Parents Would you tell your kid? (meet scores and placement issues)

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Proud Parent
So DD8 was in level 1 last year (at age 7). She was one of the oldest in her group. She was often the example "do it the way she does" for the younger girls. She did wonderfully at states (1st all around). That's what she remembers.

Our gym does AAU at first. AAU does not give placements in level 1 until states. DD doesn't know that at her first qualifiers she came in 11th All Around at the first one, and 21st at the second. She doesn't know she would have only placed on 2 events at each one (and not that high). All she remembers is that she was the state champ.

We just had our first xcel silver meet. Her scores were lower than her level 1 meets, but her skills are harder. She placed on bars (5th) and came in 8th all around (out of 9). Honestly, it's exactly like last year except this year she knows where she ranks and last year she didn't.

She's feeling defeated and I'm tempted to show her the results (which are posted) from last season to show her that she didn't start off as the super star last year either. She worked hard all season and it paid off at states (which is where if it matters at all, it matters). Would you tell her? I don't want her to think she "sucks". She doesn't. This is just how she rolls and I can't decide if knowing this about herself will let her stop beating herself up.

Also know that I don't care about her scores or placement other than that I hate seeing her so down on herself. I think she did awesome! She just doesn't agree with me.***
I absolutely would NOT tell her how she placed last year. That could end up backfiring spectacularly.

You can help her shift her focus away from placements by encouraging her to set specific performance-based goals before each meet. For example: Tight legs and pointed feet during floor routine. Hit handstand on beam. Straight arms on kip. Single block on vault (my daughter's goal on vault for her entire first L4 season). If she meets most of her goals, the meet is a success, no matter how she scores or places.

I've also had luck showing my daughter how she would have placed in different age groups at the same meet, to illustrate how placements are really just the luck of the draw. At one L3 meet, for example, she was likely the youngest in her age group. In the next group down she would have won three events and AA. In her age group, her highest placement was fourth. That really helped her to see how little the placements reflect the quality of an individual performance.

Signed, the mom of a kid who has placed dead last more times than I care to count
I agree with what mommyof1 said. I totally understand your impulse, but I also think it could backfire and undermine her confidence.
Maybe you can bring up the point without driving it home (by showing her the placements)... You could say something like, look we don't really know how you placed in your early meets last year. What we do know is your scores improved every meet so that you were ready to be successful for state. You are doing the same thing now, improving your scores over the meets with the goal of achieving your best results at state. Placements are hard but we can control how much we improve so lets focus on what we can control. Also new levels and new skills mean new challenges. You can continue to do the same thing forever and get great placements or you can challenge yourself and grow. Isnt being challenged more fun?
It's definitely tough when they're harder on themselves on scores that they can only control to a certain extent. And by that I mean, they can try to perfect their routines but at the end of the day, it is a little subjective with judging. I would not show her last years scores either. In fact, I would try to shift her focus on just feeling like she did the best she can. It truly comes down to trying to do their best and if possible trying to improve their overall scores.
My dd(11) Coach has told her the goal is to peak at state. If you have your highest scores early you have no were to go. Maybe explain to your daughter that she is working to improve each meet to do awesome at state.
My dd(11) Coach has told her the goal is to peak at state. If you have your highest scores early you have no were to go. Maybe explain to your daughter that she is working to improve each meet to do awesome at state.
I've never really understood the "peak later in the season" thing and always figured it was just one of those things coaches say to encourage a kid/parent. (Not saying it doesn't happen - how would I know - but) I have yet to hear a coach tell a golden girl "Oh, we need to be careful you don't peak too early this season." No, they keep working the new skills, upgrade mid-season, and those girls just have strong, solid seasons aallllll season long. (Tho, yes I can see where that could be a problem for an elite or hopes kid burning out, it just doesn't seem to be something that applies to lower level, strong and prepared athletes.) It seems to me to be just perfectly natural that if you keeping working on a skill for the 3 months that make up a season, it is reasonable to expect that you'll be better at it (more confident and practiced) after 3 extra months. And if you did it for 4 extra months, your 'peak' would probably be 4 months down the road. "Peak" just being when that season is over and the focus changes to start working more toward the next year. I don't know - just my musing. But yes, my kid was told this, "Don't worry, we really want you to peak at the end of the season." And yes, she has so far finished stronger than she started each year.

Maybe the thing to do is just to keep it simple. Her disappointment can be fuel to drive improvement. But if you do it for her (try to bolster her or provide that fire), she might continue to look to you for it as she goes. It can't come from outside herself if it's to be sustainable. Give her a hug and tell her that you know she's working on her skills and routines and that she's constantly learning and growing. Tell her that you're proud of her perseverance. If she says she'd disappointed in how she did, I'd remind her that scores and placements are relative and as long as her coaches are happy with how she's working and competing, it's ok. She needs to learn to trust their plan for her. I'd rather she learn the "you have to persevere, work hard, and trust the plan" now than in 5 years.
Be careful with the whole "peak at state." Thinking back to my DD's teammate who regularly scored 1st AA at every meet (beautiful gymnast, flawless execution, very type A perfectionist girl). I was actually rooting for her to win state as well. And the poor girl, who never fell off the beam during a single meet of the regular season, fell off at state. On a handstand (not even the hardest part of her routine). So, if you tell your daughter it is all about state, it can be a risky move.

Honestly gymnastics is hard to be on top in those early years and stay on top for the future years. Shifting her mindset away from placement goals and into other goals that she can control will pay off in the long run.
First dealing with disappointment is a life lesson. Not a fun one but s life lesson none the less.

Next direct her focus away from scores and placements. Those things are beyond her direct control. Serioisly they can have a better score then a teammate and the teammate gets medals and they dont because they are in different age groups.

She needs to focus on what she has control over..... her skills.

I go back to video. When my kid had a cr@ppy cartwheel or BHS and then we review how it got better. Hard work and practice. We look at how nice that CW and BHS looks now. We see how she could barely kip and look at her pirouette and handstand now.....

Focus her on things she wants to improve on
I agree with others above- help her define her success in terms of her own performance. Did she keep her back leg straight on her leap? Did she stick her fly away? Did she get a good block?

You can have the meet of your life and get beaten. You can come in first with an adequate routine. Which feels better?
If I were to show your child any scores it would some of the more popular gymnasts who didn’t always win. Even Simone had meets when she didn’t get on the podium.
Knowing where one places at a meet has little meaning, because a kid who comes in last at a meet with tough competition may well have come in much higher at a less competitive meet.
Personal scores and progression in scores over the season are possibly helpful ways to measure one's progress. But still, perspective is required.
Setting simple and clear personal goals one can realistically meet and measure are another.
Ultimately progress as an athlete happens not during competitive season but in growth during the rest of the year. I do not understand xcel or aau, but it sounds as if your dd moved from one level to more difficult level last year to this year. Presumably she learned more skills and/or cleaned up what she had already or whatever. That is all progress that only happens from hard work.
Personally I have tried to do everything possible to keep my kids from focusing on placement, including keeping them off websites like meetscores except for very rare circumstances and only when they were old enough to have more perspective.

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