Gymnastics vs Ballet and Gym Change?

Subject: has my daughter grown out of her gym?

Sex: female
Age: 10
Gymnastics Level: 5

My daughter has been practicing gymnastics for 3 1/2 years. She will be competing level 5 this fall. We are concerned about the safety and coaching supervision at her gym. My daughter’s coach had a baby in May. She still coaches with baby in arms, but we never know when she will be on the gym floor and for how long. The owner of the gym does his best to coach the gymnasts but I know it must be difficult for him, since he has cancer. They haven’t found a replacement coach yet and competition season is just around the corner.

My daughter tried a gym camp 1 hour away this summer and liked the focus the coaches gave her. She responded very well and did great. She doesn’t always look like she tries very hard at her current gym. She told me that she would do better in competition if she went to another gym similar to the camp she did a couple weeks ago. She is also a ballerina and was asked to begin point in the fall at age 10. She likes gymnastics more but does not want to give up dance. Most gyms will not give her the flexibility with her workout schedule to accommodate her dance schedule except for her current gym.

My daughter has potential in gymnastics and should she give up her dance for a year to try a new gym? Should we look for another gym? Is it better to go to a gym with a stronger optional team or a stronger level 5/6 team?


You raise a number of interesting questions. Let me start with the easiest. I am absolutely convinced that parents should first consider the best optional gym in their area. There can be other considerations in choosing a gym, but in general, the best predictor of future gymnastics success will be past gymnastics success. If there is a gym in your area producing Elite gymnasts or National championship Level 10’s, then that ought to be the gym you consider first.

Time to Make Progress

Your daughter’s progress so far in gymnastics, you say, shows potential, but at age 10, she does not have time to waste if she wishes to become a high level optional gymnast. She needs to be in a gym where she can make progress and live up to her potential. Finding the right coaching, program and gym for her should be your priority.

Finding Good New Coaches is Difficult

I certainly feel sorry for the owner of the gym. It must be a terrible burden and is somewhat heroic to try to coach when you are battling cancer. I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be. There is a shortage of high quality, experienced optional coaches in the United States. Good coaches are very difficult to find and while I wish the owner luck, I cannot say that the task of finding a good coach is an easy one or one that can be accomplished quickly.

Baby in the Gym?

I must say that I do not feel coaching with a baby in your arms is very professional, is likely to be very effective or can be good for the baby. Every gym, just like every school, is a hot bed of every cough, flu bug, etc. that I would not want my baby exposed to. My experience is that gyms are an ideal place to find baby sitters. They are filled with mothers with lots of experience with babies, and many girls who love nothing more than to take care of babies.

You Need to Make a Choice

Your responsibility is that you must make the best decision you can for your own daughter, in regards to which gym she should go to. I am unable to say, without seeing your daughter if she should give up dance for gymnastics. It is true that at your daughter’s age and at the team level, most gyms expect their team gymnasts to specialize in gymnastics and devote their time to it. Most gyms will expect her to make a choice between gymnastics and ballet. Certainly, if you pick a gym an hour away, it will likely be impossible to do both.

Gymnastics or Ballet

Without seeing her, I am also unable to judge the quality of the ballet school or your daughter’s talent, aptitude and future as a ballerina. You and your daughter need to have a serious talk about her future and figure out what she really wants to do. Before that, you should see what your options are, and what other gyms she might attend would expect.

Dance is Gymnastics

Personally, as a coach, I always would run a program designed to take gymnasts to the highest level possible. If gymnasts (and/or their parents) decided not to take full advantage of the program, as long as they understood and fully accepted the consequences of not fully participating in the program (like to study ballet one or two days a week), I had no problem with it. you may find that other gyms may allow the same. It is not as if ballet is bad for gymnasts. Dance is significant part of both floor and beam.

Good Luck!

I wish you luck in making these difficult choices. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

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