I'm not trying to harsh your buzz. Your daughter sounds like an amazingly talented human. I love hearing how proud you are of her.
But (sorry - so very sorry to neg) artistic gymnastics is a sport of millimeters. Perfection. Tweaking form and balance. Correcting asymmetries.
Should you learn a double when your single is cockeyed? Or you keep forgetting to point your toes? Or you aren't utterly mindful of the position of your body?
I don't know. It's probably as safe as any advanced tumbling class, but IMHO the choice you're making is the athleticism over the art. WHICH IS FINE. But I just wanted to articulate it.
 
I just want to point out that even if your DD is ready to compete HOPES in 3 years at 14, that still does not put her in the best positions, skill-wise, for the elite trajectory. Elite gymnastics is HARD…for those that are not ‘behind.’ IF it were me, I’d accept the invitation, but have no expectations…and THAT is going to be hard for you and for her. Go in with the mindset that IF she does her absolute very best, every single day, she MIGHT make it to L10 in time to be recruited. Puberty SUUUUUCKS for gymnastics and then there’s growth spurts, too. Nothing is impossible, but the truth of the matter is that it is highly unlikely that this path would be the most enjoyable for her, but I love to be proven wrong!!
So many parents are ‘honored’ by the allure of possibly having an elite gymnast. Even the most level headed of us! My DD qualified for each level of HOPES, Qualified elite at 13 years old, even made the National Team at 15, and is now 17, and I am here to tell you, gymnastics fights her body every day, but she still loves it, every. single. day…. I wish you guys the best. IF you decide to jump in on this crazy ride, have frequent conversations with your DD about her mentality (not skill progress). A condition of acceptance should be that she to promise to share her feelings and not stay shut off. And she should always be given the opportunity to drop back if that’s what she wants. Just my two cents, lol!!
 

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