Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When should children get serious about gymnastics school?

This is a very common question that parents ask about their children when they enroll them in a gymnastics school or even gymnastics classes for toddlers. While a child should always be having fun when participating in gymnastics or any other sport, we understand that both parents and children want to know if they should be doing more serious training, especially when they’re considering taking part in competitions.

What most coaches will say in regards to “serious” training is that a good age for children to start at a more technique-oriented gymnastics school or class is around age six. However, few have told us that a child has to start more serious training by then, as they’re not certain it will really give the student a competitive edge. In addition, when a child start any type of “serious” training that early, they run a risk of burnout or overtraining syndrome before they have a chance to see if they really want to compete in their given sport.

Burnout occurs among children in a wide range of activities, from dance and musical training to competitive sports and gymnastics. Keep in mind that many elite gymnasts and champion athletes didn’t start taking gymnastics or their respective sports until their pre- to early teen years. So if your youngster has a proclivity for the balance beam or shows a flair for performance, they can still excel without having to commit to a serious training program at an early age.

Until a child reaches at least age six, we recommend that the focus be on developing body awareness and an inclination for the sport and overall fitness, especially when it comes to gymnastics classes for toddlers. Before that, the focus of classes should really be about play, having the opportunity to socialize and enjoying physical activity. Parents can rest assured that their children will experience a broad spectrum of physical and emotional benefits by taking classes, from increasing flexibility, improving balance and boosting physical strength to bolstering listening and communication skills, learning to take turns and developing sportsmanship.


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