Benefits of Gymnastics Gymnastics offers many great benefits to the athlete who is involved. With many benefits that are only physical and many others that are also emotional and developmental, there are so many things that make gymnastics worth the time and effort that is required. From the first class until the very end of your career, you are sure to enjoy the benefits that gymnastics can provide to you. One of the biggest benefits if the ability to slowly groom yourself into excellent physical shape. Because of the strenuous nature of gymnastics, it is important that all gymnasts be in the best physical shape possible. The natural movements of gymnastics works to groom fitness levels slowly so that overall conditioning as well as strength training is entirely possible without huge problems. Additionally, gymnastics has been shown to greatly help improve confidence levels in children particularly. While many children particularly girls are quite shy when they are younger, gymnastics helps them come out of their "shell" and be an active part of the world and connect to friends from all around the world. Because gymnastics is a sport that can adjust to the skill level of each gymnast, it is amazingly easy to feel almost immediate senses of pride. Another major benefit to gymnastics is the need to create goals and a schedule for meeting those goals. Athletes who fail to make goals typically do not succeed very quickly which results in a serious loss. However, if you work quickly to create some attainable goals and start actively working towards the goals then it is possible to once again help learn how to create and follow your goals in order to be successful. Because gymnastics is so flexible in the opportunities that are provided it is a wonderful sport to use to learn how to make modifications to the goals as skills improve. Gymnastics also has the ability to help teach responsibility. Each gymnast is ultimately responsible for his or her own results. By putting forth effort and practicing moves and techniques again and again, it is possible to determine just how successful you are going to be. This is not a sport that places the success factor onto the coach. While a coach is highly instrumental in learning the skills necessary, it is up to the individual gymnast to practice the skills and put them to good use. One thing that many gymnasts really like is the ability to be judged based upon their own individual accomplishments rather than the accomplishments of those who are around them. Coaches work with each individual athlete to determine the best course of action. Some may discover that they need to increase their strength training while others focus more on flexibility training. Others may have greater difficulty in mastering techniques and tricks. Gymnastics are highly customizable for each individual person, which makes it very easy to measure the individual success as well as the success of the individual compared against the group results. Many gymnasts also enjoy the ability to travel with their teammates whom become very close friends to various locations. Many competitions and meets are even held in exotic and exciting locations. This allows many gymnasts to see more areas than what they originally ever intended to see. While lower level gymnasts tend to stay closer to home, those who are in advance, elite and even professional levels are able to travel the country and even the world. The final benefit is the ability to actively engage in a highly rewarding sport. Rather than relying on the ability of all of your team members to be successful, you achieve the results you desire. This makes it a very satisfying sport for many people who enjoy being able to control their own growth and results. If you are interested in being responsible for your own development, growth and potential then gymnastics is the ultimate sport for your individual needs. Tips to Scoring High in Competitions If you have ever attended a gymnastics competition you know that there is more than just a flawless routine involved in receiving a good score. Between appropriate dress and looking the role of a winner, you can help give the judges a good impression of you by following some simple steps and practicing your routine until you have it perfected. Aside from the obvious idea of practicing you should always make sure you get plenty of rest before competitions. While you are going to be nervous, excited and probably have trouble sleeping it is important that you take the time you need to rest. Get at least a minimum of eight hours of sleep before a competition to ensure that you are well rested. Slacking on sleep means you will not have as much energy to devote to your routine and can look quite run down. This is never appealing to judges no matter how well you perform your routine. You should always ensure that you smile. Not smiling can make you look sad, grumpy, or even tired. Not exactly the star traits that the judges are looking for. No matter how bad your day is going, put a smile on during your routine and try to make sure it does not look forced or faked. A small natural smile will go so far in winning over the judges and help cast your entire routine in a positive light. Stretch and stand up straight. Never, ever walk out onto a mat while you are slouching. This is a huge faux pas and gives the judges an awful first impression. Impression is everything and you want to portray perfection just in simple tasks such as walking. So stand up straight and lift that chin. Never show that you are scared or afraid, try to keep your emotions bottled up, which will help you appear much calmer as well. Look confident the entire time you are in front of the judges. This includes before and during your routine. You can look confident by always standing straight, keeping your legs straight, and keeping your chin up. Dropping your chin or bending your legs can make you look weak and unsure of yourself. You want to portray to the judges that you are the best they have ever seen. Keep your routine flowing and always recover quickly if you make a mistake. Make sure your movements are sharp and crisp and avoid slow and sloppy movements. Make sure you stretch thoroughly before doing your routing in front of the judges. Never wait until the last moment to warm up either, you should start warming up a minimum of 30 minutes before your turn in front of the judges. This will allow you plenty of time to warm up your muscles slowly. Rushing through a warm up to hurry and perform can leave you injured and upset. If you rush through your warm up it can also have the negative effect of shaking your nerves. When in a competition you must remain calm, this means a slow warm up, taking your time getting ready and avoiding all stress as much as possible. A slow warm up is relaxing while a rushed warm up will leave you stressed. Your last step should be always tuning out your competition as much as possible. Someone will always be better than you, and you will always be better than someone else. This is the facts of competition, accept it, and instead of focusing on the competition focus on doing your best. Tips to Help Your Gymnast Develop If you are looking to really help your child develop gymnastics into something more than just a random rare hobby then there are a few steps and tips that can be quite helpful, especially for parents who have never ventured into the world of gymnastics before. Working together with your child's coach can be a very rewarding experience, but most coaches are not able to hold the hands of parents, which leaves many parents wondering what they can do. To start with the first step you should take to help develop your little gymnast is to seek out a coach that they feel comfortable working with. If your child is scared of the coach for any reason, it may be a good idea to change coaches no matter how good the coach is supposed to be. Your child will not develop to the best of their abilities if they are frightened and afraid so ensuring your child is comfortable is a very important step. You should also look for a coach with many years of experience. If the coach is fairly new it increases the risks of injuries, and nothing can kill the dreams of a fantastic gymnastics career faster than a severe injury. Working with someone who is experienced can really help to reduce the risk of injury and also ensures your child learns the best and safest methods for all techniques and tricks. Listen to your child. If they say that there is a problem, you should listen to what they have to say. It may be a problem with their leotard, it may be a problem where they are hurting, or they could just be tired. Anytime your child has a problem you should listen and work to resolve the problem. If they are tired, make sure they are getting plenty of sleep; if they are hurting see if you can figure out why as well as how to stop the pain. Consider changing programs once your child has developed the skills and desire necessary. While not all parents have this problem, many parents face the issue of their child outgrowing the coach or the gym. Never a pleasant experience, this means it is time to start looking for a new coach to handle your child's development. While nobody likes the ideas of leaving a coach whom they are comfortable with, it must be done sometimes in order to find a coach who is able to help your child continue their development, rather than get into a rut. Never jump into moving your child across the country immediately. This is not usually a good idea for your child, and is a decision that takes a lot of careful consideration. While it may seem best to move across the country to work with a particular coach, think about what your child is going to give up in the process. They are going to lose their school, friends, home and possibly even more. This can sometimes make the idea of moving for gymnastics seem like a horrible punishment, rather than as the opportunity to grow and improve. Finally, you want to ensure that your little gymnast has the medical treatment they need when they need it. This means often taking seemingly unnecessary trips to the doctor for check ups and treatment. What may seem to you as a small and insignificant injury can actually develop into a serious problem if not properly treated. This is especially important in the muscles and tendons of a gymnast. If an injury results in the development of scar tissue, then the gymnast has lost some of their flexibility that they cannot regain. Which is critical since gymnastics puts great emphasis on flexibility as well as strength. Keeping your child as happy and healthy as possible is one of the biggest steps that parents can take to help their child develop. Remember, doing nothing more than spending all of their time locked away inside of a gym is never an idea situation for your child and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, look for ways to get them out of the house and stimulate their minds as much as their bodies, which will help them, concentrate even more while they are practicing or competing. Tips to Avoid Gymnastics Injuries Gymnastics always has the ability to leave people breathless and amazed at how simple the routines look, while being amazingly quick moving. Yet in the real world of the gymnasts performing, it is not easy to perform at all. Gymnastics is a skill that takes many, many years to master and many end up retiring their gymnastics careers before they ever master all of the skills. During the course of a gymnastics career there are likely to be several injuries ranging from mild and easily healed to those that are major and can potentially end a career quite early. Sometimes the difference between a minor injury and a severe injury depends on the type of planning that is put into each routine and practice. For example, following some simple guidelines can help you avoid as many injuries as possible. One of the first things that all gymnasts should be taught is how to properly fall. This is because falling is almost as much a part of gymnastics as the actual tricks and routines themselves. Having the knowledge and training to help control your fall can often mean the difference between finishing a routine or being carried off of the floor. Practice on occasion the falling techniques that you are initially taught to ensure you are still capable of helping yourself. A gymnast should never attempt any trick that they do not fully understand first. Always watch several times and ensure that you understand the exact order that steps are performed before you try yourself. Once you have a general idea of what you are doing, always ensure someone is with you in case you are injured. Ensure you always have a firm idea of how your body should feel, as well as look during a trick. You should immediately stop if something does not feel right. For example, if you feel that you foot is pointing in the wrong direction stop and find out why. Some gymnasts have discovered that they injured themselves and their leg was sprained or even broken as a result of feeling the position did not feel right. Never be afraid to stop and try again, rather than pressing ahead and making a potential injury worse. Take some toning and conditioning classes. These will help you strengthen all of the muscles in the body to help reduce the damage that can occur from weak muscles. Taking two short classes each week is generally sufficient, however some gymnast prefer to take classes much more often. The choice of how often is ultimately up to you, but at least two a week is highly recommended. You should always focus when performing tricks or practicing routines. While talking to others may seem like fun, being able to walk away at the end of the day is even more fun. Talk to your friends after doing the routine or trick, rather than while you are attempting the trick. Never practice without the appropriate clothing. Gymnasts are required to wear leotards for several reasons. First, they allow coaches an unobstructed view of the body and how it is moving, and second because there is nothing to be accidently caught while in the middle of a trick. Wearing sweatpants, jackets, or other clothing can be an accident waiting to happen. Finally, you should remove all jewelry before practice or competition. This is important because rings, bracelets, earrings, and even necklaces can cause serious injuries if they are hung on something while you are moving. Remove them and store them safely in your bag rather than risking an injury. Tips to Avoid Becoming an Unpopular Gymnastics Parent Each kid's activity has the potential to create that horrible parent that nobody wants to be involved in. We all know the type, the parent who is sure their child is the best, and everybody else is simply dragging them down. The parent who is always pushing their child to go further, faster, quicker, and be overall better than everyone. The parent who is always the first to every meet even if their child is still tired. The same parent is also the first person to usually at each gymnastic event and talks badly about those who arrive just right before it starts. This is who most parents really do not want to become, yet without a conscious effort to avoid this it is relatively easy to slide into this role. You can go from being a popular parent with the other parents to being the number one person to avoid quite quickly and that is never a good idea. However, with these suggestions it is possible to keep your head firmly squared on your shoulders and cheer your child on. Do not start comparing your child to every other child in the gym. This is important regardless of whether your think your child is better than everyone else, or everyone else is better than your child. Rather than focus on how your child compares to everyone else instead focus on how they compare to themselves and what accomplishments they are making on their own. Do not start telling your child that winning is very important. Gymnastics should be fun and entertaining for your child first above anything else. A child who loses sight of how much fun it is will start to burn out quickly. Burnout can cost a talented gymnast a complete career, so avoid this problem, and emphasize fun over victories. Do not act as if the scores from the judge's are an accurate reflection of your child's self worth. There are many parents who come to associate the score from the judge with their own level of satisfaction with their child. This means on days when the child needs extra attention from their parents after a bad routine the parent could not careless because they received bad marks. Yet the same parent is the child's personal cheerleading squad when they do well. Avoid letting this become you, give your child attention regardless of whether they did well or badly. Do not ever scream at the judges or coach during a meet and tell them they are they stupid. No matter how many days you have been a self-proclaimed professional parent you do not have the knowledge and experience that the coaches and judges do. Let them do their job and you do yours -- supporting your child! Do not create goals and expectations for your child that are completely unreasonable. This means for example if your child has never participated in gymnastics before do not expect them to become a professional quality athlete in just a few short months. Keep your expectations realistic and your child will do much better. Do not ever make your child feel guilty for the money you are spend on their gymnastics activities. While everyone knows that they are not cheap, you should never make your child feel bad about it. One example of why this is a no no is telling your child that for the $1,000 a month you spend on their gymnastics you expect better results and effort from them. While you may have the best of intentions with the comment, it is very damaging to your overall relationship with your child. Do not pretend you can be your child's own coach. Many parents make this mistake after their child has participated in gymnastics for a while. They become under the impression that they are much smarter than all of the coaches and are convinced that they know exactly what their child needs. There is a reason that gymnastics coaches are professionals, they have training and experience that you can only dream of. Tips for Gymnastic Parents If your child is engaged in gymnastics then you are in for an exciting ride. There are some great things that you can do to help encourage your child to have the best overall experience possible. Enjoy the ability to sit back and watch your child develop into a beautiful gymnast right before your eyes. It is vital that you keep an open mind and allow your little gymnast to see that you are open-minded. If a child thinks that they are unable to do something then mentally that idea will hold them back. You should ensure that you help your child stay as open minded as possible too. Ensure that your child is on time for meets and even practice. Nobody wants to always be late, especially when it is not their fault that they are late. Work with your child to ensure that they are always on time. Push your child to think of gymnastics as fun first before anything else. Many parents get so lost in the idea of pushing a child into sports and competition that they forget sports are supposed to be fun. Your child should never feel that participating in gymnastics is a chore for them. Make sure you give your little gymnasts plenty of attention and feedback. If they did a move that was impressive be sure to tell them! Especially at the lower levels, gymnasts do not always realize when they are doing well and cannot understand easily that the coach cannot always see everything they do. Without some encouragement, your child could be quickly discouraged. Show your child that you are interested in their activities. This means watching a few practices, showing up, cheering your child on during the meets, and giving them general support. If they feel that, you hate their activities they are less likely to put a huge effort into it. Learn and understand the terminology associated with gymnastics. This will show your child that you are committed to helping them achieve the best results and that you believe they can really do it. If you have no interest in them staying in gymnastics then this is usually unnecessary. Make sure that you are communicating with your child's coach so that you are aware of the progress they have made. This is a great way to know exactly how your child is doing, what they need additional help with, and how they are meeting the goals that the coach has set for them. In addition, this allows you to discuss how your child is doing in the goals that they have set for themselves. Volunteer to help at meets for your child. This will allow you to see first hand what they do, as well as provide your child with ultimate support when they need it. Even if you cannot make each and every meet, helping your child at least occasionally is a great way to bond. Ensure that you are working towards keeping your child firmly involved in activities other than simply gymnastics so that they do not experience burnout. While gymnastics is great, too much gymnastics can drag your child down if they never receive a break from it. Work with your child to understand that only three medals are awarded for each event during meets. This means that no matter how many gymnasts are in attendance very few will receive medals. Many children and parents alike feel that a meet was a failure unless they win at least one medal. Avoid this attitude with your child, and work to discourage it so that your child has realistic expectations. Keeping these ideals and suggestions in mind as the parent of a gymnast will allow you to work together with your child's coach and ensure they are getting the most from their gymnastics experience possible. Without a conscious approach towards the behavior of parents, it is quite easy to sometimes allow gymnastics to dominate your life. Keeping your child focused on what is important is a good step towards the right direction to be successful in gymnastics. Tips for a Happy Gymnast It is the responsibility of the parents in any sport to ensure that the child knows what to expect. Gymnastics is certainly no different; the only difference is the moves performed rather than running dozens of laps or swimming for hours. Ensuring that you teach your child a few things can be a great help to their overall success in gymnastics as well as your sanity as the parent. You should teach your child immediately that they are going to make mistakes. It is how they handle these mistakes that will determine their success. If a child is determined, that each time they try a new routine it must be perfect without fail then they are going to ultimately harm their self-esteem. It is important to understand that mistakes are going to happen, but accepting that fact and moving along to learn from them is very important. Additionally, it is a wise idea to help your child decide what is most important to them in their life. Set up a schedule for their activities that reflects this. Whether their goal is to become an Olympic athlete or even just use gymnastics as a simple hobby having some specific ideas in mind about what they want to do in the future is often helpful in keeping young gymnasts focuses on the major goals that they have. Another important lesson for your child is teaching patience with the dozens if not hundreds of repetitions that are necessary in order to truly master a skill. Many gymnasts practice a skill as many as thousands of times before the movement feels completely natural and flowing to them. This is not unheard of however; most children really do not have the patience for this and need help in learning this skill. It is important to really give your child the help they need in ensuring they practice enough. You can never do too many repetitions of a new skill. Help your child prepare for competitions by expecting the unexpected. This means packing a complete first aid kit that can handle everything from rips to scrapes. Additionally having an extra uniform and even spare change of clothes is helpful. You should also ensure that you child has an extra pair of grips, and plenty of chalk to ensure that they are fully prepared. In addition, working with your child to practice their routine with music stopping in the middle and other stressful situations can help them relax and fully prepare for the competition. One last step that all parents should take that is often overlooked is setting up a schedule that includes time away from gymnastics and school. Your child needs plenty of time to practice gymnastics of course, but it is also very important that they have the opportunity to rest and enjoy themselves as well. Working and pushing too hard can result in your child burning out or injuring themselves, which is never advisable. Working together with your child's coach none of these things are difficult. Working towards your child's success is well worth the small amount of time that is necessary to ensure that you are setting them up to be a success rather than a failure. While everyone has different ways of handling schedules and stress working with your child to help them plan and adjust quickly is one of the best things you can do for your child. Never be afraid to ask your child's coach for help. If you have a problem and you are unsure of how to handle it, such as helping your child calm down before meets your child's coach can usually help. They have the knowledge and experience to make your job as a parent much easier. Use them to your benefit, rather than avoiding them. They are here to help you and your child attain the exact results that you desire rather than leaving you frustrated and confused. Suggestions for Practicing Gymnastics at Home Children and adults alike all tend to have a natural desire to practice a skill or hobby that they enjoy and gymnastics certainly is no different. However, one major difference that can occur from gymnastics and say dance or even basketball is the gym where you learn and practice gymnastics is heavily padded and designed to ensure your child is safe, while your home resembles just that -- a home. This means there is a much greater chance of your child being injured while they are at home, than when they are at the gym. There are some ways you can make it safe though so your child can still practice. While not all moves are able to be practiced at home, your child can still have fun, practice, and you can still have your piece of mind knowing they are safer. After all, practice makes perfect and most highly skilled gymnasts need plenty of practice. You should know your child's limitations. Much as they may want to come home and work on a skill that they have not yet mastered you need to put your foot down and say no. Working on a skill at home that is not mastered is a fast track to being injured and not an advisable idea. Many children will whine about why they cannot practice the skill and you as the parent should be able to help them understand that new skills should only be attempted in front of the coach, and in a setting that is properly designed for instruction. Another thing you should look out for is objects and furniture that are in the way. Practicing skills that are already mastered is generally not a problem as long as your child is not landing in the middle of the flowerbed, on the couch or crashing into the television. If they do not have enough room to practice, try moving some things out of the way and see if it is possible to create the necessary space. In addition, if your little gymnast is a serious enthusiast you may want to look into purchasing some tumbling mats that can be laid across the floor to make it even safer. Monitor your child while they are practicing. While they certainly do not need you hovering directly over them, they do need someone to watch and make sure they do not injure themselves. It is advisable to keep an eye out to make sure that in the event they do get injured you can quickly help them. In addition, this allows you to really see what your child is capable of and what they have mastered. Keep all siblings and pets safely out of the way. While it may seem like a great idea to let siblings practice gymnastics together it is a recipe for disaster since other children may not have any experience at gymnastics. Remember to limit the gymnastics practice to only those children that have been taking lessons and know what they are doing. If another child is expressing an interest, look into lessons for them as well rather than having the other child teaching. With some careful consideration and thought, it is possible to still practice gymnastics whether you are at home, or anywhere else. Taking special care to avoid obstacles and hazards is the best way to allow you to still practice while having fun. Should You Move for Your Child's Gymnastics Career? Many parents of children who are quite gifted athletically find themselves faced with this exact question. Deciding how exactly to handle it becomes a case of how to handle things yourself and what your life looks like. In addition to considerations pertaining to your individual choices and lifestyle it is very important to look at your child's wants and abilities and try to strike a positive balance amongst everything. With rush judgments and snap decisions made you can make a costly mistake which is not always simple to correct. However, there are other times when it really is in the best interest of your gymnast to move. While ultimately the decision is up to you and your family, there are some recommendations that you can follow in order to help make the best decision for your family. Never move before your child is 12. This should be the most steadfast rule that you stick to. A child that is very young is likely to change their mind several times about what they want to be when they grow up, much less next week. This means that moving before your child is really sure they want to pursue gymnastics as a potential career can be all for waste if they change their mind later. If however your child is older and has been interested in gymnastics for a long time and shows no signs of giving it up, then moving may be something to look into. You should also consider your child's level in addition to their age. If the gym where your child currently goes is capable of still teaching your child then you may want to hold off on moving. Most parents who end up moving for gymnastics do so because there are no qualified coaches or gyms in their area. Even if you need to find a new gym in your area, simply changing gyms is much easier on your child than moving across the country and leaving their friends and school behind. Talk to your child about their own personal dreams and goals. If they are simply doing gymnastics as a hobby and are not interested in pursuing it deeply they may not be happy about the idea of moving. Realize that in order to truly be worth the effort to move your child should be highly interested in pursuing a career in gymnastics. Simply moving for a mild hobby would be foolish, but moving for a potential career is worth a consideration. If you decide that you really are interested in moving to a better gymnastics coach you should always discuss the possibility of them working with your child before you move. Most parents are never happy to move for a better coach only to discover the coach is unable to take on their child. This brings up the huge need to talk to the new coach first. If for some reason the coach you want cannot take on your child, they may be able to recommend someone who can. While some parents will determine it is not worth the time, effort, or expense to move others will decide that moving will be the best decision for them, as well as their child. Looking into your own personal situation is always going to play a paramount role in helping you make the ultimate decision for your needs. Remember, no matter what your child wants, you must make the decision based upon what you personally think is best. Should You Consider a Summer Camp? Parents are often looking at the various aspects of camps and forget to look at the biggest concerns. There are several benefits that a camp can provide; however, there must be a good program in order to actually provide the benefits that are possible. If you select the wrong program there is virtually nothing to be gained from the experience. Choosing the best program is possible for your child if you determine what is best in a program. One of the first considerations that you should take into account is a coach who has worked with your child over several months or even years is going to put a greater effort into training your child than a coach who is only working with your child for a couple of short weeks. While many programs do offer highly talented coaches, those coaches that have a specific ability to heavily influence your child the most are the coaches whom they have developed a very close relationship with. Selecting a coach for only a summer program may be a perfect solution for someone who is interested in letting their child have a short period to decide if gymnastics is really for them. Many parents use summer camps as the perfect opportunity for this since camps typically last no more than 2 weeks it provides the perfect solution for getting a great impression of whether gymnastics is really for your child. Additionally it is important to consider that not all gyms are created equally. The same concept applies to camps as well. No matter how well known a camp is claimed to be, there are always going to be programs that are better and offer a higher level of training. Choosing an appropriate level program is often a very important consideration for parents when trying to decide if a gymnastics training program is suitable for their child. One consideration that is very important is realizing that many large camps offer the ability to work with numerous coaches in a short period of time. If you are spending time with multiple coaches, you can often learn several top coaches in a very short period of time. However, if you are concerned about building serious relationships with coaches then summer programs are not always the best option. One benefit that many parents really like is the ability to find a summer camp for gymnastics, which is great for the family that ensures that each summer has an educational camp. If you are already in the habit of sending your child to a camp for the summer finding a great gymnastics camp can be a wonderful option to allow your child additional time to develop their skills while still having the same camp experience that they have come to expect each summer. If you are certain that you should send your child to a summer camp look around at the prices and programs that are offered. Many times program that are offered by top gyms and schools are cheaper than those that are coordinated by national programs. This is often quite a shock to most parents who expect the pricing to be the exact opposite. In addition, working with a top program over a national program can allow your child more individualized attention as well as the ability to really focus on what is important for them. Selecting the right summer camp is a very exciting process if you involve your child as well. While many parents take the process of selecting the camp themselves, it can be quite beneficial to allow your child some input into which program they are really interested in attending. One of the other major benefits that summer programs can offer is the ability to branch out and sample several types of gymnastics without being committed to a long period of lessons. This is an excellent option for people who are interested in simply trying out new styles than what they are currently involved in without any commitments. Treating Rips Effectively Almost every gymnast at some point in his or her career will experience a rip. Very few are able to engage in gymnastics for more than a few months at a time without having at least one possibly several rips. However, many people especially those new to gymnastics do not know what rips are, much less how to help prevent them or even how to treat them to reduce the time spent with healing. The first and most important step to treating a rip is to always ensure that it is carefully washed with soap and warm water to remove any bacteria and prevent an infection from setting up. This is especially important because of the concerns that can occur with infections. Infections can create so much pain in a rip that a gymnast may be forced to take time off that they cannot afford to lose for some reason. It is very important to never use either hydrogen peroxide or Betadine on any rips no matter how large or small. These products kill the skin cells that are healing and make it take much longer for the wound to heal. To avoid this problem it is best to stick to just keeping the rip very clean using soap and water and always keeping a clean bandage on it. Another product that many gymnasts have had great success with it called DuoDERM. DuoDERM is created with idea of creating a moist environment for cell regrowth and produces a much faster healing time than a typical band-aid can provide. However, they are not always readily available. Due to this, it is important to understand other practices that you can use if you do not have access to DuoDERM such as using Neosporin and gauze bandages. One method that is not always well known amongst the younger gymnasts is using a product such as Preparation H or any other type of hemorrhoid treatment. The best treatments to use are those that also contain a topical anesthetic, which helps to reduce the pain from the rip. This can help reduce the overall swelling and help promote faster healing. Some methods that are used to help prevent rips are well known while others are less well known but equally effective. The first method is using neoprene rubber bands across the wrists and hands to help reduce the friction. This can help eliminate rips all together however is not completely effective. Another option that you can explore is the use of a callus trimmer, which allows you to shave portions off to reduce the risks of rips. How effective this method is depends on the size of the callus and how long it has been there. Some gymnasts find this to be highly effective, while others have found little benefit to the method. Another option that is available is to use is creating a tape grip to wrap tightly around the hands using either trainer's tape or elastic tape. This is also effective in covering any rips or calluses that are already existent but have not actually created problems yet. This method is one of the best since it can be used both before rips and after without using any chemicals or ointments that can stunt cell regrowth. It is important to note that using methods to treat rips such as dipping the hand into a mixture of bleach water, or even using products such as Tuff Skin, which is a taping base, is not advisable because of the pain and stinging sensation that are created without significant improvements. If you feel that a rip is especially bad, or has an infection then it is advisable to see the doctor to allow for medical treatment of the rip. If possible seeing a doctor before the infection sets in is the best choice, even if it is not always possible to do. Always consult with a doctor if you have any questions about treating your rips as well. Women's Gymnastic Elements The world of gymnastics offers several different elements for female athletes to participate in. While most meets or competitions combine a variety of styles together to determine an overall winner those who are simply interested in gymnastics as a hobby can study only those styles that they are interested in, and omit the others. One of the most common styles or elements that comes to mind is the floor exercise. This is what most people think of when they consider gymnastics however; it is certainly not the only element. In the floor exercise, the gymnast performs a routine on a floor that is 12 meters square in size. The floor is specially created with carpet as well as foam layered onto the top of plywood that is suspended on springs to allow for a soft landing and extra force when doing flips and jumps. Most floor routines are in the range of 70 to 90 seconds, with very few ever being longer because of the physical energy exerted during a routine. The routine is choreographed carefully to highlight the gymnasts' specific abilities and skills. In a typical routine, the gymnast will perform several passes from one corner to the other while stringing tricks together. The second element is the vault, which involves sprinting quickly down a runway that is approximately 82 feet long or 25 meters and landing on what is called a beat board. This then propels the gymnast up onto the vault horse with their hands holding them on upside down, before springing off and landing on a separate platform without wobbling, or losing their balance. While in idea this sounds like a very simple task, this is a skill that can take a very long time to master. Many gymnasts will even attempt tricks while mounted on the vault, though this is generally not a requirement. One of the most popular elements to watch is the uneven bars. These are two bars that are horizontal to the floor and set at different heights. The level of the bars is fixed so that they cannot come off, and the gymnast is safe to perform spins, circles, and various other moves on the bars. In common practice gymnasts will use a springboard to jump to the lower bar and begin their routine from there. In order to protect the hands as much as possible, most gymnasts wear leather gloves that are called grips, which also help to maintain the grip of the bars. In addition to using grips, many also use water and chalk to help maintain a secure grip of the bars. Using just bare hands is quite uncommon as rips and tears in the skin are possible and the occurrence of blisters is also high as well. Considered as one of the most advanced elements, young gymnasts are usually not permitted to perform on the uneven bars. The final element for women is the balance beam. This is a routine that is anywhere from 60 to 80 seconds long and is carefully choreographed just as the floor routine to highlight the gymnasts abilities. Using turns, leaps and acrobatic skills the gymnast carefully performs on the bar that is 125cm off of the floor, 500 cm long, and only 10cm wide. This tends to be a highly advanced element because of the skills in balance as well as strength that are required from the gymnast.
Rhythmic Gymnastics for Women Women gymnasts are able to engage in rhythmic gymnastics as an event in addition to the other events that are offered. With a style that is similar to a dancing routine, it also combines together aspects that are acrobatic with props as well. The types of props vary, but must be within certain guidelines in order to be used in a rhythmic routine. The primary purpose of the rhythmic routine is to emphasize the athletes ability show power, strength, endurance, flexibility, agility and even dexterity while still controlling the prop and keeping up with the actual routine. This can sometimes be a very difficult concept for many gymnasts to grasp however; it is a very entertaining style that catches many people's attention. The first piece of apparatus or prop as they are called is a rope. This is used by swinging the rope around to create circles, wraps and various other movements. Often times the rope is tossed into the air while the gymnasts jumps and twirls and other times they simply swirl the rope around. When using the hoop the gymnast can roll it, toss it into the air, spin the hoop around, move through the hoop, and even move around. In addition, many gymnasts enjoy spinning the hoop around various body parts while performing other tricks to show off their overall abilities to the judges and audience. Many advanced rhythmic gymnasts also combine high throws with various other acrobatic techniques to create a visually impressive routine. Another piece of apparatus is the ball. This is used mostly for throws, catches, circles, and even a few waves. Most movements with the ball involve the use of the hands; however, skilled gymnasts may learn to control the ball using various other parts of their body to create stunningly impressive displays. Clubs are another apparatus that is used in rhythmic gymnastics. The purpose of the clubs is to toss in the air and perform various tricks with them. Often compared to the clubs that clowns use for juggling they are not very small and can sometimes be quite bulky. Many of the routines that involve the clubs tend to focus around tapping and throws as well as catches above any other aspect. The last piece of apparatus that is allowed in rhythmic gymnastics is the ribbon. This is used to create beautiful figure-eight movements as well as circles, throws and even spirals. As one of the more visually appealing apparatus in rhythmic gymnastics, it is quite easy to allow the ribbon to hang close to the body in the various acrobatic positions creating a visually stunning impression. One requirement that is involved in using the ribbon that is not present in other aspects is the ribbon must be in constant movement and is not allowed to come to a full stop during the course of the routine. As a final option to rhythmic gymnasts, it is possible to perform as a group. When performing as a group give gymnasts are all working together using several different pieces of apparatus. However, it is not uncommon to see a group routine that only uses a single piece. The more stunning routines however involve the use of several pieces and constant exchanges as well as carefully planned and executed movements ensure that everyone is visually entertained. Group rhythmic gymnasts are carefully trained together and have a very small area to work in. Because of this the overall presentation must be well rehearsed and all of the gymnasts must know exactly what they are doing and at precisely which moment. Most routines are quite elaborate and complicated however; the amount of time and training that goes into group rhythmic gymnastics is more than enough to create a perfectly cohesive group that can quickly anticipate the needs of various other members. Working together rhythmic gymnastics with a group is one of the best forms of rhythmic gymnastics to watch due to the teamwork required as well as complicated movements. Reasons to Consider a Gymnastics Camp Each summer children all around the world participate in summer activities that serve a variety of purposes. From music to sports to fun, there is a camp that satisfies almost every need. Yet deciding if a camp is worth the time and money that is invested is not always a simple task. Many camps cost more for a single week than it costs for an entire month of lessons, which makes it a very expensive venture. Deciding if a gymnastics camp is suitable for you and your child can be a fun and rewarding experience if you look closely at all of the benefits. However, carefully decide if it is worth the effort before spending the money on the investment. You should be able to get a few great benefits from the camp before it is worth the investment and there are a few things in particular that are helping in deciding for sure if a gymnastics camp is a great idea. One reason to look into a summer camp is if there is a particular coach that is highly regarded and very talented who is available. If your child has the opportunity to work with someone like that it is almost always a great opportunity that can lead to a wonderful experience for your child. If there is a camp that has more than one excellent coach then it is even better. However, if the camp has no coaches that are highly talented or exceptional then it may be difficult to justify the expense. Look for a camp that is highly regarded as training some of the top elite gymnasts. If your child is exceptionally talented, then looking for an elite training program is one of the best options that you have. However, carefully look over the training program as well as the coaches. Not all programs that claim to be elite level are truly elite level programs. Because of the untruthful camps, it is necessary to carefully ensure that you are really getting what you are paying for. Another consideration for those looking into camps is college camps. For those who are interested in attending college programs for gymnastics have the benefit of using summer camps to help them decide if a school is suitable for them. Many times gymnasts who are looking at several colleges will attend multiple camps in the same summer. This allows the opportunity to see which college is the best match for your individual child. If however you are faced with the problem of multiple camps scheduled during the same time it is very important to determine which school is the first choice and attend that camp before others if possible. When you are choosing the perfect camp, there are numerous choices that must be made. From the type of program to the coaches who are involved to even the length of the program and the style of the training there are many different programs that you can choose to. Finding the best program for your individual child may vary based upon their individual needs. For example, if you have several children who are all involved in gymnastics there may not be a single program that is capable of matching all of your children's needs. When this occurs, it is best to look for a program that is best for each child. You should carefully consider the exact needs of each child when you are looking for the perfect camp. The program that is a perfect match is not always a remotely suitable solution for another child. This can often be a very expensive problem since full tuition is charged for the different camps. If you manage to luck up and find a program that is suitable for multiple children it is a wise idea to ask if they offer discounts for multiple children. Finding the perfect solution is possible and finding a great summer camp is an attainable goal with some research. Reasons to Avoid Gymnastics Camps One of the biggest thrills of the summer for children is attending camp of some sort. The job of parents is to decide which camps are really necessary and useful, and which are just a waste of money. Gymnastics camps are certainly no different with both good and band camps existing. Yet there are several distinct reasons, which should encourage parents to not send their children to camp. Deciding if they are appropriate for your child is entirely up to the parent but being armed with the information to make an informed choice is always advisable. First, it is important to consider that camps are very expensive. Can you send your child to a local gym even for additional fee and still come out cheaper? If you can come out cheaper this way then it may be the ideal situation because of the increased attention from the coach as well. While camps do offer some benefits there are many families that simply cannot afford the fees that are charged no matter how badly they want their child to attend. Another consideration is the fact that many camps are camps that require your child to stay there, rather than come home at night. Many parents are simply not comfortable with this type of arrangement and are quite unsure about how to really let their child know that this is not a suitable solution for their gymnastics desires. If you are unsure about allowing your child to go even if it is for gymnastics then it is best to say no. One concern that many parents have especially in recent years is the expansion of many gymnastics camps to include other activities. While some blend nicely in with gymnastics such as cheerleading and dance others have nothing to do with gymnastics and can be quite distractive to the gymnast at camp. If you are forking over money for your child to attend the camp you should be assured that there will be few distractions so your child can concentrate fully. Another consideration that you should look into is supporting a local gym or program in your home area rather than one that is very far away. While there are times when it is necessary in order to provide your child with the best training it is only a consideration if your child is a top-level gymnast. If they are, simply looking for some fun then most of the time an appropriately selected local program will work just as well and allow you to still support a local business first. Your next reason to really reject the idea of a camp is they tend to be highly expensive. So much so that many parents complain, the camps are more expensive than the fees associated with working with top-level Elite coaches! This is a huge problem because the quality of the coaches at most camps is simply not up to par to demand such extraordinary prices. However, many parents are unaware of what a reasonable price is and they blindly pay the first price that is quoted to them. If you are looking into a summer camp for your child these tips will help, you decide if it is really an appropriate option for you. Selecting a good summer camp is not always an easy process and being able to step back and look at the entire picture is one of the best ways to ensure that you make the correct decision for your family, your child, and even your child's athletic career. Remember, many camps are not as well trained and can actually do more harm to your child's gymnastic development. Carefully consider any possible gymnastics thoroughly before allowing your child to attend. If you have any questions or doubts about their program or their teaching principals then feel free to always discuss it before you sign up your child so that you are sure you are satisfied with the results. Reaching Performance Peaks at Young Ages Many people are confused at exactly why so many gymnasts who are professional are so very young. There are several reasons, however one of the main reasons why most gymnasts especially those who are heavily competing are so young. As young girls especially are concerned, they reach their maximum potential usually around 16 to 17 years of age. At this point in a girls life she has developed the muscles and strength necessary to perform the routines and tricks and she also has the greatest amount of flexibility possible. The ability have maximum strength as well as maximum flexibility usually factor together and allow most girls to compete actively until they are approximately 20 years old. However, this is simply a guideline and the past has taught people that it is possible to still complete in gymnastics even after the age of 20 for females. It is important to realize though that gymnastics physically takes a lot of energy and effort and once the body starts to really age and mature keeping up with the strains is quite difficult to do. In contrast to women's gymnastics, the men who are involved are spending greater amounts of time focusing on strength. Because of this difference, most men reach their peak in gymnastics around the age of 20-25. This greater age allows most men to achieve the higher level of strength that is required to actively participate in the elements and events. As the age of gymnasts continue to stay low, it is important to realize that there are rules limiting the ability of very young athletes from participating in major competitions. The age limits are currently no gymnast younger than 16 is permitted to perform at any international competition including the Olympics and World competitions. While this may seem unfair the overall goal is to help ensure that the gymnasts are physically and emotionally ready for the rigors of strict competition before participating. In the past gymnasts as young as 14 were allowed to participate however this changed in 1997. In the meantime, the age of maximum ability has remained fairly steady in the 16-17 year old range. The young age for professional and semi professional gymnasts has also helped to encourage the number of children moving around in the search for the perfect coach. With many children involved in gymnastics reaching their maximum potential at a very young age parents are often left with the decision about where they can find the best coach possible. There are times when a local coach is acceptable and other times the best coach possible is on the other side of the country. Selecting the right coach for your child and their needs will vary based on quite a few criteria. The ultimate result is still the same, gymnasts are forced to wait longer before completing in world events, and the sheer ability of young women and men is tested each and every day in gyms all around the country. With the are requirement rising for international competitions it is anticipated that the overall age of professional gymnasts will rise as well. How accurate this will actually be has yet to be seen though. For those who have competed successfully or even as professionals there is many years following retirement which makes it essential that the gymnast also have another hobby or career to fall back on. Due to the incredibly young age for professional gymnasts it is possible for children as young as 16 to become licensed gymnastics coaches which opens more doors to them and even greater long term career opportunities that will last long after they have retired from active competition. Choosing and selecting the perfect gymnastics program to turn your tiny daughter into the superstar you dream of certainly is not easy. However, by realizing just how young most professionals are and taking an honest stock of your child's talents as well as desire can be quite helpful in making the correct decision. Helping Your Child Avoid Gymnastics Burnout Many children at some point experience burnout in an activity they are participating in. How the adults in the situation handle issues has a great amount to do with whether the burnout is a permanent issue, or only temporary. Appropriate guidance can result in a return to the activity, while meddling and pushing can have the child running for cover. You should always first consider the personality of your child. Many children who are shy do not enjoy gymnastics much because of the amount of attention they receive as well as the clothing that is worn. A self-conscious child will likely be miserable the entire time but possibly agree to take the classes just to make a parent happy. This can result in a child burning out much sooner, rather than later. If you suspect this is the problem with your child's burnout it may be best to avoid gymnastics until they decide they are ready to return. For parents of children who normally rush and run to the car to ensure they are on time for practice and lessons there needs to be a special time when other activities are arranged. Whether it is a day at an amusement park, visiting a museum, or even hanging out with friends away from the gym everyone needs a break on occasion to help them rejuvenate and keep their spark. While your child needs time to practice in order to improve, you should never push them to only practice, rather than allowing them some time to have fun. Parents are also guilty at times of turning gymnastics into a chore for their child rather than a fun activity or hobby. If you are guilty of this, you may be doing serious damage to your child's love of gymnastics. In order for a child not to burn out quickly, they need to enjoy the activity. If they feel as if they are being forced to go, and are unable to really enjoy it they are going to quickly lose interest. Instead, while gently providing the support your child needs the idea of gymnastics should be fun and entertaining first, and a powerful lesson in sportsmanship, strength training, and fitness second. If you suspect that your child is on the road to a burnout quickly take action. Whether it involves taking a fast trip to a miniature golf course or even a round of shopping at the mall, find another activity that your child enjoys for them to spend some time on. This can help quickly combat a burnout before it fully sets in. In addition, just fitting a few other activities in can help ensure that burnout stays at bay. For the sake of scheduling purposes and also to help provide everyone with plenty of time to rest, you should determine one day a week that is devoted to rest and relaxation. This means a movie day, spa day, or even just lounging by the pool working on a suntan. Make a rule that there is no gymnastics, no workouts, nothing that requires great amounts of brain thought so that your child can rest their entire body, mind and all for the rest of the coming week. By taking some proactive steps to avoid burnout you can help your child continue to improve, while still enjoying gymnastics. Proper steps taking in advance means a much healthier and well balanced lifestyle for your child as well which leads to a much happier adult. Remember, large amounts of stress can quickly contribute to burnout and should be avoided. Your child is counting on you to help them recognize and combat the signs before they become a serious problem. Men's Gymnastics Events Men's gymnastics has been called by many a "sissy sport" that is full of men who have no grasp about how to act manly, or even how to perform like a true athlete. However, overall men's gymnastics is treated quite roughly with most events involving great amounts of strength, coordination, and endurance in order to actually be considered a real gymnast. The various aspects of gymnastics has always required great amounts of strength as well as athletic ability, however men's gymnastics tends to take the typical requirements up a few notches by expecting bigger, better and longer routines from men than what is expected from women. Men's gymnastics involves six different events that are used to help showcase the ability and talents of each gymnast. While many men train in all events equally, some gymnasts choose to train in one area more exclusively. The first event for men is the floor exercise. The basis of the element is the same as for women, using a 12m square floor series of tumbles, woven together with handstands, acrobatic, rhythm and various other components are strung together. The typical time for a floor exercise is approximately 60 seconds; however, some can last as long as 70 seconds. Some contrasts to women's events include there is no music during the routine, and also gymnasts are required to touch each corner of the floor a minimum of once. The pommel horse is the next event that men partake in. This is an event that requires intense amount of upper body as well as arm strength as the gymnast is only allowed to touch the horse with their arms, while keeping the rest of their body in a continuously, fluid movement. It is vital to have a highly developed sense of balance, huge amounts of upper body strength and train extensively in body control in order to be successful on the pommel horse. This is a highly advanced event that young gymnasts are typically not allowed to partake in. Still rings is an event that many people think of when they are envisioning gymnastics for men. Using two rings that are suspended from a bar that hang 5.75 meters from the floor, the gymnast is required to stay in the air, not touch the floor and perform a routine that emphasizes body control, strength and flexibility. In addition to the movements of the gymnast, they must also maintain complete control over the rings so that there is no movement other than the gymnast themselves. Gymnasts are required to perform at least one static strength move during the routine, however many choose to include more. Men share the vault element with women as well, which required them to sprint quickly down a 25-meter runway and bounce off of a springboard while propelling themselves over the hurdle. Gymnasts are required to produce a successful dismount in which there is no falling or shifting of the weight. Parallel Bars is another event in which men train and compete. Using bars that are approximately 1.75 meters off the ground and set a bit wider than shoulder width the gymnast performs a series of balances, swings, and various other acrobatic movements while ensuring they do not fall to the ground. The final event for men to participate in is the high bar. This uses a bar that is only 2.4cm wide and rises an impressive 2.5 meters off the ground. Gymnasts are required to perform various aspects together such as twists, directional changes, flips, and even giants to produce a routine that is visually as well as athletically impressive. Most men wear leather grips while performing on the high bar to reduce the risk of injury to the hands. Mastering Gymnastics Moves Through Mediation Styled Techniques Many coaches train gymnasts to use methods such as visualization to help them visualize a technique or movement before they actually physically try it. This helps the gymnasts determine exact body placement, as well as how fast they should be moving to successfully complete the task. To make things easiest it is necessary to take this up a notch and use several steps working together to make the visualization process much simpler and help your own little gymnast learn the skills much easier. The first step is always stopping and relaxing. People are not able to learn as easily if they are stressed out no matter what they are trying to do. Relax and breathe deeply to let the tension go. Once you feel the stress melting away and have taken several deep breathes you can move along. Your next step is going to imagine your self performing the technique flawlessly. How do you look? What did you do? What was the reaction of the crowd? What was the reaction of your coach? How did you feel while you were doing the position? What were your hands doing? What about your feet? Did you feel comfortable in your mind? All of these details will help you determine exactly what your body should do and when to achieve the best result. Next, you need to step back from yourself in your mind and visualize yourself doing the technique several times. This allows you to have a stadium seat in your head and really get a good view of your body. Watching the technique several times will allow you to quickly learn how your body should be placed and where you should be in relation to everyone around you and how your entire body should be in relation to other parts of your body. Your next step will be to actually try the new technique. You should have visually run through the entire process several times in your head at this point and should be well versed in what you are doing. Without this knowledge and intimate idea about how your own body should react, you would be much further behind. However, using your own knowledge from your imagination as you performed the technique continuously will help you to achieve the best result possible the first time. While your initial physical attempt may not go as smoothly as you like, continuously practicing will allow you to discover the best results possible. In order to truly achieve the success that you want, you can continue visualizing and repeating to actually try the technique until you get the result that you ultimately want for your entire routine. The idea that practice makes perfect goes along perfectly with this technique. By carefully studying and analyzing, any mistakes that you make you can focus your visualization on these aspects to continuously improve your movements until you have found the perfect technique for your actual physical performance. Of course, if you have any questions you should ask your coach. You may not realize you have any questions until you visualize the move and notice that it looks different. If you see anything either in physical movements or in your visualization that does not quite look right, ask questions to ensure that you know exactly what you are working towards. You cannot achieve perfection if you are too shy to ask questions so feel free to ask. You should notice that by using visualization techniques you are able to achieve greater results much quicker than if you simply practiced the same moves over and over again. While physically practicing the moves is essential to mastering them, it is also important to be able to visualize and understand exactly how your body should move. Combining the two techniques together will have you sailing through moves in no time and mastering techniques and tricks quite quickly. In time, you will come to always use the mediation techniques to help you master each and every technique. Important Things to Look for in a Gym Gymnastics is a sport that relies heavily upon selecting the correct coach as well as the appropriate gym. In order to achieve the best results possible it is necessary to have several components that work together to ensure that you set yourself up to be successful right from the beginning. While not all components are 100 percent necessary to everyone, you should look for a gym that has as many of the components as possible. You should first look for a gym that is clean. Never sign up with a gym that you have not personally visited at least once. If you do not know how the gym is maintained from the looks of it then it is likely to be well kept. You should not see a nasty gym in a good program. It should be maintained, all equipment should be functional, bathrooms should be clean and it should have a friendly atmosphere. You do not want to study gymnastics at a gym that is dirty, if they are unwilling to devote time to keeping the gym clean, imagine the condition of the equipment. If you are interested in studying gymnastics to a level of competition then look for a gym with a highly competitive team. This ensures that you have the greatest opportunities available for expanding your knowledge and can learn about competition strategies in a safe and secure environment. This is not always as easy as it seems since not all gyms offer competition teams. Look for a program that is organized. You do not want to participate in a program that cannot provide you quickly with the names of coaches, instruction levels, dates, classes, and other relevant information. If they are unable to provide you with information before you sign up, they likely will not be able to help you after you sign up. Take first impressions seriously and avoid any gyms that you are not comfortable with. You should also look for a gym that has multiple pieces of equipment. There should always be more than one type of equipment. Time wasted during practice waiting on equipment to open up is merely a waste and is not valuable at all. A proper gym should be well aware of this and have plenty of equipment to avoid wasted time and increase training opportunities as much as possible. You should also look for a gym that will allow for individual practice time. Whether you have to pay for the time or it is free is dependent upon the gym. However, these times are important to work with equipment on your own to work on mastering skills that are not always easy to conquer. Without the ability to practice in the safe protected gym, your risk of injury increases as well. Realize that most gyms do not offer coaches during the practice hours though, so you are essentially on your own to practice. In addition, it is very important to select a gym with a fitness and strength program as well. While gymnastics training is important training the entire body is vital to success as well. Good knowledgeable gyms are well aware of this fact and will work to ensure that you are properly trained from head to toe. This means spending almost as much time training with weights and conditioning exercises as practicing gymnastics at first for most people. This is perfectly normal and should be expected. You should actually question any gym that does not require conditioning and strength training as a part of their gymnastics program. Finding the right gym is possible. If you live in a large area, your options are likely to be much larger but it is still possible to find the perfect gym for your needs even when you live in a very small area. It is not necessary to move to a new town or state to find a good gym. They exist almost everywhere and most are good and reputable. Following these guidelines ensures you only work with the best for your entire gymnastics career. Flexibility Basics for All Gymnasts If you are looking to improve your flexibility then you are looking to improve your overall performance as a gymnast. If you are looking for a way to dramatically improve your skills then improving your flexibility is the single most important thing you can do. This means that simply changing your stretching routine can have a huge impact on your overall abilities. If you are working towards improving your flexibility there are several things that you can do to improve quickly. One of the first is realize that if you improve your flexibility you are also able to improve how quickly your body learns new moves. This means improving your flexibility is a pressing need. If you are looking at flexibility there are two ways to improve, the first is statically and the second is dynamically. Dynamic is also called active, and examples of that include split leaps and kicks. Examples of static flexibility include scales and other similar exercises. It is very important to mix up the type of exercises that you do to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefit possible. If you are working on improving flexibility, the use of your natural body weight is a great way to help you improve as well. This allows you to carefully put controlled pressure on the muscles and ensure that you are capable of improving your flexibility slowly and without causing an injury. Using body weight to help improve your flexibility is a very simple method to use. Additionally it is necessary to work on building your strength in each stretched position. This is important because many gymnastic positions require you to get in positions that are stretched and hold them for a few moments. This is a very difficult skill if you do not have the muscle strength necessary to hold the position. Slowly working to build this strength is best, and one of the best ways to do it is by continuously working and practicing the moves. It is very important to understand that in addition to leg and back flexibility being very important it is also important to have flexible shoulders and arms so that acrobatic positions look proper and feel correct. If you do not have the flexibility necessary to move in required positions then it is very difficult to control movements and to perform a routine correctly. One of the best ways to improve your flexibility easily is to carefully work out a plan to inject a bit of stretching into almost everything you do in normal life. This could be something as simple as doing a few stretches while you watch a couple of minutes of television, or even stretching while you are in the shower, or walking up stairs. Looking at each thing you do in a day as an opportunity to stretch will allow you to use some creative thinking and make the most of your flexibility while improving your levels slowly. It is especially important to build good levels of flexibility so that the judges can clearly see the positions that you are trying to execute. In addition, judges do notice when someone has an exceptionally high flexibility level and do tend to award them higher marks than those who are not as flexible. While having flexibility of 180 degrees is all that is required, going a step further and above and beyond the minimum requirements is also looked upon favorably. Conquer Nerves at Matches and Competitions Competing and participating in matches is something that most gymnasts really enjoy. However, the process still tends to bring out the worse cases of nerves possible. Gathering your nerves together and pulling off a seamless routine is entirely possible with some help. It is important to control your nerves or you could end up sabotaging yourself and this is never an ideal situation for anyone. So sit down, relax, and learn how to master your nerves in time for the next meet. Start by ensuring you get plenty of practice. A gymnast who knows their routine inside and out will be much calmer than someone who suddenly learned a routine in a single day and did not practice. With this idea in mind, avoid making changes to your routine at the last minute. Changes should be made at least a week in advance if at all possible so you have enough time to practice the new routine. You should get at least 8 hours of sleep before a match. It is easy to feel as if a situation is out of control when you are tired. To help combat this getting plenty of sleep will allow you to calm your nerves so you can sleep and allow you to be your energetic best at the meet itself. Pack your bag the night before the meet. This avoids the last minute rush and panic searching the house or hotel room the morning of the meet while minutes are few and precious. Packing your bag the night before ensures that everything you need to take goes along without causing a huge mass panic to run through you. Upon arriving to the location for the meet, take a few minutes and look around. Find the drink machines, phones, water fountain, bathrooms, and locker rooms. Ensuring that you know where everything is will allow you to calm down and relax rather than feeling as if you are walking around in the middle of outer space. Familiar surroundings are always more relaxing than strange ones. Spend at least 30 minutes warming up before it is your turn. You do not want to rush through your warm up. It can open you up to injury and increase your nerves. Slow and steady movements are best for your warm up exercises. If you like yoga then this is a great time to use yoga to warm up since it helps you center your mind as well. Before you perform your routine, take a few moments to yourself to clear your head and breathe. While everyone is going to want to wish you luck, for many this can stir up the nerves they have fought so hard to control. If necessary, avoid talking to anyone until after your routine to keep down the nerves. Once it is your turn, smile, look confident and enjoy yourself. If you happen to make a mistake accept that it happens on occasion and keep going. You should be there to enjoy yourself and have fun first, then worry about placing well in the meet second. Consider that this is only a hobby, rather than a competition that you must win is another way to help ease nerves and allow you to focus on having fun and looking confident rather than frightened and afraid. By following these tips and suggestions, conquering the nerves that appear before a meet can handled in a mature and professional way. Regardless of the level of meet, gathering your nerves is a skill that you can use through out gymnastics and life as well. Conflicts with the Coach It is almost a guarantee that at some point during the gymnastics career someone will think that their coach is being difficult, unfair or down right mean. The problem becomes deciding is this on purpose to upset you, it is meant to help you improve, or is it because the coach is playing favorites with specific gymnasts? Most times coaches are not really trying to upset anyone. However, their job is to instruct and train everyone. This means that often a single session will have several different levels of students training at the same time. This can result in several activities occurring at the same time, and can leave some gymnasts feeling left out. How you view the situation is entirely up to you, but overall the coach is trying to give each gymnast exactly what they need, based upon their skill level as well as physical strength. Remember, many activities in gymnastics require extremely strong muscles. If your coach is working on exercises that require extreme arm strength and your arms are not as strong as they should be, you may find yourself disappointed as you are working on exercises and drills to help build your arm strength. While you may think such a situation is unfair because you would rather be learning something new, it is actually a very appropriate decision because the coach is putting your desire behind the importance of your overall safety and health. A coach who allows someone to work on exercises they are ill equipped for just to keep a reputation of being fair or nice is generally not a very good coach. Instead, it is best to work with a coach who is willing to give honest and open feedback of performance and require more drills and exercises when necessary. Your health and safety should be the primary concern of the coach with all other desires coming in after safety is assured. Many girls and boys alike have at some point felt they were being treated unfairly, however it is rarely ever actually a case of unfair treatment. Instead, it usually is a result of additional work being needed and the coach recognizing the deficiency. Instead of taking the actions of the coach personal, it makes the perfect time to speak to the coach after lessons to ask what you should do to improve. Taking the proactive approach of trying to ask for tips on how to improve, rather than crying about unfair treatment will show your coach that you are serious about improving and are willing to make the effort. Realize your coach is not there to be your best friend; they are there to make sure you are safe and learn the proper techniques to be the best gymnast that you are physically capable of being. Whether that means you spend an additional week doing drills, or spend additional time working on basic exercises you are still working on being the very best you are personally capable of being. If however, you do notice that your coach really is treating you very differently, talk to them privately about your concerns. You may discover that your coach has noticed problems that you have and they are simply trying to help you improve and overcome the struggles. If this is the case, take note of what they are saying and work to improve. If they are truly being unfair, then often drawing their attention to the problem will correct the behavior from most coaches who are actually making a professional effort. Careers for Older Gymnasts Most people are well aware of the fact that gymnasts tend to be very young at their peak. This youthful career tends to leave people retired when they are as young as 25, which in a world where people regularly work until they are in their mid-60's leaves many years of empty years. To help pass the time and still engage in gymnastics it is possible to explore a couple of different careers that build on the gymnastics training that you have had, and present it to others so that it is beneficial. For those who are still on the young end of the retired scale and in perfect physical condition there are plenty of professional competitions to engage in. With prizes and awards, ranging it is possible make a decent income simply from attending a few competitions a year. However, be aware that the professional area is full of the best of the best so winning competitions is much harder at the professional level than anything you have ever experienced before. Additionally, most gymnasts who have done well at amateur competitions tend to do best at professional competitions as well. If you are thinking you may want to pursue professional gymnastics then it is a wise idea to enter as many competitions as possible while you are younger so you can get as much experience competing as possible. In the professional arena, there are both national and international events. Selecting the best event for your talents is not always easy but it is best to get as much experience as possible before engaging in the top international events. Competition is very stiff and with dedication, talent and a drive to succeed many successful teenage gymnasts have enjoyed professional careers. Another option to explore is that of a gymnastics coach. You were once inspired as a child, so why not give back to others? Take all of the skills and lessons that you have learned over the years as you mastered technique after technique and put it to work. Developing highly trained gymnasts is a dream for many coaches and those with actual gymnastics experience themselves tend to do much better. Using your skills to help teach others even adults is a great way to make some money even after your time competing has come to an end. One draw back is those who are not very friendly or vocal may have difficulty communicating with students and giving them the feedback and guidance that they need in order to be truly successful. However, most coaches are able to over come these problems with some training from various organizations designed to improve coaching skills. Your last viable option is to look into performing at various places. From circuses to theater and even dancing, all of the performance arts have types of gymnastics woven into the ideals. Many successful gymnasts are able to easily convert to dancers, and even engage happily into the circus. While performing in dances or the circus may not be the ideal situation for some gymnasts, it is a fun way to branch their skills and be able to travel once their body is unable to handle the extremely harsh rigors of competition gymnastics. Finding a job after your gymnastics career is really not as difficult as it may seem. There are numerous options that are available. If you are interested in exploring coaching you can often look into helping volunteer with a team for a short period of time and learn from the current coach. This is a great hands on way to gain some valuable first hand experience. Additionally, studying a small bit of dance with reputable studios would allow you to see if dancing was something that you enjoyed. Take your talents from gymnastics and put them to good use if you truly enjoy the sport. You have learned so much and have the ability to give back a lot of what it has given you. Boys and Gymnastics Many parents when they hear the term gymnastics automatically start thinking about wafer thin girls with hair pulled back in taunt ponytails or buns. This classic idea is strongly encouraged by the fact that most television programs that show gymnastics tend to focus on the girls as well. However, there are numerous boys and men who are actively involved in gymnastics and love it. While the girls may well steal the spotlight in terms of international recognition, the work that males do accomplish in gymnastics is equally stunning. The ideas the men are less manly when they are involved in gymnastics is an ideal that has been slowly exiting the minds of people worldwide as the number of men has slowly increased. Now more than ever, boys and men are welcomed into gymnastics with open arms and the sport really has some great benefits to offer. Whether young or old gymnastics has several great benefits including helping increase overall muscle strength, teaching correct body alignment, helping improve agility as well as coordination, and even helping dramatically improve endurance and flexibility. These benefits are just what is possible from the physical side of gymnastics. Most parents are able to see an improvement in their child rather quickly, especially if lessons are taken several times per week. Additional benefits of gymnastics include helping develop a clear sense of how the body moves and works and also how it moves through space. During the course of gymnastics training all gymnasts are forced to listen to their bodies in order to tell if they are doing a move correctly. This is a skill that many people do not develop as sharply without the use of gymnastics. This is especially true for boys, who tend to play rougher sports, rather than the gentle space conscious sports that girls play. Further benefits that boys are able to truly grasp include improving discipline, self-control, self-motivation, and even confidence. Many boys are able to learn huge amounts of self-discipline simply from taking basic beginning courses even if they never advance. Additionally, many boys are able to use gymnastics to help them burn extra energy and better control their urges to act out. Between the physical exertion of gymnastics and the increase in both self-control and discipline, differences in behavior should be noticeable quite rapidly. Many boys discover upon taking gymnastics that it is actually quite fun. Due to the solitarily of most gymnastics events their abilities are able to shine through easier than if they were simply playing on a team with dozens of other boys. Many boys are much happier with their individual abilities being highlighted at matches and competitions, which results in even greater benefits. While not all boys are going to find gymnastics a thrilling activity, most enjoy it immensely. Between the physical activity, as well as the ability to tumble and flip it quickly tends to win even the shyest boy over rather quickly. Finding a coach who has worked with boys specifically will usually help the process as well, since they are better able to help boys train towards the appropriate gymnastics events. In the world of athletics, there are few sports that can compare to gymnastics regardless of whether you are looking for a daughter or a son. Finding the best coach is still one of the best moves you can make, and working closely with your child and their coach can help your son achieve the best results possible.
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