Too many girls in L3?

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Proud Parent
Hi all :)

I took my DD, who is a first season L3, to practice last night and I found out from the coach that the group (which I thought was quite large to begin with at 11 girls), has now increased to 16! I decided to just keep my mind open and watch and see what happened. Well, the entire 3 hour practice was basically mass chaos. There is a head coach and an assistant, which IMO, is not enough supervision & coaching staff for a large group of girls who are between 5-8 years old. Also, the girls who were moved up are coming from rec classes and need a lot more help getting the skills, rather than perfecting them. There was a lot of waiting around to work on the different apparatuses. I think my DD got on the bars 2-3 times in an hour and a half (she normally works bars A LOT more than that).

Truth be told, I am pretty unhappy about this. I am not sure if our new gym just doesn't take L3 seriously or if it is a profit thing. All I know is that I feel that my DD should be building a good foundation in L3 so that she can be successfull once she moves on to higher levels. I am afraid that with such a large group she will not perfect her skills & routines, which will lead to her not doing her best in competition.

So, my real question is, how many girls are in each level at your gym/the gym where your child is at currently? I just want to get an idea of what the average is and maybe get some ideas of what points I can bring up to the coach at the next practice.

I am definitely going to voice my concerns to her, at the very least. I don't want to have to pay for privates in a few months to help my DD perfect skills that she should be getting in practice 6 hours a week.

Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say :)

We have anywhere from 8-14 girls in a group with one coach usually. Depends on the day. When it gets up to 14, especially with my younger DD who is 6 and a L4, it is mass chaos, like you said, and nothing gets done. Those days are extremely frustrating.

I often do have to do privates for both my girls to get them some extra attention since the groups are so large.

In our gym, L3 is a lot smaller. I think we have about 6 L3's total.
According to USAG depending on the age there really should not be more than 8-10 kids per coach. Having said that there are exceptions, such as maybe having 12 if they are older/more experienced or having 6 if they are brand new and need a lot of attention. If also depends on how the class is run, if the kids are able to behave you can set up a few stations and do it like a circuit so that everyone is getting a good workout and there are not long lines. I would maybe just ask what to expect, say I noticed you have several new girls and the class was a bit crazy, what are your normal student to coach ratios? Nothing wrong with asking. Or maybe wait another class, they may know of the problem and may try to fix it, maybe the head coach thought it wouldn't be too much but realized it was? I'm not going to lie a lot of gyms are only out for the money, pay the coaches minimum wage and pack as many kids as possible in the class, hopefully that is not the case.
How old are the girls? Older kids can usually be directed to stations and can do a lot independantly. Little ones tend to need a lot more hands on coaching and I would be very unhappy if I had a 6 year old in that set up.

16 seems way to much for any coach,I think I would be asking if they are intending on bringing in another coah as the USAG guideline suugest that more than 10 kids is too many.
Well, that's a 1:8 ratio which is pretty average, if not small. If they're waiting in line for 15 minutes that sounds like a problem in setting up the practice, such as not creating some stations that can be done independently, rather than strictly an issue of the ratio. If I had 2 instructors to 14 kids, I would break them into 2 groups anyway though, and have the assistant do the events or conditioning that they are familiar with, just because even with circuits a smaller group is better. But I don't think 14 school age children to two adults is "way too many." Unless you have a large gym it may be too many to quickly move through even several station circuits, though. So, two different groups doing different stations would be ideal. If the gym is large and has a lot of equipment then you would have better options, obviously, but that is what I would do assuming I didn't have a lot of space and equipment.
Thats way too many-even with stations and an assistant. If it happens once in a while bc they were short a coach, thats one thing, but if thats the plan, its only a matter of time until someone gets hurt! (Not to mention no one will learn anything!)
Thats way too many-even with stations and an assistant.

I disagree.
16 kids with 2 instructors is not unreasonable or unmanageable.

1 station with the more experienced coach spotting main skill of the lesson.
1 station with assisstant coach spotting/supervising secondary skill of the lesson.
1 station of strength or drill which can be performed independently.
1 station working on details of a skill they can already do.

Main issue is controlling the flow, that many children can not rotate independently without getting the line backed up somewhere. Works better if they continue to take turns at their station until instructor says rotate.

For example Level 3 bars:
coach one spots mill circles
station with a floor bar, box and stop watch: girls time each other holding a hollow plank position with their hands on bar, toes on tall box, 20 sec. each
coach two supervises legs cuts, spots as needed
station where girls practice "perfect pullovers" (or as close as they can get on their own)
It really depends how strong the assistant is. I've seen assistants who are high school girls and who look after the girls and maybe do some minor spotting, but don't really coach. And I've seen assistants who are really just a second coach.

In a class that large, with that range of abilities, it maks sense to do warm up and conditioning together, but then break into two groups for training where each group is on a differet aparatus. Are you sharing the gym with other levels at the same time?
As others have said 16 is not too many if handled well and broken up into groups. One way to work it would be put the newer girls from the rec class into 1 group and the others in a seperate group. That way one group could focus more on learning skills while the other works more on perfecting skills.

Sounds a little like the coach was not expecting an additional 5 girls and hopefully will make adjustments before her next practice.
I think its a USAG rule some where that its 8:1 or 10:1 ratio is allowed. How that ratio is coached is another issue.

At DD's new gym there is about 12 optional girls that have 1 coach, and it looks like about 20 compulsory girls (various levels from 4 - 6) with 2 coaches and the owner floats around where ever an extra hand is needed. So that sounds about average with everyone else.
My daughter had 15 girls on her level 3 team a few years ago and it worked out great with just one coach. I think much of the success depends on the strength and experience of the coach. The girls adored their coach and they responded well to her coaching style. The girls were ages 5 - 9 with the majority at the lower end. Stations really helped.

Reality check though. More girls means less individual coaching attention. Privates with the coach helped many of the girls reach their full potential that year.
Our gym keeps an 8:1 ratio. My daughter's group currently has 9 girls so we have 2 coaches and we are growing to 12 (I think). I think their system works really well. They split the girls into 2 different groups to work on different skills. For example, if they are working floor, one coach is working with a group of girls on their routines and the other coach is working tumbling with his group and then they switch. Within the group, they are also rotating from skill to skill. Very rarely are the girls ever waiting. The coaches plan enough skills rotations that they are always moving.
We have previously been in a class with 16 and when you saw them warming up together it seemed like a lot of little girls, but when they split like that you can see how it is manageable and how well it flows. We use the same system in our preschool gym with a 6:1 ratio, so most of the kids are very used to it when they move up to the big gym and the bigger class sizes.
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What is an assistant. Here in Canada an assistant cannot coach a group by hersel, only coaches can coach and supervise a group. An assistant could take kids to the bathroom and help set up station, but not spot etc.
In my DD's class there are about 14 girls and they usually have two coaches. They split into two groups, lately they have put the more capable girls in one group and those who are a little behind in the other group. There usually is a little bit of waiting and queuing but not for long. When the coach is working with them one-on-one, the others have been given an exercise to practice.
What is an assistant. Here in Canada an assistant cannot coach a group by hersel, only coaches can coach and supervise a group. An assistant could take kids to the bathroom and help set up station, but not spot etc.

Well, there's not really any rule about who can or can't coach in the US...except on the floor at sanctioned meets, then you need a pro membership and updated background check + safety certification, but even with that anyone can get it (assuming you don't have a conviction on your record that gives you a "red light" though...the safety certification is not that difficult imo). Most of the time in the US if a gym has someone working with a group they are supposed to be coaching that group or learning how, so I would assume the assistant has the ability to supervise some basic thing like conditioning or drills. If not they should be trained to do these basic things this weekend and eliminate the problem. But then again a lot of gym management can be puzzling.

It's also not a rule per se about the 1:8 ratio, but that's pretty much the industry standard. That's our ratio for preschool classes, so I think with school age children a higher ratio is acceptable, if not ideal. Again assuming the coach can even supervise a conditioning or drill stations, I would break up the group because unless you have a really big space to have all the kids go through a circuit can be challenging at that number. That's not to say the lead coach wouldn't see the one group, it would just be one group doing conditioning and drills and then rotating to work with the lead coach on the bars.
At our gym ( in canada ), we only have 21 competitive girls ( so a lot smaller) and there are only 5 levels ( about equivivalent of levels 5 through 10 there), at our gym we only have level 1-3 so we usually have:
One class of level 1: 6-8 kids
And two classes of level 2/3 split: about 7-8 kids each

The most we ever have in a class is 8.
Thanks everyone for your range of responses! As many of you have said, I too believe that it is not the size of the group, but the way it is coached and handled, that matters.

I guess my biggest issue is not the size, but the lack of control over the group & the regression in skills that are being practiced. With the previous size of 11 girls, I was very happy with the way practices were going. The coach had the girls focused, there was no goofing off and they all stood like gymnasts when not performing a skill. I think this was due to the girls really being cohesive as a team and having a real sense of urgency with competition season coming soon. The last 2 practices have been pretty much out of control and I think it is a bad move for a coach to bring in 5 new girls with only 2 months before the first meet. Now, the 5 new girls are darling of course, but I can't see how they would be ready to compete if they are just learning the skills now. Maybe they will have them ready in 2 months. I don't know. If they were broken up into 2 groups according to knowledge and ability, then I would be OK with it. I actually think that is the best thing that they can do. I am already seeing my DD beginning to lose some form and she has been complaining that she feels distracted (her own words). If this were a rec class, I would have no complaints, but it's not.

The assistant is wonderful, but the coach is the coach, no doubt about it. She has been coaching L3-5 for over 30 years at this gym, so she is definitely the one in charge. The assistant spots on less deamnding skills and helps with form, etc. and I am very happy with the way she coaches.

Anyway, I made an appointment to speak with the coach and the owner. Hopefully, they will have a plan in place and can fill me in on how they are going to handle the bigger class. All I know is that I pay an arm and a leg for my DD to go to this gym & I better be mostly satisfied with what is going on, at the very least. I don't want to be a pushy, obnoxious gym mom and I trust that they know what they are doing. I just want to know how they are going to handle the larger group and I feel it is a valid concern, after seeing how practice deteriorated so quickly.

Thanks again!
If we had 16 kids, we'd make 2 groups. In the past I've had 21 kids on one group but with 2 experienced coaches. The rotations were just too short for a group of this size but some how most of them are still in the sport and doing quite well.
DD's L4 team just increased from 8 to 12 girls with two coaches most of the time. I feel your frustration because like your DD mine has all of her skills and needs to work on perfecting them. She's missing the little things and she's not getting much help on them. The newest girls are still struggling with skills as they moved in late and aren't ready to compete. They take most of the coaches attention and DD will go through her bar routine alone and have bent legs etc. If they tell her she'll do it right, but it's not a habit yet and especially if she's tired she'll look really sloppy.

I was frustrated at yesterday's practice because there are 4 girls who still don't have ROBHS. They line up to tumble and those that don't have there's will get 4 or 5 tries. Those that do have it did it once. There was enough room on the floor to let the other girls practice multiple times, but instead they just stood around waiting.

The coaches do set up multiple stations and keep the girls busy, but it doesn't always work well for my DD because she's only 5. That's not the coaches fault, but the smaller group worked better for her.
We have around 30 girls on L3. The group warms up together, under the eyes of 4 co-coaches, each of whom has at least one assistant.

Then, the girls break out into the four apparatus, each of which has a "head" coach (one of the four co-coaches), and again, at least one assistant. The bars coach has two assistants, because so much of what the girls are working on needs spots. Beam coach has one assistant, floor has two, vault has one. So, the minimum ratio is 5:1, with 3(ish):1 on floor and bars.

The groups then rotate throughout the apparatus over the next two hours. Floor and vault rotate days - so the girls do beam and bars both days of practice, and vault/floor every other day. I've never heard the formal justification for this, but it seems to work, and the team is historically successful, so I've never asked.

It's all very controlled and very organized; if there was mass chaos, I'd definitely speak up - I'm not paying for a big party, I'm paying for effective practice time.
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