Is age 11 too late to take gymnastics seriousely?

(34 Posts)
babasheep Mon 30-Jun-14 12:50:43

My dd is coming up to age 11 this summer. She has recently achieved BG badge 1 (whatever that mean). Also I don't know the standard of her current gym club. The main thing is that she loves the sport. She has a very small and flexible body. She is very happy with the gym club that she s attending for several years. However I feel the club can only offer a limit range of training as they only hire halls in various sites so children don't get to use equipment much but more focus on floor work mainly. Just wonder at age 11 is she too late to be considered to start competition sort of training. Would anyone share their own experiences or professional views.

micah Mon 30-Jun-14 13:05:40

OK. IMO, 11 isn't too late. I've seen kids catch up remarkably quickly and do very well, even starting older. The problem is most clubs are oversubscribed and don't have the room for older inexperienced gymnasts. It's a matter of finding someone to give your DD a chance..

Competition wise there are three routes she can follow;

Floor and vault. Advantages are lower hours (usually 4-6 a week), she will progress faster as she's focussing on only two apparatus. Probably the best idea if she's going into secondary school too..

Artistic. Floor, bars, beam and vault. This is regional competition generally, against other clubs. Hours are likely to be a lot higher- if you're in a competitive region could be around 20 hours a week. Some clubs do well on 9-12 though.

Elite. No chance really. The kids here are picked at 6 or 7 and train 18-20 hours a week from then. By 11 they are looking at international competition and 30 odd hours a week. You'd have to be some sort of freak to catch up…

First step is to speak to the coach at your club and see what they offer. If they can't help, ring around a few other clubs and see if they'd be willing for your DD to try out for a competition squad. The best plan is sometimes to look for the smaller clubs that focus on general (F+V) as the big clubs are very selective.

She could also look at sports acro, tumbling, trampolining, diving, or even rhythmic gymnastics clubs. Some have a higher tolerance for age if she shows potential.

babasheep Mon 30-Jun-14 13:52:31

Thanks Micah, by the way just out of interest are you a gym coach? Would you know what's BG badge 1 means? Up to now she has only been do gym once a week in a 45 min class.

micah Mon 30-Jun-14 14:09:06

Badge 1:
10 Shuttle runs,
Front or side splits,
Half lever or straddle half lever,
jump full turn,
moving towards a handstand using apparatus,
change leg handstand,
handstand forward roll,
matched and mirrored sequence - to include roll, jump and balance, throw a ball in the air-perform a leap-catch and perform a balance, straddle on box top and straddle jump off.

Tbh, it's not hard. Any halfway able 7 year old can do that, so I wouldn't use it as an indication of whether she's good or not. Some clubs just don't test frequently enough, she might be way past that level of ability now.

Do you know what skills she can do? Has she ever competed? Does her club compete at all? Or have "squad" girls who train several times a week?

babasheep Mon 30-Jun-14 14:33:38

The trouble is I do not know anything re gymnastics or any kind of sport. Started with this club only because it is the one that is close to home. My dd s a late bloomer in growth so she s a very flexible body. So I just want dd to be able to maintain that ability hence make her do gymnastics. Also I have dd2 to manage and dd2 is very different from dd1. I wish I had looked into it more before now. In term of competition no her club doesn't attend any clubs competition at all.

micah Mon 30-Jun-14 14:39:25

Thing to do then is ring round a couple of local clubs. Try the BG website, you can search by postcode for clubs. have a browse of websites, and give a couple a ring, explain what your DD wants and see if they'll give her a trial.

What about ballet? Sounds like she'll be good at that too…

Where in the country are you and I'll see if I can point you in the right direction...

sixlive Mon 30-Jun-14 14:43:19

Find a club that does team gym they may accept an older gymnast. You nee to hunt around for the right gym. There are some that let older gymnasts compete at the regional grades or floor & vault.

babasheep Mon 30-Jun-14 15:03:34

We are in Gloucestershire. I initially took dd1 to ballet and ballroom when she was 3 yr old but she wouldn't join but gym was the only thing I managed to make her do when infant school. It wasn't easy to drag her to gym classes those days but by year4 she really started to develop a passion for it and now she want to keep going and do more.

babasheep Mon 30-Jun-14 15:03:47

We are in Gloucestershire. I initially took dd1 to ballet and ballroom when she was 3 yr old but she wouldn't join but gym was the only thing I managed to make her do when infant school. It wasn't easy to drag her to gym classes those days but by year4 she really started to develop a passion for it and now she want to keep going and do more.

lecherrs Tue 01-Jul-14 00:26:03

Whereabouts in Gloucstershire are you? I live there, but my daughter trains over the border in Wiltshire.

The main clubs we see from Gloucstershire on the circuit are the Gym Centre (Cheltenham) and Forest of Dean (Colesford way?) DD went to a comp there a few years back, but can't exactly remember now.

There are a few more in south gloucestershire close to Bristol, such as fromeside, which I believe is also good, but otherwise that's all I know.

Baskervilles are in Bath, if you live that side of Gloucstershire. If you're north of the county, then I'm afraid I don't know any clubs that side.

babasheep Tue 01-Jul-14 07:23:37

Thanks leaherrs

sixlive Tue 01-Jul-14 09:50:24

British gymnastics main website you can search for clubs in your area.

ginafery Tue 01-Jul-14 11:24:34

I'd think yes. Very very difficult, but not impossible.

You say she's in a club? I think if they thought she had potential for competing they'd have moved her into the squad/comp team years before now?

Late to be starting ballet too

ginafery Tue 01-Jul-14 11:27:59

"Elite. No chance really. The kids here are picked at 6 or 7 and train 18-20 hours a week from then. By 11 they are looking at international competition and 30 odd hours a week. You'd have to be some sort of freak to catch up…"

Yes, this is what I was thinking of. The club does sometimes take older children, but they're usually very talented in a related field (e.g. somebody was taken into acro team who did 20 hrs + in ballet to high level)

babasheep Tue 01-Jul-14 11:28:54

Thank you for all your comments I am ringing around to see if I can find some clubs that stay open during summer so she can do a little extra.

atticusclaw Tue 01-Jul-14 11:33:36

I'm a qualified gymnastics coach. I think it depends on what you mean by taking it seriously. The standard she's at is not very high but if she's keen and willing to work hard she will be able to go on compete at a level that will keep her interested and enable her to have fun. She will be the oldest in many of the groups though which might put her off.

If you're talking competing at a high level then unless she's willing to put in a massive amount of time and comes on very quickly she is likely to struggle.

babasheep Tue 01-Jul-14 18:25:46

But her club doesn't do competition though.

atticusclaw Tue 01-Jul-14 20:50:37

In terms of competing there is unlikely to be anything just for floor and so if she wants to go on and train to a standard where she can compete she would need to join proper gymnastics club. If she's never done any equipment work it will take a lot of effort for her. Is she tumbling at all or is she doing the things set out by micah?

babasheep Tue 01-Jul-14 22:24:13

She can do them all. I know she s only average but she only s been doing it 45 minutes a week.

atticusclaw Wed 02-Jul-14 12:22:34

I'm not trying to downplay what she can do at all and its great that she enjoys it, I'm just saying that the skills on the list are really very basic and so if as you say, she wants to compete, she will need to work very hard and be very keen because she'll possibly be in groups with mainly six year olds (or other new starters).

I think all you can do is ring around and see which clubs have new starter groups where she can maybe slot in with a class that's been running for a while and are at the same level. Otherwise I'd probably stick with where she is and just let her enjoy it and progress naturally. Its not all about the competing and once she's tumbling (flips and somersaults) she'll suddenly seem to have taken a massive step forwards (or actually backwards! grin)

Can you make her a beam for the garden so that she can practice cartwheels, handstands and walkovers on the beam? Mine (ok many many years ago - in fact more than 30 years ago eeek!) was a plank of wood covered in flotex left over from the kitchen!). She will also need to be exercising and practicing splits, bridges and strengthening exercises every day.

GooseyLoosey Wed 02-Jul-14 12:25:58

Dd started gymnastics at 8. She is far behind many of her peers (who started at around 4) and now, simply does not have enough hours available to her to catch up no matter how flexible she is. However, she loves it and competes at a fairly low level and is very, very happy with it. It's great for her.

atticusclaw Wed 02-Jul-14 12:28:58

By beam I meant floor level practice beam of course. This will be helpful to her in terms of precision and control even if she's not doing much beam work at the club.

flissiecat Wed 02-Jul-14 13:09:01

You can buy those floor level beams can't you, atticus, but they are pricey I expect.

My nearly 8 year old dd now does competitive gymnastics, but she's had to do extra work to catch up as she was considered a late starter starting at 6! I could see the differences, certainly. Luckily she has some natural talent (and all the extra work)

I think it would be very difficult for somebody much older to reach competition standard. Very difficult indeed. But you've had some good advice.

flissiecat Wed 02-Jul-14 13:12:11

I do think it's bonkers that you usually need to start so young in these sports, and some dance, to be able to do very well. Has it always been the case I was wondering the other day, that even 7 year old children can often be written off as too old.

BubaMarra Wed 02-Jul-14 13:28:25

Yes, it's always been like that. I started when I was 7 almost 30 years ago. Before that I did ballet since 3yo, so it's not like I started from nothing. I was really flexible (still am) and good at it, basically the only thing I've ever been REALLY talented for (to the point of achieving a lot without putting much effort in), which also helped. I basically left around the age your DD is now. It was time to make the decision whether to make it my 'career' or not and I didn't see myself doing it for the rest of my working life.
It's a great sport on whatever level your DD ends up doing it.

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