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Competitive Gymnastics for Young Girls: What to Expect

Kristi has been a competitive gymnastics coach for 25+ years and has coached levels 3-10 to state, regional, western and national titles.

Madison Desch started her gymnastics career as a gymnast with me! Madison is performing a switch-ring leap.

Madison Desch started her gymnastics career as a gymnast with me! Madison is performing a switch-ring leap.

The Good

Gymnastics is one of the most beautiful and dynamic sports in the world. Less than three percent of all young girls will successfully compete in what USA Gymnastics considers the "age group" program. This program is the precursor to the Elite level of gymnastics. Little girls have about a 1:300,000 chance of making it to the Olympics, but if you ask these aspiring young ladies in the age group program, many of them will tell you that their ultimate dream is to be an Olympic gymnast. Gymnastics is in the top three most-watched Olympic events!

Why gymnastics? Did you know that gymnastics develops 26 multiple intelligences in children? What's multiple intelligence? Thank you, Google. The benefits are tremendous. It's an "all body" sport that develops muscle memory, strength, flexibility, kinesthetic and haptic awareness, depth perception, socialization, discipline, organization, prioritization, internal motivation, respect, and the list goes on.

If you are lucky enough to find a coach who is a fantastic role model, your gymnast will also gain wonderful life lessons because coaches become pseudo-parents since they spend a great deal of time with the athletes. As gymnasts move up into higher levels, they spend more and more time in the gym, and often times they will spend more time with their coach than they do with their parents. Trust? Yes, it can be a scary extension but a necessary incision.

Gymnastics is the type of sport that once you commit to it, it's in your blood forever. There is no "gray area." It's very black and white in the sense that you either do it or you don't. It instills a sense of purpose and duty because the athlete works for herself and for the team. From an early age, kids can learn the value of doing a "job" and a sense of duty.

In this day and age, parents often dig their heels into this type of motivation however having a sense of accomplishment is a wonderful thing for a child. All of the toys and candy and "things" you can give a child could never replace or outlast for that kiddo to know how good it feels that she's done something well.


Things to Know Before You Select a Gym

If you are searching for a competitive gym, look for the following characteristics:

  • Is it brightly colored and kid-friendly?
  • Is the staff at the front desk friendly and helpful?
  • Check out the equipment in the gym: there should be 2-3 sets of bars, 4-8 beams, a full 40x40 spring floor, and at least one vaulting table.

Questions you should ask:

  • Does the gym compete as a USAG (USA Gymnastics) team?
  • Are all of the team coaches USAG certified?
  • What is the highest level of gymnast they have competing in the gym?
  • How long have their coaches been at their gym and how long have their coaches been coaching gymnastics?
  • Do their coaches receive continued training on a regular basis through regional or national congresses?
  • Do they have any policies about children missing work-outs?
  • Is your child is required to attend every gymnastics meet?
  • Do they have a team handbook or an R&P (Rules and Policies)?
  • Is there a liability release? (If so, make sure you READ CAREFULLY before signing.)
  • Is there an estimated expense sheet for the entire season?
  • Is there a tentative meet schedule with estimated prices for each meet for the entire season?
  • Is there a Booster club? Booster clubs are a wonderful thing when they are independent entities from the gym.
  • Does the gym host meets, and if they do, are parents required to work at the meets?
  • Are there specific requirements for how the gymnast must wear her hair during competition?
  • What style of teaching do the coaches use? Do they use drills? or Is it a "go-and-throw" method (this type of gym you want to steer clear of)?
  • Is there a lot of positive reinforcement?

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most of these questions won't be questions because you will know if you are at a reputable gym. If you are new to the world of competitive gymnastics, you will undoubtedly have many questions. If the coaches or administrative staff are disinclined to answer, I would find another gym.

The welfare and future of your child's competitive gymnastics career are important. If you are met with hesitation in getting clear and concise answers, move on. There are great gyms in every city and every region.

It's not just dreams anymore.

It's not just dreams anymore.

The Hard Part

If your daughter has been asked to join a competitive gymnastics team you should know that you are making a life choice. It is a choice that will affect your entire family. If your gym has a team handbook make sure you read it cover to cover. Don't skim! Read it! Especially if you have to sign a team contract. Many times you will find that your tuition fees are non-refundable if your daughter quits and you have signed a contract. Do your homework. Some typical expenses you should expect are:

  • Leotard fees ($150-$300 each)
  • T-shirt and paraphernalia fees ($100+)
  • Warm-up fees ($75+)
  • Booster Club fees ($500+)
  • Travel expenses
  • Coaches compensation fees
  • Tuition fees
  • Additional equipment fees (therabands, wrist weights, ankle weights, kettlebells)
  • Team event fees

If your gymnastics club offers fundraisers, participate in them because it helps ease the financial burden. Competitive gymnastics can be very expensive.

The highest level of gymnastics requires what I consider a "total package athlete" to be very successful. By definition, that means a gymnast has to be physically strong, mentally stable, emotionally sound, and have an excellent support system at home. Kids who have a lot of fears are not good candidates for competitive gymnastics. They may be able to do recreational gymnastics but because of the nature of how skills grow, adapt, and become higher, faster, and more powerful, in nearly all cases, that fear will rear its ugly head and their progress will plateau.

Gymnasts who don't have the "total package," who may be lacking one of the qualities I suggested, can still be successful if they are committed to being a gymnast and to continuing to make progress. In my entire career of 25 years, I have come across three of this type of athlete. Only one of them is competing at the international level right now. However, I have coached many athletes to State, Regional, Western, and National titles, so it is possible to be successful in gymnastics without all the perfect pieces.

©copyright ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2012

©copyright ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2012

The Not-So-Good

Gymnastics can be brutal to a child's body, mind, and emotions. If you choose a gym that has a high rate of success, chances are, you might encounter a coach that has what I consider a "zero tolerance" policy for every child. They don't recognize that children are unique and different. They see kids as robots and expect them to perform exactly the same without regard to any outside influences.

This type of coach will expect the athlete to work out and compete when she is injured and may have unrealistic expectations. I've seen coaches single out athletes for being late to gymnastics meets by verbally berating them in front of the entire team. The last time I checked, 10-year-olds were not legally permitted to drive, so in my opinion, that conversation should have taken place with the parent, not the child.

Gymnastics can also be taxing on a child's body. Statistically, the United States Elite Coaches Association has done numerous studies in reference to gymnastics injuries and how to prevent them. They are breaking ground on preventative measures and a lot of certified coaches are following suit. The problem is that it takes time to condition the body.

On average, a new conditioning program should be altered every six weeks with progress being shown at the same interval. The problem with conditioning is over-use. If the coach doesn't have a well-designed conditioning plan the athletes suffer. If several athletes are experiencing the same type of bodily pain, it may be due to a conditioning failure.

Visit the USECA website at the bottom for more detailed information about the United States Elite Coaches Association.

All Rights Reserved

All Rights Reserved

To Compete or Not to Compete?

Competitive gymnastics is not for everyone. It requires a sizable time commitment from at least one parent and as I stated earlier, it can be expensive. If your child is asked to be on a competitive gymnastics team and she is only four years old, don't fret about her age. If you are at a quality gym, they will take excellent care in teaching her properly. Most likely your young daughter will be starting out in Level 1, 2, or 3, which are really just about having fun and learning to compete. Depending on which competitive region you are in, once they hit Level 4, that's when the real competition starts. (See link below to USA Gymnastics.)

Gymnastics is not the "dangerous" sport that people make it out to be. All sports come with injuries, that's the nature of competition. Competition can cause anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and pain, but so can romantic love. Kids hanker for competition because they like to feel proud of themselves and let's face it, winning is fun. If you are at a crossroads about whether or not you should allow your child to compete, find someone who was a competitive gymnast and ask them their opinion. Then start searching for the right gym!

Final thought: Don't assume that because your daughter does beautiful cartwheels in the front yard and climbs the walls that she has the talent of Shannon Miller. Allow the coaches to do the evaluating. When your daughter is asked to join the team, allow the coaches to do the coaching. They are the experts!

Good luck!

If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way!

©copyright ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2012

©copyright ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2012

© 2012 Kristi Sharp


Kayli on April 16, 2020:

gymnastics is amazing i've been wanting to do it my whole life but it's so hard yet the gymnasts make it seem so easy.What gym should i go to where i don't need to do competitions?

Karen on January 16, 2020:

My granddaughter has been doing gymnastics for 3 years she is on a team and does good when do you think she should have a personel coach she is 7

Sarah on November 17, 2019:

Make sure you get a rec coach that has gymnastic or tumbling experience if you want your child to make team. Many gyms will train people to teach rec and they go to team with horrible habits that are hard to break.

Leslie on November 11, 2019:

What anout a coach that is always comparing 2 certain gymnasts to the rest of the team. For example, you need to work harder like so and so. Or says things like your not a hard worker, your irresponsible. And is constantly putting most kids down in front of the other gymnasts? These kids are ages 8 to 11.

Jessie on October 11, 2019:

I have been teaching gymnastics for 15 years or longer and i am not "certified". I have been told I was the best instructor and managed the classes assigned to me the best and several parents pointed this out to me. They also pointed out that since i had started working with their child they had progressed and learned new skills. I have noticed the current place I am employeed likes to put children in levels that they dont have the skills for, or they will move them to a higher level they are not ready for. I see them regress when this happens. I have also been told not to teach detailed or so structured by owner. I know no other way. Lol. He gives too much credit to a couple people that also work there and they have been the ones teaching these kids that i have been teaching and i have had to work with them to get the skills they should of already had. I have also notice that one coach only pays any attention to the oldest girls on the team. All the other kids, and other classes don't seem to be in any thought kr priority of theirs. So I dont see why they move a child to a higher level right after I say, "No they can not do their back walk over." This child has a lot of potential but i feel has been neglected by coaches and taught and coached half assed!! She should of stayed with me a couple more months at least! But it ia whatever. One day i will have money. ;)

Rosa on November 02, 2018:

Looking for a great gymnastics where my daughter can built up her skills , and even compete. Any recommendations please let me know. In the area of NY

Zavieanna jean Johnson on October 12, 2018:

I think I’m ready for Olympic gymnastics and this is the program for me and from here I might even get farther than I think !

Kathy on August 26, 2018:

Hi again. My daughter turned 3 four months ago. She is now in advanced gymnastics. These girls are much older but my daughter also is doing all the skills in thia class. There are some things she cant completely do by herself like a pull over or backward roll but she can now do a press handstand without her head on the ground, preashand on the beam starting from the floor as well as a split. I am not sure what they will do next with her since she has very complicated skills mastered and some light skills not. Due to her age she sometimes get side tracked and starts dancing and being goofy but then goes when its her turned. I dont want her to distract the other kids but they seem to love her personality. I am scared about cost. I already have my older girl doing team but she started late in age and my younger one does 3 times a week and looks foward to it. I dont want her to ger burnt out on it too. Im not sure what to do at this point. Any suggestions on the routw i should take.

Lisentume on July 20, 2018:

My daughter started 10 months ago in level 1. She turned 6 1 wk ago and still in level 1. Its like she got to a certain point and didnt progress. I increased her training to twice a week and even do personal training. I am torn because its all SHE wants to do. What do i do? Find another center?

Tamara on June 13, 2018:

Hi what can I do to help

My daughter have flair .she is 11 years old she started doing gymnastics at the age of 9 . we are all the way in Jamaica she is learning level 4 usag now but she missing something in her routine

Paula Riley on May 21, 2018:


We’ve in Canada and my daughter age 9 started as a level 1 gymnast 2 years ago, did level 2 this past year and is now going to level 3. I wish I read this article 2 years ago! My question is around “body type” my daughter has a very solid body and does not look like a pixie, she has been this way her entire lIfe so far. Her coach is now holding her back saying she can’t try certain skills due to her size, skills she does with ease at home. I’m not sure how to handle the situation, any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Pravin on May 06, 2018:

My daughter is 8 years old and a level 2 Gymnast, recently he coach told us that she has Knocked Knee and marginally flat footed . She is not the best in the Gym however very hard working and loves the sport. She wants tp continue it. We are also looking for other sports where she can exel with the 3 years work she put in to gymnastics.Can you suggest some other sports that she can try along with Gymnastics. Pl suggest. Thanks in advance.

eriniah on April 16, 2018:

i really really want to do gymnastics

Anel martinez on April 10, 2018:

Thank you

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 09, 2018:

Anel martinez, my email is Feel free to email me with any questions, comments or concerns at any time. Best, -K

Anel martinez on April 09, 2018:

Kristi,thank you very much for all the information you share with us. Could you give me your email please?

Anonymous on April 07, 2018:

This is unique.

Dana Gauthreaux on March 14, 2018:

Kristi, Thanks for responding. I sent an email to your gmail account. Please let me know if you didn't receive it.

Thanks again


Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on March 12, 2018:

Hi Dana, Thanks for reading and commenting. Will you email me at I have some information and ideas for you. Thanks, -K

Dana Gauthreaux on March 12, 2018:

Hi, I stumbled upon this article and the comments and it totally spoke to me! I am at a crossroads right now with my daughters gymnastics. She is 8 years old and has competed in level 2 last year at her first gym and is about to compete at the state meet for level 3 this year for a new gym. She isn't great but can hold her own. She's gotten 1st and 2nd on beam and consistently places on bars. She has had over 9's on vault but has always struggled with floor. She is very strong but lacks shoulder flexibility which limits her handstand bridge kickover and back handspring.

Anyway, the gym she is at now has lost 2 coaches since we started and the owner has mentioned that she plays way too much and that's part of the reason she hasn't progressed more. I know she can be very goofy and can be a handful, but I wasn't aware her behavior was such a problem. She does seem more immature compared to some of the other girls on her team and while she loves gymnastics and adores her team mates, she doesn't seem to have the drive to really commit and be super competitive. I have no delusions that she will be an elite or collegiate gymnast. Her highest AA score has been 35.65. So I'm now wondering what is the best option. Do I keep her in JO and have her try to make it to level 4(I don't think the owner has confidence that she can do it)? Do I try to have her repeat level 3 and work hard on her shoulders? But what I'm really kicking around with is letting her go back to her old gym and go to the xcel program. She would miss her friends but I don't want her constantly struggling to keep up. The time and financial commitment is also a serious factor for my child who hasn't ever gotten over a 9.2 on an event. There are gyms in my area that the girls in her level consistently get 37 and 38's AA, she just can't compete with that and it breaks my heart to watch her finish 7th at a meet out of 10 girls. The times that she has done well and placed on events the look of pride on her face just fills my heart with so much happiness for her.

I would very much appreciate any advice you can give me. Just a few years ago I never thought I'd be agonizing over decisions about what was suppose to be a fun after school activity lol

Thanks in advance

Regina Dennett on March 04, 2018:

Hi I have 9 year old daughter who's been with the same gymnastic gym for about 3 years the gym barely got a competitive team going .which my daughter apart of the girls,range from 8-14 I think level 3 they all scored good enough to make state but they score on the lower end. My daughter is hardworking very driven and puts her all in anything she does. She likes her coach which is going to be barely 18,her mom helps run the gym once a week. My daughter gets frustrated because she feels like she's not doing will has only got participation awards which she finds embarrassing because her gym is last ranked in everything. She wants to be a competitive contender. Should I move her or have her stick through it with the team she has now. Gymnastics I don't know much about.

Tamica on February 25, 2018:

My daughter did gymnastics when she was 3 or 4. Her cousin did cheer and she wanted to try cheer. She did cheer for two and half years. We went back to gymnastics March 2017. They put her on team right away. She did level 3 Sept- Nov. She has been training level 4. She is doing level 4 next week and the plan is for her to train level 5 and compete level 5 in Sept. What can I expect for her? Her dream was to go to the Olympics. All the athletes I seen go to the Olympics move to another state or go to these gyms that have trained Olympians. I love the gym we are at. We won't be moving for her to train with a coach like Chow or anything. I know it is hard to make it to the Olympics. What about the national team?

Jennifer on January 15, 2018:

Can my girl come

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 11, 2018:

SusanMPM, please email me at my email address. I definitely want to speak to you about what is going on with your daughter. Best, Kristi

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 11, 2018:

Rockin rus, please email me at my email address. I have more information for you.

Inda Fields on January 10, 2018:

Is it free and i got a sis that 9

SusanMPM on December 18, 2017:

My 8 year old is a level 3 gymnast and doesn't like one of her coaches because once she threatened to kick her off the team for being silly while waiting in line to practice a skill. All the girls on her team have a hard time going on the day the have this coach, but especially my girl. And now she's getting very nervous before meets and talking about wanting to quit. If she decides in another year or 2 that she wants to return to usag, can she do that at another gym, if she tries out and makes the team? I know how much she loves the sport and level of activity, but her head isn't in it. I told her she needs to finish her season because she isnpart of a team, but then I am happy to have her try other sports if she leaves.

I also want her to have the choice to return to usag if she wants to, at another gym with a different coaching team.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 13, 2017:

Kathy, Thank you for reading and commenting. Since she is so young I would definitely take your time. I understand that you believe she is doing those skills perfectly however even level 10 athletes have to continuously work those basic skills for them to be good. I would go watch her classes and see if you believe that she is bored. That's a dangerous word to use for such a little athlete because there are so many things that a teacher can do to continuously challenge them and keep them involved and having fun. At her age gymnastics should be 100% about fun and fundamentals. At best, I would allow her to try the big kids class but as you know, the age, size and even physical needs are so different between a 2-3 year old and a 6-8 year old. I worry that your daughter will be either left out or will become the total focus. Neither of those are great outcomes. Whatever you decide I wish you the best of luck. -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 12, 2017:

Rosie, Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. The benefits of children learning gymnastics are truly priceless and last a lifetime. Kids will learn skills that range from socialization, group dynamics, organization, problem solving, logic, self control, strength, flexibility, balance....the list is long. The beautiful thing about gymnastics is that it will benefit your kiddo in any other sport or activity that they choose for forever. Studies have shown that it helps kids develop better in school as well as athletically. Do I think that it's worth the money? You bet. It's an ALL-BODY sport that develops the mind too. If you want to touch base with me on a more specific level, feel free to email me from my home page. Best of luck -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 12, 2017:

Erik, Thank you for reading and commenting. I have no idea how many kids quit because they don't compete. I'm assuming you're asking because you're wondering how many kids are disappointed that they don't get the opportunity to compete however now with Excel and AAU that's happening a lot less. I would say that it's more likely that kids quit because they don't want to go the competitive route or because they are burned out. Great question. Thanks again. -K

Mariam on December 11, 2017:

I want to learn gymnastics

I love ot tell me if theirs space

Kathy on December 10, 2017:

My daughter is 2 years old and she started in July. She does a perfect cartwheel, round off, bridge and back bend kick over, 1 handed cartwheel, handstand and a press hand on her head though. They are moving her up to the intermediate class with the 6-8 year olds because they said she is bored and is ready to learn more. She is practicing her back hand spring which she does with back support. Do you think this class would be a good idea? She turns 3 in 4 months.

Rosie on November 22, 2017:

Can you speak more about the benefits of competitive gymnastics considering the expense it carries? My husband and I have very different opinions on this. We pay on average

Erik on November 13, 2017:

Any numbers on the ratio of athletes that drop the sport because they do not compete vs kids that do compete?

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on November 10, 2017:

Samantha Williams, thank you for reading and commenting. I would find a gym that has a long term team program and enroll her. Make sure she's in a class where she's learning and having fun because she's such a little dude. If you have more questions you can certainly email me any time. Best of luck. Thanks again. -K

Samantha Williams on November 10, 2017:

Hello Ms. Sharp. My name is Samantha Williams. I have a 2.5 year old daughter who has been crying to do some type of gymnastics. She has been watching YouTube videos of young gymnast. She has been asking me for a few months now so I finally decided to look into it. What do you recommend I do first? I have googled a gym that is not too far from out home.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on November 06, 2017:

Hi Lori, Thanks for reading and writing. I would suggest that you email me because I have a lot of questions for you. Level 8 is a tough level because the transition from level 7 can be tough. Additionally, they should be preparing for level 9 which is also demanding. A typical level 8 will train at least 20 hours a week and maybe more. It's very common for a gymnast to be hard on herself. It's the nature of the sport as it's so much about perfection. You're doing the right thing by not hovering. The best way to be supportive is to ask how practice is going. Be her biggest cheerleader and make sure she always seems to be enjoying it. She should always be healthy as well. Coaching qualities: Integrity, maturity, sportsmanship, calm, they should never "play favorites" with athletes, they should not use punishment as a means of motivation and they should be able to recognize when they are doing something that isn't working and fix it. I hope this helps. Thanks again. If you need more in-depth help, feel free to email me. -Kristi

JM on September 28, 2017:

Your article was really helpful, specially saying that all sports have their injuries. We'll my 7 yrs old is been in gymnastics for two yrs. She loves it. Her routine is getting more n more intense. And practising a back kick over she felt on her head n hurted her neck. She is good now but for a few seconds of terror i wondered if is worth it. Seeing her face like she was paralized.....the most terrible nightmare. But she doesnt want to quit. I know is me making the decision.... but is nothing easy....

Unknown on September 07, 2017:

I would love to compete

mia on September 05, 2017:

like it a lot.

Roro on July 04, 2017:

I really needed help I always feel bad about doing thing but what you said might help me

Angigi on June 09, 2017:

Hi. Can you explain the L10 bars requirement? I heard there is a single bar release requirement. Or can all the flight elements by bar to bar? Thanks very much.

Gobindo on March 02, 2017:

Thanks for sharing the information. Really I don't know the play name but today I am clear.

Gymnastics is the best game of Olympic play ground. I hope day by day increase of player Gymnastics program.

Emily on February 15, 2017:

Can you outline the difference in AAU and Team Levels?

Natalie on February 10, 2017:

Thanks. My daughter is pre team and just four and it is time to commit. I am not a gymnast and so making this decision when she is young seems early, Your info helped. Knowing it is not super competitive at this age is nice. She is in a very awesome gym with an awesome coach and she loves it, I just want her to keep loving it!

Naomi on February 06, 2017:

This article really helped me with my library research report

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 12, 2017:

Ginanoble, Thank you for reading and for commenting. The key is whether or not your daughter is having fun and it sounds like she is. I don't believe that two days a week is too much. For your younger daughter, can you enroll her in a second class? We do that at our gym. Just a suggestion. Best of luck to both your little gymnasts! -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 12, 2017:

CM, hello and thank you for reading my article. You are right, gymnastics is expensive and it only gets more costly as your daughter rises in levels, as you must well know. I don't suggest going to a rec program unless you can find an amazing "Excel" program which is an extension of USAG that allows girls to compete in a sort-of recreational way because typically a gym will have excel athletes workout fewer hours and often they don't travel. They also have less stress when it comes to the routines. Aside from that, the only thing I can think of is does your club have a booster club? Do they provide any fundraisers? Those can be very helpful but often time-consuming as well. If you have any additional questions you can definitely email me. Best of luck, -K

Ginanoble on January 11, 2017:

My daughters just started gymnastics. They are 3 and 5. My oldest turned 5 a few months ago. Is two days a week too much for a 5 year old? She would go every day if she could. The gym only offers 1 day a week for 3 year olds.

CM on December 13, 2016:

I enjoyed this article and the information you provided. I wish I had found it three years ago. My daughter has competed for 3 years and simply loves the sport. However, as a family we have become exhausted with the time and financial commitment. We have spent comparable to three years college tuition. I wish gyms would offer a recreational program that allows girls to learn skills at a competitive level. They don't seem to exist in Florida. Any ideas for the enthusiastic gymnast that doesn't want to put in the 15+ hours of training a week?

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 07, 2016:

Angigi, thank you for reading and commenting. Each athlete is different. For some, it may take one year to transition from level 9 to level 10. Others may spend 2 years at level 9. I am never a fan of rushing from one level to the next so if an athlete isn't prepared to move from level 9 to 10 then I would never suggest it for any reason. They should have a solid skill base and score well at regionals, westerns and should make it to nationals before they move on.

As far as colleges go, I believe that they are looking for what skills kids have and what events they excel at. Most of the time they are looking for kids who are good at beam and bars - because a lot of kids can do vault and floor well. What you should do is ask the colleges that your daughter is interested in what they are looking for. If your daughter is great in every event then she will have an advantage that other girls don't have. Don't worry that your daughter isn't acquiring enough level 10 years. Talk to the recruiter at the college. Best of luck and if you have other questions, you can email me at -K

Angigi on December 03, 2016:

Thanks for the article. I am very interested in your opinion and hope that you can help me out in this dilemma.

In your observation, how many years does it take to train from L9 to L10 and make it to JO National and place? Is one year realistic?

In your observation, are colleges interested in more years of L10 experience over fewer years but good performance in competition? I am asking as I see many college commits with many years of L10 competition but not necessary archiving high scores until later years, but yet colleges are choosing them over 1 or 2-year L10s who might have done similarly well in a shorter time frame. It seems so partially because they get committed early in Freshman year and no spots are left for later bloomers. What is your opinion on that?

Lastly, would you recommend scoring out L9 and going straight to L10 so as to get one more year of L10 on the resume and get started on recruiting efforts, even though this can possibly be a pretty good L9 year and the L10 results probably won't be stellar? I worry waiting another to start would mean end to college gymnastic dreams.

Thank you for your insights.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on October 07, 2016:

ellie, Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Congratulations on your big win! Keep up the great work kiddo! -K

ellie on October 06, 2016:

I do competitive gymnastics, I am 11, and I won gold in the state finals this artical is really fun to read!

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 18, 2016:

smharvill, Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm sorry for the late delivery and I'm sure you've figured out what to do. In my opinion, I would have chosen to compete a level 7 athlete just because it's a different level of competition - meaning it's the best of the best kiddos. She will be more prepared to be a level 8 and thus, if she makes it to level 8 regionals, she will understand that it's more difficult. I hope this helps. Again, sorry for the delay. -K

smharvill on November 03, 2015:

thanks so much for takng the time do give us so much info!

my daughter is 7 in level 2 and has her 1st state competition coming up here really soon. we just found out that it will be held on the same Sunday she has a special church presentation she has been working on for months. my question to you is, how important is the state competition? if she opts out will it hurt her going forward? are there points she gets from state? or does it qualify her for anything ? she pretyty much comoeted everyother competition so far.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on October 28, 2015:

Emma, First of all, thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately it's probably too late. Kiddos need to be competing level 8-10 at age 11 as opposed to just starting. I hate to crush anyone's dreams but I definitely encourage kids to continue to get involved in gymnastics because they can still enjoy the benefits of gymnastics when starting at 11 years old. Either way, best of luck and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. -Kristi

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on October 28, 2015:

Marc, Thanks for reading and commenting. I wouldn't worry about the hours of training. She will most likely be tired at first and may show it. It's not uncommon for kiddo to have a bit of shock to the system but she will adjust. It sounds as though she has made a choice and wants to give it a try. I would make sure she commits for an entire season and follows through so she can experience everything they go through. Best of luck and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. - Kristi

Emma on October 28, 2015:

Can you start gymnastics at 11 and still go to the Olympics

Marc on June 04, 2015:

Thanks for your post. Great stuff. I have a 6 year old daughter who has been asked to join a competitive team. She loves gymnastics and even we asked her whether she wanted to try other sports she says she wants to stick with gymnastics. As a parent, I think I must support her and she should give it a try since she wants to do it. My concern is the amount of hours training.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 30, 2015:

lilllian, If you decide to join a gymnastics team or have been working on recreational gymnastics, I hope you are able to start competing. Best of luck to you. -K

lilllian on April 30, 2015:

i want to compeet

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on March 03, 2015:

JB, thanks for reading and writing. I could write an article on the inefficiencies and mistakes of judging. Unfortunately it is a subjective job and unless a judge has the experience to recognize how differently tiny bodies perform than medium build and taller girls, it's just a guessing game. Plus there are "cute points" which are technically given for artistry but when a judge thinks the athlete is fun, bubbly and darling then they tend to score better. It's not unusual for the judges to give the host team a cushion since they are being paid by the host team but it should be consistent. You can always write to NAWJG and let them know how you feel as an anonymous spectator. Make sure you note which region you are in if you do. Just remember there is human error and few judges can see everything. If you have questions about how scoring works, feel free to ask. Best of luck -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on March 03, 2015:

Hi Diana, Thanks for reading and for sending me the message. I apologize for the delay. It sounds to me that there could be a couple of things going on here. It's a coach's job to inspire an athlete to learn and to grow. If she is being told that she should move down a level that is a threat and an unnecessary one. In my experience kids always fair better in a positive environment than they do under duress. I wouldn't worry that she's not practicing at home as long as she is still enjoying going to gymnastics. I wouldn't focus on her scores as opposed to setting small goals with her. Help her to work through her fears (because they are real and they don't just disappear) by setting small attainable goals that she has input in setting. What is her long term hope in gymnastics? How can you help her get there. Your job is to be her biggest fan, tough when it's warranted and always applaud the effort. Every progress, even the smallest moves, are a move in a positive direction so when she makes a correction or learns something new - then applaud. I sincerely believe that kiddos shouldn't have to do privates if the coaches are doing their jobs but in come cases - such as extreme fear or if a kiddo is going to regionals, westerns, nationals - they can be helpful. Do you have video of her routines? Go through them with her and start making a list of goals. If you still have time before state then you can isolate the small things she can change just by observing her own performance - tell her she's the coach and ask her what she would say to herself to make her routine better. If you need more help or have more questions please feel free to email me directly and I will get back to you asap. krsharp05@GMAIL.COM - Best of luck to you both, -K

JB on January 31, 2015:

Don't understand the judging ,seems the bigger an older girls don't get judged fairly as the smaller ones. Every competition I have gone to seems the host sites girls always gets better scores than the visiting teams . This is unfair judging . I have enjoyed going to the competition very much but I am losing interest in going with the judging going the way it has.

Diana on January 06, 2015:

Hello, I love all the advice you are giving....I'm hoping I can get the same. My daughter just turned 11 years old and is in level 5 team. She has been in gymnastics since 3 years old. Never really had a chance to "miss it" I guess. She is not the kind of kid with the "talent", skills don't come easy for her...I believe she was invited to team because she is an extremely hard worker. The gym she was in got too intense, she was not one of the "favorites" (many of you moms probably know what I mean by that) so she was falling behind very fast. I finished the year there (contract) and moved her to another gym. Since she fell behind, her confidence was extremely low. We decided she should stay at the same level for another year, so she could gain confidence. She built confidence throughout last year, she made states for the first time (ever). She placed 5th at a couple of meets which made her feel good (normally she would not place or place even lower). So this year she went up to level 5. She is doing well in the gym, but after 2 meets she has not made states yet. She is also starting to say things like "I'll never make states" or "I work so hard and still I can never get first, second or third place" . She has good coaches in this gym, although once in a while she'll hear a comment from a coach that says "maybe you should be a level 4" ....I notice the coaches sometimes put her to train with the level 6's and she seems to freak out every time they do that....she almost seems to shut down...and although she tries, is very scared of trying the new skills. I think the coaches see something in her, last year, her scores were the 3rd best of her team at almost every meet. They say she's holding back and I believe that too. She says she likes gymnastics, but she doesn't practice at home at all (most parents say their kids do). She always says she doesn't want to quit...but I don't always see her excited about going to the gym...however, while she's in class, she is always smiling and happy. She only cries if a coach yells at her (and that is very rare, since she's always working so hard...). So it is very hard for me to figure out how to boost her confidence in gymnastics. Her highest score was a 34.8 last year. The highest she has ever placed at a meet is 5th place. I'm afraid she will quit only because she feels she's working her hardest at the gym and still she can't win or place 2nd or 3rd. We also try to do about 1 private a month sometimes 2 if I can afford it...but lately the coaches have been so busy that I haven't been able to get a private for over a month. How would you advise me on handling this situation? I have no idea what to do at all!!! Any advise would be very helpful.

P.S. My apologies for the lengthy message...but I'm trying to give you as much info as possible....

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on October 09, 2014:

Jeremy, thanks for reading and for commenting. ABSOLUTEY NOT. Unless you have paid tuition in advance, you are not obligated in any way to stay at a gym. I would take your kiddo and move if you feel there is an issue. They cannot hold you to a contractual obligation in any way. Best of luck to you always. -K

Jeremy on October 07, 2014:

We had an issue with a coach and the strictness of the rules for our daughter at age 5 in a level 3 class. We told the gym we would like to pull her out of but they reminded us that we signed a 1 yr contract. Would this contract hold up in court?

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on June 22, 2014:

Hi Susie, Great to hear from you again. You shouldn't be concerned about your daughter making the move to competitive team even though it's a great deal more time. As long as she is enjoying herself, I say go for it. Keep in mind that there will be tough days and the total transition may take some getting used to but it's worth it. Keep in touch and good luck to the cherub! -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on June 22, 2014:

snerfu, thank you very much. I appreciate your compliment. Best -K

Susie keeler on June 22, 2014:

I have posted on here before and I love following this. My daughter has been in gymnastics for 15 months she made tag team but unfortunately we had to move before it started. When we moved to other town we just kept her in a normal class now they moved her to USA team level 3. She loves it but I'm concerned as to whether it was the right choice to skip tag she has never been to a meet before do you think that it's a good idea to skip that step. Her classes went from 2 days a week for 50 minutes to 2 1/2 hours 5 days a week. It's an adjustment I just do not want to get tired of it. Both gyms she has gone to says she is natural so I don't want her to get worn out

Vivian Sudhir from Madurai, India on June 22, 2014:

Gymnastics is fascinating and so is your hub. Good article.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 03, 2014:

pitcherbrandi, the criteria each gym uses to move an athlete from one level to the next is not universal. While there is an AA score that must be met, the gym can decide who moves and why. It is possible for an athlete to be an Elite gymnast without having gone through the TOPS program but it happens less often. That said, it does happen. Since your daughter is only 6 and a new level 3, I would let it play out for another season. It's okay to repeat a level to ensure an athlete is totally prepared and it's a healthy cycle to follow the normal USAG level system. Don't compare her to other kids training nearly twice as much as she does. That's not a proportional comparison. Remind her she's a terrific job because scoring almost a 36 is pretty darn good for a 6-year old. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. -K

pitcherbrandi on April 02, 2014:

My daughter is 6 years old and competing USAG "new" level 3 this year. This is her first year doing routines or competing at all. She does really well but seems to fall to the bottom of the "extremely talented group". The coaches are getting ready to pick for TOPS and it is apparent she is not in the picking. She only trains 7 hours a week and largely competes against other young TOPS girls who train 12-16 hours a week. At her first meet she was 8th out of 20 and at her second meet she was 5th AA (35.825) out of 14. Do the coaches when looking to move gymnasts up look at their consistency in competing? There are 11 girls in her age group at our gym and only 2 girls score better than her (both are over a year older and 1 is repeating the level). She gets disappointed to not get 1,2 or 3rd but it is hard to compare someone who trains twice as much or someone who has already done this level once. Is it possible anymore to go elite or hopes without first being in the TOPS program? It is extremely difficult know that your child is on the cusp of the more fast paced program but not quite there. Any advice on what to do or expect or how to deal would be appreciated. Thanks!

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 06, 2014:

Trinismom, I'm sorry for the confusion. What I mean is that you should continue to watch your daughter with the eyes of a protective mom but feel safe in knowing that you have her with coaches who know what they are doing. If at any time you have questions, ask her coaches face-to-face in private. If they ever hesitate to answer, I would consider that a red flag. I'm a big proponent of keeping athletes with coaches unless it's a safety issue or if it risks a child's personal well being. It sounds like your daughter has a real future in gymnastics so having quality coaching is critical. I hope things work out for the very best! -Kristi

TrinisMom from Georgia on January 06, 2014:

Hi and thanks so much for responding.

I will sit back and wait until the next season. I'm one of those mom's who has a lot of questions, and sometimes doubts. But I'd rather be well informed then not informed at all. But not to the point of where I don't want the coaches feeling like they're not doing their job. I know that they know what they're doing. Well her coaches at least. I just hope that I'm making the right move by keeping her here. I know every mom thinks that their daughter is talented, but mine really is. Her coach even acknowledged it. It's just hard to sit back and see her bored :( But I'll be patient and wait for the season to end, and see what happens next.

I do want to ask a question though. As far as you saying I should be patient but attentive. Can you elaborate on that for me please? I know what attentive means, but I'm asking in reference to this. Am I being attentive to my daughter, like being there for her and her needs? Thanks again! :)

P.S. I created an account, so my name shows as TrinisMom w/ the Georgia location.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 03, 2014:

Dear Linda, Thank you for the excellent comment. I'm glad you are discussing the difference between USAG and Xcel. While I personally prefer the USA Gymnastics program, please know that the Xcel program is an excellent program and ultimately, it's %100 about the coaching as opposed to the name. Whichever program you decide to put your daughter in (silver,gold or level 5) You should always opt for the best quality coaching that you can get. If you have the option to be with a high quality program and working with excellent coaches, you should consider moving at the appropriate time of the season. Coaches nearly always have a "method to the madness". You should be patient but attentive and go for the "Gold". Wait for level 5 to start at the start next season. Best of luck to your daughter! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. -K

Linda on January 01, 2014:

Hello. I'm not exactly sure how I came across this, but I'm SO glad I did. My daughter really began gymnastics when she was 6 (summer of 2011), and was doing a Hot Shots class. They then moved her to Level 2/3 in the winter of that year (she was 7 at the time). I'd gotten a new job (Feb of 2012), and because of the hours, it got to be a bit overwhelming for her. And right before she was able to test for Level 4 (Mar/Apr 2012), she quit. I was disappointed, but I listened to her and let her. She watched the Olympics and got inspired again, and went back to that old gym in August of that year. She wanted to start at the rec class, but they watched her during the "play/rec" time, and suggested she go back to Level 2/3. She did, and stayed in that level for a month and a half, and was asked to join Level 4 (Oct 2012 - she'd just turned 8). Unfortunately, because of when she came into the team, she was unable to compete. The next year is when they changed the levels, and unfortunately, they were going to make Trinity go back a level (Level 3). I understood but didn't, and I wasn't pleased because I felt that would set her back.

We relocated to a Region 8 state (Georgia), and she's now on Excel Silver. I didn't and still don't really understand this Excel thing, but I feel as if my daughter is too skilled for Silver. She competed in her first meet in December, and scored a 38.20 A.A (Vault - 9.750, Floor - 9.525, Bars - 9.575, Beam - 9.350). I truly think and feel my daughter needs to be challenged, or she's going to get bored. And I don't want her to. I composed all of her events and made a video of it, and posted it on Youtube. Someone did comment and asked if they were gonna move my baby up to Xcel Gold this month. I sent a screenshot of the msg and sent it to her coach in an email, as well as some questions. I saw you mention something about the Xcel program being for gymnast who are lacking, in so many words. But my daughter isn't. Her coach did speak to me about my email, and explained that my daughter could compete Xcel Gold now, but his goal is not to put her in Gold when the meet season is over. He wants to put her in Level 5. I'm trying to be patient and sit back and let them do their job, but I feel like my baby isn't being challenged :( She'll watch the optional levels during practice do a flip (roundoff back tuck for instance), and come home and do it until she masters it (which she did). The gym is a great gym. The owner of her old gym has a friend who's a coach in GA and this gym came recommended because of how well they do at meets. A couple of other gyms also recommended this gym, prior to her committing to the gym. Should I just sit back and be patient and wait and hope they move her up? Is there a method to this madness? Any advice would help.

P.S. Sorry for being so long winded. I'm just so elated to see a blog from a coach that is sharing such wonderful info, and actually giving feedback. Thank you so much!!! :)

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 17, 2013:

Hi Jeanine, Thanks for the inquiry. I have to tell you that I've never heard of a coach making athletes condition because they were wiggling on the beam - especially not the young - new athletes. I can understand why your daughter might be turned off to the intensity of USAG. My opinion is that you should always speak to the coach first and get their perspective. If you've done that or feel that is not an option, I would look for another program at the end of the season. I sincerely believe that training USAG can be fun based on the style of coaching and atmosphere. The only concern I ever have when athletes move into a program that requires less training is that there is less time to train proper technique and a better chance of injury - and kids simply don't understand that. It sounds like your daughter learns quickly so she has some gymnastic talent so it would definitely be in your interest to find a program that will foster it to her benefit. I hope things work out. Best of luck to you both. -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 17, 2013:

Hello Again Christy! Repeating the compulsory levels is not uncommon especially when the new routine cycles begin. Being 10 years old in level 3 is not too old and if she's at a good gym, she might be in a situation where she will skip level 6 and move right into optionals. If you feel that you have a good fit in coaches and teammates, stay put. It's always better to have a very successful second year than a mediocre year at the next level up. Best of luck to you and let me know how things turn out! -K

Jeanine on December 15, 2013:


My daughter is in nj usag gymnastics level 3. She is 7 years old (but competing as an 8 year old b/c her birthday is in December). She has been practicing 11 hours per week and works very hard. Recently she has told me when she is not doing exactly what the coach says for example wiggling on the balance beam (which she does try not to do) they tell her to "get away from them". She also gets told to do v-ups when she wiggles on the beam. She is now reporting that she does not want to do this next year and wants to do usaigc instead. I do not see her moving to olympic levels, but what is your take on this track for girls. She is one of those kids...who can get stunts quickly like her mill circle and backhandspring..but her quality is not there. She places only in the top 50% each meet, usually falling 1/2 way in...for example 12th our of 24, or 8 out of 16 girls. Her overall scores fall in the 35's. She has 2 girls on her team who constantly get first and I think she is also discouraged because of that. Just not sure if I should encourage her to stay or move to usaigc...where in her opinion the girls have more fun?

Christy on December 15, 2013:

Thanks for your reply. Turns out, they have revised their policy and team manual. Now there is just a one month deposit required in addition to 30 day notice. That seems more reasonable to me. Something else has come up now and I am not sure how to feel about it. We just completed the level 3 season (former gym)and are on trial at this new gym. We were told that they would like her to stay on level 3 for now to build her strength and master some skills. She qualified for Texas South State last month (former gym) so I don't think we are too far off track. With that said, she has the opportunity to improve and be re-evaluated for level 4 in the Summer. Needless to say, we are disappointed and I am afraid my daughter will be really discouraged. She has already been on level 3 for a year and she is bored with the repetition so far and other kids will be moving up and she won't. She is already the oldest (10 years old) on level 3 and now that will stand out even more. So my concern is, is this a right fit for her? She loves the gym, is a hard worker, but its such a huge commitment. I want to be realistic about it and not just shell out $500 a month to "just see" . We went from being great gymnast at a gym we were not happy with to not measuring up at a great gym. Is it common for girls to repeat levels? Is 10 years old too old in the gym world for level 3/4 ? Any insight is appreciated. Thanks!!

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on November 29, 2013:

Christy, It's not uncommon for a gym to ask for a one year commitment in advance regardless of the circumstances of your child being unable to perform. I would hope that if your child is ill or injured, the staff would go to every extent to get them healthy and ensure their future health. One question I would definitely ask is how often have families been "dismissed"? That sends up a bit of a red flag. If they ask you to sign a contract - never sign on the spot and if it's an option, I might discuss it with an attorney to see what your rights really are or if they are attempting to legally bind you into paying. I would definitely not pay by any sort of auto-pay. However, you did say that this has been a good fit so far so I wish you the very best. I would be interested to know how things turn out.

Christy on November 21, 2013:

Hello! We are considering joining a great gym with a strong program. Everything seems like a good fit, but after a 30 day trail, we are expected to financially commit for 1 year. For no reason ( illness, injury, dismissal, move, etc) are we allowed to withdrawal without continuing to pay. Is this a normal expectation?

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 26, 2013:

NewStageMom, Thank you for the nice compliment and I'm glad you found this helpful.

I have a few questions for you:

1. Is your daughter the only new addition to the class?

2. How old is the teacher?

3. Does the teacher explain the big words she is using?

4. How long have you been at this gym?

5. Has the coach spoken with you about your daughter?

If you would like to email me you certainly can. I definitely have some ideas for you but would like to get more information. Best, Kristi

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 26, 2013:

Momtutu, Thank you for reading and commenting. It sounds like a real conundrum! The good new is, anything is possible. My suggestion is to stick with one gym so that you have "consistency in the classroom." Coaches teach differently and kids can get confused. You absolutely don't want your daughter to get mixed up and frustrated.

I've not known many teams who allow kids to workout with their competitive athletes knowing they are not going to compete simply because their focus is on the athletes who are going to be competing. I think that private lessons are a great idea. Your daughter will have the full attention of the coach. Is there any particular reason you have to choose between USAG and AAU? Just curious why that's coming into the picture. -K

NewStageMom on July 25, 2013:


I will first like to thank you for this article, it is truly inspiring to me. I am the mother of a four year old who is on Team Level 1, training for 2 hours, twice a week . Everything that was mentioned in this article is true to the "T" and is more than helpful!! However, I will like to ask you for your advice.

My mother and I sit and observe my daughter each class. Being that she is 4, the only child, and won't be in Kindergarten for another year (late birthday), I am finding it difficult for her to stay focused and show any further progress. In fact she is regressing from when she was on pre-team.

Her team coach is very hard on her (more so than any other team member). Being that she is the youngest on the team, I will think that she would have a little more patience with her. There is another little girl on her team who is 5 but seems to be treated much nicer by the same coach. The reasons that I have concluded for this treatment is:

1. My daughter is not taking directions/corrections and applying them,

2. My daughter likes to play around instead of watching the girls in line before her to determine what is next, utilize their corrections, and learn from their mistakes,

3. I yell out to the floor a lot to tell her to tell her to get focused or to pay attention. I even give her corrections when her coach is focusing on other team mates when she is doing something wrong,

4. Being 4 she constantly looks at me for approval, which, leads the coach yelling at her numerous times throughout the 2 hour classes to not "look at mom" "turn your head" "stop looking over their". At times she is not even looking at me, she is looking dazed in what I call "la-la land".

With this being said, what should I do, switch gyms and start fresh or what? How do I repair the relationship with her coach?

As I have mentioned several times, my daughter is only four and I do not want her to lose her love for the sport (which she is starting to do). Nor do I want this treatment to continue. At this age, I think that gymnastics should be fun, yet challenging. So if I have to choose a challenging gym, versus, a fun gym that is only semi-challenging, which one should I choose?

Any help will be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Momtutu on July 18, 2013:

I genuinely appreciate this article. My 6-year old daughter has been invited on team at two different gyms and I've been struggling with how to properly consider and analyze this choice.

I realize this next question is completely out of the box: Is it possible for a gymnast to take private lessons at a gym (or gyms) and compete AAU and/or USAG without being part of a team? Thank you. ~mtt

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 06, 2013:

Susie, Congratulations to your new gymnast! During meets at the beginner levels kiddos will receive ribbons and trophies. There isn't normally a cash purse unless it's been previously advertised. I've not seen that happen in the age group levels. It can get very expensive if your gym requires several leotards. Meet entry fees typically run from $35-$90 per meet and if you travel to out of state meets those fees are additional. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. If you have any more questions I am happy to answer. Best of luck to you and your gymnast! -K

Susie Keeler from El Reno, Oklahoma on July 03, 2013:

I am a new gymnastics parent and my daughter is moving up fast. Our goal is to be on a competitive team one day. Just just moved to the pre-team today. I was wondering if they place in the meets do they receive money or just medals. I have heard how expensive it can get and so I was not sure but that would help with expenses if they do. And thank you so much for this, I have had many questions and you have helped me so much. Thank you.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 29, 2013:

berkeymom, Congratulations to your daughter! They are not essential for moving up to level 6 (assuming the new age-group program) but they are very handy tools to have. They make learning the flipping skills much easier. Trampolines are great because they allow athletes to work mostly technique while mastering the skills before they have to perform them on the spring floor. Foam pits are great because they offer an easy step from trampoline toward hard floor which provides a cushion barrier landing. If you are satisfied with your coaches and your scoring - how your team stands at the final. I would be good to know the coaching philosophy prior to making the comitmment.

berkeymom on April 29, 2013:

My daughter loves gymnastics and has recently moved up to a level 6. She is 8. However her gym does not have a pit nor do they have a standard trampoline. Are these essential for mastering skills? thanks for the advice!

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 26, 2013:

Ihelmin, I think it's a wise move for you. Transition is never easy but at times, it is necessary. The earlier you move the easier it will be for your daughter. I wish your daughter the best of luck and if you should have any questions in the future, feel free to write. Good luck -K

lhelmin on April 26, 2013:

Thank you so much for the advice, the gym is going exclusively to Excel and that is the only reason they want her to switch programs. I feel the same way that the rec league is just not the same. We have decided to switch her to a gym that will offer the JO program as she has not by any means hit a plateau and is still growing quickly.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 26, 2013:

Ihelmin, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. My first question is whether or not your gym is going to be exclusively excel or will they continue to offer USAG? In my experience, the level of competition in rec leagues is not the same quality you will find in the JO Program. Kids often workout fewer hours and the requirements are relaxed. If your gym will continue to offer the USAG program, I would keep your daughter involved in that. The only time I agree with moving an athlete into a rec league is when their progress plateaus and they have the opportunity to continue to advance by moving into a program like the excel program. If you have additional questions, feel free to write again.

lhelmin on April 23, 2013:

Hi, My daughter started gymnastics a little late she is 11 and a level 5 she can do many of the level 6 and 7 skills as well and LOVES gymnastics. Her first year competing was last year and her first meet was her lowest score and it was an AA of 31.5 Her gym is now wanting to go to the excel program and would like her to switch from USAG JO but I am horribly torn about doing this I feel like it is limiting her before she has the chance to reach her full potential would you give me your opinion.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 12, 2013:

Sebsilosotte, Thank you for reading and leaving such a nice comment. I appreciate it. You should start a blog! I'm sure you would excel at it. -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on April 12, 2013:

busymomtogirs, It's a tough decision, without a doubt. I'm a firm believer in conditioning but the time spent conditioning should never surpass the purpose the girls are in the gym which is to learn gymnastics. Additionally conditioning should make a child sore in a good way but never cause pain.

Reinforce to your daughter that needing to use the restroom is okay and she should never be afraid to ask. If she is thirsty and needs a drink, she should always be allowed to get one.

Have you talked to the coach about what your daughter is experiencing? While I'm sure the coach does have a resume of experience, she doesn't have the same "mom" experience with your child and she needs to know that your kiddo isn't feeling good every day. If the coach is resistant to discussing the possibility of allowing your daughter to take a short break then I would consider finding another gym if that's possible. You never know, with the compulsory groups being rearranged, you might find that another gym has a better schedule for you. I agree that she might regret quitting but she might also find another sport which she excels at because of her early gymnastics career.

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me again if you need to.


Sebsilsotte on April 10, 2013:

This design is stellar! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! check it out

busymomtogirls on April 09, 2013:

Hi, this was a great article, thank you!

My daughter is 9 and has recently moved up to level 5, she will compete this weekend to hopefully score into level 6 before the down grading of the levels this year. Her coach is very good and recently relocated with her fellow coach husband from the gym where Aly Raisman trained at.

Our problem is very similar to a prior poster, the coach coaches by fear and intimidation and compliments are rare. Threaths were common until I (hopefully)put an end to it (as in "get out of my class","you can go back to the level you came from") , I explained that the threats only made my daughter shut down and want to quit.

My daughter loves gymnastics and has natural talent for it, my concern is that she does want to slow down in order to try other things, and I think her fear of her coach is at the root of that. She is currently going 16 hours a week (4 days) which her coach feels is not enough. This gym is the only gym I'll be able to take her to due to time restraints, and I am worried that she will not be welcomed back if she takes a "break". They coach with heavy emphasis on conditioning, many times using 3 of the 4 hours on it, the girls condition with ankle and wrist weights and my daughter has muscles I could only dream of. I like that she is getting stronger, but it makes it hard for her to enjoy her practice. Most of the girls are crying during conditioning and if any of them fail, they all have to repeat their movements. She is terrified to ask to use the bathroom or to get a drink, she also complains of chronic stomach pains prior to practice (I usually ignore this as stress pains). She is very flexible and the coach will often lift her legs over her head and place her butt on her head when she lays on her stomach, hyper extending her back, this is a move that causes her back pain later that day. When questioned the coach proclaims that she knows what she is doing.

I have been her biggest supporter at home, her dad (my ex) disagrees with the coaching and wants her to quit, I am getting tired of the constant pep talk to get her back to each practice, should I continue to push in the hopes that she will overcome her fear of the coach? Or should I let her take a break so she can decide what to do?

I am sorry this is so long, I have sacrificed a lot for her gymnastics, I work nights so I can take her there and get school work etc. done, her younger sister has lost out on continuing gymnastics as I can only afford one in competitive team sport. I do not want this to be about me though, she truly loves the sport and I feel that she would regret it later if she did quit. She will be a tall girl and I have no olympic aspirations for her, I do want her to be the best she can be though.

Thanks, -A