Parents One Thing Every Gymnastics Newbie Should Know?

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What was the most surprising thing you learned about gymnastics when your child started out in it?​


Let us know and while your at it... read our latest article by Jen Kula!

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1. I wish we knew how expensive this sport is. No one told us that we would need to set aside $15,000 or more each year (that's how much we spent in 2022, including monthly tuition, meet fees, leos, meet admission fees, hotels, flights, usag/state fees, etc). Financially, it is really hard for us. We've had to make a lot of sacrifices and also think of random ways to come up with funds. Our gym does not have a booster, so all the burden falls onto the families. I've talked with other families, and most of us didn't expect it to be THIS expensive. I really wish we knew... Will it be worth it if she gets a full ride into college? Maybe... but what are the chances? I hear most D1 colleges only give out 3 new athletic scholarships. Even if she gets in as a walk-on, only a very small percentage make it onto a college team, and then we would still have to pay for their college tuition (either right away or financial aid).

2. I wish we knew that my daughter would be at the gym 21+ hours/week. That's a part time job. She has no time for anything else, and she wouldn't have it any other way. BUT, getting home really late and having to eat dinner, take a shower, and then do homework to keep her straight A GPA... and not getting to bed until after 10pm each night seems crazy for a pre-teen (it'll probably be worse once she's in HS). I was also on a scholarship committee that reviewed applicants. The ONLY ones that made it through the first round were the ones that did 10+ hours of volunteer work almost every week of the year. They also did other clubs/organizations on their HS campus and held leadership positions. How is this possible for gymnasts who spend all their time in the gym?

3. I wish we knew more about the importance of nutrition. My daughter has always been a really good eater and always eats balanced meals, but there's more to nutrition than that. Now, I am conscious about what she's eating before her workouts, and what she eats after (and throughout the day). Don't get me wrong - she still gets all her "fun" food, too, but I just wish I knew more about nutrition earlier.


SORRY! Those were 3 things!

I also want to add that I know the first 2 especially sound so negative, but it's really what I wish I knew. Now that I know, will I pull her out? NO, she loves the sport so so so much and has gained so much from being a part of it. <3
 
1. I wish we knew how expensive this sport is. No one told us that we would need to set aside $15,000 or more each year (that's how much we spent in 2022, including monthly tuition, meet fees, leos, meet admission fees, hotels, flights, usag/state fees, etc). Financially, it is really hard for us. We've had to make a lot of sacrifices and also think of random ways to come up with funds. Our gym does not have a booster, so all the burden falls onto the families. I've talked with other families, and most of us didn't expect it to be THIS expensive. I really wish we knew... Will it be worth it if she gets a full ride into college? Maybe... but what are the chances? I hear most D1 colleges only give out 3 new athletic scholarships. Even if she gets in as a walk-on, only a very small percentage make it onto a college team, and then we would still have to pay for their college tuition (either right away or financial aid).

2. I wish we knew that my daughter would be at the gym 21+ hours/week. That's a part time job. She has no time for anything else, and she wouldn't have it any other way. BUT, getting home really late and having to eat dinner, take a shower, and then do homework to keep her straight A GPA... and not getting to bed until after 10pm each night seems crazy for a pre-teen (it'll probably be worse once she's in HS). I was also on a scholarship committee that reviewed applicants. The ONLY ones that made it through the first round were the ones that did 10+ hours of volunteer work almost every week of the year. They also did other clubs/organizations on their HS campus and held leadership positions. How is this possible for gymnasts who spend all their time in the gym?

3. I wish we knew more about the importance of nutrition. My daughter has always been a really good eater and always eats balanced meals, but there's more to nutrition than that. Now, I am conscious about what she's eating before her workouts, and what she eats after (and throughout the day). Don't get me wrong - she still gets all her "fun" food, too, but I just wish I knew more about nutrition earlier.


SORRY! Those were 3 things!

I also want to add that I know the first 2 especially sound so negative, but it's really what I wish I knew. Now that I know, will I pull her out? NO, she loves the sport so so so much and has gained so much from being a part of it. <3
I think those are good points to make, because they're honest, and part of why I'm so thankful for the rise of xcel. Our small gym dropped our DP program in the covid aftermath. A number of those kids went to do DP at another local gym and every year, several more of them come back. Young talented athletes who are winning meets in optionals are coming back to us to do Xcel because they're tired of the hours and the specialization. They want to take art classes and try out for volleyball and hang out with their friends from school. I'm not saying Xcel is the answer for every family, but as a former stressed out high achieving level 10, I have really come to appreciate it as an option. I don't know if I could have been convinced to take it, but I think it might be the right path for a lot of people.
 
That nearly everything on the internet about gymnastics is about the US and it is a very different ball game to the UK - I was so confused at the beginning .

I wish I knew more about the UK system.
 
Things I wish I knew, or perhaps should have realised straight away:
  1. Do not compare your child to any other child. Whether it is someone in their own group or that 5-year old instagymmie, comparing is not helpful. Each gymnast is on their own journey and will get skills at their own pace.
  2. Somewhat related to 1, celebrate another gymnast's success. Sometimes someone else is better than your gymnast. It happens, get over it and be happy for that person, especially if they are on your child's team, but even if they are not. "They stole my daughter's medal", was something I once heard after one girl had been in 1st place for a while, but got pushed into 3rd at the last rotation. Nope, they didn't steal anything, they were simply better on that day. Uggh, no one needs that level of bitterness in their lives
  3. If you are in a country where normally you compete every level for a full year and skipping levels or scoring out is not common: skipping a level is overrated. My child did this and I would never allow it again. She is so much younger than the rest of the girls. Because the new group had already been together for a number of years, it was more difficult to make friends. She also had a year or more less experience than the others and it really showed, while she has more or less caught up, it was a lot of hard work.
 
1. Gymnastics is a very challenging sport. It takes time, commitment, effort, patience and perseverance. Don’t expect your child to be learning to flip all over the place in their first year! Don’t expect much progress if you take every 2nd season off. If you think your child is failing to progress you might not really realise how much they are learning because there are SOOOO many things to learn!

2. If your child is not naturally talented and a prodigy, gymnastics is still one of the best things they could ever do. Gymnastics develops the core skills for all sports and is one of the best ways to develop coordination. Agility, strength, flexibility, balance etc. Research has also found that the types of movements done in gymnastics SIGNIFICANTLY enhance learning, focus, memory and reading skills.

3. Your coach is not holding your child back if they won’t let them do the flips they are throwing at home in trampolines and air tracks. Quite the opposite in fact!

These skills, if thrown at home are often done with errors and devices like trampolines and air tracks hide the errors because the extra bounce gets the skill around.

But these errors usually put undue pressure on the wrong body parts, which your gymnast won’t notice but lots of repetitions of those errors will lead to stress injuries which, as they are slow to occur they are also very slow to heal. And can cause life long problems.

These errors will also lead to bad habits which will make it significantly harder to progress those skills to the next level. Being able to throw it at home does not mean the gymnast is ready and safe to be doing it.
 
I think those are good points to make, because they're honest, and part of why I'm so thankful for the rise of xcel. Our small gym dropped our DP program in the covid aftermath. A number of those kids went to do DP at another local gym and every year, several more of them come back. Young talented athletes who are winning meets in optionals are coming back to us to do Xcel because they're tired of the hours and the specialization. They want to take art classes and try out for volleyball and hang out with their friends from school. I'm not saying Xcel is the answer for every family, but as a former stressed out high achieving level 10, I have really come to appreciate it as an option. I don't know if I could have been convinced to take it, but I think it might be the right path for a lot of people.
I guess there's another thing I wish I knew before starting gymnastics... more about the Xcel program!! If I knew, (and knew the first 2 points on my list), it might have been the route we took. Unfortunately, it's not something my daughter wants now. We are in too deep. BUT, one word from her and I'm ready to switch her LOL.
 
I wish I knew that even when everything looks good the gym environment can be having a negative effect on your child's mental health. I thought I was being very aware and involved. I randomly watched practice, always checked in with my daughter and thought I knew what was going on. It turns out that the coaching style was causing my daughter severe anxiety. So I learned that sometimes it doesn't have to be abuse to be hurtful to a child and to never relax on asking questions.

I also wish I knew that just because people are good people it doesn't mean their gym is the best place for your child. Sometimes good people just don't blend well and there may be a better fit somewhere else.
 
I wish I knew that coaches say one thing to parents, but how they treat your kids is infinitely more important. A coach who is a used car salesman to get people into the program and money for the gym may end up having a profoundly negative impact on your child.

Environment is more important than podium athletes and a good gym will have plenty.

Gymnastics will build so many skills outside of gymnastics. Self confidence, advocacy, grit, determination, time management.
 
1. Don't buy the little bar for your house. They wont use it for as long as you think and they wont let you sell it so it becomes a large pain in the....
2. Don't buy the trampoline. My kid didn't use it as much as i thought she would and i was a nervous wreck every time she was on it because she knows just enough to be dangerous and typically they are not as good quality as gym tramps.
3. Thank god we have good insurance cause even if they arent hurt bad they are probably gonna need a lot of xrays over the years to be sure and odds are you will have at least one injury that requires PT and other expensive stuff.
4. While it can sometimes be fun to sit back with popcorn and watch the drama of the facebook crazy gym mom groups in the long run I think it unwittingly fed into nervous energy in my life that I didnt need. I was happier when I wasnt on them. I get my drama from reddit now lol.
5. Be careful what you discuss in the lobby. People are always listening no matter how "softly" you think you are talking and if your coach is already "treating your kid unfairly" talking crap in the lobby aint gonna make things any better.
6. Ricky Bobby was right if you aint first you're last drill this into your kids from day 1!! J/K ;)
 
Artistic is NOT the only path, and very often isn't the best path, and other gymnastic paths provide more gymnasts the opportunity to compete for the US and in international competition than artistic does.
 
Great advice so far!

Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s so exciting to watch your child excel at something they love, but stay grounded and don’t get caught up in the next skill, the next level, etc. Let it be your gymnast’s sport, and let them set the pace that is best for them as individuals. Don’t rush it!
 
Some I have learned first hand others I have just witnessed over and over.

1.Progress is NOT a linear path.
2.Fear is not rationalized/punished or bribed away
3. Lower level success/fails does not predict optional level success/fail and Lvl 9/10 is a different game.
4. Form in basic skills matter … all the way through lvl 10! Therefor correct coaching early matters.
5. Parents, coaches, teammates can not drive the athlete, that drive has to come from within.
 

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