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resources for raising competitive athletes


lollie010
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I fully admit that I am starting this thread as a distraction from all of the hard things that today will bring. My grandmother's visitation and funeral are being held today and tomorrow and she will be buried next to my father who we just said good bye to a few days ago. So, just trying to think about some of the fun things that are going on in life right now. :001_smile: It will include some bragging also! But, besides all of that I really am looking for advise and/or resources. :001_smile:

 

We are NOT an athletic family. We are not into competive sports. My older two say that they don't like activities where there is a winner and a loser. To them everyone is a winner. They think coaches should be like big encouraging teddy bears. Then completely out of the blue we get this little guy with the idea that there is only one winner and it might as well be him. He gets upset because he thinks his coaches are "taking it easy on him." And he only turned four in Dec. If it involves throwing, hitting, catching or kicking any type of ball, he is all over it.

 

Just for a little background, his coaches have already expressed concern because they are scared to mess with what he does naturally. They shake their heads and laugh and say they dont know what we all are going to do with him. When he was two he was asked to come over and show the 9-11 year olds how to throw baseball. When he was three he was asked to come show the middle school soccer players how to get control of the ball and kick.

 

So can any of you moms of athletes fill me in on what I am in for. How do you keep it healthy, while honoring the fact that he is just wired this way? If his talents were academic, I would know what to do! How do you keep your athlete from getting bored at the early stages when there is just not enough action? How do you keep from getting on other people's nerves?

 

Are there any resources, websites or forums that you would recommend? I am laughing at myself since he is only four but this has been going on since he was 18 months old. So honestly, what do you think I have on my hands?

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So can any of you moms of athletes fill me in on what I am in for. How do you keep it healthy, while honoring the fact that he is just wired this way? If his talents were academic, I would know what to do! How do you keep your athlete from getting bored at the early stages when there is just not enough action? How do you keep from getting on other people's nerves?

 

Are there any resources, websites or forums that you would recommend?

 

Sorry to read about your grandmother. :grouphug:

 

My three kids all expressed a love of sports at a very young age. We found that we couldn't keep our oldest from getting bored at the early stages, so we had him stop playing in organized sports for a few years, and we never even bothered to sign his siblings up for any organized sports at that age.

 

We signed my oldest up for T-ball when he was four and it was a huge disappointment for him. He did not understand why he wasn't able to play "real" baseball. He hated that no matter how far he hit the ball, he had to stop at first base; that if he threw a batter out at first base, the batter still got to remain on first base, etc. We ended up letting him quit 1/2 way through the season. While he and my younger son continued to play with the neighborhood kids in various pickup games, they did not begin playing organized sports again until they were 8 and 10.

 

By that age, the rules of the games were followed.

 

Good luck to you and your son.

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My experience is that athletic talent manifests itself early, so I do not doubt what you are seeing. My girls are intense competitive gymnasts and swimmers, and from their first time in the gym and in the pool, it was clear that they were head and shoulders ahead of the kids who had been there a while. A long while. There are hiccups and starts and injuries to work through, but they have both risen to fairly high levels for their ages. They are not going to the Olympics, but that is not the standard, as you will find out. There is intense, high-level competition for nearly every sport that is not the Olympics, and anyone who says, "Is she going to the Olympics," like that is the only level of competition worthy of the time and money and time--and did I mention time?-- that we put into it, is a nincompoop.

 

That said, the single most important thing I have ever read is a book called Positive Pushing. The author's last name is Taylor, and his first name may or may not be James--I may be thinking that because of the other James, but it is easy to find on Amazon. Great insights on motivation. I have watched it play out beautifully in both of my girls.

 

The other thing that I disagree with a lot of people on is the risk of burnout. I've watched gymnasts and swimmers for many years, and sure, girls can burn out from overtraining, but MOST girls who quit the sport and claim burnout are those who do not succeed. Sports teach life lessons, yes, and you want them to participate for the love of the game and all that, but you know what's really fun? Winning. So shoot my politically incorrect self, but nothing is more likely to discourage burnout that winning. You can define "winning" many ways, of course, but still--it's no fun to toil away with mediocre training and minimal hours in the gym or in the pool, while protecting family dinners or whatever else is important, and then go to a meet and get blown away. So that's my way of suggesting not to listen too closely to people who warn against training too hard or at too high of a level. If you want to be mediocre, train mediocre. If you want to be awesome, that takes work and sacrifice. Luck, too, but definitely work and sacrifice.

 

Sorry to hear of your losses, but best of luck with your athlete.

 

Terri

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There is intense, high-level competition for nearly every sport that is not the Olympics, and anyone who says, "Is she going to the Olympics," like that is the only level of competition worthy of the time and money and time--and did I mention time?-- that we put into it, is a nincompoop.

:iagree:

 

Something that I did not consider when my kids were young and homeschooling was not even a blip on the radar is if your child enjoys a variety of sports, pick a sport to concentrate on that does not depend on playing for a public school when he gets older.

 

My kids are nationally ranked 5 star tennis players. Even though my kids chose to concentrate on this sport prior to homeschooling, now that we are homeschooling, tennis has turned out to be an excellent choice for the simple fact that college coaches don't care one iota about high school tennis. In fact, many of the nationally ranked kids don't even play high school tennis.

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If you want to be mediocre, train mediocre.

 

It's going to be important to do a lot of research on the team and the coach. There are national and local websites for every sport. Start there. Find the championships and see what teams do well. Ask at the local high school. Town rec sports probably won't cut it (way too much time spent standing around, coach is the luck of the draw, etc), so you might want to look at individual sports and save the ball sports til he's old enough to look at a travel team. Find out what sports have good teams close to you. If it's all the same to him, you don't really want to encourage the sport that practices an hour away.

 

Cross training is incredibly important, for both athletic development and burn-out avoidance. And so they don't have to decide what sport they really like before they are 8.

 

You will likely find that he needs more exercise than your other dc, just to be happy and healthy. Have a collection of gym equipment at home (balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, something to climb, etc)

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:iagree:

 

Something that I did not consider when my kids were young and homeschooling was not even a blip on the radar is if your child enjoys a variety of sports, pick a sport to concentrate on that does not depend on playing for a public school when he gets older.

 

My kids are nationally ranked 5 star tennis players. Even though my kids chose to concentrate on this sport prior to homeschooling, now that we are homeschooling, tennis has turned out to be an excellent choice for the simple fact that college coaches don't care one iota about high school tennis. In fact, many of the nationally ranked kids don't even play high school tennis.

 

Thanks for mentioning. I had already been thinking about that because his strengths, right now, seem to be team sports. I don't know how that will play out in the future. He hasn't tried tennis, yet. But it does involve whacking a ball, so it might be right up his alley! Lol. We do want to homeschool through high school so it's something to consider.

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You will likely find that he needs more exercise than your other dc, just to be happy and healthy. Have a collection of gym equipment at home (balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, something to climb, etc)

He is usually awake by 6 and begging everyone to go out and through "balls" by about 6:15. He also has asthma and seasonal allergies, but seems to be completely unable to stop when he gets started. His doctor said he has no limitations on his activities a long as he has treatments available. It's scary though because he wants to be pushed, and he pushes himself but in the back of my mind I am a bit fearful. Almost daily he says to us or his coaches "take it hard on me." Lol.

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Thanks for mentioning. I had already been thinking about that because his strengths, right now, seem to be team sports. I don't know how that will play out in the future. He hasn't tried tennis, yet. But it does involve whacking a ball, so it might be right up his alley! Lol. We do want to homeschool through high school so it's something to consider.

 

While tennis is definitely more of an individual sport, there can be a team component as well. There are USTA sponsored team events. Just as one example, since the age of 11, my kids have traveled every summer with their team of 8 to a college campus and competed against other teams in the Midwest. This event lasts for about a week, and the kids have a blast.

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Swimming is often recommended for kids with asthma, because of the humidity around the pool, and it's a good life skill anyway. Swim lessons might be a good thing for him to do while he's too young for travel teams.

 

 

I have heard that about swimming! I think we will get some lessons this summer. It is a good plan to just focus on strength, conditioning, fitness and fun right now.

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I would sign him up for a variety of rec teams and see what he likes best. Then when he gets a bit older you can look for a travel team.

 

Have you tried ice hockey? Its a great sport to start when kids are young. And it doesn't have to be crazy expensive to get started.

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I would sign him up for a variety of rec teams and see what he likes best. Then when he gets a bit older you can look for a travel team.

 

Have you tried ice hockey? Its a great sport to start when kids are young. And it doesn't have to be crazy expensive to get started.

 

 

Love it. We practically live in the tropics!!! But, I know he would love some ice hockey given the opportunity. LOL. I don't know if we have ever even seen that kind of ice.

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Thanks for mentioning. I had already been thinking about that because his strengths, right now, seem to be team sports. I don't know how that will play out in the future. He hasn't tried tennis, yet. But it does involve whacking a ball, so it might be right up his alley! Lol. We do want to homeschool through high school so it's something to consider.

 

 

I don't know where you live, but in the South, at least, all of the high-level competition is at the club level except for football. That includes team sports such as soccer and baseball, and most of the non-team sports such as track. Club athletes may play for their high schools, but their training and recruiting are almost exclusively done at the club level. It cracks me up to see pics of swimmers and gymnasts signing their letters of intent with their high school coaches looking on proudly, like they had something to do with it. Swimmers who go on to swim in college do not even train with their high school teams, though they may compete with them for fun.

 

Teri

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I would sign him up for a variety of rec teams and see what he likes best. Then when he gets a bit older you can look for a travel team.

 

Have you tried ice hockey? Its a great sport to start when kids are young. And it doesn't have to be crazy expensive to get started.

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I would sign him up for a variety of rec teams and see what he likes best. Then when he gets a bit older you can look for a travel team.

 

Have you tried ice hockey? Its a great sport to start when kids are young. And it doesn't have to be crazy expensive to get started.

 

Look around for ice rinks in your area.

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My son is similar. He started rec soccer at four and at end of first season informed me he needed a better team. One where the kids wanted to play soccer and not pick flowers and sit on their mom's laps. LOL He started with a developmental league the next fall and has been going strong ever since. He now played varsity soccer as a freshman on a five A team that went to state championship. He also plays club soccer. Along the way he's also done Karate, gymnastics, tennis and swim. He just needs to move but soccer is his love.

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Club athletes may play for their high schools, but their training and recruiting are almost exclusively done at the club level. It cracks me up to see pics of swimmers and gymnasts signing their letters of intent with their high school coaches looking on proudly, like they had something to do with it. Swimmers who go on to swim in college do not even train with their high school teams, though they may compete with them for fun.

Teri

 

Our state's athletic association prevents players from competing in USTA tournaments during the high school season. A few years ago a local player was competing in the US Open. She wanted to play on her high school tennis team, but was disqualified by the athletic association because she had advanced too far in the US Open and missed the first week of team practice.

 

The athletic associations in many other states to not punish the elite athletes. Unfortunately, that is not the case where we live.

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My experience is that athletic talent manifests itself early, so I do not doubt what you are seeing. My girls are intense competitive gymnasts and swimmers...

 

Are any of your children both a competitive gymnast and a competitive swimmer? If so, how does this work out, especially concerning competition seasons? I've been wondering whether or not these two sports can both be pursued simultaneously (at a competitive level.)

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I don't know where you live, but in the South, at least, all of the high-level competition is at the club level except for football. That includes team sports such as soccer and baseball, and most of the non-team sports such as track. Club athletes may play for their high schools, but their training and recruiting are almost exclusively done at the club level. It cracks me up to see pics of swimmers and gymnasts signing their letters of intent with their high school coaches looking on proudly, like they had something to do with it. Swimmers who go on to swim in college do not even train with their high school teams, though they may compete with them for fun.

 

Teri

 

Your statement is significantly over stated for the boys sports with the most scholarships available at the collegiate level (excluding football). Swimming, tennis and other sports are quite different, partially because they are varsity sports at many high schools.

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Are any of your children both a competitive gymnast and a competitive swimmer? If so, how does this work out, especially concerning competition seasons? I've been wondering whether or not these two sports can both be pursued simultaneously (at a competitive level.)

 

No, different girls, one swimmer and one gymnast. Sorry--could have worded that more clearly. At a certain point, no, I do not think they could be pursued at the same time because of the number of hours in a week. They both practice year-around, and their practices and competition seasons overlap. When they are younger, or if one were pursued recreationally only (summer league swimming, for instance, or a weekly tumbling class), it might work, and they certainly are not contrary sports. Flexible shoulders and hips, for example, and rock hard abs, are useful for both sports.

 

I did not want my girls in the same sport, though plenty of families take a contrary approach. The first time my now-swimmer asked to quit the gymnastics class she begged for when she was about 5, I pulled her out. I knew it wasn't for her, and I did not want her to try to emulate her big sister. The next year she discovered swimming, and that was the last we ever heard of any other sports.

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Your statement is significantly over stated for the boys sports with the most scholarships available at the collegiate level (excluding football). Swimming, tennis and other sports are quite different, partially because they are varsity sports at many high schools.

 

I am not sure exactly what you're saying, but other than football, the kids around here--boys, too--are learning and honing their skills in club soccer, travel baseball, club swimming, club track, club gymnastics, their own tennis teams, etc. Three months of practicing with a high school team is not enough to get your skills to the level they need to be to be recruited. High school competition is an add-on to their club sports, something they do for fun. Perhaps it is different in more rural areas, and there may be an exception besides football that I am not thinking of. But no one who is recruited for college swimming got there by swimming with his high school history teacher for 3 months a year.

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I am not sure exactly what you're saying, but other than football, the kids around here--boys, too--are learning and honing their skills in club soccer, travel baseball, club swimming, club track, club gymnastics, their own tennis teams, etc. Three months of practicing with a high school team is not enough to get your skills to the level they need to be to be recruited. High school competition is an add-on to their club sports, something they do for fun. Perhaps it is different in more rural areas, and there may be an exception besides football that I am not thinking of. But no one who is recruited for college swimming got there by swimming with his high school history teacher for 3 months a year.

 

I am saying that for some boys sports (basketball and baseball in particular), the high school coach and the player's time in that program often has a significant impact on their college prospects. DH works with a basketball recruiting service and although players are often scouted through the club (ie AAU) scene and exposure events, the high school coach is the next significant contact except for the players at the high end of the D1 scale. The travel teams do serve a purpose in those sports as they occur outside of the collegiate season for those sports which allows head coaches to attend the tournaments/exposure events, but the high school seasons are not played "just for fun" and most colleges use those game films in their scouting. Non-revenue/lower profile sports like swimming and tennis do work differently, which I stated above.

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Your statement is significantly over stated for the boys sports with the most scholarships available at the collegiate level (excluding football). Swimming, tennis and other sports are quite different, partially because they are varsity sports at many high schools.

 

I don't know about swimming, but college recruiting for tennis is definitely not done at the high school level, even if tennis is a varsity sport at the school. The college coaches do not care about high school tennis results because they know that the top players are not playing for their high school teams.

 

In tennis, it is all about a player's star rating (plus academic index for the Ivy's and top academic Div III schools). The star rating is determined based solely on U.S.T.A. tournament results. Tennis has a website that lists a player's star rating. In addition to the star rating, a student has a personal page that all the college coaches can access that states his standardized test scores, i.e SAT/ACT, SAT II's and APs and intended college major.

 

The college coaches use this website for college recruiting and players announce on this website when they have committed to a college.

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I don't know about swimming, but college recruiting for tennis is definitely not done at the high school level, even if tennis is a varsity sport at the school. The college coaches do not care about high school tennis results because they know that the top players are not playing for their high school teams.

 

In tennis, it is all about a player's star rating (plus academic index for the Ivy's and top academic Div III schools). The star rating is determined based solely on U.S.T.A. tournament results. Tennis has a website that lists a player's star rating. In addition to the star rating, a student has a personal page that all the college coaches can access that states his standardized test scores, i.e SAT/ACT, SAT II's and APs and intended college major.

 

The college coaches use this website for college recruiting and players announce on this website when they have committed to a college.

 

Did I not specifically exclude tennis? I am fairly certain I did. In my first post I specifically referenced the sports with the largest number of scholarships available for boys (which other than football, are basketball and baseball).

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The impact of high school sports on athletes (at any level) varies widely from state to state.

 

Some states do not allow high school athletes to practice with their club team AT ALL during the high school season. Others do.

 

Some states (and some sports) have a long enough high school season to actually develop athletes. Others do not.

 

Depends on the sport and the state.

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The impact of high school sports on athletes (at any level) varies widely from state to state.

 

Some states do not allow high school athletes to practice with their club team AT ALL during the high school season. Others do.

 

Some states (and some sports) have a long enough high school season to actually develop athletes. Others do not.

 

Depends on the sport and the state.

 

 

Correct, with the given sport often being the most important factor.

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We are not a sporty family, but I'll pass along something from a sport family I know IRL. Their ds plays football, basketball, baseball. Before every season, his dad sends him to a trainer to condition specific groups of muscles, with the goal of preventing injuries. For example, before football, neck muscles get trained (if that is the correct term), so that sudden hits/jolts can be absorbed by the muscles. For baseball, the upper legs get a workout, so twists and turns use those muscles, not joints, etc.

 

The extra training would probably not be needed so much in ordinary rec sports, but it is a big help for more demanding play.

 

I hope I've described this so it's understandable. As I said, ours is not the sport family, lol.

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Wow! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and some of the behind the scenes decisions that have to be made. I clearly have a lot to learn and am glad to have some info. to consider for the future. I am ordering the book mentioned and just getting a feel for the structure of the various sports. Of course he could wake up tomorrow and be done with it all and that would be fine with me, but I have a feeling we are in this for the long haul.

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Love to hear any more resources, especially on home schooling the competitive athlete. Rebecca's at the gym 13.5 hours a week now and hopes to score out of a couple of levels in the fall.

 

ETA: OP, I know what you mean about holding back so as not to seem "braggy." Sometimes your jaw is just dropped to the floor, but there's no one you can really share it with.

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High school baseball has become a bit of a joke in our state. With few exceptions, recruiting is done during the fall travel league and personal coaches are the one with contacts, not the high school coaches.

My youngest brother had a full-athletic scholarship to a big Div I school 15+ years ago. Even back then, college coaches recruited only at the travel league tournaments. My brother's travel coach was the person the colleges interested in my brother contacted. His high school coach was not involved in the process at all.

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Love to hear any more resources, especially on home schooling the competitive athlete. Rebecca's at the gym 13.5 hours a week now and hopes to score out of a couple of levels in the fall.

 

ETA: OP, I know what you mean about holding back so as not to seem "braggy." Sometimes your jaw is just dropped to the floor, but there's no one you can really share it with.

 

 

Not to hijack the thread ;)

 

But I just found out that some gyms in our state require that their gymnasts be homeschooled when they hit level 7 and higher. Of course that's not why we're doing it (dd is only level 5) but I can see that the hours required would conflict with a traditional school schedule.

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My experience is that athletic talent manifests itself early, so I do not doubt what you are seeing. My girls are intense competitive gymnasts and swimmers, and from their first time in the gym and in the pool, it was clear that they were head and shoulders ahead of the kids who had been there a while. A long while. There are hiccups and starts and injuries to work through, but they have both risen to fairly high levels for their ages. They are not going to the Olympics, but that is not the standard, as you will find out. There is intense, high-level competition for nearly every sport that is not the Olympics, and anyone who says, "Is she going to the Olympics," like that is the only level of competition worthy of the time and money and time--and did I mention time?-- that we put into it, is a nincompoop.

 

That said, the single most important thing I have ever read is a book called Positive Pushing. The author's last name is Taylor, and his first name may or may not be James--I may be thinking that because of the other James, but it is easy to find on Amazon. Great insights on motivation. I have watched it play out beautifully in both of my girls.

 

The other thing that I disagree with a lot of people on is the risk of burnout. I've watched gymnasts and swimmers for many years, and sure, girls can burn out from overtraining, but MOST girls who quit the sport and claim burnout are those who do not succeed. Sports teach life lessons, yes, and you want them to participate for the love of the game and all that, but you know what's really fun? Winning. So shoot my politically incorrect self, but nothing is more likely to discourage burnout that winning. You can define "winning" many ways, of course, but still--it's no fun to toil away with mediocre training and minimal hours in the gym or in the pool, while protecting family dinners or whatever else is important, and then go to a meet and get blown away. So that's my way of suggesting not to listen too closely to people who warn against training too hard or at too high of a level. If you want to be mediocre, train mediocre. If you want to be awesome, that takes work and sacrifice. Luck, too, but definitely work and sacrifice.

 

Sorry to hear of your losses, but best of luck with your athlete.

 

Terri

 

 

Love your post (and need to get the book) but the bolded made me smile. I've been saying this for years! But people pretty much think I'm nutty because of this.

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Love your post (and need to get the book) but the bolded made me smile. I've been saying this for years! But people pretty much think I'm nutty because of this.

 

 

 

I have no experience with gymnastics/swimming, but I do disagree with her post when applied to all sports across the board. I have seen many, many "winning" players in basketball and football burned out by overzealous parents/coaches/trainers.

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My boys are both very athletic and thrive on competition. My oldest (9) is in a very competitive team for his chosen sport and while he also participates in other sports he enjoys, it is obvious that his talent and passion lies pretty heavily in this one. He spend a lot of time training, wants to spend even more time training, and never complains or wants to take a break even in very harsh conditions.

 

He does not get any of this from me (niether of my boys do). Although Dh is naturally athletic we both feel very strongly about supporting our dc to the fullest while neither of us has ever pushed. In fact, we were pretty devoted to Waldorf Ed in the early years and I really tried to hold my oldest off until age 10 or so for competitive sports. I wanted to balance him out a bit- he was already so competitive as a preschooler. Now though I see it is how he channels his intensity and I'm grateful he has that outlet for many many reasons we are just now beginning to understand.

 

So, I'd recommend following your ds lead. Let him know what is available to him and support him, but don't stress or push or even become overly enthusiastic about it. Let it be entirely his own thing that you support.

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Not to hijack the thread ;)

 

But I just found out that some gyms in our state require that their gymnasts be homeschooled when they hit level 7 and higher. Of course that's not why we're doing it (dd is only level 5) but I can see that the hours required would conflict with a traditional school schedule.

 

 

Yep! I don't know what other gyms around here require, but Rebecca is now 1 of 3 girls on the team who are homeschooled. And because we're so far from the gym, the hours wouldn't work if she went to PS. The bus comes by our house as they're pulling out of the driveway to leave. So, bonus!

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Yep! I don't know what other gyms around here require, but Rebecca is now 1 of 3 girls on the team who are homeschooled. And because we're so far from the gym, the hours wouldn't work if she went to PS. The bus comes by our house as they're pulling out of the driveway to leave. So, bonus!

 

I was just talking with my mom about this tonight. I don't know how these competitive athletes do it when they are in school! Meg is at the gym 12 hours per week. She's 7! If she were in school, she'd be coming home and leaving straight for the gym! And, she's there until 8:30. We drive home and eat dinner and she's not in bed until 9:30 or so. That is a crazy late bedtime for a 7 yo who has to go to school the next morning!

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Are any of your children both a competitive gymnast and a competitive swimmer? If so, how does this work out, especially concerning competition seasons? I've been wondering whether or not these two sports can both be pursued simultaneously (at a competitive level.)

 

 

From a competitive gymnastics point of view the answer is no. At least once you have advanced a few levels. My son is working out 16 hours a week at the gym. We have also seen other kids do extra sports during the off season. These children haven't done as well at gymnastics. The hours cut out of the gym result in less prepared athletes. I can see a child doing both during the early years while deciding on which sport to stick with.

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I was just talking with my mom about this tonight. I don't know how these competitive athletes do it when they are in school! Meg is at the gym 12 hours per week. She's 7! If she were in school, she'd be coming home and leaving straight for the gym! And, she's there until 8:30. We drive home and eat dinner and she's not in bed until 9:30 or so. That is a crazy late bedtime for a 7 yo who has to go to school the next morning!

 

 

 

Isn't that crazy? Here there is a bus that goes around to the schools and brings the kids straight to the gym. Then they get out of practice at 8 PM. Most of them are away from home from 6:30 am - 8 pm four days per week. My dd is the only homeschooled gymnast in our gym. They do school work on the bus, during break and while stretching. I have no idea when they eat. We couldn't do it.

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From a competitive gymnastics point of view the answer is no. At least once you have advanced a few levels. My son is working out 16 hours a week at the gym. We have also seen other kids do extra sports during the off season. These children haven't done as well at gymnastics. The hours cut out of the gym result in less prepared athletes. I can see a child doing both during the early years while deciding on which sport to stick with.

 

I thought as much. I often wonder if we made the right decision with gymnastics. She only does 9-12 hours per week this year, the minimum required to stay on team. Next year she will have to do 12-16 hours minimum. She has a strong front stroke and the swim team would like to recruit her. Swimming seems the better choice to me, but she will certainly choose gymnastics. I'll keep her in recreational swimming, just in case she has a change of heart some day. :)

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If you don't have friends whose kids are in competitive sports it might seem like a crazy question to be concerned about a 4 year old. The reality is that many kids are starting early and then specializing in one sport much earlier than before. My six year old is like your son, obsessed with balls since he could crawl. He practiced over and over again until he could drop kick a ball at two. He was so determined at just turned four to shoot a basketball into a regulation height basket that he tried almost 100 times one afternoon at my brother's house until he could do it. I think he would enjoy participating in almost any ball sport. My husband and I had several conversations about what would work for our family, our preferences, our budget, our location, and our son's potential when deciding what sport to push more. Basketball was out (we aren't tall) and I don't enjoy watching it, hockey is expensive and it doesn't snow where we live, golf and baseball are slow, long and not active enough. Swimming and gymnastics are really time consuming often five day a week sports from a really early age. My husband and I both love soccer, my son loves to play and watch it, he is dripping in sweat when he finishes, it is outside in direct sunlight (good for his eyesight), it is a sport he can play as an adult in a rec league, he can play pick up games at the park or beach with friends and family, etc.

 

So once we decided that, we enrolled him in soccer programs year round starting at age 3 so it is his main sport and he tries only one other sport most seasons for variety (basketball, swimming, baseball, gymnastics). Now at six he has played year round for three years and is really far ahead of almost all the other kids in the soccer leagues he plays in. It ends up being a cycle of the better kids dominate the games, have possession of the ball more so they are getting more practice which makes them better, get asked to play more (a club soccer team had him come to their soccer camp last year even though he was a year too young because he had no problem keeping up; he also was asked to play up in indoor soccer when they needed more players). I feel badly for the kids that try to start at 7 having never played soccer before. They really need to not get discouraged and put in a lot of time to catch up to the kids that have already played for four years.

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I was just talking with my mom about this tonight. I don't know how these competitive athletes do it when they are in school! Meg is at the gym 12 hours per week. She's 7! If she were in school, she'd be coming home and leaving straight for the gym! And, she's there until 8:30. We drive home and eat dinner and she's not in bed until 9:30 or so. That is a crazy late bedtime for a 7 yo who has to go to school the next morning!

 

That's what most of the kids at our gym do. On my dd's team they train 15 hours a week (most of them are between 7-12) and they do school, come home and change/homework/snack and head for gym. Honestly, if my daughter was in public school I wouldn't be willing to sacrifice the time with her for gym.

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