Switching Gyms for More Hours

Subject: My daughter and her training hours

Sex: female
Age: Just 7
Gymnastics Level: Development – UK

Hi

I live in the UK and my daughter is currently training at Development Level at her local club. My question is not related our system, but a concern I have about her training and club.

Her club is a very established club and has a good reputation and currently our men are very successful at commonwealth level and look like they will represent the UK at 2012 Olympics.

But my daughter currently trains for 4 hours a week and is at a level that she forward walkovers on high beam and floor and has just started to backflip on her own on floor and has taken it straight to beam. Her coach is very happy with her progress and is trying to secure more training hours for the group.

The head coach won’t allow the group to do more hours and my daughter, espeically cannot develop any further as there is not enough time. The group is made up of very different levels from some who are struggling to back walkover on the floor, my daughter and an older gymnast who is slightly more advanced that my daughter.

I have phoned the gym to try to discusss my daughter’s training with the head coach, who is meant to be very approachable, but she has not returned my calls and although we were told by the head coach my daughter would have another opportunity to trial elite I am getting no where on arranging this and neither is her coach.

I don’t what to do, my daughter is very determined and is stating all the time that I can do all and more than the elite and just as well and why she not in that group.

I don’t know what to do, we are considering looking at another club which is of the same standard in the area. Do you think this is the best thing to do?
Your advice would be appreciated, so a response would be appreciated.

Two Gyms in Your Area Producing High Level Gymnasts/Olympic Level Gymnasts?

First, consider yourself very lucky if you have two clubs in your area that have gymnasts training at same high level – the Olympic level. That is a luxury few gymnasts and parents anywhere in the world have. Most parents and gymnasts have no club in their area that is producing that high a level athlete. You should consider yourself very fortunate.

Should You Consider Looking at Another club?

The answer is yes, even if you did not have other questions. Your job at your daughter’s age is to get her in the best program at as young an age as possible. For you, that means the best women’s program available. It is all well and good if the gym you are at is producing Olympic male gymnasts, but that doesn’t necessarily do your daughter any good. You want the best women’s program available to your daughter. This is a decision you will want to make once. You may not be welcome to continually switch back and forth between gyms, so you want to make the right decision the first time.

Gyms Have to Focus on 2012 Olympics

The gyms in the UK, that are capable of producing Olympic gymnasts, are in a once in a lifetime situation. Likely never again, will they get the opportunity to put gymnasts on the Olympic team for an Olympics in their own country. If everything else in the gym has to take a back seat to that, it is eminently understandable. And as much as the future of your daughter and the gym’s future team are at stake, that is still going to be overshadowed by the task of preparing for London 2012.

Four Hours of Training is Not Much

Even at your daughters young age, 4 hours per week is not much training for a team gymnast. Many recreational gymnast have almost as many hours as that, just in their recreational program. Her next few years can be extremely critical in her long-term development as a gymnast and may even determine the course of her gymnastics career. So I would not take no or no response for an answer and would continue to lobby for more hours in your current gym.

Look at your Options

I am not interested in telling parents to switch gyms from my distant (and not even good) vantage point. I do think, however, that you would not be doing your daughter justice, if you did not investigate what her options were. Take a look at the other gym. Have them look at your daughter. have them tell you what they can do for your daughter, now and in the future. Compare the programs and see what seems to be the best option for your daughter over the course of the next 10 years of her career. Like I said, you will not likely want to make this same decision again later (and you may not be welcomed back once you leave), so you will want to make sure you are considering all of the aspects.

What to Base Your Decision On?

As I said, usually parents are just looking to find the best gym in their area and usually there is one rather obvious choice. My criteria and choice would be based on which gym produces the best and most high level female gymnasts. That would override the hours problem you are currently experiencing concern with. If one gym or the other produces more high level, especially Olympic level gymnasts, then that is the program I would want my daughter in, regardless of any questions about the program at the lower levels.

The Funnel System

If a gym consistently produces high level optional gymnasts, it is usually because they have talented coaches, who have implemented a long-term (in your daughter’s case that means an 8 – 10 year program) for gymnasts to achieve the highest level. If the coaching and a successful system is in place, you want your daughter to feed into that program and see if she has what it takes to come out on top. The system is already working, and the only question is then, whether your daughter will come out on top.

What is the Gym Hierarchy?

Depending on who owns or manages the gym, perhaps you should be talking to the gym owner, instead of coaches to get your answer. Regardless, you will want to tread lightly since you may be depending on these same coaches for the success of your daughter’s future gymnastics career.

Hours Now or Long-Term Success

To make a decision to leave a program that successfully produces high level gymnasts, because you are not happy about the number of hours she is getting at the beginning of her career or because you are not getting enough attention from coaches, who are perhaps preparing for the peak gymnastics event in their lifetime, would seem to me to be a mistake. I am not saying to not lobby for more hours and attention for your daughter. I am saying make your decision based on larger factors than the one that is now concerning you.

Summary

So, my advice is to consider your options and at least check out the other gym. Compare the two gyms on the basis of which prepares the most and the best high level/Olympic female gymnasts. Continue to lobby for the best for your daughter, regardless of which gym you are at, but take the advice of the coaches who have already produced the type of gymnasts you would like your daughter to become. Plan on studying your options well, because you may only get one chance to pick the best gym. It will be harder, not easier, to change gyms later or to try to change back. Good luck!

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