Registered: 1313720184 Posts: 5
Reply with quote #1
My daughter is 7 and has been happily training in both dance (multiple styles at a competitive studio) and gymnastics (at a competitive club) for years. There are tryouts for dance team and move ups to team for gymnastics this year. She is at the stage where she needs to choose between what to do competitively as it is very unlikely that she can compete in both at the same time. I have not been in this scenario before and would love some insight.
In gymnastics, it is clear that she would need to stay on this track to be able to continue competing in gymnastics. At least in this area, and at this club, you can't move back and forth between recreational and team. It's "all in" or you won't be competitive moving forward. In dance, it seems like you can wait a bit and continue training with the studio before you tryout. The ("not team-only") classes develop their dancers well it seems. However, it is clear that the younger dancers that begin working in the team/company environment flourish with the extra hours, one on ones if available, stage experience, etc. The level of expectation is higher, therefore they are clearly advanced. The training in both seems to truly be helping her be better in the other...they are complementary. My questions are around, how do I as a parent keep my eyes open as I support her next steps knowing that she equally wants both. She can't say which one she likes better because she absolutely loves both equally and wants the opportunity to compete in both. I don't know what she's "better" in. Honestly, I think she shows equal talent/promise/passion in both. Her instructors seem to agree based on how they move her in classes and challenge her. I think they are equal in time commitment, but dance is higher in cost. Regardless, the cost isn't the biggest concern. Long term, I want to help her be viable in either should she reach a point where she really wants to pursue one only. Have others had this situation? How did you handle it? Gymnasts tends to cap out at a certain age and only the best and uninjured can continue in college. Dancers seems to have more longevity and opportunities in college and even beyond. I see SO much burnout and injuries in gymnastics. Does the same happen in dance as they get more competitive? My daughter has a stronger, muscular body type and gymnastics will only enhance that...is that ever a negative in competition dance? A LOT of questions, but would love to know your insight and stories from those who tried various paths and the outcomes.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1403814317 Posts: 920
Reply with quote #2
I have one in each, and I am a gymnastics coach.
First, deep breath. She doesn't HAVE to choose quite yet, but you're right, it will be coming up. When it's right, she will be able to choose.
While it's possible to do both for a while longer, I would hold off on the competitive DANCE for a while. It's not necessary, she will still benefit from the training as you say they get the same technique classes as the "team" girls. You don't "age out" of dance in the same way you do in gymnastics.
Assuming she is going into JO competitive gymnastics, it's definitely a time issue. Some less competitive programs and/or areas/gyms have less of a "discrimination" against age but be aware that there are gyms and areas in where they consider a 7/8yo too old to begin competitive gymnastics...!
Injuries and burnout can happen in both, none of us have a crystal ball. Both put stress on growing bodies and accidents can happen in either activity. It's true that some hot shot gymnasts burn out very young, most of them training very hard for very long hours (we are talking 20hrs/wk plus, for 7yo). If she is just entering into competitive gymnastics I would assume she'd be heading for L3 or L4, which shouldn't be quite that bad as far as hours go but probably between 6-14hours/wk depending on gym and area. Continuing with dance once or twice a week as she does gymnastics will certainly be helpful and will add to her presence on the floor and beam. There will de differences that she will have to figure out (leaps are different etc).
If she starts leaning more towards dance instead of gymnastics, there comes a point where gymnastics training will be detrimental to ballet because of the different muscular structure developed. Gymnastics will certainly be helpful if she wants to do competitive dance, she will be more likely to have some cool tricks up her sleeve, but those aren't necessary. Dance IS more of a life long activity and something she could potentially enjoy longer. There are very few gymnasts who still do gymnastics at age 40, lol, but many dancers who still enjoy to dance. I will say, in my experience, gymnasts do tend to go on living VERY active lives and often go into cross fit, powerlifting, stuff like that.
Here it would be impossible to do both competitively as the seasons run at the same time. I have had to send each girl with someone else at least once this season, and I have been very lucky that it wasn't worse!!
If *I* had to choose for MY kid in this situation, I would go with competitive gymnastics for this year while continuing dance training. It's easier to pick dance up if you keep going and less of an age factor if she should decide a year or two from now that she really wants to do dance team instead. The ship may sail if you do the other way around (many gyms don't accept people over their "acceptable age" onto their competitive team).
Just my 2c having one foot in each world!!!
High Gold Member
Registered: 1403814317 Posts: 920
Reply with quote #3
Oh, and I would not factor in college at all. It's true that IF she keeps going, IF she doesn't get injured or burn out she COULD do either in college. The vast majority of dancers and gymnasts do not continue on in college, and only a very select few get scholarships etc. That far off teeny tiny possibility would not have any impact whatsoever on what I would choose for my kid to do at 7. I would look at what makes her happy and what gives her the best choices in the next couple of years.
Just because she loves both now doesn't mean she will love either when she's 12.... Or, she could go on to be the next Gabby Douglas or Misty Copeland, you just never know, but for now, let her enjoy her journey!
Registered: 1283323252 Posts: 1,465
Reply with quote #4
DD was where your dd was 7 years ago. She started in gymnastics at age 4, and dance at age 4 1/2. Both started small with one class a week, and it seemed like every year, each got more serious. At age 6, dd was asked to join the pre-team at gymnastics. It was 3 days a week for two hours at a time. She was also taking three dance classes a week. The following year (age 7) was the year she made her studio's ballet academy, which was a 7 hour per week commitment and she was also invited to be on team at gymnastics, which was a 10 hour per week commitment. There was no way at the time she could do both. We left the choice up to her, and she picked dance. She loved both, but I think the main reason dance won was that the studio was close to our house, so the kids she danced with were also friends at school, so she was closer with them. Gymnastics was 20 minutes away, so she only saw those kids at the gym. DD still loved gymnastics though. Her gym was very understanding and left the door open for her if she changed her mind. She continued with just gymnastics rec classes for 4 more years. It wasn't the same, and she definitely progressed much more slowly than the kids that ended up doing the team, but the coaches were good with her and let her work on skills at her level, even if that differed from what the rest of her class did. By age 11, gymnastics just didn't fit in her schedule anymore, so she stopped altogether. She does take tumbling and acro classes at her dance studio, but no longer does beam, bars, vault. DD never regretted or second guessed her decision. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if dd had chosen gymnastics instead. I always felt dd was better suited for gymnastics, and it did seem to come more easily to her than dance. DD is tiny, but very strong. She's also fearless and a thrill seeker. Gymnastics seemed perfect for her, but she loved dance even more.
High Silver Member
Registered: 1441047768 Posts: 184
Reply with quote #5
I would push for your daughter to make the decision herself. DD8 doesn't dance competitively but is in a performance company. I got approached about transitioning her to pre-team from rec in gymnastics at age 5.5. And had to make a decision before the age of 6 - after that it's too late at our gym. I will admit, I thought she was way too young for that sort of commitment or to make that decision on her own. So I said no. She loves dance and trains 6-7 hours a week at this point and she does 2 hours of rec gymnastics a week. She seems happy, but I regret taking the decision out of her hands, even at that age.
Registered: 1434897096 Posts: 16
Reply with quote #6
I'm not sure that there's one perfect answer. My daughter started with gymnastics, competing for several years. Although her focus was on gymnastics, she took a ballet class or two each week. Over time, it was the dance, rather than the gym days, that she was most excited about. She was the one that decided that she wanted to make the switch from competitive gymnastics to recreational dance. (The competitive dance part came a bit later.) I'm glad that I never had to make the choice for her. We did part from her gymnastics team/coaches on very good terms. So if she later regretted her choice, she would have been able to return without too much difficulty.
Wishing you the best of luck whichever path you decide is best for your daughter!
Registered: 1313720184 Posts: 5
Reply with quote #7
Thanks for all of the great personal examples. Insight into merging these worlds and what to consider as I help her follow her interests is incredibly helpful. I see from all replies that it is on target to assume she'll have to decide in the near future if she wants to go the competitive route in one or the other. She's tried a lot of "activities", to make sure she has her eyes open to, and receives support exploring, diverse options - but dance and gymnastics are clearly her current front-runners. Outside of this child, I am new to dance and have never experienced competitive dance. I am not new to competitive gymnastics, so have some frame of reference there. We went through the whole college process years ago with another one, so overall college considerations are fresh in my mind but agreed, "a reach" factor, in any consideration between the too. Also agreed, from experience a lot can change as years go on in terms of interests and fit. It is refreshing to know it is viable to hold off on the competitive dance this year if she remains in class learning technique. Again, I come with only a history of the world you noted of they "absolutely must start early in gymnastics world" (technically she is 6 turning 7 by the time tryouts/move ups happen this Spring, it was just easier to stick with 7). Continuing with dance once or twice a week is hopefully feasible, but her studio has some more limited class availability. Yes, it would be training level 4 in JO gymnastics. It is three days a week with a TOPS option. --> T here comes a point where gymnastics training will be detrimental to ballet because of the different muscular structure developed<-- This is probably a different post topic all together, but I have absolutely noticed this in the advanced girls in dance vs. gymnastics. It could be natural to just how they are built or could be training (or both), I don't know. It certainly doesn't matter now, so we'll see how it plays out. I think it would be unfair (to the studio and gym) and exhausting (for her and me) if not impossible to do both competitively. Plus I think I'd go broke. I really appreciate the direct "If it were my kid" and "Here's how it panned out for us with hindsight" info/rationale. Truly. I just wish she showed any sign of not being in love with both equally. I want to put it in her hands, but she seems torn when thinking of giving one up, so I will go the path of least resistance. In fact, I think what she loves is that they are so complementary yet tap into some pretty different needs/interests. 1. Dance - Sassy yet Elegant, fun music, costumes, stage, lights, makeup, acting, a team doing it all together (though she's a ham on her own too). The challenges of the dancing and movement are so enjoyable for her. AND 2. Gymnastics - Daredevil Spirit yet Precise, apparatus, flipping, strength, individual performance, toughness/focus, at least currently tangible skill achievement and checklists. I understand that most of those benefits are not exclusive to one activity only, just examples of what she seems to pull from each. So, I hear you, for now support both and continue to let her figure it out. Thanks! Love the input.
High Platinum Member
Registered: 1298213712 Posts: 3,980
Reply with quote #8
I'll chime in as well.
Smiling because dd was 7 when she hit this crossroad. It seems so young to have to make a decision. At 7, I asked dd to make a choice. She had only been in a once a week gymnastics class and went to an occasional open gym night. She did do their camp during the summer though. At the end, I was asked to have her move up to whatever team was for her age group. Sounds similar- it was 3 days each week plus a required number of open gym (probably once a week). Dance was moving to 3 days each week and she was joining the competition team. In a perfect world, she would have done both, but I thought it was too much for that age. I wanted her to be able to have time to just play too.. and go to Girl Scouts, etc. So, dh and I made her choose. For her, the choice was easy. She wanted dance. In hindsight, knowing that dd would end up dancing every.single.day in the future, maybe we could have swung it all. Dd did wish she had stuck it out in gymnastics a bit longer to get a few more tricks under her belt. There always seemed to be some special part for a kid that could really tumble in ballet. I know it sounds weird, but it was often worked into the full length ballets- a tumbling rabbit in one, tumbling in the Candy Cane dance in Nut, etc.
Dd did have a friend who did both for a very long time. Much longer than anyone would have ever guessed possible, knowing the amount of time each required. She did ballet, no competition though. She was dancing ballet probably 5 days a week and was probably a level 6 or 7 gymnast. Eventually, after an injury that is really only found in young gymnasts or very old people, she left gymnastics in favor of just ballet. I have spoken to the parents who have definitely expressed that for all she got out of gymnastics, they wish they had pulled the plug on that earlier. Just one family. Her younger siblings left gymnastics when she did.
Registered: 1283323252 Posts: 1,465
Reply with quote #9
I do know of a family with two dd's that do high level gymnastics and dance. The 13 year old is a level 10 gymnast and also attends a competitive dance studio where she is in two group dances and does solos. I don't know how she manages it all, but she does. I think her studio waves some of her requirements. For instance, she doesn't take ballet at her studio, but instead does ballet privates several times a week with dd's ballet teacher. She does a school program where she only goes to school for the first two periods, and then does everything else online. Her younger sister is 10 and a level 7 gymnast. She doesn't compete in dance (except YAGP). She goes to dd's studio and only does ballet. They both also performed in our Nutcracker. It all works for them, but I can't even imagine how hectic it all is.
High Platinum Member
Registered: 1214478534 Posts: 3,079
Reply with quote #10
My eldest three DD's all had to make the desicion at some point. DD1 ad DD3 chose dance, DD2 chose gymnastics.
Both activities require a lot of hours but gymnastics generally requires more. In gymnastics they will day yiu have to do say 20 hours per week. On dance you usually have a base of hours required and you can choose to do optional classes, privates etc if you want to.
They are both expensive, but dance is usually more expensive, as you need a different costume for every routine and a million pairs of expensive shoes.
Gymnastics comps are a more specialised audience, generally there are less spectators and they are all connected to gymnastics. We find there is a lot less cheering and applause. At our dance comps the audience is much larger and more appreciative.
Both can lead to careers, but dance yields more careers than gymnastics.
Both cross over to a degree. If she chooses gymnastics many still have the kids do a dance class and they do dance in their floor and beam routines. If she chooses dance, she can take an acro class and do flips in routines.
Gymnastics is much more popular with the younger crowd. The most populated age group is around 7-8. As gymnasts reach the pre teen and teen years the numbers thin our significantly. Dance is also more populated by young kids but more tend to stick with it through high school.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1332216704 Posts: 816
Reply with quote #11
One other consideration when the time comes, what do the genetics in your family suggest about her eventual height. Gymnastics is better suited to shorter girls, so if you are from a tall family, she may eventually face a ceiling in gymnastics.
Registered: 1407373522 Posts: 495
Reply with quote #12
My niece is 15 and competes level 7 gymnastics (hopefully 8 next year.) For a year or two she also did some competition dance but the schedule was brutal and the expenses... were more than her parents were willing to pay. She does continue to take ballet, pointe, and some years even jazz or hiphop depending on her training schedule at a very good dance school that does not separate competition and "recreational" dancers for classes. Gymnastics is her passion but she's been lucky to be able to continue to dance as well to a high level. She's actually pretty tall for a gymnast (5'4") and plans to become a physical therapist working with dancers and gymnasts.
I've seen 2 girls transition from gymnastics and one from skating in the last year or two at DD's ballet school, at ages 12 and 13. They all came in with such focus and drive and work ethic! They are also as a group very strong and flexible. All three are moving quickly through the ballet curriculum and levels and will likely be on track with their age mates in another year or two.
High Silver Member
Registered: 1302490921 Posts: 183
Reply with quote #13
I posted this exact question last year at this time. My dd has been doing competitive dance for years while also training in gymnastics. I've given her a choice every year and she's always chosen dance, but next year she plans to try gymnastics. I think it's good to let them try different things while they're still young so there's no regrets later. I expect she'll enjoy a year or two of competitive gymnasts and ultimately end up back in dance. I'm not worried as dance and gymnastics have really complimented each other. Her dance skills make her a beautiful gymnast and her gym skills open up more opportunities for her in dance. We will continue with a few dance classes and start a new adventure for awhile. I think gymnastics is really better if started early and my daughter is a couple years older than yours. If I could do it over, I think we'd do competitive gymnastics first and then move to dance instead of the other way around.