Child gymnast posing on balance beam

Getting Your Child Started with Gymnastics

Many parents dream of their daughters or sons studying gymnastics and learning the grace that this sport provides. Grace and beauty is stressed highly along with strength and conditioning. Girls and boys both are capable of being highly talented gymnasts and are able to perform equally well.

Gymnastics is dominated by more girls than boys; however, boys’ gymnastics is far from a “sissy” sport. The boys involved in gymnastics are usually very strong and quite buff.

Regardless, the benefits of gymnastics for your children are many.

Quick Glance at Benefits

The good news is that gymnastics is one of the few sports that has various levels that allow someone to either pursue on a competitive level, or remain doing the gymnastics for fun only.

Other benefits of gymnastics include the increase in body strength, flexibility, balance, concentration, courage, determination, perseverance, self-confidence, and self-discipline. As well as coordination, and the ability to overcome fears, not all children are comfortable doing the twists and flips as well as the high bars. They must learn to overcome their fear to excel at gymnastics.

Equipment Needed to Get Started

Small child using gymnastics rings

Your child’s start with gymnastics can be as involved or casual as you want. You can dip your toes in, so to speak, or jump right in.

If you’re determined to give your child the best chance for success, you’re going to want to look into getting her/him the right equipment to practice with. Nowadays they sell equipment you can set up right in your home, where your son or daughter can practice as often as they want. For example, you may want to invest in a gymnastic bar — you can check out some of the best gymnastics bars for your home to get an idea of the sort of equipment you should get.

Other equipment you may want to look into:

  • Balance Beam
  • Tumbling Mats
  • Uneven bars
  • Cheese Wedge

These are just to give you some inspiration for the type of equipment you can get. Doing so is likely to give your child a great jump-start into the sport.

Skills Needed to Excel

In order for your child to excel in gymnastics muscle endurance, dexterity, and flexibility are all important traits to have. Additionally dedication and the ability to handle stress are other key traits for a successful gymnastics student. If a child starts too young, they are unable to truly enjoy the experience. However, if a child starts at a time when they want to do the gymnastics they tend to be much happier and better adjusted.

Boys’ gymnastics typically starts a bit later than girls due to the physical strength that is required for the boys. Girls however are typically able to start tumbling classes as young as 2 years of age. Children can typically be singled out as highly talented once they are 5-6 years old. Some of the coaches who train gymnast only for competition will not accept a child if they feel they are going to be too tall or not talented enough.

Finding a Coach and Gym

Coaches that are strict about who they will work with make it a task to find a coach willing to work with a child for a fun level instead of competition level. There coaches are out that are more concerned with fun rather than competition. When searching for a coach you want to look for a coach that emphasizes safety over anything else. Your child should always know proper safety procedures and methods before learning anything else.

You want to make sure that at a minimum there is floor-level trampolines, spotting harnesses, and safety pits. There should also be floor mats with either padding or springs so that the gymnasts are not harmed when landing from difficult maneuvers. You should also ask if the program you sign your child up for has ever produced any competitive gymnast. Another important note is the ratio of coaches to students in the class.

When you find a coach that you think is acceptable, you should check to ensure they are certified from the U.S.A. Gymnastic for either safety or coaching. Preferably both, to ensure the best possible coach. If your child is taking gymnastics for fun, the class schedule should only be 1-2 hours per week. If your child is taking gymnastics for competition then the lessons are 4-5 times per week for several hours at a time. There is a great difference in the time requirements involved.

Equipment Used in the Gym

There are four major types of apparatus that females use for their routines; these are the vault, the balance beam, the uneven bars, and finally the floor exercise. Males use 6 pieces of apparatus including the floor exercise, the pommel horse, the long vault, the parallel bars, the rings, and finally the high bar. Additionally a newer form of gymnastics is available for women called rhythmic gymnastics. This form involves the use of music, as well as a ball, club, hoop, rope, or even a ribbon to perform a routine.

Costs of Gym Time and Coaching

The costs associated with gymnastics are typically not too much unless the child is very serious and is training for competition. The equipment necessary is a leotard, as well as hand grips, which can be purchased for less than $50. Lessons with a coach can range from $25-$75 per hour depending upon the coach. The other fees and costs that need to be considered include traveling, gas to travel and the hotel fees involved in competitions.

Getting your child started with gymnastics is a fairly simple but thoroughly rewarding process. It could be the start of a life-long passion for the sport, and could quite possibly end with an Olympic medal.

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