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The Beginner's Guide To Gymnastics

Updated on May 19, 2013
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi has been a competitive gymnastics coach for 25+ years, coached levels 3-10 to state, regional, western and national titles.


Gymnastics Statistics

  • Lowers crime rate
  • Delays development of high blood pressure
  • Reduce hypertension in children
  • Better school attendance
  • Increase self efficacy
  • Reduce risk of asthma
  • Decrease risk of substance abuse
  • Reduce risk of anti-social behavior
  • Promotes self confidence

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Benefits of Gymnastics

Gymnastics is one of the best sports for children because it develops the body and the mind simultaneously. Studies show that children who have participated in gymnastics have:

  • better attention spans
  • more sophisticated communication skills
  • greater problem solving methods
  • improved self esteem

Gymnastics is not limited to girls, boys can also benefit from participating. The great part about gymnastics is that it is an "all body" sport which means that it puts physical demands on the entire body. It's no secret that technology, computers and video games seem to be stifling the athleticism of our youth. Gymnastics is at the opposite end of that spectrum. Its physical benefits include:

  • strength
  • dexterity
  • speed
  • agility
  • coordination
  • depth perception
  • flexibility
  • fine motor skills
  • gross motor skills
  • power
  • balance
  • rhythm
  • multiple intelligences

With a list like that it is easy to understand why gymnasts tend to be courageous, outgoing, excellent goal setters and terrific multi-taskers. Children who do gymnastics tend to be more self-confident and learn to express themselves. Gymnastics is a great sport for children who are shy. An excellent way to help a child come out of their "shell" is to start with an open-gym where parents can be on the gym floor and there is not a lesson plan or schedule of events. Take your kiddo to the gym, spend quality time working together. When you feel it's appropriate, join a mommy and me class where the instructor leads the lesson and you work with your child on organized instructed tasks. Finally, sign your kiddo up for lessons and let the growing begin!

Sierra and Briggs come back every summer to workout.  They graduated the team in 2008 respectively.
Sierra and Briggs come back every summer to workout. They graduated the team in 2008 respectively. | Source

What makes a great gymnastics teacher?

When you visit a gym, before you sign up, watch each instructor to see how they interact with the children.

  1. Are they smiling?
  2. Are they looking the children in the eyes?
  3. Are they working with all of the children?
  4. Are they being "hands-on"? (not standing to the side with their hands in their pockets)
  5. Are they high energy?
  6. Are they working on many stations and different events - not the same stations over and over?
  7. Are they consistent?
  8. Are the kids being supervised and controlled? (or are they running amok?)
  9. Are they effective communicators - using positive reinforcement?
  10. Are the kids having fun?

Cognitive and Social Benefits of Gymnastics

The benefits of gymnastics are far greater than just being physically fit. Gymnastics is a socially interactive sport which requires kids to work as a team while promoting healthy interaction and the opportunity for enrichment through experience.

In gymnastics kids learn important social skills such as learning to take turns, learning to stand in line, listening skills and the ability to work through several stations in a specific order at one time which initiates the development of problem solving abilities. The nature of gymnastics is a gradual process which allows kids to learn small steps and feel great about their accomplishments. Cartwheels don't have to be perfect - have you ever heard "hand-hand-foot-foot"? All that is expected at the earliest stages is a close approximation and, "the crowd goes wild"!

Gymnastics 4-Ever

One great aspect of gymnastics for kids of all ages is that it provides an avenue to get into excellent physical condition. Research suggests that kids and teens who participate in gymnastics have greater bone density and are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis as adults. Additionally, they are less likely to develop diabetes.

In the 25 years I spent coaching, I can remember many teenage girls telling me that gymnastics literally saved their lives. Some were saved from being delinquents, some from dropping out of school and some from depression and even suicide. Gymnasts will tell you that gymnastics is a life choice, it's a camaraderie and a family. Once you become a gymnast it's with you forever. One of the best parts of gymnastics is that the individual strives for the betterment of the team. The friends you make at the gym become the friends you keep for life. I still keep in touch with girls that I coached 20 years ago. Every time we sent an athlete to college, which is truly the goal (not the Olympics), we knew that come summer, she'd be back in her leotard ready to workout. Every summer, they arrive like clockwork, they come home.

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Madison Desch Visa 2012
Madison Desch Visa 2012
Madison Desch Visa 2012 | Source

Benefits of Gymnastics courtesy of YOU TUBE


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    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Simone, thank you for commenting. I appreciate your input and I agree that gymnastics would benefit many kiddos. I think that people consider it a dangerous sport so they shy away from it. It's too bad because gymnastics offers physical and emotional advantages to every child. Glad to have you here. -K

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      My mother was also a gymnastics coach for many years throughout my childhood and I really did see her students enjoy many of these benefits. Great overview! More folks should consider gymnastics as an athletic option.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      watergeek, I'm laughing too.. Would love the water ballet! Thank you for reading and for commenting. I also love the Olympics. It's the #1 most watched sport of the Olympics - in case you play trivial pursuit. Since you do yoga, you may still be able to learn - you never know? -K

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

      I didn't have access to gymnastics either. Did do a little water ballet, but it's hard to make friends while not talking underwater (lol). I've always loved watching gymnastics in the Olympics, so it might have been a sport I would have liked as a kid. Good hub!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      lindacee, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. We were very fortunate to have had the excellent coaching we did. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. It's been a lot of great years and amazing kids. -K

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Gymnastics is great for developing physical and mental activity. Unfortunately I did not have the access to the sport growing up. It should be part of every school PsyEd program! Enjoyed the photos and the additional info provided in your capsules.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Om, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Thank you for the very nice compliments. I agree, gymnastics is great for kids and with the Olympics right around the corner, there's bound to be a surge of kids who join. Yay! Glad to see you again. -K

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      What a great guide! I agree gymnastics can be very beneficial for children both physically and mentally. I also like your tips on how to choose a gymnastic teacher. Wonderful hub :)

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      teaches, I agree with you, the trials are always gripping because I want everyone to do well. I'm definitely biased toward gymnastics so I believe that it has many benefits. You sight three perfect examples! Thank you for reading and for your response. -K

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I enjoyed watching the olympic trials this past month. The different talent and skills these athletes have are incredible. It is a great sport. As you mention, the social skills are an added benefit as it also helps build character traits like fairness, determination and discipline.