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Old 09-28-2012, 10:39 AM   #8
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Re: Talk to me about competitive gymnastics

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Originally Posted by z2akids View Post
Anyway, I'm looking for thoughts on moving from purely rec gymnastics to the early competitive stages. Are we in for total craziness? We have 2 older boys who are very involved in their sports and Scouts, so we are used to lots of activity and juggling schedules, etc. That aspect doesn't worry me. We are just used to team activities or non-competitive dance. So, the whole individual gymnastics is exciting and scary.
It depends a lot on the gym and the coaches. I was a competitive gymnast from age 8 to 15, and certain coaches were looking for high-level winners willing to "Suck up the pain!", and others were okay with "you tried your best sweety." Some parents didn't like letting their kids work with the tougher coaches, while others wanted their kids to be pushed to succeed.

I recommend thinking about how much you want your child to be challenged, and then attend some practices without your daughter and watch the coaches with other (especially slightly older) kids. How do you feel about people giving, or not giving her sympathy when she's in pain? How do you want her to be spoken to? Is yelling okay? Is being teased by an adult okay? We had a coach at my gym who couldn't stand it when girls complained about pain, even silently. If he saw you wince because of a callous while you practiced on the uneven bars he would march over, grab your hand, and rip the callous off. He only had to do it once to a girl to get his point across. Another coach would tease girls when they messed up, yelling that they were losers and should just go home and sit on the couch and get fat. When I didn't stretch hard enough my coach would physically sit on me (while stretching), or grab my legs and hold them in a stretch. These aren't horror stories, personally I wouldn't put my son in gymnastics unless the coaches were going to be very tough. And, again, not all coaches are like that. So find out who coaches the competitive groups and go watch practices for kids at least 1 or 2 levels up, so you can see what the coach is like as your daughter progresses and things get more difficult. A coach may seem very sweet at level 3, but be a total tyrant once she hits level 7. And since most kids form a bond with their coach and stick with them for a while you will want to know that.

That said, it is fun and it is great for her body and her brain!
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Last edited by Palooka; 09-28-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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