The last time we watched gymnastics in the Olympics was during the summer of 2016 in Rio. The next Summer Olympics will take place in 2020 where gymnastics will be a big hit once again; though I am not sure if anyone would be able to compete up against the Final Five!
Gymnastics has been a popular topic in the news lately, but the news you hear is not always good. Here’s the thing though, just because an activity has some negativity doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your child participate. At the end of the day, kids are kids and want to have fun and do what kids do!
I am writing this post to reassure the parents that gymnastics is a great sport to enroll your child in.
How do I know if my child likes gymnastics?
If your little one loves to flip, somersault, climb, run, and do cartwheels then your child would enjoy gymnastics.
Gymnastics is a sport that is typically started young just like dance. A lot of people like to put their child in gymnastics because it consists of a lot of physical activity which means it will tire your child out!
Your child will learn how to tumble properly using techniques that can help prevent injury. Your child will build a lot of muscle from practicing gymnastics, and will become strong! I will never forget the day my boyfriend’s sister (level 9 gymnast) told me that she won a pull-up contest up against police officers; I was so impressed especially since I can’t even do one pull-up.
Recreation Centers and local gyms offer open gymnastics classes that your child can try to see if he/she likes it. Even if you are unsure about the first session, give a few sessions a chance. Some gyms and Rec Centers have windows where you would be able to watch your child as well so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stick around and see how your child does with the sport and if you can see for yourself if gymnastics is for your little one.
What if my child doesn’t want to be on a gymnastics team?
The good thing about this subject is that recreational gymnastics is an option.
In order for your child to be on a gymnastics team, he/she will have to be asked to join by the gymnastics coaches at that gym. When your child is enrolled in gymnastics the coaches/teachers work hard with your child and they pay attention to how your child interacts with the sport.
I just want to say that it is OK to decline the invitation to be on a gymnastics team. Gymnastics is hard work and gymnasts have to be committed and dedicated. Practices are hours long, anywhere from four to six days a week (yes even on weekends), and it can be expensive. Many gymnasts that take the sport seriously are even homeschooled due to all of the practicing; gymnasts even practice twice a day sometimes.
Your child can still participate in gymnastics weekly by doing recreational gymnastics. Recreational gymnastics would be great to start your child off in because while he/she is doing recreational gymnastics, he/she can participate in other sports and activities as well. The coaches/teachers also work at a slower pace with your child since there is no rush to complete a certain skill.
What if my child gets hurt?
This is common, but not too common if you know what I mean. The coaches/teachers that work with your child are trained professionals. They will take precautions and never push your child to do something he/she cannot do.
Being a gymnast can be a scary thing. Between all of the twists, turns, flips, and landings- it’s scary, especially for the parents! The floors and gym equipment that the gymnasts use are padded and soft to support gymnasts as they slip and fall.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the coaches/teachers will be right beside your gymnast the entire time he/she is working on a skill, and will stay next to your child until he/she has fully completed the skill himself/herself.
Gymnasts make a lot of mistakes and second guess skills last minute. Sometimes gymnasts use their mistakes as motivation to correct their skills. Gymnasts can have mental blocks due to the fear and anxiety of getting hurt. If this is the case, then you, your child, and your child’s coaches can set up a meeting where you all can talk about the issue and come up with a solution. Coaches/teachers are used to stuff like this, so luckily for you they know how to handle it as well!
What if my child doesn’t like the sport after I already enrolled?
If your child does not like gymnastics it is totally fine! All children are different and are all unique, therefore, they have different likes and interests.
If your child doesn’t want to do gymnastics anymore reassure your child that it is OK. A lot of the times children are nervous or scared to tell their parents they don’t like the sport because they are afraid of what their parents might say back in response.
Everyone was not born to like gymnastics, especially since it can be very hard. You are allowed to take your child out of gymnastics whenever you want but give your child’s coaches/teachers a heads up. They will want to know why your child doesn’t like the sport and may actually do their best to accommodate your child for another chance.
If your child doesn’t like gymnastics, don’t give up! There are plenty of other activities and sports your child can try out to find the right one for him/her. Maybe your child would just want a break from gymnastics and that is OK too.
What if my child is struggling with the sport?
Gymnastics is a sport where many gymnasts do struggle, and that is normal!
If your child is struggling in gymnastics it is important to bring it to the coaches/teachers attention if they have not already caught on. The coaches/teachers will work closely and extra hard with your child if they are struggling and will work on a slower pace in which your child will be comfortable with. Coaches will even approach you and ask you if you would like private sessions to help too.
The coaches/teachers get to know your child and figure out your child’s limitations, strengths, and weaknesses. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the coaches/teachers will never push your child to do something he/she is not comfortable doing and never give your child a hard time. If anything, the coaches/teachers are inspiration!
There are gymnastics equipment that you can purchase online for your home. If your child is struggling in gymnastics then it would not be a bad idea to invest in the at-home equipment. There are different things you can buy depending on what you are looking for and there are different styles. If you are unsure on what to buy or what your child needs improvement on, just ask the coaches!
What about the gymnastics sex abuse scandal?
How insane was the Larry Nassar case? For those who are unfamiliar with who he is, Nassar was the USA Gymnastics national team osteopathic doctor. In the fall of 2016, gymnasts (even Olympians from the Final Five) all over the country spoke out about Nassar stating that he sexually abused them. With time, more than 265 women accused Nassar of sexual abuse dating back to the ’90s and he was sentenced to life in prison.
This sex scandal was the biggest one in all of sports history and it was a very terrible thing. Nassar was married with three children; two girls and one boy. When the chaos broke loose, Nassar’s wife divorced him during the summer of 2017 and gained full custody of their children.
I know as a parent you want to protect your children with all your might. Of course, you would never want anything bad to happen to any of your children and you do your best to keep them safe. The world itself is a very mysterious place and bad things tend to happen, but that does not mean to prevent your child from doing something they may want to try.
Just because Nassar was definitely not the best person to have as part of the team does not mean every gymnastics team has a creepy doctor working with them. If this is a concern that crosses your mind while you’re debating if your child should participate in gymnastics or not, just know that this can happen in any sport. Remember the Penn State sex scandal with Jerry Sandusky?
It is key to talk with the gym owners and coaches about any worries or troubles you may have relating to your child and this subject. The gym owners and coaches are cracking down on this and are there to protect your child. They would want to know if anything weird or alarming is going on so it is critical to speak up.
I also cannot stress the importance of having talks with your children and letting them know what to do in case they are put in an awkward or uncomfortable situation; SPEAK UP!
What if my child doesn’t like the coaches or the gym itself?
First thing is first; have a meeting. If something is happening at the gym that pushes your child away from wanting to be a part of it then it is important to set up a meeting with the gym owner and the gymnastics coaches/teachers.
Sometimes things get settled during the meetings and are kept confidential if you ask. If you have any concerns about any of the coaches or gym owners, confront them and get to the bottom of it. If things do not work out in you or your child’s favor then start looking at other gyms.
It can be difficult to switch gyms especially since your child will be competing against some of the neighboring gyms. Don’t be afraid of that! Within a couple weeks your child will seem like he/she has been at the new gym from the very beginning. Gyms are welcoming to all their new team members and will work with your child to get accustomed in no time!