- Sports and Recreation»
- Individual Sports
Gymnastics: Why Isn't My Child Advancing?
It might be the question gymnastics coaches are asked most often: "When will my daughter be moving up?" And while most coaches would like to acquiesce and award the distinction of higher placement from one session to the next, in most cases, it's not that simple.
No child learns at the exact same pace so to be able to give a parent an exact time-frame or time line by which their child will progress is reckless. It's the equivalent of giving a mother-to-be an exact date and time that her child will be born and if that time comes and goes, there is frustration disappointment and then discouragement. It's the surest way to lose students and customers.
There are many factors that determine when an athlete should progress to the next level. One of those factors is skill acquisition. Your kiddo might be the hardest working athlete, have the best attitude and may have never missed a single class since she first signed up but if your child doesn't have a minimum of 90% of the skills necessary to be fluent and rounded at her current level, she will likely be overwhelmed and in some cases unsafe if she is moved up to the next level. Your first priority should always be your child's safety. While it's nice to have a superstar on the team, some injuries are irrevocable and kiddos can sustain injuries at the lower compulsory levels if they are not properly trained in strength and flexibility. The "go and throw" mentality is primeval and belongs in the dark ages.
Because all children learn, grow and develop at a different pace, it's unrealistic to compare your child with other kids in the class. On a regular basis parents will suggest that since there are other students who are moving up, their child should be evaluated for the next class or level. For competitive gyms, in most cases, the instructor is qualified and will let parents know when the time for advancement is appropriate.
Age and Emotional Maturity
I've worked with kids who were seven and eight years old and could perform skills that a level ten athlete could perform however, they could not control their bodies properly. The outcome was that they were not safely performing the skills. Sure, they could turn over a double-back but, it was haggard and scary! Don't rush your kiddo to do things that they are not emotionally capable of doing. The coaches know that you know your child better than anyone else but we have to determine what your child is physically capable of doing and that's our expertise. Trust us to do our job and together we can hopefully make your kiddo a gymnast, cheerleader, diver or track star - they are all linked.
Gaining strength takes time. Building muscle and flexibility are a rise-over-time type of development for athletes. Children take time to learn skills. In athletics, it takes repetition and constant practice. The conundrum is that if mistakes are not pointed out, kids will practice wrong and hence learn wrong.