This is a question that I am sure many of you have wondered or asked. You may think your child is too young, or maybe too old. Maybe you may be wondering for yourself and not for your child! Regardless of the situation, I am hoping that reading this post will ease your mind and answer your questions.
When is too young to start gymnastics?
To be quite honest, there is no such thing as being “too young” when it comes to gymnastics. In fact, there are toddlers as young as 2-years-old that participate in gymnastics. Every gym, or clinic, is different and have different programs. I know that the gym in my area has programs for toddlers to help release their energy. Coaches/Professionals work with these toddlers maybe about once or twice a week, which is perfect for that age because you definitely do not want to over-do it.
Maybe you want to wait when your child is a little bit older, and just know that is okay! Many people think that the earlier they put their child in gymnastics, the better he/she will become. I have to say this is not true because your child can become very successful in gymnastics even if you decided to wait until he/she was older and can make decisions for himself/herself. Maybe you wanted to wait until your child was in elementary (primary) school, or maybe even middle school. Either way, just know your decision is not wrong.
When is too old to start gymnastics?
There are two types of gymnastics: recreational and competitive. If you (or your child) is interested in competitive gymnastics, then typically those gymnasts start young, usually in elementary school.
Competitive gymnastics demands a lot of time and a lot of dedication. Your gymnast will participate in a handful of meets throughout the meet season, and she/he will be practicing five days a week for a few hours at a time. This is because coaches want to make sure your gymnast is comfortable performing routines so she/he does not lose points. Plus, the harder you work towards your routines the better you get, and the better you get the more you jump from level to level. Each level consists different skills, and the higher the level, the harder they become. In many cases when a gymnast belongs to a team, gymnastics will probably be the only sport she/he participates in because it is very time-consuming. Practices are during the week (sometimes on Saturdays) and meets take place typically on weekends.
I say competitive gymnasts start young because it takes years to work your way up. Sometimes a particular skill can take not only weeks but maybe months to finally be mastered. In order to compete in the Olympics, you have to be 16-years-old. You also have to be an Elite Gymnast to be in the Olympics and this can take a handful of years to accomplish.
The older you become, the harder it may be on your body and you may be more of a target when it comes to injuries. Now, I am not saying in your 20s, but it very rare for you to be in your 30s or 40s and competing in the Olympics (but it is not impossible!).
What if I want only want to be part of recreational gymnastics?
If this is the case, then I would say start whenever you like! A lot of people take a couple gymnastics classes a week to stay in shape because gymnastics works every muscle in your body. Maybe your child wants to be a cheerleader and learn how to tumble, well that is what recreational gymnastics is for! Maybe your child wants to learn how to do a backflip just for the fun of it, well that is what recreational gymnastics is for! Maybe YOU are having trouble getting fit or are out of shape, well that is what recreational gymnastics is for!
Many gyms have clinics each week for children (and adults) that will still teach you gymnastics skills, but out of pure enjoyment. These clinics will teach your child (or yourself) gymnastics skills and techniques at a much slower pace and will give you the opportunity to participate in other sports and activities. Sometimes recreational gymnastics is great for athletes outside of gymnastics. For example, a dancer or even a football player may do recreational gymnastics to help with balance and flexibility.
Whatever your situation may be, recreational gymnastics is a great way for your child to be involved with gymnastics and have passion for the sport by not fully committing. Recreational gymnastics is also a great trial for those who are not sure if they are ready to dedicate themselves to the sport. In many cases, coaches from the gym will see how your child is doing during the hours of recreation and might even invite your child to join their team.
So, when should I start gymnastics?
In conclusion, there is no specific age as to when you should start gymnastics. You should never let your age (or child’s age) hold you (or your child) back from doing what you want to do. Things always find its way to workout. Before making any rash decisions I definitely recommend trying out recreational gymnastics first to make sure your child likes the intensity and idea of gymnastics before she/he talks competitive gymnastics. Many people do not know how much of a commitment competitive gymnastics is, so at least your child will get a taste through recreational.
If you are still unsure of what to do, just know that your gym’s gymnastics coaches are there to answer any questions you may have and provide feedback. The gym coaches care about your child and want the best for her/him. Of course, the gym wants your child to be a part of their “family”, but make sure it is something your child and yourself will want as well!
Please comment below and let us know if there is anything we may have missed when it comes to this topic! Feedback and experience are definitely encouraged!