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OUCH !!!


Jazzpaws
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I have 5 daughters and they have all studied ballet (only youngest DD is taking it to vocational level). From my point of view, ballet starts at 'good toes/naughty toes' and builds up in a completely structured way into a flexible, artistic dancer, and I feel the training is completely safe, work and stretching done is at never forced.

My granddaughter is only 6 and has started gymnastics, was doing very well and loving it till now. She doesn't want to go any more as she was pushed down into the splits and it hurt ! This has never happened in all my daughter's ballet lessons. i feel so cross!

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I can sympathise with this....last year DD started going to general gymnastics to help strengthen her core and even though she could already do 3 flat splits, she was also pushed down to take her back leg from a dancing split to a gymnastic split and her leg hurt for a few days after that....I think gymnastics is definitely more "hands on" force than ballet which is a more evolved improvement through stretching and guidance. All the good stuff that Dr Dance advocates :)  

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Out of interest how are the gymnastic splits different? I don't I've seen that many of the girls in full splits where my daughter goes, possibly because they're not pushed down and only do gentle stretching!

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The back leg in the gymnastic split is square on with the knee square on the floor, whereas the leg in the dancing split has the leg turned from the hip so the knee is sideways on....that's about the extent of my "non-dancing, non-gymnastic" knowledge ;) 

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And in side splits (at least when they're beginners) the legs are also turned in. My DD (non dancing) did gymnastics for a few years and I also noticed that the instructors were very much 'hands on' ie pushing them down into splits....makes me shudder a bit, but they seem to get results and it certainly never did my DD any harm...I'm assuming (hoping !) the instructors know what they're doing.

 

Edited to add that Jazzpaws, I do not mean to be flippant about your poor grandaughter's experience and if I were you I'd speak to the instructors, especially if it has ruined her enjoyment of gymnastics. x

Edited by Ellie
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Hi Ellie, her Dad will have a word. I don't think any 6 year old should be pushed like that. She has been moved up groups very quickly there, but if this has put her off and she stops completely I won't be sorry. I'd far rather she took up ballet, but it doesn't appeal to her at the moment, we'll wait and see what happens x

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My DD took up gym after trying ballet when she was about 7, she is an energetic powerhouse and the more outward physicality (if that makes sense) suited her much better than the more concentrated energy needed for ballet. She loved her gym and only stopped when she moved to secondary school and the gymnastics required her to train nearly every day until about 9.30pm which at the time wasn't viable. I think she'd like to start again next year. Regarding the stretching, as I said, one would assume that the trainers know what they are doing, but it is clearly wrong to push a small child to the point of tears and upset. x

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Pushing anyone of any age into a split or any other position is not something I would ever condone.  The teacher should guide, supervise, advise, and encourage - not physically push.  

 

There are some bodies which are simply not constructed to undertake full splits.  Some bodies will with time, patience and good guidance.

 

Even those who accomplish this with ease should be supervised and taught to do it safely.  

 

It is a much better lesson in how to make progress to teach patience and methods toward success than to simply shove.  

 

It often makes me wonder about a "teacher" who is willing to take a chance and perhaps cause lasting harm?  What else should I know about this person?

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Thank you for your replies. To me at 6 years old, a hobby ( which it is at that age ) , should not cause physical  pain and should be fun ! I am far from the expert in dance, but I have watched all 5 daughters progress in a structured and completely safe way doing ballet . My grand daughter could already very nearly 'split 3 ways' without any pressure, somersault over and other things, so why force anything. Also, what a good point - dance teachers's have set qualifications and enter students into exams up to professional level. Have no idea at all how this applies to gymnastics 

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I think I've mentioned this before on another thread - I was once chatting to another mum about this gymnastic tendency for teachers to push children into uncomfortable stretched positions and she said that in her opinion (working as she did for the local council in child protection) any such thing shouldn't be allowed as it was tantamount to child abuse. Rather a strong view on her part, but you can see where she was coming from, especially if it causes the child pain and /or upset at such a young age.

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I am no expert but my daughter has done both ballet and gymnastics at the same time. Both of which she enjoys. my DD can do splits 3 ways in both dance and gym. Her gym teachers were regulated and had a professional body of which they were members. they also had badges which progressed from stage 9 upwards. The teachers did gently press down (more like press and release) when the children were doing splits if they felt that the child could do a little better.

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I think anything forced that causes pain is wrong ! DD is starting at Central in September and she is very flexible, which she managed very well through ballet training and was never forced. Silly really, the club had noticed that my grand daughter has potential,and were fast tracking her, so if she does indeed stop they only have themselves to blame. Bring on the ballet - although I might have to wait a long time for that, best to keep off that subject for the moment lol x

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I agree with taxi4ballet's friend - what seems to be considered normal by some gymnastics teachers is considered totally wrong by dance teachers. We have a big gym locally run by ex-Olympic people and I have heard various stories from mums which confirm my fears.

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None of like weight comments being passed on to sensitive teenage girls - as a mother of 5 I have never had scales in the house, not necessary ! However I am sure some fanatical gym coaches are equally prone to make comments about weight - I've never seen an overweight gymnast at Olympic level, in fact some of the Russians look very gaunt to me .

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Definitely agree with your 'no scales in the house' rule, Jazzpaws. I am scarred by the memories of my friend who later went on to vocational school at 16 whose first and last thoughts every day were to weigh herself...and to obsess when she went slightly over a certain weight she had self-prescribed as the 'right' weight for her...

 

It is very clear whether a teenage dancer is an appropriate weight from seeing her in leotard and tights/whether she stills fits into her clothes.

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None of like weight comments being passed on to sensitive teenage girls - as a mother of 5 I have never had scales in the house, not necessary ! However I am sure some fanatical gym coaches are equally prone to make comments about weight - I've never seen an overweight gymnast at Olympic level, in fact some of the Russians look very gaunt to me .

Totally agree, my dd did gymnastics when younger and at an international comp the Russian gymnasts were weighed at the end of the competition and told whether or not they were allowed to eat at the party!!

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I have been pleasantly surprised by the range of body shapes while watching international gymnastics in recent years. I think it has changed from 30 years ago. I agree the eastern bloc girls tend to be tiny but European and USA girls vary. The Americans are often power houses of all heights and look at the British girls who have just won European silver. I guess the fact they don't need to be lifted allows more freedom. The girls at the top of the pairs in acrobatic gym are still tiny.

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I used to be an assistant gymnastics coach a loooong time ago before deciding to focus solely on dance.

 

In the UK, gymnastics coaches should be qualified and insured through British Gymnastics http://www.british-gymnastics.org/ .

 

I did my assistant qualification through them and we were definitely not taught to push children down into splits. Children were taught to use their own body weight to lower themselves as far as they could go into splits (after a thorough warm up of course) but coaches did assist with stretching exercises such as having the child lie on ther back and lifting one leg towards the shoulder. This kind of stretch is better achieved with assistance in order that the correct alignment be maintained but it is imperative that the child understands the difference between feeling the stretch and feeling pain.

 

Regarding the range of body shapes in gymnastics these days, the rules changed in 1997 so that gymnasts must be at least 16 to compete at the senoir level. This encouraged gymnasts to stay in the sport much longer, into their 20s and even 30s whereas previously they were trained to peak at 14/ 15 and if they were still competing at 18 they were considered old! Body shape and weight is more important in some countries than others but ultimately it is the strength to weight ratio that is important.

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