Gymnastics: Begin Here, Go Anywhere
“Introducing your child to gymnastics at a young age isn’t about choosing a sport for your child, it’s about introducing a variety of skills that they can utilize in whatever sport or activity they might one day choose.”
Shannon Miller, 7 time Olympic gymnastics medalist and mom of two children.
Gymnastics is the basis of all sports.
The name itself is from the ancient Greek word gymnazein meaning “to exercise naked.” Initially the Greeks used gymnastics to train soldier getting ready for war. But then gymnastics became so central to the Greek idea of education it became mandatory for all children to participate in the sport. It was from there that these gymnasiums developed into schools teaching gymnastics, math and music.
While modern gymnastics has evolved from these early days, gymnastics still remains the sport that incorporates the movement patterns and basic skills that are most beneficial for preparing children for all sports or as an excellent cross training sport.
As Olympic champion Shannon Miller whose own young children participate in gymnastics states, “Introducing your child to gymnastics at a young age isn’t about choosing a sport for your child, it’s about introducing a variety of skills that they can utilize in whatever sport or activity they might one day choose.”
I’ve written extensively on the benefits of gymnastics: for preschoolers, for school improvement ,for boys and for your future. But here is another major reason for kids to participate in gymnastics: to develop their inner athlete.
Gymnastics is great for developing athletes because of its physical and emotional training.
- The Basis of Athleticism: Strength, Flexibility, Coordination and Speed are all part of even the most basic gymnastics training.
- Injury Prevention. Knowing where you body is in the air and how to fall are two important skills in preventing injury. And there is not better (or more fun) place to learn these than in the gym. Add in the additional physical preparation that the strength and flexibly that gymnastics instills the injury prevention that gymnastics provides athletes is remarkable.
- Mental Toughness. Learning how to preserve, deal with frustration and fears as well as embracing progress as a non-linear process are just a few of the mental skills that gymnasts teaches.
- Developmental appropriateness. Because gymnastics does not rely on cognitive skills such as strategic planning and understanding complex rules that team sports such as soccer or basketball do, gymnastics is appropriate from the youngest of ages and is a great way to begin your child’s athletic training.
- Professional Coaches teach kids how to be coached. Kids who participate in a gymnastics program through a professional program (such as one recognized USA Gymnastics) are doing so with coaches who have received training on how to coach children. While volunteer coaches can be great, you often get what you pay for! Having your children work with professional coaches can make a world of difference in their safety and learning. Additionally, these coaches teach kids how take and incorporate feedback, a critical skill for the development of an athlete.
Let’s take a lesson from the greatest American gymnast ever and the greatest civilization ever and get the kids into the gym! #BeginHereGoAnywhere