Mat Drills?

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I teach gymnastics at a summer camp. It's not a "gymnastics camp", just a day camp that has gymnastics. The camp is run like a school day with 8 45 minute periods. Throughout the day I see kids ranging in age from 3-14. I normally just run a big circuit to let them play on all the equipment because they really just want to play, not as concerned about getting new tricks or anything. But the younger kids, the 3-5 year olds, I want to do some sort of mat drills with. Who knows, maybe some will get their cartwheels and handstands and go on to be great little gymnasts! (though I have a 4 year old who can do a back handspring on floor, cartwheel on beam, front tuck off beam, and back hip on bars!!!) I was just wondering if anyone had ideas for good mat drills for the younger age groups or even girls who are up to age 9 or 10. The boys just want to run around and flip by that age! I'm used to working with high school girls and in general, kids who are in gymnastics to learn, not because it's part of their daily schedule regardless if they want to be there or not! Thanks so much for any help =)


Jul 5, 2007
Would not do any bridging skills under age 5 (see preschool forum threads here for details).

There's a lot you can do but it depends on what equipment you have. I would think about the skills they can realistically attempt, and then attempt to perfect (forward, cartwheel), then think of variations. i.e. straddle rolls backwards and forwards. Then think of ways to break it down using the equipment you have and create circuits that also incorporate strength and flexibility using different mats and stations (i.e. bear walk encouraging them to keep legs straight - good for leg flexibility). People can probably give more ideas if you tell us what equipment you have available, how many kids, etc.
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