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How To Become a Gymnast

Updated on February 19, 2014
krsharp05 profile image

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


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Becoming a Gymnast

When you watch gymnastics on television it can look pretty simple. The truth is, becoming a gymnast is a process that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson himself would be impressed with. Let's face it, there are no gymnasts performing "The Rock" on the balance beam. The first thing you need to do if you want to become a gymnast is find a gym.

There are two types of gymnastics. Recreational gymnastics and Competitive gymnastics. Choosing which type you would prefer will make a difference when you chose the type of gym and coaches you prefer.

cartwheel
cartwheel | Source
cartwheel
cartwheel | Source
cartwheel
cartwheel | Source
cartwheel
cartwheel | Source
cartwheel
cartwheel | Source

Cartwheels, Handstands and Muscles

  • It's important to choose a facility that has all of the necessary equipment: a vaulting table, uneven parallel bars, a balance beam and a 40' x 40' tumbling floor. If you find a gym that has a Tumble Track or added trampolines, consider it a bonus. They are used for drills and training and can be hours of fun.
  • It's necessary to have the proper workout attire. Most female gymnasts wear a leotard however, it's most important to be able to move around easily and go upside down with no problems. The skirts, tutus and tights are darling but they get in the way of gymnastics. It's best to leave them at home.
  • Through proper exercise and conditioning, the body gradually becomes stronger and more flexible. The best gymnasts are very strong and very flexible. USA Gymnastics has a TOPS (Talent Opportunity Program) program that includes recommendations for exercises and stretching for girls who hope to be future Olympic gymnasts.
  • Adding dance to gymnastics training is beneficial because there are a lot of dance elements in gymnastics. As gymnastics becomes more difficult and girls graduate into higher levels of competition, the dance requirements are more accelerated. Additionally, dance will help athletes improve their flexibility which is very important to being a successful gymnast.
  • Private lessons are often good for athletes who want to perfect their routines or skills. They're also good if you're experiencing difficulty with a particular skill. Coaches can zero-in on one particular person, skill or piece of a routine - with one athlete at a time. The down side to private lessons is that they can be expensive.
  • If you want to have a gymnastics skill named after you, it must be successfully performed, recognized and judged at an international competition such as; the Visa Championships, the Olympic Trials or the Olympics.

USAG Level 8 Athlete giant swing on bars
USAG Level 8 Athlete giant swing on bars | Source
Madison Desch started her gymnastics career under my coaching.  She competed at the Visa Championships this last weekend.
Madison Desch started her gymnastics career under my coaching. She competed at the Visa Championships this last weekend.

London 2012

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The Best Gymformation I Can Give

  1. It's important to learn the gymnastics and dance methods and terminology correctly if you are serious about your gymnastics career. Bad habits are extremely difficult to overcome and learn past. It takes an average of six weeks of correct training or sixty-six consecutive correct tries to change an ingrained style. See Coaching For Excellence.
  2. If you decide to take your gymnastics career seriously and become a registered athlete you can compete in AAU (non-profit) or in USAG (not for profit). The biggest difference between the two organizations is price. USAG tends to be more competitive where AAU is more about the kids having a great time and feeling good. Additionally, not all gymnastics clubs offer AAU or USAG. Do your homework and decide which you prefer.
  3. Search your area for a gym that is a good fit for your needs. Visit the gym and allow your child to do a free trial class if the gym offers one. Many teams will allow kids to work out with their team for a try-out. It's just as important that competitive gymnasts gel with their team and coaches as it is for the team to accept them. For more great tips on choosing a gym see Competitive Gymnastics For Young Girls: What to Expect.
  4. Gymnastics takes many years to develop. I consider it a "rise over time" sport. Progression in gymnastics may be slow and steady and that's okay. Athletes will progress at different rates so it's important that you don't watch other athletes and wonder why your child is behind or comment that your child is springing ahead.

Courtesy of YOU TUBE

Videos is a medly of USAG athletes.

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    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Sid, I love your messages! Thank you for reading and commenting. I would be honored to teach you a cartwheel anytime! Good luck with your flexibility. -K

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      This is inspiring. One of my lifelong mentors is Dan Millman, who was a national champion college gymnast back in the 1960s. His spiritual and practical teachings reflect the energy of gymnastics.

      The video and Image #8 were particularly inspiring. I'm a 50+ guy just starting to work on my flexibility, but I'll call you when I'm ready to cartwheel!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you Random, I appreciate your comment and for taking the time to read. -K

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for this great resource! I agree with spartucus about the discipline involved with gymnastics. I had to laugh at Simone's "gymformation" term, too. Keep up the great work. :)

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you Simone. It's interesting to find out how many people have been involved with gymnastics. I appreciate your time and comments. -K

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hehee, I'm loving all this "gymformation!" My mother was a gymnastics coach for quite a few years and much of your tips remind me of the things I learned from observing the industry. Thanks for sharing your know-how!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Hi Spartucus, Happy to see you here at last! Thanks for reading and commenting. You never know, with your super powers, you might be able to flip and twist :) Thank you for commenting. -K

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      6 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Well written and insightful hub! I can truly appreciate the discipline involved with being a gymnast. I definitely couldn't do it.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      teaches, I always love to hear from you! Gymnastics is such an amazing sport. I would have loved for my boys to be gymnasts but they became braniacs which is great too! Thank you for commenting. -K

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      My sister-in-law was in gymnastics through high school and afterwards (for a couple of years). It made her so confident in herself as she learned balance, grace and poise. It is a great sport and has it's benefits for young girls and boys.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      lindacee, thank you for reading and commenting. I'm excited for the Olympics as well! This should be a great year for the United States! I appreciate your input. -K

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I have the utmost respect for the discipline and athleticism of gymnasts. It is a great spectator sport and I'm looking forward to watching the Olympic competitors. Your Hub is full of great information for aspiring gymnasts as well as those of us interested in the sport. Voted up and interesting!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Mhatter - I'm pretty sure I could still teach you a cartwheel - especially if you were a former fencer. You have to have been very flexible in the shoulders! Thank you for stopping by. It's always nice to see you.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Too old. during my time i was a fencer

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing CassyLu. Your daughter should try it. You never know, she may be a natural! Glad you stopped by :) -K

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 

      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      Wow how awesome! My daughter wants to be a gymnist and after reading all the information here it sounds like a lot of hard work. I love watching them perform though :) Amazing!!! Voted up and Shared!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      OM! Thank you for reading and commenting! I coined that term years ago when I was writing a newsletter and it seemed to stick! -K

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Great information and cute photos! Also, I really like the term "gymformation"! =D

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Robert, thank you for reading and for the nice compliment. I'm happy to have your input. -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Riverfish24, Nadia was a wonderful movie and almost totally true to her life. She's an icon! Thank you for reading and commenting. -K

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 

      6 years ago from California

      Fantastic article! I love the illustrations through photos. Very creative. Keep up the great work.

    • Riverfish24 profile image

      Riverfish24 

      6 years ago from United States

      Wow, I have always been fascinated watching gymnastics on TV ..great explanation on what it takes to get there. I recall the movie on Nadia C - that was awesome. Great pictures and video!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you for reading and commenting leahlefler! As a beam and floor coach, I've heard that many times. :) You are correct that gymnastics is great for boys. I hope you decide to try it. Thanks again and way to go on your publishing!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      We have actually considered gymnastics for our little boy, as it is a great sport to develop body strength and flexibility! This is a great hub - I took gymnastics as a girl and absolutely loved it (well, all but the balance beam, which was my personal nemesis)!

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