Parents Pros & Cons of the "Elite Path"

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It sounds like she is saying that her daughter is going to compete at the elite qualifier using her level 10 routines with the goal to qualify to Classics with no expectation that she will make it to Championships. So, the end goal is to have the experience of competing at Classics and then go back to Level 10.
I get all that but let’s say she qualifies. Are you going to say No you can’t compete because I’m against the elite route or you gonna let her compete. If you’re going to qualifiers then your on the elite path
 
I get all that but let’s say she qualifies. Are you going to say No you can’t compete because I’m against the elite route or you gonna let her compete. If you’re going to qualifiers then your on the elite path
No I'll let her go as far as her scores take her. If she qualifies to classics I'll happily go to cheer her on. I'm against elite training because of the extreme hours and stress it puts on the body
 
As for our journey...

Our oldest daughter was just a little kid with big sloppy skills. At the point that she was 8 years old (9 year old TOPs) we decided that we really didn't know what to do with her... so we decided to do TOPs about 1 month before the test. She ended up doing pretty good and made national testing.

The next year she won regular regionals at Level 8 (didn't make Super 8) and ended up making TOPs A Camp where we were told "if you make TOPs A camp as a 10 year old then you are already too old". Love the comments some people throw out.

The TOPs Camp was OK... not highly useful though.

We went home and that was it.

Then we got an email about 2 days before one of the DIC camps that she was on the waiting list and she is now invited to come... so we hopped on a plane and did it.

We ended up doing a bunch of the DIC camps and also competing HOPES... it was a journey to say the least. She is a great gymnast due to this and we have learned much as coaches. Also have gained tons of connections.

The college recruiting process basically ended that journey. While she wanted to make a run and qualify "elite"... it just became less important as the offers came in. The meet this weekend was our first meet ever not competing on the FIG bar settings.

Pros
  • Learning for both athlete and coach
  • Fun traveling and experiences
  • Possible college scholarships / offers
  • Networking / connections for coach
Cons
  • While it wasn't super expensive for us as I am a coach... cost is very high for most
  • Most never get off of the "edge"... always pushing new stuff... always need "more"
  • There is a huge lack of competitions
Screen Shot 2022-02-07 at 12.22.22 PM.png

The lack of competitions is my #1 complaint by far. While I understand the need for control in actual Jr and Sr elite... I don't at all in Hopes. If they really want the program to grow... they need a bare minimum of double the Hopes meets.
 
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As for our journey...

Our oldest daughter was just a little kid with big sloppy skills. At the point that she was 8 years old (9 year old TOPs) we decided that we really didn't know what to do with her... so we decided to do TOPs about 1 month before the test. She ended up doing pretty good and made national testing.

The next year she won regular regionals at Level 8 (didn't make Super 8) and ended up making TOPs A Camp where we were told "if you make TOPs A camp as a 10 year old then you are already too old". Love the comments some people throw out.

The TOPs Camp as OK... not highly useful though.

We went home and that was it.

Then we got an email about 2 days before one of the DIC camps that she was on the waiting list and she is now invited to come... so we hopped on a plane and did it.

We ended up doing a bunch of the DIC camps and also competing HOPES... it was a journey to say the least. She is a great gymnast due to this and we have learned much as coaches. Also have gained tons of connections.

The college recruiting process basically ended that journey. While she wanted to make a run and qualify "elite"... it just became less important as the offers came in. The meet this weekend was our first meet ever not competing on the FIG bar settings.

Pros
  • Learning for both athlete and coach
  • Fun traveling and experiences
  • Possible college scholarships / offers
  • Networking / connections for coach
Cons
  • While it wasn't super expensive for us as I am a coach... cost is very high for most
  • Most never get off of the "edge"... always pushing new stuff... always need "more"
  • There is a huge lack of competitions
View attachment 8174
The lack of competitions is my #1 complaint by far. While I understand the need for control in actual Jr and Sr elite... I don't at all in Hopes. If they really want the program to grow... they need a bare minimum of double the Hopes meets.
Interesting. Do you think growing the HOPES program and having more HOPES meets would be more useful/productive than the TOPS program? I'm not a huge fan of TOPS. I don't think knocking out 20 connected stalder presses necessarily equates with being a good gymnast. Also, do you think it would be reasonable for a younger gymnast (e.g., 10 year old level 8 or 9) who is generally performing pretty well at meets to pursue HOPES? And is there value to doing HOPES if like @rlm's mom your family is not interested in pursuing junior or senior elite? It sounded like you felt like your daughter did get a lot out of it.
 
I don’t have kids on an elite path but have friends and acquaintances that are. IMO, it doesn’t let kids just be kids. They have their young child home schooled, at the gym every day. They shelter her because doing all of the ‘fun’ typical kids things *might* cause an injury and she might not be able to go to her TOPS camps…. Such as riding a bike, swimming, actually just playing in general. I know of 2 families that don’t let their gymnast kids participate in play dates because of the “what ifs”. Because of this, I consider them to be socially awkward. This doesn’t mean that they don’t go to meets and have stage fright type of awkward, but just don’t know how to interact with kids their own age. They also dedicate so much of their time to training and traveling to different camps that they don’t have enough time to take actual vacations and bond as a family unit. No time off from the gym allowed.
 
Interesting. Do you think growing the HOPES program and having more HOPES meets would be more useful/productive than the TOPS program? I'm not a huge fan of TOPS. I don't think knocking out 20 connected stalder presses necessarily equates with being a good gymnast. Also, do you think it would be reasonable for a younger gymnast (e.g., 10 year old level 8 or 9) who is generally performing pretty well at meets to pursue HOPES? And is there value to doing HOPES if like @rlm's mom your family is not interested in pursuing junior or senior elite? It sounded like you felt like your daughter did get a lot out of it.
I'm also not a fan of TOPS. Its totally unnecessary for such young gymnasts imo. Hopes is a totally different experience than level 10. I can imagine if they make it to championships it is a huge milestone. The gymnasts are competing on a podium against some of the best in the country in their age group and being scored on difficulty as well as execution, the same scoring as elites.
The benefits of training Hopes? I would imagine these gymnasts have more skills they could put into their level 10 routines that the typical gymnast. My 15yr old has a few options for her bars routine and sometimes will choose which one just before she warms up to compete! She is used to competing a few different routines.
 
The benefits of training Hopes? I would imagine these gymnasts have more skills they could put into their level 10 routines that the typical gymnast. My 15yr old has a few options for her bars routine and sometimes will choose which one just before she warms up to compete! She is used to competing a few different routines.

Maybe not for everyone, but this is definitely a pro for my girl, she honestly gets bored training the same thing. She absolutely loves being able to upgrade and try new skills that she can incorporate in her routines.
 
Interesting. Do you think growing the HOPES program and having more HOPES meets would be more useful/productive than the TOPS program?

Yes and no... they are totally different things. TOPs is useful if used the way it's supposed to work. Here I go with definitions again...

TOPS (Talent Opportunity Program), is a talent search and educational program for female gymnasts ages 7-10 and their coaches.

Some people take the ACT's and get a 33+.

Others spend thousands on tutoring and test prep... hundreds of hours training... then still have to take the ACT 4 times to get the same score.

TOPs is like that... it's actually a "talent search" by definition. Using the program "in-house" without even attending any of the testing will give you an idea who to run towards Hopes.

Also, do you think it would be reasonable for a younger gymnast (e.g., 10 year old level 8 or 9) who is generally performing pretty well at meets to pursue HOPES?

Yes... that was us. Competing under modified FIG rules can be fun.

I'm pretty sure that the program could grow with time if there were more competitions. I mean really... who wants to fly all around the country just for Level 8/9 ability?

I would actually make the path to Hopes as qualifying through Level 8/9. Like... get a 35.0 at a certain age and you are qualified to try Hopes.

And is there value to doing HOPES if like @rlm's mom your family is not interested in pursuing junior or senior elite?

Our path went through the camps. There is zero point in going to camps if you are not interested in the National Team.

Hopes could be done without the need to do elite. If a kid is talented then the FIG style rules can benefit them. Remember... Level 9 is a restricted level... you can't do certain things.

As far as value for @rlm's mom... that's a question for her.

As a coach... would I take someone into Hopes that is not interested in the end game?... no.

It sounded like you felt like your daughter did get a lot out of it.

We look at our path as a journey... all part of the same journey. There was definitely a goal of the national team and beyond. The Hopes / camps / Level 9/10 all at the same time years were rough.

My daughter got scholarship offers due to this journey.

I will do it differently next time... and yes... I plan on there being a next time.
 
Kind of on topic, Is it possile for a child to go elite without doing any of the "elite paths" (TOPS, HOPES)?
Is there an age that you need to decide if your child wants to pursue the elite path by?
 
Kind of on topic, Is it possile for a child to go elite without doing any of the "elite paths" (TOPS, HOPES)?

Yes... you will find top level elites that do not do these... Leanne Wong.

Is there an age that you need to decide if your child wants to pursue the elite path by?

In theory... no.
 
Kind of on topic, Is it possile for a child to go elite without doing any of the "elite paths" (TOPS, HOPES)?
Is there an age that you need to decide if your child wants to pursue the elite path by?
As JBS said, doing TOPS or Hopes is not a pre-requisite for qualifying elite, but one should be training on the elite path ie. training like an elite in order to do it.

And like JBS said, other than a Jr/Sr age division, there is no age to decide to elite.

There have been exceptions, like a Jade Carey who pretty much came up through the JO program (and I don't think she ever qualified elite? but went to team camps) but she was more exception than rule.
 
TOPS or Hopes is not a pre-requisite for qualifying elite, but one should be training on the elite path ie. training like an elite in order to do it.

Yes… for example again… Leanne Wong was definitely training in the “elite style” with very experienced elite level coaches even though she did not do TOPs / Hopes. They basically create their own custom elite path.
 
Yes… for example again… Leanne Wong was definitely training in the “elite style” with very experienced elite level coaches even though she did not do TOPs / Hopes. They basically create their own custom elite path.
GAGE gymnasts never compete Hopes (let alone TOPs).
At the beginning of each olympic cycle, Al Fong always introduces his new Elites for that cycle. He did it just today - three of his gymnasts (two Sr one Jr) obtained their optional elite score. It was at GAGE home meet (Dragon Invite) and while there was also Hopes qualifier, none of Al Fong's gymnasts participated in it.
 
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GAGE gymnasts never compete Hopes (let alone TOPs).
At the beginning of each olympic cycle, Al Fong always introduces his new Elites for that cycle. He did it just today - three of his gymnasts (two Sr one Jr) obtained their optional elite score. It was at GAGE home meet (Dragon Invite) and while there was also Hopes qualifier, none of Al Fong's gymnasts participated in it.
He’s been producing elites for years. There is a process to this, and it must require extreme dedication. I think there are many more gymnasts competing hopes than could actually qualify for jr or senior elite. I guess hopes is good experience for the gyms/coaches who don’t yet have an elite process in place.
 

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