Gymnastics, as an activity, has been around for more than
two thousand years in one form or another, from the ancient
Greek Olympics, to Roman ceremony, to today’s modern meets.
As an organized and truly competitive sport, gymnastics
has existed for a little more than a century. It was
introduced in the mid 1800s to the United States, where it
inexorably gained in popularity within school systems.
Amateur associations gathered together by the late
nineteenth century, offering classes and opportunities for
young people to join in on the fun. Eventually, these
associations began to have their own championships.
In 1896, at the first international Olympic games in Athens,
Greece, the sport we all know and love enjoyed its first
large-scale debut. Included in the Olympic tournament were
vaulting, parallel bars, pommel horse, and rings events for
men. The first women’s Olympic gymnastics events were held
in 1928. After the Olympics began to officially host
gymnastics, the World Championship gymnastics meet emerged
in the early 1900s, and it is still held to this very day.
Thus began a noble tradition that continues even in modern
Olympic games and in local, regional, national, and world
meets all over.
If you’re the parent of a young gymnast, odds are, people
are going to ask you, “Why did you choose gymnastics over
swimming, ballet, football, baseball, or soccer?” It is an
easy question to offer, but not a simple one to answer.
Their curiosity is entirely understandable–to the
uninitiated, may have a lower profile than others.
However, if you are indeed very serious about your child
participating in the sport, you can tell those people, with
great authority, that gymnastics is an excellent way to
spend time. Not only does it have a long and illustrious
history, but it also requires attention and discipline on
the part of a child–more so, perhaps, than one involved in
any other sport.
In order to become successful at the sport of gymnastics,
your child will have to get into a routine of practice.
This type of routine is different from, say, soccer
practice or hockey practice, in that it does not involve
the concept of physical rivalry with other individuals. A
gymnast is not typically seen chasing after another
gymnastics youth with a set of rings as one might see a
hockey player attacking another person on an opposing team.
Gymnastics does not encourage violence in the same way
contact sports do — indeed, when one is part of a
gymnastics team, one has to work in synchronicity with and
have a certain trust for the other members, a valuable
lesson in this individualism-driven social environment.
This can certainly help in any future employment,
especially if your child is interested in professions that
involve lots of interpersonal communication.
Beyond practice, gymnastics also requires physical
discipline. For instance, if you do not move in the way
that you are taught to move when on parallel bars, you will
have falls and disappointment–and then, of course, you
learn from the mistake, pick up, and try it again. Playing
at gymnastics braces a person for the future in that way:
it prepares them for the inevitable necessity of
determination and endurance in any of life’s endeavors,
whether in business or in education. In conjunction with
school study habits, practice for gymnastics can indeed
lead a young person into a level and graceful confidence.
In fact, for as physically driven as gymnastics happens to
be, it is also an extremely intellectual sport: every
motion requires forethought, for in the game, if you do not
think of what you are going to do before you do it, you’ll
end up on the mat.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously of all, there is the
fact that gymnastics will keep your child busy, as any
other sport might. This means that he or she won’t be as
likely to slip into a pattern of slacking or of hanging out
with the wrong crowd. Quite literally, when your child is
at practice, you will know where they are — you will not
have to worry if they have wandered off somewhere or are
unintentionally getting into trouble. This can lead to
peace of mind for you and yours, most assuredly, which,
like the skills they will learn, are absolutely invaluable.
By Murray Hughes
Gymnastics Secrets Revealed
“The book EVERY gymnastics parent should read”