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Moving Up The Levels

Moving up the levels

It is SOOO important to have the right timing with moving up the levels in gymnastics. If you move kids up the levels too quickly then they may get frustrated, find it too hard, and may even want to quit. If you keep them at the same level, they may get bored and need more of a challenge.

Some gyms have their own criteria for what a gymnast must score in order to move up to the next level. It is usually a big deal when your daughter is told what level she is going to compete during the next season. Sometimes everyone in your daughter’s group will train the new level in the summer and then the decision is made prior to the beginning of the season which level your daughter will compete that season.

My oldest daughter Sam did two seasons of Level 4 AND two seasons of Level 5. Jessie did one season of Level 4 and two seasons of Level 5. Some of their teammates moved up more quickly.  At the time, I was frustrated they were not “staying with the group” and moving up to the next level. However, what I learned after looking back on the situation, is repeating a level was the best thing that could have happened to each of them. They developed confidence, got a taste of success and mastered the basics. They were able to quickly progress through the levels after their slow start. Oh yeah, and they caught up with their group, so that was not a big deal.

I know it is stressful when the coach tells you that your daughter could benefit from another season at their current level. However, the coach is working with your daughter in the gym at every practice and knows her struggles, fears and maturity in the sport. The coach is usually the best judge as to which level she should compete. My advice is to trust the coach.

My daughters are perfect examples of gymnasts who benefitted from staying at the levels a little longer and mastering the basics before moving up. They zoomed quickly through Levels 6-10 (although some gymnasts will zoom through compulsories and then get struck at a higher level a little longer). They all progress at their own rate and speed.

Sam was a Level 10 at age 11 and Jessie was a Level 10 at age 14. Both of them made JO Nationals and went on to earn full ride gymnastics scholarships – Samantha went to UCLA and Jessie went to Western Michigan University.

So, just because your daughter is not progressing with the rest of the group or moving up the levels as quickly as you would like, remember that she can still go on to reach her full potential.

Have patience and stay positive.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Thanks Luann for this blog as it is always a wonder if the gymnast is in the right place . My question is were Sam’s L4 routines/skills in her developmental years comparable to which level in the current routines . L3 ? If she repeated her L4 years , I am curious what foundational skills at that time were important not to jump right over . Thanks !

    1. When Sam did Level 4 that was the very first competitive level — there were no Level 1-3 competitive levels back in her day. On vault she did a handspring (it was on the old vault), on bars she did a glide kip, mill circle and underswing dismount, on beam a handstand and a handstand dismount (which was always tricky) and on floor a back extension and a round off back handspring.

  2. I’m confused. Having been in the sport for over 34 years as a competitive gymnast, coach and judge, how could your daughter go through 2 years of level 4, 2 years of level 5, plus 5 more levels by age 11??? That’s 9 seasons. Plus USAG doesn’t allow them to compete sanctioned meets until age 6?

    Personally, I feel too many are being pushed too hard too soon to be at these levels. It is too damaging to their growing bodies to practice and condition so much.

    1. Sam did 2 seasons of Level 4 and 5, not 2 years. She did Level 8 and 9 in the same season – so that is how she got to Level 10 at a young age. That fast track is definitely not for everyone!

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