It could be the gel you are using. You didn't mention what type of gel you use. It needs to be cone free, and it'll wash out with a condish wash. I use Aussie's Instant Freeze gel over a curl cream, and that's a hard hold gel that dries hard and then the crunch completely scrunches out when it dries.
Are you applying it to totally wet hair? How are you drying your hair? Are you plopping with paper towels, or an old t-shirt, or a special hair towel? Something that won't frizz your hair?
Do you use a leave in? Also, what conditioner are you using? Some are better for clumping hair than others. Sometimes I get great clumps depending not on what gel I am using, but what conditioner I am using.
Your application method sounds ok, but I can't tell because I don't know your hair type. But it doesn't hurt to gently scrunch product into your hair from the ends up into the roots, when your hair is soaking wet, and your head is upside down, at the end of your shower. It sounds like that's what you are doing but I couldn't tell for sure.
Hope that helps!
That's me with FSG as my styler!!
3b. fine & thick, coarse, dry, medium porosity. Sucks up product and loves ACVs! FSG is my HG!
Low Poo: TJ's Refresh No Poo: CoWash w/VO-5; Sonoma Soap Company sulfate-free poo
RO: Yes to Cuc; SSC Lavender Condish; Sally GVP LI: Donna Marie Miracle D&C
Style: FSG w/Aussie Instant Freeze & CIAB