Hello gymnastics community! The weather is getting cooler and fall is kicking in, which means meet season is just right around the corner. I am sure your little gymnast had worked their butt off all summer to perfect that one skill, learn something new, or even moved up a level! Either way, it is quite an exciting time during this time of year. There is something I would like to stress the importance of and that is: sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship? What is that? Well, sportsmanship is fair treatment (equally) within a sport. This may be patting a teammate on their back after they did a good job, cheering a teammate on during a routine, giving a high-five to a teammate or comforting a teammate if they felt they did not do their best- the list goes on and on. Regardless, sportsmanship is important within a sport because it actually improves the relationship the team has with each other.
Jealousy is something that people will have when it comes to sports. Gymnastics is definitely a competitive sport, we can all agree on that. Gymnastics is both individual AND team performance, but they go hand-in-hand with each other. Who would your gymnast be without their team? That is a question you probably will never figure out.
Being on a team is rewarding. You meet new friends, you get to see how other people perform, you can help your teammate out if they are struggling, and you also congratulate after a job well done. But let me ask you something- do you think it’s good sportsmanship if a teammate or coach or parent cannot be happy for someone’s else success? Why would you even want to be on a team if you cannot show respect to a teammate for all their hard work? Believe or not, there are people that are like this.
Sportsmanship is a topic that should be talked about more in sports, especially in competitive ones like gymnastics. It is very easy to become jealous or envy someone on the team because they received a medal and maybe your gymnast did not for a meet. I know it is hard to be up there on the beam in front of an audience or to complete an entire floor routine without tripping or forgetting a skill while the judges stare at your gymnast making sure they do not miss a step. It can be much, but with time it will become normal and your gymnast will not have the fear of people watching anymore. Why do you think “The Final Five” dominated the Olympics? I am sure they bickered and had disagreements, but in the end, they worked together as a team and made sure they had each other’s backs. They went to the Olympics with a teamwork mindset.
Aside from all of that, it is key to remember that everyone is unique therefore everyone is different. It might take Gymnast A two days to complete a skill but may take Gymnast B two weeks to complete the same skill. Our mind and bodies work differently from one another. We each have different thoughts and feelings. We are the only ones who know our bodies and know how much we can push ourselves before it becomes too much.
I wanted to share this topic with you because of a situation that occurred. A gymnast that I know (level 8) basically lives at her gym. This girl is at her gym from sunrise until sunfall and puts in more than 100 percent. This gymnast has definitely had her ups by winning Beam State Champion and all arounds, as well as definitely having her downs. She had fears that caused mental blocks to the point where she was nervous to do skills because of falling off the beam and getting hurt, and I am sure there were other skills that made her double-think. It’s common for a gymnast to go through emotions like that.
Well anyway, she was recently told that she will be competing in a few Elite meets this season and crazy enough, some of her teammate’s parents could not show happiness towards her. In fact, during a camp her team recently went to, some of her teammates did not inform her of get-togethers that were going on inside the hotel the team was staying at, AND the gymnast and her parents were not welcomed when it came time to dining out. The gymnast did nothing wrong, but basically was being left out and neglected because her dedication and hard work got her to achieve her dream.
Do you think that is right? To teach a child to ignore and not be happy for their teammate? A team is a team for a reason, and just because someone within the team worked five, six, ten, 15 years to get to where they are does not give someone the right to punish them. How do you think the gymnast that I know felt after hearing that a teammate’s mother/father put together a pizza and ice cream night for the WHOLE team in their room and she wasn’t invited? Not to good I would think.
That neglect can backfire on a young athlete. They might think that something is wrong with them and that their success is not something to be proud of. The athlete might get fed up with it and not work to their full potential- or even quit the sport. We are the younger generation’s biggest role models. They look up to us and act out what we do, so poor behavior can reflect off a young athlete. Your gymnast should be happy for someone else on their team, even if they get a higher score than your gymnast. Even though gymnasts do compete against other gymnasts on their own team- they should remember that they are teammates first, not opponents. It is also good for gymnastics teams to be kind to one another at meets because not only is your gymnast representing her team and her gym, but that too is good sportsmanship. Some gymnasts may be looking to switch gyms, therefore seeing kindness amongst a team may make the decision much easier.
Sometimes kids do not know better, and I get that, but when it comes to a team and working together it is only right to teach young athletes how to be proud of another teammate. Without the cheering, collaborating, teamwork, and caring, where would a team even be? Teams are not successful when just one person tries to control the rest. Teams make it far when they come together and bond like a family.
Please feel free to comment and share any similar experiences that you or your young athlete had gone through. My advice to you is that the second something negative happens within your young athlete’s team- to confront the coaches so they can get the team together and have a talk about sportsmanship.
Photo Credit: CNN