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-   -   Talk to me about competitive gymnastics --another update (http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1448206)

z2akids 09-28-2012 12:04 AM

Talk to me about competitive gymnastics --another update
 
So, my youngest started in ballet/tap when she was 3. She did 4 years of dance and this year (at 7) decided that she wanted to branch out and try gymnastics. Over the summer, we tried an 8 week recreational class and she had fun, so we signed her up for a 1x a week advanced beginner class.

Well, today, after only 5 weeks, I was approached by the head coach asking if she would like to join the level 3 pre-team. I honestly don't know anything about gymnastics and levels, etc. My daughter definitely loves what she's doing and I don't want to hold her back. However, we are looking at going from 1 hour a week at a cost of about $150 for 3 months to 2 two hour sessions a week at a cost of $120 a month. The money isn't an issue (although there is also almost $300 in additional initial expenses in terms of team leos and meet fees, etc.).

Honestly, I think that there are a couple of girls in her current class who are more advanced than she is, although I think that some of them may have been attending for longer. I think part of what the coach sees is my daughter's desire and also the balance and technique that comes from her dance training. Part of me also wonders if they are simply looking to fill space in their pre-team and she fits some profile they are looking for.

Our plan is to try a couple of sessions with the pre-team kids and see whether it is too much for her. I don't want her to become frustrated or overwhelmed. She says she wants to be in the olympics

Anyway, I'm looking for thoughts on moving from purely rec gymnastics to the early competitive stages. Are we in for total craziness? We have 2 older boys who are very involved in their sports and Scouts, so we are used to lots of activity and juggling schedules, etc. That aspect doesn't worry me. We are just used to team activities or non-competitive dance. So, the whole individual gymnastics is exciting and scary.

pumkinsmommy 09-28-2012 06:41 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
I would continue to have her take her class as she is. This is a money maker for the gym. What is wrong with enjoying things on an easy going level? :2cents:

Psychomom 09-28-2012 07:01 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by z2akids (Post 15741559)
Honestly, I think that there are a couple of girls in her current class who are more advanced than she is, although I think that some of them may have been attending for longer. I think part of what the coach sees is my daughter's desire and also the balance and technique that comes from her dance training. Part of me also wonders if they are simply looking to fill space in their pre-team and she fits some profile they are looking for.

First of all, disclaimer: I :loveit: gymnastics!! :gymnast3: But to the quoted, all of the above is correct. Although the naturally talented kids (I'm not saying your dd isn't one of them, I'm just responding to your statement that you think there are girls in her class more advanced than she is) will first stand out to the coach, that's not what they are always looking for. In competitive gymnastics, talent will only get you so far; it's the attitude and work ethic that will drive them. (Oh, one of my girls competed and I currently work at a gymnastics facility.) It's not straight across the board every time, but from what I have seen, the naturally talented kids end up quitting because frankly, it's hard as hell.

I do think 5 weeks is a little short to determine if your dd is ready for pre-team or not. Also, I'm not sure where you live and I know the competition season slightly varies from region to region (assuming you are in the U.S), but for us, it's way too late to be considering new kids for team at this point. Our kids will have their first competition in November. Season ends mid-March. The May timeframe is when we form our new teams and we do take some over the summer that have decided to leave their current gym and come to us, or have just moved into town, etc.

I do think the price they are charging is reasonable. Our facility charges $150/month for 3 hours for pre-team. I completely disagree with the pp about it being a money maker. At our gym, our money maker is the rec program. We honestly break even with team. We do it because we believe in the sport, not to make money. Our optional kids pay $325/month for about 20 hours a week. If you consider there are approx 4.5 weeks in a month, they are paying $3.61/hour for serious gymnastics training.

Our gym does not do Level 3s. They are just pre-team and they do not compete. For a few years, we did try the Level 3 thing since it seemed like just the regular pre-team worked so hard and never got to showcase it, but just this year we have gone back to just plain, old pre-team with no competitions for them. By the end of the year (like I said, March for us), our pre-team girls will have all their Level 4 skills down. When we had a competing Level 3 team, they spent the season concentrating on Level 3 competition skills and were less prepared for Level 4. When our pre-team learns Level 4 skills, we have a solid team at Level 4 (and during that season, they work Level 5 skills)...some kids (really only 1 or maybe 2) can even skip Level 4 and go to 5. Personally, I don't recommend skipping levels unless there is a solid reason behind it, like someone started gymnastics at an older age and is determined to compete in college.

Level 3 doesn't seem like a huge commitment to me (we are used to two-a-days and 24+ hours/week) but I know it is to a lot of families. You said you are used to juggling a lot of activities so that won't be a shock to you. But, it is a family commitment. During competition season, there will be a lot of traveling. I guess that depends on your gym, too. When we did a competing Level 3, we only took them to close meets. Regardless, it truly is a family commitment. Our younger 3 kids had to sacrifice so that our oldest could compete for as long as she did.

Let me know what you guys decide! If mine wanted to do it, I totally would. My 2nd daughter was a very talented recreational gymnast and I wanted her to compete like her big sister SO bad, but she didn't want to. (She did go the competitive dance route--I think that's even more craycray than gym!) I think a trial period is great for now, but if you decide to commit for the year, 4 hours a week is not that bad. It's not as fun as recreational gymnastics at times. These girls will have to condition and do strength training and it's not as fun as being on the equipment.

chach4 09-28-2012 07:17 AM

I agree with previous poster that team/preteam is not a moneymaker for the gyms.
As a former competitive gymnastics and coach at all levels, I've been around it for years(tho took a break to start a family but am actually applying today at a new gym in my area to get back into it). My first gym actually dropped their competitive program and just stuck to recreation because that's where the money is.
My suggestion, if you are uneasy about a competitive preteam, would be to talk to the coach and see what other options they have. In my area, most gyms don't start competing til level 5, even though there ARE level 4 meets too. I would see if they have a non competitive level 3 or 4 team that your dauhter can stay more recretion, develop skills slowly, and maybe try competitive in the future, or at level 5. (once they get to level 5, they have to score out of each level to move up. Or at least that's how it was when I was around club competitive.it has been a few years :). )
Then again if my daughter WANTED to be on preteam and she has the desire, I wouldn't be able to say no. (assuming it works for your family both financially and schedule).
Oh and all gyms I've worked at have a preteam for the kids that show potential. But again, they don't compete. Coaches used that stage to develop skills and get ready for level 5 competiton, as well as skills beyond level 5, since most of those kids cruises through level 5 and 6 pretty fast
Good luck!

sojomisa 09-28-2012 07:47 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
I'd be willing to bet they can see her prior training in the way she moves her body. Ballet is a great stepping stone to gymnastics as it teaches them how to manage their feet and use their core.

I would absolutely let her try pre-team if she wants to, your in the gym commitment and fees are very reasonable. Keep in mind the fees and commitment go up each year as she progresses.

My dd has been taking gymnastics for 4 years and is now a level 6. She moved from rec to level 3 in just a few months, and our in the gym commitment was about 2-3 hours a week. Level 4 was 10.5, level 5 was 11 and level 6 is 14. If I remember right next year, level 7 will be 20 hours per week.

As far as competing goes, we have about 7 meets a season including states. They are usually drivable on the day of the competition and take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to, and are an all day affair after it's all said and done. Last year our state meet was in Ocean City so we made a 3 day weekend out of it and hung out with the team. DH and I usually take turns taking her to meets due to having a baby and older boy who takes karate and plays soccer. We usually all go to the meet our gym actually hosts.

Good luck to her! Our season is starting later this year and a couple of months we have 2 meets a month so that will be new to juggle but she is excited to start competing again.

momtojande 09-28-2012 08:54 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
You might want to take a look at what the increased commitment will be if she goes on to team. I think at our gym, the level 4 girls are there 2 evenings plus a half-day Saturday. The oldest girls are there 4 evenings a week, 4 hours a night, plus Saturdays. I have no idea how they can keep up with school.

Psychomom 09-28-2012 09:29 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
Reading the other responses, I just want to add that yes, it's true about the increase in commitment (both hours and fees) from year to year, but I wouldn't let that stop me from trying pre-team this year. You never know...your daughter may decide on her own in a couple of years that she doesn't want to continue. It doesn't mean the training she has put in was a waste. My daughter "retired" from gymnastics at 14 years old and is incredibly strong and could have picked up nearly any sport she wanted to. She opted for cross country and was the only freshman female to make the varsity team in high school, attributed to her gymnastics training.

Palooka 09-28-2012 09:39 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by z2akids (Post 15741559)
Anyway, I'm looking for thoughts on moving from purely rec gymnastics to the early competitive stages. Are we in for total craziness? We have 2 older boys who are very involved in their sports and Scouts, so we are used to lots of activity and juggling schedules, etc. That aspect doesn't worry me. We are just used to team activities or non-competitive dance. So, the whole individual gymnastics is exciting and scary.

It depends a lot on the gym and the coaches. I was a competitive gymnast from age 8 to 15, and certain coaches were looking for high-level winners willing to "Suck up the pain!", and others were okay with "you tried your best sweety." Some parents didn't like letting their kids work with the tougher coaches, while others wanted their kids to be pushed to succeed.

I recommend thinking about how much you want your child to be challenged, and then attend some practices without your daughter and watch the coaches with other (especially slightly older) kids. How do you feel about people giving, or not giving her sympathy when she's in pain? How do you want her to be spoken to? Is yelling okay? Is being teased by an adult okay? We had a coach at my gym who couldn't stand it when girls complained about pain, even silently. If he saw you wince because of a callous while you practiced on the uneven bars he would march over, grab your hand, and rip the callous off. He only had to do it once to a girl to get his point across. Another coach would tease girls when they messed up, yelling that they were losers and should just go home and sit on the couch and get fat. When I didn't stretch hard enough my coach would physically sit on me (while stretching), or grab my legs and hold them in a stretch. These aren't horror stories, personally I wouldn't put my son in gymnastics unless the coaches were going to be very tough. And, again, not all coaches are like that. So find out who coaches the competitive groups and go watch practices for kids at least 1 or 2 levels up, so you can see what the coach is like as your daughter progresses and things get more difficult. A coach may seem very sweet at level 3, but be a total tyrant once she hits level 7. And since most kids form a bond with their coach and stick with them for a while you will want to know that.

That said, it is fun and it is great for her body and her brain!

shortcake2386 09-28-2012 09:40 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
i used to coach competitive gymnastics. imo if she isnt DYING to compete id stay where she is. if she really really wants to compete move her up. the price actually is good. keep in mind that the competitive coaches (should be) USAA/AAU certified and get paid more than the rec coaches. the skills are harder and the pace is faster, more work for the coaches. does preteam compete? if not i dont see the need for the $300 fees since she wont need team leos, competition fees, etc. definitely try it for a week or two before you commit.(btw we used to pull kids from rec classes but not to "fill a spot". only if they were good enough to do well on team)

canadianbakers 09-28-2012 09:50 AM

Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics
 
DD started gymnastics last year after having been in dance classes since she was 3. We were asked by the coach to consider putting her in the beginning competitive class (which he wanted to begin with her and another 5 or so girls). After thinking about it a bit, we decided against it. This year, again, he mentioned that same class. Again, we have declined that level and she will just do the recreational class.
I know that she could do it, and would love it. But we are not able to make that kind of financial or time commitment - and certainly not for all of the kids. They are all able to have one activity a week and we want things to be sorta equal for that, kwim?

For our gym, the rec class is 1hr 45mins, once a week. It ends up costing about $260 for the whole year (late Sept to March).
If we were to do the competitive class, she would be expected to have 2hr classes, twice a week, plus one extra evening. This would end up nearly doubling our fees. Added on to that is the expectation of making it to at least 2 competitions through the year - which means adding on the cost of the outift required for competition, the competition fees, travel expenses, food/eat out, and hotel rooms. This would make it far more than double the rec class and just isn't a commitment we can make.

In addition to the cost and time, though, DD is not just a "one thing" type of kid. She would do everything if we let her - be out every night at classes and activities. If we allowed her to do the competitive class, we would not allow her to do any other activities through the year - which I know she would be really angry about when those other things came up.
Right now she does gymnastics now through March, we do skating lessons at our rink (up the street from our house) from January to March, and she has been part of our school's musical/play for the past 2 years which means practising starting in January until the show in April. She's certainly more than busy enough - she still needs time to just be a kid, kwim?


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