My good friend Rick McCharles tweeted this out the other day.
Benefits Of Gymnastics For Kids
Gymnastics classes are one of the most exciting, social and physical activities a child can take part in from a very young age.
Some children love the idea and can’t wait to jump into a leotard and do cartwheels all day long.
Other children are apprehensive when involved in group activities but through the guidance of a friendly, fun and engaging gymnastics teacher your child can learn to enjoy gymnastics and benefit from it socially, mentally and physically.
We are compiling a list of benefits of gymnastics, with interesting and unique insightsfrom the gymnastics world.
1 Developing A Sense Of Curiosity
Mark Gibson, the highly experienced and inspirational former Junior Olympic gymnastics coach, was kind enough to share his views on the benefits children can experience by taking part in gymnastics.
Having taught gymnastics for over 35 years and written an awesome book that focuses on motivating gymnasts and athletes to overcome their fears, believe in themselves and develop a winning mindset, he really understands deeply how people think and what makes people able to be courageous, gain strength from letting go of fears and pursue their dreams
With all this gymnastics experience behind him and having also taken part in some of the most unique adventures around the world, including skateboarding an incredible600 miles!! I was curious to find out how he would respond to me asking him what he thinks is the most important benefit for children taking part in gymnastics.
‘Gymnastics teaches kids to be curious. In our sport you don’t just spend a lifetime getting better at the same skills (running, jumping, throwing catching, hitting).
In gymnastics you are constantly challenged to learn new skills and never become too comfortable with what you can already do’
I really like this answer, Life is always full of new challenges and different situations, so being able to adapt and push yourself to learn new skills as a child, can really develop a solid foundation for later life when you will have the courage to learn and implement new skills in order to adapt to the challenges life throws at us.
Mark expanded on his answer, with his clear passion for gymnastics and love of sharing this passion with others, obvious for all to see.
‘they have to have an “I can’t…YET!” attitude. They need to always be fired up about all the cool, awesome, fun opportunities that are still out there in the world.
If we as coaches can send them off into the rest of their lives with that kind of curiosity then we will have taught them a skill way more important than flips and cartwheels.
(Although flips and cartwheels are also pretty cool. Especially when you are 57 and still doing them at weddings to embarrass your own teenage kids.)’
I think that this sense of curiosity is often developed under the guidance of a teacher like Mark or role model, who is selfless and genuinely wants to give to others, by sharing, helping and living what they teach everyday.
2 Gymnastics starts at home
My first experience of gymnastics was performing a forward roll ( roly poly ) as a child.
I would place the cushions off the sofa onto the floor and role again and again until I got dizzy and couldn’t stop laughing.
Even though I was adventurous I wasn’t brave enough to attempt a backwards role and my cartwheels looked like I was performing a wrestling slam rather than a majestic gymnastics tumble.
Most children first experience the fun of gymnastics without even realising it.
Sometimes this is on a bouncy castle, performing flips and throwing their body around attempting to both dance, enter the Olympics and imitate wonder women with a new-found ability to fly
… or should I say bounce a couple of feet higher
Younger children are much more flexible than adults because their bones are still developing.
This means that babies have the pleasure of being able to nibble on their own toes quite comfortably.
Starting gymnastics at a young age is much easier because this flexibility makes performing stretches, somersaults, tumbling and acrobatics much easier and less demanding on a young healthy body.
4 When should a child start gymnastics ?
Children between the ages of 1 and 5 can start gymnastics. Toddlers gymnastics classes usually begin with both a child and their parent or under close supervision. Working together they can practice lots of different movements through a wide range of motions that activate muscles and joints.
It is possible for toddlers to improve their muscle memory, brain development and physical strength from a very young age through gymnastics exercises. Toddlers learn to explore their own bodies capabilities and usually take part in lots of fun activities. Learning to jump, run, roll and balance are a lot of fun and also help improve coordination and confidence.
When parents watch or take part in toddlers gymnastic classes they can enjoy watching their child learn new skills, make new friends all while laughing and having fun.
5 Physical benefits of children gymnastics
The Physics committee for responsible medicine wrote an article which outlined the need for a healthy diet and lifestyle in order to help bone growth. Most importantly they mentioned exercise is a key factor in how strong a child’s bones will become as they grow older. Gymnastics is one of the best exercises for the whole body.
Gymnastics can improve children’s flexibility as well as providing them with full body physical strength and conditioning and set them up with excellent core strength, balance and coordination skills useful for all sports or fitness activities they pursue in later life.
Children who have taken part in gymnastics and practiced consistently for a number of years will have a massive physical fitness advantage over kids who are less active or who haven’t focused in the same way on exercises that rely on the weight of your own body like gymnastics does.
6 Improved Focus
Children can be hyperactive and focusing on a task doesn’t always come easily for them. Gymnastics and most of the disciplines, especially when performing on the bars or beams, require a lot of focus in order to succeed and not fall.
A competition beam is 4 inches wide and children learn to perform handstands, leaps and amazing back handsprings whilst keeping balanced on the beam. This requires exceptional focus and balance. It isn’t even easy to walk along the beam if you aren’t used to having to balance.
Learning to focus on yourself and you body is useful in all walks of modern life where there are so many distractions. Having this awareness and ability to maintain focus on a task is one of the greatest skills a child can learn.
7 Overcoming fear and staying motivated
In this interview with Olympic Gymnastic Simone Biles, she mentions that at one point in her life she wasn’t good enough to compete at the elite level and could easily have given up. Instead of not pursuing her dreams, she practised harder and for longer hours and it paid off.
It doesn’t matter whether your child is aiming to be an elite gymnasts or be able to perform a Kip smoothly, being able to overcome obstacles and fears can really open up a new sense of freedom and self-belief in your child’s social life, studies and eventually in their career.
8 Attend a Gymnastics summer camp
If your children take part in gymnastics they will often have the chance to attend a gymnastics summer camp. These fun camps give young gymnasts a chance to spend more time in the gymnasium practising their gymnastics skills and learning from more experienced children and teachers.
With the extra time off school, kids have the chance to do more exercise and condition their bodies even more than usual so they are well prepared for school or club gymnastics next semester.
Sometimes activities at camps involve singing around a camp fire, swimming or other fun sports and team games.
These camps are beneficial because they allow kids to meet need friends, often from different towns in your state and sometimes from across the country. A focus on having fun and enjoying yourself is important, they aren’t work camps, they are a more relaxed environment that will help children enjoy gymnastics even more and learn some new skills all whilst having the time of their lives camping overnight with friends.