What Comes Next? 5 Sports To Try After Gymnastics

Gymnastics truly is a sport where you can start here and go anywhere. Gymnastics teaches a tremendous amount of self-discipline and focus, and gymnasts develop strength, coordination, and the ability to accept feedback from coaches—all skills that easily transfer to another sport. So, if the time has come when your gymnast is considering retiring and moving on to something new, the door is wide open to other sports where he or she can excel. While your gymnast can move on to just about anything, here’s a guide to some of the sports gymnasts most easily transition into.

Diving

Many former gymnasts go on to find a great deal of success in diving, which allows them to continue using some of the same skills they learned in gymnastics as they flip and twist through the air. Years of developing air awareness helps gymnasts transition from tumbling across the floor to flipping from the springboard. As a lower impact sport, overuse injuries are much less common in diving than in gymnastics, and the training hours are generally lower. Expect there to be some learning curve—gymnasts are used to always landing on their feet and will need to adapt to head first entries, and there will also be an adjustment to the different level of momentum required. Gymnasts are used to having to punch the floor or springboard to achieve momentum, but will need to learn to ride the diving board to propel away from it. Many high schools have diving teams, and if your kid really takes off in diving the good news is it’s also an NCAA and Olympic sport. Check out USA Diving to find a club near you: www.teamusa.org/usa-diving

Track & Field

 What do gymnastics and pole vaulting have in common? They both require speed, strength, and excellent body control, and it turns out many former gymnasts go on to become outstanding pole vaulters. Their air awareness, upper body and core strength, and ability to shape their bodies in unusual positions all work to give former gymnasts a huge advantage in learning to pole vault. It also doesn’t hurt that gymnasts have spent years running full speed at a vault table, making them less afraid to tackle the pole vault. Gymnasts also frequently excel at other track and field events. Years of sprinting down the vault runway is great preparation for sprinting on a track, and powerful floor leaps can transition to flawless form in the hurdles. All of those hours of conditioning leave gymnasts well prepared for the high level of cardio fitness required for track and field. Most middle schools and high schools offer the sport, and Track and Field has long been both an NCAA and an Olympic sport. Visit USA Track and Field www.usatf.org to find a club near you.

Ninja Warrior

The show, American Ninja Warrior, debuted in 2009, and in the years since the sport has exploded in popularity in the US, with Ninja Warrior gyms popping up all over the place. The sport relies on explosive strength, endurance, balance and precision, and excellent grip strength, making it a perfect fit for former gymnasts. Ninja Warrior competitions offer a variety of different challenges along each course, which can appeal to gymnasts used to competing on a variety of apparatus. Youth Ninja Warrior competitions take place all over the country, broken up by age groups with separate divisions for girls and boys. While the hours will likely be much lower than gymnastics, the time spent training in a gym and the team comradery will likely feel familiar to your child. If they really take to the sport your child could even end up competing on television in American Ninja Warrior Junior! Visit American Ninja Warrior at www.ninjawarriorgyms.com to find a gym near you.

Cheerleading

With its emphasis on flexibility, acrobatics, strength, and endurance, cheerleading is often an easy transition for former gymnasts. They get to continue using their hard-earned tumbling skills and enjoy being part of a team. Most middle schools and high schools have cheerleading squads, but if your child wants to keep on competing after hanging up his or her grips, All Star Cheer offers teams ranging from beginner to elite. Athletes perform a two-and-a-half-minute routine made up of tumbling, stunting, pyramids, dance, and cheer segments, and competition is intense. While some people argue that cheerleading isn’t a real sport, the International Olympic Committee begs to differ, having officially recognized it as a sport in 2021, which may pave the way for cheerleading to be included in the Olympics one day. Cheerleading isn’t currently an NCAA sport, but many colleges do offer cheerleading scholarships. For an All Star Cheer club near you, visit www.usacheer.org.

Rock Climbing

Didn’t know rock climbing is a competitive sport? It is! USA Climbing’s Youth Series offers competitions for athletes 19 and under where kids can compete in three different categories: lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering. Similar to gymnastics, rock climbing is an individual sport with a team component. While athletes earn points individually and there are no team rankings, teams travel together, cheer each other on, and develop strong bonds. Rock climbing requires upper body strength, flexibility, balance, good grip strength, and the ability to visualize sequences—all skills gymnasts have already honed through years of practice. Local competitions take place at rock gyms all across the country, and the climbing season culminates with Regional, Divisional, and National Championships. While most schools do not have climbing teams and Rock Climbing is not an NCAA sport, Sport Climbing did make its Olympic debut in the Tokyo Games and will be included in the 2024 Olympics. Check out USA Climbing at usaclimbing.org for a club near you.

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I did a brief stretch of high school track (barely a season), and I excelled in long jump. I have found that participating gymnasts do good in that for whatever reason. I also tried hurdles and was good, but it was not my thing.

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I did high school track and then college cross country and track! In high school I pole vaulted, did long and triple jump, and did some sprints/relays, and then in college I pole vaulted and did some mid/distance stuff in addition to steeplechase. I had an amazing time and loved.my.division 3 sports experience. I even liked cross country, even though I wasn't great. The team was so.closely knit - the men and women shared a coach and this I had lots of people looking out for me, and I actually think it was good for me to be bad at something for once. I did end up making our regionals team one year (top 6 on our team), which was so rewarding!

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DD13 has started rec climbing, 1 hour session once a week and is loving it. She wants to increase her hours once this gym season is over. Her gymnastics skills, strength and flexibility translate well over

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As I experimented with a few different sports when I was a wee one and then stuck to gymnastics, I'll speak for some other gymnasts I know too.

  • We have a senior gymnast, also a diver, who decided to dive in college.
  • Our gym has ninja warrior too, but it is mostly for younger kids.
  • A handful of gymnasts also do track & field.
  • Never had any experience with rock climbing, though it sounds like fun!
  • Cheerleading...yes! A lot of the gymnasts perceive cheerleading as 'easy gymnastics' and 'for the popular/mean girls', though.
  • Dance seems to be a favorite for gymnasts who liked floor. Also some gymnasts who tried aerial dance.
  • I know several gymnasts (who were not high-level athletes, but made it to Level 4-6) that decided to play volleyball instead.
  • Soccer- not a common one, but we have a couple gymnasts who also play soccer or quit to focus just on soccer.
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics- We don't have a rhythmic gym in town but it seems like it could be a good option!

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My daughter dove in college after gymnastics was off the table after she blew out her knee , and 5 surgeries and 2 years of thrice weekly PT, it never was the same. She never dove until fall of her freshman year and only did the 1 meter that year....by her Sr year, she had set the school record in the 3 meter! And she now works as a part time diving coach so there's that....as a parent, I found diving to be WAY less stress at meets or maybe because I knew way less..

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2 of our gymmies did Division 1 pole vaulting. 2 did diving, 1 at a Div 1 school, 1 div 3.

Mine a sophomore in HS is doing gym and lacrosse

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My daughter dove in college after gymnastics was off the table after she blew out her knee , and 5 surgeries and 2 years of thrice weekly PT, it never was the same. She never dove until fall of her freshman year and only did the 1 meter that year....by her Sr year, she had set the school record in the 3 meter! And she now works as a part time diving coach so there's that....as a parent, I found diving to be WAY less stress at meets or maybe because I knew way less..

So you mean she starts diving as a freshman in college?

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So you mean she starts diving as a freshman in college?

Yes, October of her freshman year

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My daughter quickly transitioned to golf and Tumbling & Trampoline. She then added school cheer. She is also going to try a season of track before she begins high school next year. Middle school allows for more freedom and variety in school athletics. Once she gets to high school she will need to narrow it down as high cool sports require more year around commitment. Which I think is a bummer because I've enjoyed seeing how many things she can do in place of all those hours spent at the gym.

When I stopped gymnastics as young teen I tried horseback riding and then fell in love with vocal music and theater. So it doesn't always have to be athletics, there are so many doors that open when artistic gymnastics ends.

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I currently do Track and wrestling, while still competing as a diamond gymnast. (Advantage of Xcel, I can also do high school sports) I live in a state where girls wrestling is a offical high school sport, and I made it to state this year as a sophomore who didn't start wrestling until high school. Girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing collegate sports right now, so its quite possible that I could wrestle in college. Wrestling is very similar to gymnastics in the abilities needed, strength, speed, flexibility, body awareness, etc.

I also do track. 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles. Triple jump. Discus. I would love to try pole vault, but my school doesn't offer it, it's too small. I do quite well in all my events.

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My daughter is enjoying CrossFit and ballet. She likes to do her makeup ballet classes in the Acro class. She does miss bars!

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I really wanted my daughter to try diving and/or pole vaulting after transitioning from JO to Xcel. But she chose field hockey, basketball and now lacrosse. So fun seeing her try completely different things! (And I'll never forget her comment after her first game - "I was nervous to get the ball in a game at first. But then I realized how different it is than gymnastics. You don't have to be perfect. You mess up, recover, and keep going. Multiple times." )

From my own personal experience, I went from gymnastics to cheer (and kept up with HS gymnastics). My best friend went from gymnastics to diving and ended up diving in college.

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I have a Level 9 daughter that is also running track. She is trying many events but she likes the hurdles the best so far.

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I think I may have posted on this thread already, but my daughter is doing track in college and her intention was to do what she focused on in high school - the throws (shot put, discus, hammer, javelin). However, the new women's coach found out about her gymnastics background and decided she belonged in the pentathlon (indoors) and heptathlon (outdoors). She is having a great time learning all the new events. The coaches are impressed with her ability to make corrections, which I think is directly attributable to her years of gymnastics.

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Perfect 10: College Gymnastics