Question: "My daughter is 11 years old and is training for Level 5 and 6. She usually trains 12-15 hours a week. Is this enough for her age? I have looked at some other gyms and they train 5 days a week around 20 hours a week. What is the norm?
- Cary

At Level 5 & 6, 12-15 hours is most definitely the norm. If an athlete works hard and the coaches run an efficient workout the job will get done!
- Mary Lee Tracy - Owner, Cincinnati Gymnastics

Question: "What is the best way to explain to a family member the scope of a competitive gymnast's schedule and help them understand the difference between a seasonal sport and a year round, highly competitive sport such as gymnastics? Are there articles available to help articulate these differences from both physical and mental perspective? I'm trying to explain this to someone who thinks all gyms are alike and believes you should be able to pick up and go to another gym temporarily and everything will still be on track. While this can be done, there is so much research, discussion and questions to ask and consider of both the athlete's needs and personality, coaches and owners. Hoping someone else has been able to accurately articulate and not have to re-create the wheel."
- Katherine

The timing of your question is ironic. My book "GYM MOM - The Twists and Turns of Your Daughter's Gymnastics Career" is due out this summer and would be the perfect gift for anyone in your life that doesn't understand the scope of gymnastics. The book explains every aspect of the sport, including how to select a gym and the importance of a good fit between the athlete and coach.

I clearly remember back in the early years of my daughter's gymnastics career, feeling judged by friends and family members when we would alter our vacation or holiday plans so that Jordyn wouldn't miss practice or a meet. I felt unfairly labeled as an "overly competitive" mom due to the lack of understanding of the sport of gymnastics. While you shouldn't have to justify decisions you make for your child, you could explain some of the aspects of the sport to help family and friends better understand your position.

Here are some of the differences between gymnastics and other sports that you could point out to your friends and family in the teachable moment:

  • Gymnastics is a year-round sport. Unlike seasonal sports, more than 2 or 3 days off of practice isn't desirable to a gymnast. There is such a connection between mind/body/and muscle memory in gymnastics, missing practice could actually put a gymnast at greater risk of injury. Repetition of skills is very important. I remember taking my daughter to a gym in Florida a few times while on vacation when she was a Level 5 gymnast so that she wouldn't be rusty after a week off.

  • When a coach and gymnast develop a relationship that works, it's golden. If a coach can explain corrections to their gymnast in a way that makes sense, and the gymnast can then make the changes in training, you have a great fit. If there isn't a "working connection" between the gymnast and athlete it's reasonable to seek a new coach. It's everyone's goal for the athlete to meet their full potential. Sometimes it's worth a gym change, even if it entails a commute to ensure this fit.

  • A gym that is perfect for one gymnast and family, may not be for another. There are so many factors that play a role in finding the best gym for your competitive gymnasts, including: location, cost, coaching (as discussed), history of success, condition of facility and equipment, qualifications of staff, means of communication at the gym, etc. The desicion to invest so much time and money into a sport is not taken lightly, nor should the selection of a gym.

I hope that helps organize your thoughts on how to explain our sport as opposed to other sports. As mentioned, pick up a copy of GYM MOM this summer for much more detail.

Thanks and good luck to you and your daughter.
- Rita Wieber

Question: After a gymnast has no more symptoms from a concussion what are the steps to return to play protocol for the artistic adolescent gymnast?
- Susan S.

According to the St. Vincent Sports Performance team the concussion guidelines should go as follows:

  1. Symptom free for 3-5 days.
  2. Have a normal neurological exam from a medical professional.
  3. After symptom free, they need to begin a exertional progression over a 3 day period of time starting with 20 min of symptom free exercise at 50 percent and progressing to 75 then 100 percent.
  4. After passing this progression they can return to full activity.

Question: "How often do the compulsory routines change for Trampoline & Tumbling?"

The routines change every 4 years so the next change will take place for the 2012-2013.

Question: "How often do the compulsory routines change for the men's program?"

The men's compulsory routines change every 4 years and the next change will be for the 2012-2013 season.

Question: "How often do the women's compulsory routines change and when will the new ones be coming out?"

Answer from National Junior Olympic Committee Chairman Tom Koll: "The Junior Olympic Committee changes the routines every eight years. The music, however, is changed every four years. When the new music is offered, clubs have a choice of which music they would like to use - they can use either the original music or the new music. The new compulsory routines will be unveiled June 1, 2013."

Stay tuned for more questions and answers!

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