Should Daughter Move Up

Subject: Should Daughter Move Up

Dear Coach,

We want to know if our daughter should move up to Level 5 or stay another year in Level 4 to better learn the skills and have more competitive success.

The USA Gymnastics Level 4 was not originally designed to be an inter-gym competitive level. The Level 4 set of routines was designed, like Levels 1 – 3, to be used within a gym. It was turned into a competitive Level to increase the overall numbers of gymnasts who could do enough gymnastics to do these routines.

USA Gymnastics did this to increase their membership rolls and revenues and, in this, they were successful. We are not opposed to this concept of building the sport, but the problem is that many of the skills in Level 4, especially on bars, are not used at all in higher level gymnastics. Level 4 vaulting doesn’t even use the official vault table.

The routines were designed to be simple enough for a large number of gymnasts to be able to do, not as a training system to develop higher level gymnastics. While this is somewhat true of all of the Compulsory levels (that not all of the skills lead to higher level gymnastics), Level 4 is particularly this way.

So, first of all, your daughter should move up (instead of “mastering” Level 4) so she will be working on more skills that will actually be used later on in her gymnastics career.

Second of all, we do not believe (except under extraordinary conditions, like a serous long-term injury), that gymnasts should spend more than one year at any level.

We don’t know your daughter’s age, but project out yourself to six years from now. That’s how old your daughter will be when she is a Level 10 (if she moves up at one level per year). Staying at one level more than one year will delay reaching the higher levels, either temporarily or even eventually permanently.

It is much easier to move up one level per year at the lower (Compulsory) Levels, than it is say to move up from Level 8 to Level 9, since the difficulty of the skills is much higher and they are harder to learn and take longer to learn. So we certainly don’t want to dawdle around at the lower levels.

As we also recommend in the book, we suggest that coaches and gymnasts work on more than just the skills for the current year. Gymnasts should be getting as big a head start working on higher level skills as they can to prepare for those bigger Level jumps later on.

The above information relates to the goals we have for gymnasts in the sport. We want to develop high level gymnasts (Level 10 and Elites) and to allow gymnasts the opportunity to go as far in the sport as they are capable. And we run and advocate a training program that fits those goals.

Please note that not all gyms, gymnasts and programs have the same goals so they might have a different philosophy and training program. But this is the professional advice and experience we have to give and to share with others who have similar goals as we do.

Hope this helps and we wish your daughter good luck.

Reader Response

Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question! I am so impressed with the thought you have given to this, and I feel very surprised and enlightened by your answer! My daughter is only 7, and has already spent two years on level 4… There is some talent there, but she feels “stuck” this year on level 4, and I had thought about asking them to move her up next year, hoping she would mature and “get” the skills better as she grows (she is very tiny). Now I am confident in my decision, thank you so much – and I will be recommending your business to all the other moms in the program!!!

If there is anything else we can help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank-you for your interest in our products.

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