Subject: Jumping from Level 5 to Level 7
Our daughter is currently on level 5, scoring around a 35/36. Her and her coach tells us that she has all of her level 6 skills. The coach has given us 2 options. Option one is to stay where we are and try to qualify for state. Option two is to forget about state, sign her up for a level 6 meet in Dec., and attempt to get the required score of 31. Then she would train her for level 7 for the spring season. We don’t want to hold her back, but it also feels like a huge jump. What do you suggest?
First, you should be happy that your coach is giving her options. Second, you should be even more happy that your coach is thinking about getting your daughter into an optional level as soon as possible. Third, you should be happy that your coach believes that your daughter can be ready for level 7 for the spring season.
The Jump from Level 5 to Level 7 is Not That Big
There are less than 10 skills in Level 6 that are different than Level 5. The vault is the same and the other routines are very similar. To move up to Level 7, many gymnasts still do the same vault, add one new skill (giants) on bars, add a new series and different dismount on beam and slightly upgrade their tumbling for floor. Again, the jump from Level 6 to Level 7 really requires less than 10 new skills and skill combinations. That certainly is not a huge, unmanageable jump. And gymnasts love the chance to have their own individually choreographed routines, showcasing the skills they do best and look the best on them.
A Jump from Level 5 to Level 7 – That is Big
I am a firm believer in getting gymnasts to the optional level as soon as safely possible. Not all compulsory gymnastics skills are used in higher level optional gymnastics, so getting to the optional level makes a lot of sense. A big jump would be a girl that we had, who after a great training summer and at the beginning of the next season, with the cooperation of the meet director and state director, and literally competed three different levels in one meet – Level 5, Level 6 and her level of that year – Level 7. She even won events and medals at all three levels. Now that was a big jump.
A Third Alternative
There is a third alternative. Your daughter could actually compete Level 6 while training for Level 7. Our Russian coaches, successfully and safely, had all our compulsory gymnasts training for high level optional gymnastics about 95% of the time, but they competed whatever compulsory level they happened to be at that year. Your daughter could actually stay competing at level 6, until she is ready to compete Level 7.
What Do I Suggest?
Since your coach, who is in the gym, and knows your daughter’s capabilities has suggested the possibility for this jump from Level 5 to Level 7, she must believe your daughter is capable of handling it. In the long run, if a gymnast averages moving up one level per year during their career, your daughter evidently has the potential to move up higher and faster than the average gymnast. You are lucky your coach is giving her this opportunity and, if it were me, I would take advantage of it. Regardless of how well she does at Level 7 this year, she has a head start on most gymnasts for the next year.
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