Is My Daughter A Talented Gymnast?

Sex: female
Age: 11
Gymnastics Level: 5

My daughter has been in gymnastics for 2 years total time (1 year in recreational and 1 year level 4). I don’t want to come across as being a psycho parent trying to get my daughter to the Olympics next year but I would like to know if I should pursue my daughter moving to a bigger gym and possibly to an elite program? We would have to move locations due to no other gyms nearby. Okay so my daughter started with recreational in Aug of 2009, in Mar of 2011 she placed 2nd in State (Level 4) and is now moved to Level 5. Other gym Mom’s have said she is better than their daughter was at that level…and these other girls placed 1st at State for level 5 or 6 this past year. So what I would like to know is…is it normal for a girl to learn this quickly and be able to compete so well? Some skills she is able to do: she can do a backwalkover and back handspring on high beam (separately), she is able to do a giant on strap bar with no spot, she can do a roundoff-backhandspring- backtuck, she has all of her j/o level 5 skills and working routines begins this week…she is an AA type of gymnast and scored over a 38 at state and 37 or higher most meets last year for level 4. Her gym is relatively new…started in 2004 so the highest level they have reached is level 6 and they are moving to level 7 this year.


The non-athletic Mom.

Early success in gymnastics is always a good sign. It is not mandatory for long-term high level gymnastics success, but it is certainly a good sign. It sounds like she is doing exceptionally well, both in learning skills and in competition. It also sounds like the gym you are at is having some success in competition at the Compulsory levels. Still, they started the gym about seven years ago and the team has only increased by four levels. That is not as fast as it might be – giving them one starting year and one year per level as a measurement.

Then again, there are new gyms and there are new gyms. Some gyms are started by coaches just starting out in the sport, who have little coaching experience. Some new gyms are started by coaches, who have had successful high level coaching careers working at other gyms, and finally have decided to open their own gym, or have finally acquired the financial resources to open their own gym. The likely team and gymnast success of those two very different scenarios will be very different.

In general, the only real indication that a gym is capable of producing Elite gymnasts (there are currently less than 50 Elites in the whole country) is if the coaches and the gym have produced Elites already. Otherwise, you are just hoping that a new gym will be able to do so, without any real evidence that they can.

I have no idea of the circumstances of your current gym and coaching and their previous coaching success or lack of it. I do always recommend that parents put their gymnast in the best possible program from the very beginning or as early as they can. With your daughter’s apparent talent, you should certainly investigate the possibilities available to you and her. Changing gyms is never easy, but it will certainly not get any easier later.

You should evaluate your current gym’s coach’s former coaching experience and I think it is always a good idea to know your options, so you might want to visit and even try out any other successful gyms in your area. In general, any gym currently producing Elite gymnasts, should be on your list to investigate. If there are no Elite gyms in your area, the next criteria is how many winning Level 10 National gymnasts has a gym produced.

Your daughter did not start particularly early in gymnastics, so time is actually somewhat critical. She has a long way to go to get to the Elite/Olympic level and only five years until her “natural” Olympics in 2016, when she is both old enough and has not yet graduated from high school and gone on to college, or gone to work. You would be wise to get her in the best program that you can, as soon as you can, to allow her the chance to be all she can be. That may be the gym she is currently in, if the coaches have previous coaching successes at a high optional level or at another gym with a proven track record of Level 10/Elite success.

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