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Gymnastics - so if you're not in the squad, it's basically a waste of time?

(85 Posts)
Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 21:50:16

So, bear with me. DD (nearly 7) has been doing gymnastics at a supposedly good club for over 3 years now. She has badge 6, 5 and another one for strength and flexibility, but she can't do a cartwheel and she says they have never practised cartwheels or handstands, and they don't even do forward rolls either (although I believe she can do one but not very well). I am not quite sure WHAT she does as we are not allowed to watch, but I think they do a bit of bouncing on the trampoline, a bit of hanging off the bar, and walking backwards and forwards on the beam and that's it.

The coach once told me that the only way they ever get to compete is if they get invited to the squad, and seeing as she's about to turn seven and hasn't been asked I guess she won't ever make it into the squad. So she'll basically keep bouncing on the trampoline and walking up and down the beam forever and never learn any proper gymnastics skills?

As an ex gymnast myself I find the whole thing incredibly frustrating. I started late (I was 8) but learned quickly and everyone trained together for competitions, twice a week - there was no such thing as a squad, we all had a go at learning all the moves and it was such fun and the competitions were just an amazing experience. I am very sad that DD will miss out on learning all those moves just because she is not squad material?

Please someone tell me there is a life somewhere between this dull beginner level and squad where you can actually just do the sport and have fun with it? It seems hard to believe that there isn't?

DontCallMeBaby Sat 15-Mar-14 22:00:27

Sounds like a crap club. DD is nearly 10, doing gymnastics since she was 5 or 6. She's neither bad nor good - she's in the Yr3/4 class, but only cos she had a clash with the Yr5/6 one so they've let her stay in the younger class a bit longer. No squad invite, unsurprisingly (7 would be v young to get into the squad for her club, btw).

We have open week once a term, so parents can watch the class. They work hard! Different set of equipment each term, lots of balances, and they're pink and sweaty by the end of the class.

My concern at the moment is that she can't stay in this class much longer (though the clash is Brownies, which she'll leave soon) and there's currently no senior recreational class for when she goes to secondary. It's really good for her (she has abs of steel!) and we'd both be sad if she had to give up.

lougle Sat 15-Mar-14 22:04:40

I think the focus of gymnastics has shifted from 'skills' based (tricks) to ensuring good form, technique and strength/flexibility. It used to be that non-squad gymnasts could 'sort of do' lots of 'tricks' and 'moves' but didn't have the core skills to do it well.

Most competitive gymnastics clubs have lots and lots of 'recreational' gymnastics classes, a few 'pre-development' groups (ie. preparing and assessing if squad is a possibility) and then junior squad/senior squad, etc. Even then, there will be 'club' squad and the 'elite stream'.

These clubs rely on a steady stream of recreational gymnasts to fund the subsidy for the elite stream. For example, I pay £6 per week for my DD3 (4) to do a 45 minute recreational gymnastics class, with groups of 8-10 per coach, which works out as £8 per hour. An 8-9 year old 'squad' gymnast will do 9 hours per week but will pay around £2.50 per hour, with a much smaller group size per coach.

If she has badge 6 she can:
1. Jump upwards and forwards from box top, land in plié.
2. Single leg balance on box top.
3. Roll backwards and forwards to stand.
4. Sideways roll on floor from dished to arch to dished shapes.
5. Show & hold piked "V" sit, with hand support.
6. From front support, lower and push up, repeat in back support.
7. From front support, jump to crouch, then jump to stand.
8. Skip backwards with rope.
9.With a partner, roll and catch a Ball or Hoop.
10. Walk backwards along a bench, stop, turn and dismount.
When you have completed six of the ten exercises on the right, you will be eligible for Award Badge and Certificate 6.

If she has badge 5 she can:
"1. Run, then hurdle step on to two feet, then jump to two feet.
2. "Y" balance leg above waist height.
3. Backward roll down an incline.
4. Shoulder stand, hips supported with hands.
5. Japana, with flat back, chest to floor angle 45 degrees or less. Legs at 90 degrees.
6. Front support with partner holding feet, show good shape.
7. Bunny hop with weight on hands from side to side over box.
8. Tuck Jump.
9. Roll a Ball or Hoop travel along side and pick up whilst moving.
10. Leap from one foot to the other foot.
When you have completed six of the ten exercises on the right, you will be eligible for Award Badge and Certificate 5."

As you'll know, to do a cartwheel properly, she'll have to be able to do a handstand (because a cartwheel is a handstand approached from the side and rounded off). To do a handstand properly, she'll need good upper body strength and good balance.

flowery Sat 15-Mar-14 22:05:45

Doesn't sound like a very good club to me, if she's been going three years and hasn't been taught a forward roll or cartwheel. Sounds like they're taking the money of beginners, bunging them on the trampoline and concentrating on a few.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sat 15-Mar-14 22:09:35

My dd is in a class for 2 - 4 year olds (she's the eldest at nearly 4) and they do forward rolls already.

Also lots of bouncing on the trampoline, pushing shopping trolleys, bouncing on bouncy castles, swinging on bars, walking on the beam etc

Your club sounds a bit rubbish really.

Ifyoubuildit Sat 15-Mar-14 22:11:09

My DD is 8 and isn't in the squad. She started as a complete beginner 1.5 years ago and is now cartwheeling, handstanding, doing backward flip things, forward and backward rolls as well as the usual front and back support, jumps etc (excuse terminology, I don't know the real names!). That said, she only does floor and vault, no beam or bars so maybe your DD is more rounded but can do less in each discipline?

lougle Sat 15-Mar-14 22:12:26

Yes, also consider that to compete in gymnastics, a child has to be at least 9 in the year of entry to do national competitions.

Beth Tweddle only started gymnastics at the age of 7, so your DD is really very young to worry that she won't get to do the more impressive moves.

bruffin Sat 15-Mar-14 22:19:42

My dd i think got to bronze or silver at 7 but they started a special invitation class and seemed to lose interest in the non invitation class and dd didnt seem to progress from then and gave up.
Same happened in a trampalining club ds went to

ReallyTired Sat 15-Mar-14 22:25:28

Does your daughter enjoy her sessions? I am surprised that your child has made so little progress in 3 years. Prehaps you should look for a different club. The fact that parents are not allowed to watch would not fill me with faith.

My daughter is four years old and she has just passed her badge 5 after two terms. She is not exceptional and I doult that she will ever be squad material. I don't think I would want her to be in the squad as they train a stupid number of hours a week.

Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 22:26:51

I think that's my worry - what flowery said. That they have basically written her off. DD also said she hadn't been on the beam for weeks now. How can she progress when she doesn't get a chance to go on the apparatus? They do train alongside the squad so the squad girls get priority on using the apparatus...

I don't want her to be one of those gymnasts who spend hours training each week - just want her to experience the fun I had.

Should I look into a different club then? I am taking her out of this one for sure. Are there any non-BG options, does anyone know?

Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 22:29:28

Well yes she was enjoying the sessions but I was starting to question the club and asking her why they weren't teaching her anything... so now she's saying she doesn't want to go anymore...

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 22:32:33

I do think the progress is really slow if you are not in the squad.
Ds is not in the squad, and he is learning at a very slow pace. He gets to compete, and has won gold, and is happy that he is still progressing. They considered moving him up a year group due to his skills, but he did not want to as he enjoys his group. His club has a few Olympic gymnasts, and he has progressed a lot the last three years, even if the pace is slow. He gets to use various apparatus, and can do front summer salts on the floor, not just the trampoline, and land on his feet. Handstands and cartwheels and rolls are two years back in time.

In your shoes, I would change clubs.

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 22:33:48

I should add, in his sessions, they divide the children into 4 different ability groups. He is in the highest ability group. The lower ability groups seem to still work on perfecting the forward roll etc...

ReallyTired Sat 15-Mar-14 22:34:48

"Should I look into a different club then? I am taking her out of this one for sure. Are there any non-BG options, does anyone know?"

Where are you based? My daughter's club is BG but its nothing like you describe. It is an extremely sucessful club and has produced one of Britain's best gymnasts. My niece attends another major club and again she has made good progess, but chose not be in the squad.

Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 22:36:06


Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 22:36:35

She goes to Avondale at the moment

ReallyTired Sat 15-Mar-14 22:42:37

My niece goes to this club

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 22:43:02

Ds has been waiting two years to learn backflips. I think with gymnastics you have to learn stuff in the right order, and when your body is good and ready. The most important thing he has learnt in the last three years is to know his body and his limits. He is very aware of what he cannot do, whereas before he had no concept of fear and would constantly challenge himself. Now he wont, and I have my heart less in my throat.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sat 15-Mar-14 22:43:10

My daughter is 5 and in the pre development group. I'm lurking as she already does 2 hours of gym a week. It's a good gym and she loves it. Gets to do uneven bars, beam, etc every week as it's a well equipped (if busy) club.

my query relating to op is about the sqad. Surely she can have a lot of fun without ending up spending hours a week at gym.

It gets quite expensive if you do a lot of hours which we couldn't afford.

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 22:44:23

DS does not want to be in the squad. He was invited to trial, but did not want to spend 3-4 days at 2 hours each.

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 22:44:59

He is 8 btw. He also swims and plays basket ball.

Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 22:46:37

Thanks reallytired.

I don't want her to be in the squad - I just want her to actually learn something so I know we're not wasting our time and money :-(

ReallyTired Sat 15-Mar-14 22:47:33

I think that children need to develop strength to do a lot of interesting stuff. For example my daughter lacks the strength to hold a bridge for more than 2 seconds. Seven year olds make faster progress than a four year old because they have more muscle.

My impression is that if your child in the squad then its a massive commitment of 12 hours a week.

Schulte Sat 15-Mar-14 22:48:41

The other thing that really winds me up is that the rec classes are required to wear uniform (and the leotard is expensive) - whereas the squad girls can wear what they like. Sounds like money making to me?

lougle Sat 15-Mar-14 22:49:20

My DD goes to Dynamo in Hampshire. She gets to use all of the equipment, there is a viewing area upstairs so you can see what they're up to. Every year they have a 'novice festival' to give the non-competitive gymnasts an opportunity to do a competition.

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