My 10 Hopes for Gymnasts Retiring


Summer brings a time of the year when it is logical that some of the kids in our gyms will decide to hang up their grips for good and head off into the sunset. 

I’ve written before that there is a difference between quitting and ending, and most certainly, the end of a competition season or school year is a logical time to make the choice to end.   That said, these choices are seldom without emotion for the gymnast, the family or the coaching staff who will miss these athletes. 

Nevertheless, it happens to all gymnasts, there is comes a point when it is time to move on.  For some it may be at the end of an illustrious international career while for others it may be simply because childhood is a time to try things out and it is time to move on to try something different.  Sometimes kids retire because of injury, family finances or school, and other times it is just that gymnastics no longer brings joy to their lives that it once did. 

Whatever the reasons might be, here are my 10 hopes for gymnasts retiring:

1. I hope you take with you a life long love for fitness.  Gymnastics is the basis of all sports, and you are exceptionally fit since you’ve been in it.  Keep taking care of your body and keep moving.

2. I hope you take with you happy childhood memories.  Sometimes when things end it is easier to focus on the parts we didn’t like because we think it will make it easier to let go.  Maybe it will, but it will also pollute all the wonderful times you had with your teammates and coaches.  It is possible to feel two opposite things are the same time—let the happy parts in too.

3. I hope you take with you a sense of accomplishment.  Being a gymnast is not easy.  No matter how far you got in the sport, you are head and shoulders above what the average person can do.  Be proud of what you have learned and banish any voice (like the one in your head) that tells you otherwise.

4. I hope you take with you the belief that you can fall and rise again, just as you did so many times in practice.  Resiliency is one of the keys to a successful life.  You have this trait so well developed—so use it, please!  Remember, fall seven times, stand up eight.  It’s one of the secrets of a successful life. 

5. I hope you take with you the knowledge that anything worth getting means working for it.  No one handed you a back handspring or a giant.  No one is going to hand you a college degree or a promotion.  You work for these things, hard, which brings me to…

6. I hope you take with you the pride in doing hard things.  Everyday at the gym, you did hard things.  Continue to do hard things.  That’s another secret of success—successful people do the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do.  You’ve got this: Do Hard Things!

7. I hope you take with you determination.   That determination that allowed you to toil away at conditioning and training even when you were tired and frustrated.  There will be times it’s tempting to phone it in or cut corners, you know that doesn’t pay.  Stay focused.  Stay determined. 

8. I hope you take with you the discipline to show up and work, even on the days that you don’t feel like it.  Gymnasts are among the most disciplined athletes in the world.  You have cultivated this trait—again, use it forever and ever.

9. I hope you take with you the confidence that allowed you to go out on a 4 inch beam and attempt things most people cannot do on a 4 foot wide floor.  Always keep you chin up know that you can do things that most no one else can.  Keep doing that. 

10. I hope you take with you the knowledge that you are always part of the gymnastics world.  You may not be at your club everyday anymore, but that does not mean you aren’t still an important part of that community or the larger gymnastics community.  Come back to your gym once in awhile and say hi—we love to see you!  If you are looking for work through high school and college, consider learning how to coach.  Maybe it will be a great job to have through college or maybe it will turn into a career, who knows?  Maybe you always wondered where judges come from—it’s grown up versions of people like you!   Watch gymnastics on TV.  You are always part of the gymnastics world. 

We know you probably shed your share of tears in making this decision, and know that we shed some too when we realized we won’t see you all the time.  We were lucky to get to be even a small part of your childhood and cannot wait to see the great things you do in the world.



P.S.  If you know of gymnast who has retired, please forward this to them too.  Thanks!