For Parents What is a good next sport for a retired gymnast?

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Jun 2, 2022
My son competed for 4 years and then had to leave gymnastics because of an achilles injury that wouldn't rehab sufficiently. That was a year ago and we're still looking for a new sport for him. He has been doing parkour and loves it (mainly for the flips), but there don't seem to be many opportunities for it where we're moving (or just generally). Seems like more of a fun hobby. Plus, it can irritate his achilles sometimes as well, for the same reason gymnastics did. He is generally very athletic and is good at almost everthing he tries, but he doesn't want to play organized team ball sports. He was on a swim team a few years ago, and is a strong swimmer, but he doesn't like swimming competitively (he gets bored by the fact that there are no new skills to learn, like in gymnastics, you just swim swim swim and try to get faster). I've been thinking maybe rock climbing? Any other ideas?
What about diving? Rock climbing might be fun, I also knew some male gymnasts who ended up being great wrestlers. I would say pole vaulting, but if he's already having Achilles issues, it might not be the best.
Rock climbing is a great sport! My son competed and it's a great community of people. Plus it's a sport you can do inside and out for life!
If he's a strong swimmer- water polo is a blast- I used to play and coach.
Gymnasts make great golfers too.
Dancing, Climbing and Diving are the most obvious. I have known older gymnasts go into fencing very successfully and also a variety of martial arts as they are well coordinated, strong, determined and competitive.
It depends on what irritates his Achilles injury, but track and field has many events gymnasts tend to do well in such as hurdles, pole vault, high jump, and long jump.
Some of it's been said (diving, pole vault, climbing), but I've also heard of past gymnasts (some personally) excelling in...
- rowing
- dance (any style)
- snowboarding
- karate (or other martial arts)
- surfing
- olympic weightlifting

It's also interesting someone said golf! None of the gymnasts we know play golf, but my daughter LOVES golf and is really good at it.

To be honest, the fundamentals that your son gained from gymnastics will benefit him in ANY sport. What is he interested in? Let him try a bunch of stuff!
As others have said, gymnastics is the "golden" sport because it is relatively easy to transition to other activities (injury willing). Your son should be asking himself what specifically about gymnastics he enjoyed. The answer to this question will help narrow down the options.

I highly relate to your son not liking swimming. For me, my favorite part of gymnastics was the thrill. I hated competitions and I hated endurance training. Me in a nut shell: bursty and daring, but not outgoing. Rock climbing was the right fallback sport for me.

I'm sure you've considered this already, but can your son do something "boring" (e.g. swimming) for another 1-2 years and then return to gymnastics if his injury is feeling better? He might not like swimming now because he's not good at it yet, but maybe 1-2 years will buy him enough time to learn to love swimming (or transition back to gymnastics when he's fully healed).
Any circus schools in your area? So many circus skills have gymnastic basics...hand balancing, trampoline, silks, german wheel...the list goes on.
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Are there any acrobatic gymnastics gyms near you? This is a very challenging co ed sport, with progressivve levels like gymnastics, constant new skill development, boys with gymnastics skills are likely to be valued, and while there is tumbling it would generally be much less impactful and there is lots of variety in what is permitted as part of a routine. The big difference is that the athlete is paired with another gymnast, male or female. There are also trios and quads as well as pairs. It's a fascinating sport.