Coaches should be the ones to decide which meets for their gymnasts to attend on the basis of their progress and development. Factors in the decision should include skill and routine preparation and readiness, physical and psychological readiness, opportunities for success, exposure to higher levels of competition, need and opportunity to qualify.
Secondary considerations should include the costs, quality and organization of the meet. Travel expenses for both gymnasts and parents should be considered. Opportunities for additional non-gymnastic activities after the meet are another factor to be considered.
Routine Ready Year-Round
The question of routine and skill readiness often looms large in coach’s decisions. Except in extraordinary circumstances like injury or illness, you and your gymnast have known you need to be skill and routine ready for the entire year. Especially in the beginning of the season, it is a common feeling to not feel ready. But your job is to have them ready to compete routines year round and certainly by meet season.
Need to Compete to Learn to Compete
But gymnasts need to compete so they can learn to compete successfully. There is no other method as good for learning how to compete as actually competing in as many varied competition situations as possible. So the first answer, to which meets to compete in, is all of them.
Some coaches find it advantageous to start off the season with a meet in which they are confident of success. A dual meet with a weaker team or a home meet to which weaker teams are invited can guarantee a successful beginning.
See What the State Competition is Like
After that, gymnasts need to be exposed early to their competition within the state so they and you may judge what it will take to win. Invitational meets attended by the strongest teams from the state should happen early in the season and again a month or so before States.
See What the National Competition is Like
Gymnasts also ought to be exposed to the level of competition in the Region and the entire country. Large regional and national invitational meets expose gymnasts to the competition level they need to rise to meet.
Qualify in the Easier States and Regions, If Necessary
Judging is by no means uniform throughout the country and it may be a strategic decision to take gymnasts who have not qualified to an area where scores tend to be higher. This tends to be in weaker regions of the country, but there are many variables.
Expand the Meet Experience
Meets should be a highlight experience for gymnasts and there are many considerations outside of the sport that can contribute positively to this. Having the team stay at the same hotels (with a pool and hot tub, of course), eat at the same restaurants, go to movies, theme parks, cultural events, etc. can enhance the meet experience. So plan ahead and make sure your gymnasts have a positive experience.