WAG Gymnastics and Identity

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

Em09

Gymnast
Fan
Oct 13, 2020
153
19
Australia
I decided to make a spin-off thread from one I saw that kind of raised something that I really think about a lot.

Gymnastics really becomes a part of your identity, or your child's identity. I don't know how I would define myself without it. I have other passions that I want to pursue, but nothing quite like this one amazing sport gets so entangled in my identity. I'm a gymnast. End of story.
I'm sure many other gymnasts would relate.

And it can make you feel stuck sometimes. When you want to quit, after a bad day or in the high school phase (or middle school, Y7 and 8 is HS for me), you feel like even though you don't want to continue, you have to. It's part of you.
The world would be too scary without gymnastics. I would struggle to define myself.

What do you think of gymnastics and identity?
What are your experiences with this? Thoughts? Please share.
 

skschlag

Staff member
Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Jul 19, 2011
11,196
Region 9
We have always encouraged our son to have an identity outside of gymnastics. He loves gymnastics, and always will, and will always identify as a gymnast, but he is also many other things. Friend, Son, Boyfriend, student, future PA, video gamer, manga lover, dog lover, hiker, etc. We have made sure that he sees options with and without gymnastics.

He will always be a gymnast, but it is only a part of who HE is.
 

Em09

Gymnast
Fan
Oct 13, 2020
153
19
Australia
We have always encouraged our son to have an identity outside of gymnastics. He loves gymnastics, and always will, and will always identify as a gymnast, but he is also many other things. Friend, Son, Boyfriend, student, future PA, video gamer, manga lover, dog lover, hiker, etc. We have made sure that he sees options with and without gymnastics.

He will always be a gymnast, but it is only a part of who HE is.
I absolutely applaud that. It can be hard to feel like the other things about you are part of you too.
For many, and honestly for me, they are a gymnast, who happens to be everything else.
I will admit that this happened in my case through time. The longer I was a gymnast, the more it became me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: skschlag

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,891
It’s true that many gymnasts identify as a gymnast. But usually, when they choose to quit the sport, it is because another great passion has come along to take its place.

Gymnastics gives you a lot, friendships, fitness, something to love, set goals for and strive towards, a second family etc. when it comes time to move on, it will be alright as long as each of these cups is being filled in another way.
 

skschlag

Staff member
Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Jul 19, 2011
11,196
Region 9
I absolutely applaud that. It can be hard to feel like the other things about you are part of you too.
For many, and honestly for me, they are a gymnast, who happens to be everything else.
I will admit that this happened in my case through time. The longer I was a gymnast, the more it became me.
Thanks!

totally understand that. He has been a gymnast for as long as he can remember. Started when he was 16 months, started competing at 6, and is now 20 and still doing gymnastics. But I do love that he talks about "when I am done competing". I think he will always do gymnastics, and will be involved in some way, but he is pretty well rounded :)
 

belgym

New Member
Jul 9, 2022
6
I think knowing that you don’t ever have to fully leave the sport helps. I have stayed in the sport as a coach and as a fan so I have never lost that part of my identity and I don’t plan on it. I will be a gymnastics fan till the day I die!
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,492
Baltimore, MD
Having gymnastics become your entire identity is an easy trap to fall into, and one that we should actively avoid.

Nothing wrong with loving the sport, but I think it's very important to maintain friendships, hobbies, activities, social circles, etc, that have nothing to do with gymnastics.
 

MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
782
Virginia
I am in my mid 40s and still consider myself a "gymnast" and I quite club gym in 8th grade and did HS gym after that. It does have a way of sticking with you: BUT you definitely have to open yourself up to other things you love. I did tons of sports and enjoyed them all (cheer, field hockey, soccer, water skiing etc) I love to read and have other facets to "who I am"

I definitely work with that with my kiddo as well she definitely sees herself as a "gymnast" first and foremost but she tried track this year, loves art, reads like a demon, plays with her sister, surfs, loves the beach etc. A friend of mine who's DD does gym often says I am raising a whole child and that resonates with me. I think as parents you have to make an conscious effort to "raise a whole child" and not let any one thing or sport be too much of who they are. Its the same as losing yourself in a relationship and just trying to be who that person wants you to be. You should always keep sight of all the elements of who you are and not hyper focus on one aspect.

My kid is hurt and gonna be out of gym for awhile and shes sad but the first thing she said is well I have more time for reading and art now....and thats when I knew I was doing alright at this parenting thing ya know...
 

LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
133
I 100% sympathize with you. I am a "gymnast". I plan to do gymnastics as long as I can. I can see myself growing up to be a coach and a judge and staying with it as long as I can. I can see myself following gymnastics news for a long time after I'm done with the sport, and I'm sure it will feel very weird.
However, I am also a reader, and I love music, and I love to do things outdoors, and spend time with friends. Right now, gymnastics (besides school) comes first, but all of those things are still part of who I am. If I started to become less driven as a gymnast, and have thoughts of not continuing, I know I would explore other interests, some of which I have already. Maybe I would find something else I wanted to dedicate my time to. I don't think I would be as happy without something (hopefully, something physical) to focus on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: skschlag

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,891
You don’t have to quit gymnastics at all. I know it’s done less in the US. But in Australia kids don’t generally quit gymnastics when they finish high school.

They continue on their competitive teams as long as they want.

In my comp team the oldest gymnast is 25, she loves it and just be we stopped competing.

Lots of gyms have competitive gymnasts in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc.
 

Livelovegymnastics

Gymnast
Fan
Mar 20, 2022
51
I struggle with this. I identify as a gymnast, it is my passion in life. I can't imagine my life without it. It is my safe outlet that will always be there for me when I have a hard day. The bad thing is that I will pick gymnastics over everything and I know it is a problem. My mom says I need to be okay with skipping gymnastics for other things but it is so hard for me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tammie

Em09

Gymnast
Fan
Oct 13, 2020
153
19
Australia
You don’t have to quit gymnastics at all. I know it’s done less in the US. But in Australia kids don’t generally quit gymnastics when they finish high school.

They continue on their competitive teams as long as they want.

In my comp team the oldest gymnast is 25, she loves it and just be we stopped competing.

Lots of gyms have competitive gymnasts in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc.
I only discovered yesterday that my gym's oldest competitor is not 43, but a different guy aged 64! I have said on here before: I will be the 80+ year old still doing gymnastics.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tammie

Mish

Proud Parent
Aug 15, 2015
687
53
This is also what causes some kids to stay longer than they can/want to. My dd has never been the "gymnastics over everything else in the universe" kid, but has been at it mostly successfully since four years old. Now at 15 yo level 9 she is struggling a bit, but has said it's just not that easy to leave something that has been a part of you for your whole life.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tammie

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,492
Baltimore, MD
You don’t have to quit gymnastics at all. I know it’s done less in the US. But in Australia kids don’t generally quit gymnastics when they finish high school.

They continue on their competitive teams as long as they want.

In my comp team the oldest gymnast is 25, she loves it and just be we stopped competing.

Lots of gyms have competitive gymnasts in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc.
I wish this was commonplace in the USA.

(Actually, I wish adult amateur leagues in general were a bigger thing in the USA, across all sports)
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,891
I wish this was commonplace in the USA.

(Actually, I wish adult amateur leagues in general were a bigger thing in the USA, across all sports)
They are huge here and so important. Being part of adult amateur sports, is for many people, both an important source of health and fitness training but also for friendships and social circles.
 

Tammie

Member
Jul 22, 2022
90
44
I believe this is actually true of ALL sports and athletes, not just gymnastics.

My oldest daughter was in softball. She was a catcher, it was who she was. Her nickname in life was "battle panda"(because she was a catcher-the gear reminded people of the kungfupanda movie). She was good, she had college recruiters looking at her at 12, her team won 2nd place at state when she was 10 and came away with offers from travel teams(some with much older girls)from all over the state-and 2 out of state....she was THAT good(she was on a winning state team the next year, was even awarded MVP, but the first year when she won 2nd was always the most impressive to her ;-)). She also played an entire game with a broken hand, played a few innings of a championship game with heat stroke, and beyond-so its not just 'crazy gymnasts' who push themselves to compete through pain & injuries.

My brother played football, he ended up on a semi-pro team after college because he just couldn't stop.

I had 2 cousins that played baseball, they too are still involved in the sport in various ways in their 40s(one coaches little league-despite his own kids playing other sports ).

So yes, gymnastics becomes a part of your identity in the same way any other sport might, I believe the biggest difference is that while in many other sports the hours required vary greatly and you can participate as much or as little as you want-there isn't really a "halfway" with gymnastics, for obvious safety reasons you either do gymnastics or you don't. You don't see an 18U/adult city rec league that plays a few months in the summer on an "everyone plays" type of team the way you will with little league, basketball or soccer. Other sports often have a season and you participate for a few months, then you resume a "normal life" with other interests(this changes if you become more serious in the sport, but you don't have to in order to participate), so many people are "a baseball/basketball/hockey/soccer/whater player" for 1/4 of the year-the other 3/4 of the year they have other interests....so if that 1/4 is taken away, they just do the same thing they had been doing 3/4 of the year-gymnastics doesn't have that. Although I will say that softball was year round for my daughter-as was football for my brother & baseball for my cousins....I have an obsessive, athletic family ;-)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.