Gymnastics 'N Things

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Gymnastics: Junior Olympics (JO) v. Xcel


When my daughter started competing in gymnastics she was placed in the Xcel program.  Many parents have no idea what the Xcel program is because their daughters are in the Junior Olympics (JO) sometimes called “Levels” program.

Two of the main competitive programs that most gymnastics clubs participate in are Junior Olympics (JO) and Xcel.  In order to compete in a sanctioned competition in JO or Xcel, a gymnast must be registered with USA Gymnastics.  Here is a brief description of both programs.

Junior Olympics (JO)

The Junior Olympics program was developed for gymnasts to advance at their own pace, competing in one level per year (more levels if the gymnast chooses to do so).  The JO program consists of levels 1 – 10 and divided into three sections:  Developmental, Compulsory, and Optional

  • Developmental Levels 1 through 3 are mostly non-competitive and achievement oriented. Usually considered introductory in a gym’s pre-team program.  Some states may offer State Championships for these levels
  • Compulsory Levels 4 and 5 are progressive, building on the skills required at the Developmental level. Local competitions are provided including State Championships.
  • Optional Levels 6 through 10 have level of difficulty in skill restrictions.  (No restriction at level 10)  Additional competitive opportunities are provided for levels 8-10.  The Jr. Olympic National Championships, Eastern or Western Championships and Regional Championships.


Xcel Program

The Xcel program is an alternative USA Gymnastics competitive program offering flexibility to coaches and gymnasts.  Xcel provides gymnasts with a wide range of abilities and commitment levels the opportunity for a rewarding gymnastics experience.  There are five divisions of Xcel:  Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond.

Other differences the Xcel program is perfect for parents and gymnasts who do not want the time commitment that JO programs entail.  The JO program requires 12 to 16 hours per week training, whereas Xcel only requires 6 to 9 hours per week.  JO and Xcel programs can compete at the same competitions.  They participate in the same events: Uneven Bars, Beam, Floor and Vault.  However, the skills set for each event are judged more restrictive for JO as opposed to Xcel.

Junior Olympics (JO) Levels Xcel Divisions Minimum Age Requirements
Levels 1 & 2 Bronze Reached Age 5
Levels 2 & 3 Silver Reached Age 6
Levels 3, 4, 5 & 6 Gold Reached Age 7
Levels 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 Platinum Reached Age 8
Levels 7, 8, 9 & 10 Diamond Reached Age 9

There is also an Elite Level in gymnastics beyond Level 10.  Elite level will be explained in a future post.

I hope this brief explanation of the JO and Xcel programs helped!

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