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Gymnastics for 6 and 5 yo DDs - can you offer some advice?

(36 Posts)
Boobz Sun 27-Sep-15 14:26:48

Hello - I was wondering if any of your DC do gymnastics in and around the London area and could offer some advice?

We currently live in Rome and our 2 DDs aged 6 and 5 have been going to a local gymnastics club for 2 years, going twice a week for an hour each time.

This year they are now doing it three times a week for an 75 minutes each time.

We aren't a family with a particular background in competitive sports, but DH and I wanted them to do something they enjoyed and was physical a few times a week after school, and this has been great for them (and their Italian as it's an Italian club). However I can't help but think that after 2 years, I would expect them to be of a higher standard.

So my questions are thus:
1) Has anyone else's DC started at a very relaxed after school club level, and then suddenly ramped it up to get them to be much better at this sport?
2) If so, did your DC just happily take on the extra time commitment or did they want to stay at the "fun" level?
3) We are moving back to London next summer - does anyone know any good clubs either around South Ken (where they will go to school) or SW London (where we will live) which would be a good place to get them going to the next level
4) I know I keep saying next level, but I'm not exactly sure what I mean by this - I guess I mean doing vaulting, parallel bars, tumbling etc., rather than the more straight forward forward-rolls and cartwheeling they seem to do at the moment.
5) Sorry - last question - how many hours practice a week should I expect them to do, to get them to be at this higher standard? (How long is a piece of string, I know...)

Thanks for any advice!

Bunnyjo Sun 27-Sep-15 21:56:10

I'll try to answer your questions from my perspective, which is just as a mum of a child who does gymnastic training. My DD is 8, she does artistic gymnastics and is in the club squad.

1) Yes, DD did. However, it is the club coaches, rather than the parents, who select children for additional training and squad places.

2) DD loves the additional training. It is very tiring, but she is passionate enough about the sport to battle through any tiredness.

3) If you are looking for a club for when you move to London, I would recommend searching for a British Gymnastics affiliated club. There are many BG affiliated clubs in and around London, so it would be a case of contacting them and visiting once you are resident in London.

4) At DD's club all children train on all the gymnastic pieces - vault, uneven bars, floor and beam. This is the case regardless of whether they are a recreational (fun) gymnast or an advanced squad member.

5) I would expect the club coaches to select children they feel have the aptitude to progress from the 45 minute to 1 hour per week classes. At DD's club squad training begins at 2 hours per week and increases to 10 hours per week. As I said above, squad training places are offered by the coaches and not on the basis of parental request.

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 06:41:17

Thanks Bunnyjo - that is SUPER helpful. Are you in London by any chance?

How many hours a week does your 8 yo DD do at the moment?

Eastpoint Mon 28-Sep-15 06:57:10

Richmond Gymnastics, which is near Kew Retail Park & Chiswick Bridge, has several squads and trains its gymnasts very seriously. Children enter normal classes and they test those with the most promise to see if they are likely to progress to acro etc. I'll post the website if I can find it. There is a long waiting list, used to be 12-18 months.

Eastpoint Mon 28-Sep-15 07:00:07

Richmond Gymnastics. It says their waiting list is full & currently closed. If your Rome club has any British staff they might be willing to contact a UK club to encourage them to accept/trial your children.

ididntsignupforthis1 Mon 28-Sep-15 07:03:56

If you look at the website it is an international gymnastics very friendly chat forum with lots of parents who could has a strong UK element too.

Bunnyjo Mon 28-Sep-15 07:50:54

I don't live in London, Boobz. I am the opposite end of the country!

I second what Eastpoint has said. Most of the good clubs have waiting lists, some longer than others, depending on location.

DD trains 10 hours per week.

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 08:29:23

OMG 12 - 18 month waiting list?! Wow.

I think Richmond would be too far away really, if they were going to do it for up to 10 hours a week. But how do you know if a club is serious? By being over-subscribed?

Will look at chalkbucket, thank you.

DDs' gymnastics teacher is Italian and doesn't speak of word of English so I don't know if she could put a good word in for them! I don't even really know if she thinks they are any good...

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 08:42:48

Have joined the chalkbucket site - am waiting for someone to approve me!

atticusclaw2 Mon 28-Sep-15 08:50:52

I'm not in Lodon but am a qualified gymnastics coach (and did competitive gymnastics when I was young). I would be expecting them to do full apparatus work already. I would wonder what they've been doing TBH if they've been going for two years and are still doing forward rolls and cartwheels. Three times a week for 75 minutes they should definitely be doing more than that by now even though they're little. Is a lot of it ballet and conditioning work?

I would wait until you've moved, ask around at school for the good local clubs, send them along and see what they say at the club. They will undoubtedly do full apparatus work and they'll soon assess them. They will then set the pace for number of sessions per week etc. Be aware however that the club might simply say they can't attend for more than two one hour sessions a week. Unless they're chosen for a squad (which certainly won't happen straight away if they've never done any work on the other pieces), they're going to be limited to the sessions that run for children of their age and ability.

Eastpoint Mon 28-Sep-15 08:51:27

Sorry - you said SW London so I thought Putney/Richmond. Do you mean Fulham/Chelsea?

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 09:08:49

Thanks Atticus. I totally agree with you - I am surprised the youngest one still can't do the splits properly. I would have thought that 2 years gymnastics would have allowed you to get to the full splits?

To be fair they do do some jumping on the springboard, and standing on the beam (which was in their end of year display) but again it didn't seem that difficult or impressive, but maybe I am being too harsh?

DD1 loves doing handstands at home (she is doing them all the time) and has an extremely athletic body (abs of steel!)l she can do 10 proper press ups (and diamond press ups!) and at the weekend she ran 5km in a race in Siena which she didn't walk any of and is only 6, so I know she has the stamina to be pushed, but I don't know if she has the natural talent?

If I wait until I get back next year though, won't I have missed the boat for the better clubs which have really long waiting lists? Or will it not matter? They will be going to the French Lycee in South Kensington and they don't really have a good reputation for sports (it's very academic) and so I'm not sure they will be able to help recommending good clubs. We will be living in Herne Hill/Brixton area (I hope, if we can afford it!), so still SW but not quite as far SW as Richmond.

Am more than happy to be told that they aren't good enough for squad and will only ever do the more basic gymnastics, but I want to know that they've at least had a shot at it (if they want to do it, of course).

Thanks for all your answers so far - v helpful!

atticusclaw2 Mon 28-Sep-15 09:20:02

Re being able to do the splits, it's all dependent on the amount of practice they do at home. They could go for three years and still not be able to do the splits if they are not doing the splits exercises at home every night.

If they do the exercise at home every night they'll be doing the splits within six months (with the possible exception of box splits which some children really struggle with).

newname12 Mon 28-Sep-15 09:30:15

5/6 is still young. I wouldn't worry about getting too serious until 7- and only then if you're talking olympics. The amount they're doing seems fine, and in the beginning strength, flexibility, and solid basics are more important than learning tricks on apparatus.

Richmond I think is an acro club. No bars/beam/floor/vault.

London has many clubs. If you're thinking high level- elite, national/international competition, you need an elite club. Realistically these are Heathrow, East London, Europa, Tolworth might be near you.

Clubs that do 4 piece comps at regional level are more common. If you look at heathrow's website at the competition results for womens artistic regional level 5 and 4 "out of age" ("in age" or compulsory level is the elite clubs) you'll get an idea of who trains at that level.

Finally even more clubs do floor and vault only. This can be much easier to get into, less commitment, but still do lots of competitions.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 28-Sep-15 09:31:21

I hate to say it but where we live (not London) the waiting list is 12 - 18 months at the pre-school age and 6 years school age for girls! There is also an internal waiting list for those who were in the pre school and have started school. This varies depending on when your birthday is but was 8 months for dd (who is a mid year March birthday).

It is ridiculously fabulous though!

I have to agree with the pp that they don't seem to have done much in 2 years.

Dd is 5 and has done just over a term of "proper" gymnastics (as opposed to the pre school "play with mummy" class). She is of a similar standard to your dd except she is that level on all four pieces (well 3 if I am really honest - she struggles with vaulting - can't get over the mushroom!) For example she can crawl, skip, run, jump, gallop, do dips and walk backwards on the beam.

That's on one hour a week so maybe 14 hours of training altogether. Obviously she had a bit of an advantage from the pre school class but as it was free play and her favourite thing there were the hula hoops I don't think she learnt that much!

I'd say she is progressing slightly faster than the average but nothing special.

There is no selection in the current class. They are then moved up to higher classes by a combination of age and ability. There are squads but they are selected by the coaches - no parental asking will get your child in a squad.

jeee Mon 28-Sep-15 09:32:51

If your 6 year old likes running, perhaps you could consider switching to athletics. In my (admittedly very area specific) experience, gymnastics clubs are geared up to the elite - although they often have a 'fun' session for the children they don't consider worth training, because it brings in some extra cash.

In contrast, my dc go to an athletics club, and train with athletes who run at international level (and there is no chance that my children would ever be international standard, unless they were running for San Marino) - and are treated as valued members of the club.

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 12:32:28

Thanks again all for your input. I will google all those clubs newname.

Yes mumoftwokids, I would never ask the girls to be put in the squad - it's just making sure they have a good club to develop them in case they are good enough to be in the squad... I fear they are currently not really learning that much.

Jee - I had thought about athletics but wondered if it was always done outside? I can't imagine the DDs getting excited about going out into the cold London nights after school - they have been spoilt by living in Sudan, Kenya and now Italy, pretty much all their lives, so they go almost blue at cold breeze (I know, I know, they are going to be in for a shock with our first London winter!)

How old are you DC Jee?

jeee Mon 28-Sep-15 12:59:35

My dc are older now (14, 13, 12 and 8). The three eldest train outside all year - they're middle distance runners (county-ish level, so quite good, but not exceptional), and enjoy it. The youngest trains outside in the summer, but in the winter she'll be training inside - largely circuit training.

They've been running on and off (some seasons just don't get off the ground for one reason or another) since they were about 7.

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 13:11:21

Is it just running they do? Not the other athletic disciplines like long jump, high jump etc?

jeee Mon 28-Sep-15 13:15:51

When they were younger they did jumping, throwing, sprinting, hurdling.... but when they hit the U13 age category (top juniors/bottom secondary) they chose to concentrate on running. Other children may wish to do heptathlon/decathlon, or will be throwers, sprinters or jumpers.

Boobz Mon 28-Sep-15 13:18:56

Cool. I wonder if DD2 would be better at doing something like that - she is less enamoured by gymnastics but is still strong physically. Thanks for the idea.

newname12 Mon 28-Sep-15 13:21:55

Athletics tends to be for older children. I think our local athletics club is 12+. Triathlon for juniors is 8+

I do think sometimes you have to express an interest in squad. Squad is a massive commitment, many hours, weekends, competitions. Coaches often take into consideration parents commitment when selecting children, so letting them know you are interested and aware may make them more likely to consider your children.

Some clubs have open trials you can go along to if you want to be considered for squad.

It does sound like your children are squad at your current club. recreational gymnastics is usually one hour a week. Ask your current club what their aims are for your children, and if they'd recommend anywhere in particular. Even if they don't personally contact clubs for you it will give you an idea.

BertrandRussell Mon 28-Sep-15 13:22:08

They are 5 and 6........

jeee Mon 28-Sep-15 13:22:43

Another good point about athletics is the fact you can drop it for a season, and still come back. If you drop out of gymnastics for a year, it would be very difficult to come back again. When various dc have been ill, had a lot on at school, or have just decided that they don't want to do athletics, they've left training for a few weeks (in a couple of cases a few months) and have just joined in again where they left off. Yes, their times have slipped a bit, but not as much as you might expect. And nobody seems to think anything of it (I guess the national runners might not have their absences treated in such a sanguine manner).

Micah Mon 28-Sep-15 13:23:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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