Gymnastics teaches so much more than gymnastics


I’ve been involved in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics for over 20 years. Finally just under 2 months ago, I packed in the corporate world to teach gymnastics full time. For years I coached recreational gymnasts for just 2 hours a week, all the while spending another 12 hours or so (on top of my full time job of 40 hours a week) coaching those who were picked from the bunch for having a natural talent or flair for gymnastics. The last 7 weeks have flown by for me, I almost feel like I was never stuck at a desk for all of those years, being where I am now – it just feels right.

When you spend a lot of time in the recreational gymnastics world (and every coach should) you really learn a lot about children; their mindsets to their capabilities and to how different each child really is. In my first week I spent approximately 10 minutes of one of my first classes teaching little girls born in 2010 how to form a line. Granted, we also had to work on it in week two but now by week 4 everyone now understands and our hour in the gym together operates more efficiently. It’s little things like these that make you realise – teaching this fantastic sport, is teaching children so much more than just gymnastics!

JAG Gym Blog posted something great today: “20 reason your preschooler should do gymnastics”. I have picked out some of my favourite reasons below and also some that I have really come to notice since teaching gymnastics full time (and also realise where I have learnt some of these traits from):

 Separation. Learning to leave your parent or caregiver in the lobby while you go into class is the beginning of learning how to separate before a child goes to school. The ability to adjust to new situations is an important part of a preschoolers’ education.

Following directions. Gymnastics teaches kids to follow multi-stepped directions. Going around the obstacle course and remember what to do at each station is far more than gymnastics training.

Following safety rules. Listening to the rules of how we keep ourselves safe in the gym helps children learn how to follow rules at home and school. It places an importance on the concept of personal safety that is relevant for life.

Patience. No one likes waiting, especially 3, 4 and 5 year olds! Practicing standing in line for short periods of time and containing your excitement as you wait for your turn on the trampoline are just a couple ways gymnastics teaches patience.

Working cooperatively. From partner drills to moving a mat together, gymnastics teaches kids to work together for a common purpose.

Persistence. Gymnasts must try and try again to achieve even the simplest of skills. Gymnastics teaches kids to stay with an activity until it’s completed.

Discipline. Combining listening, respect for rules and patience leads to discipline.   When a child has the basics of discipline, self-discipline is the next step: the ability to self-regulate behavior.

I do eventually hope to, sometime soon, make a full blog post about the transition from the office desk to the gymnastics floor.

Note: Image purchased.

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