If you’ve ever attended one of our sessions, visited one of our gyms, or looked at any of our content online, then you’ll probably have a fair idea that we are not only passionate about gymnastics, but genuinely wish to champion it. Gymnastics is a sport that encompasses a wide variety of physical activities, including balancing, jumping, swinging, climbing, tumbling, and more; plus it offers a number of benefits for both physical and mental development. Childhood gymnastics in particular provides a significant aid in helping children develop fundamental movement skills. These are basic movement skills, that we have discussed before on our blog, which are needed for the coordination to perform all kinds of physical activity. But what about other sports? Surely they all offer similar benefits? Well in this blog post, we’re going to have a look at that idea and discuss why we believe that Gymnastics is foundational to other sports.
What does Gymnastics Offer Athletes?
We’re arguing that gymnastics is a foundational sport, so it must have things to offer athletes who aren’t competitive gymnasts. As a sport, gymnastics teaches athletes basic skills such as coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility. These skills are essential for many other sports, such as rugby, football, and tennis.
For example, gymnastics teaches athletes how to better control their bodies and how to move efficiently and effectively. These skills may sound basic, but they are absolutely essential for many other sports, like football where a player needs to be able to move efficiently in order to make a tackle.
Gymnastics is also a sport that teaches athletes how to deal with more psychological aspects of competitive sport such as adversity, injuries and setbacks (more on that shortly). However, they learn to overcome these challenges and to keep moving forward because in gymnastics you are only up against your own limits and determination. Not being a team sport or a one-on-one competitive sport means that gymnasts can discover and push their own skills and limits in a very self-driven way.
Helping with Headspace
An unfortunate but ever-present part of sport is the risk of injury and setbacks, both physical and psychological. Learning how to pick yourself up after a setback of any kind is an important part of growing up, but when it’s related to something you’re actively trying to improve at, it can be that much harder to overcome. Childhood gymnastics can help to reduce the risk of injury by teaching children how to fall safely and how to land properly after jumps and flips. This can help to prevent injuries in other sports and activities as the behaviour can become ingrained, with any luck leading to fewer injuries.
Training in a sport where your main goal is to just improve yourself, not directly competing with others, gives children a degree of ownership over their own goals. This provides the opportunity to develop discipline and perseverance as they learn to follow instructions and practice regularly, pushing themselves to their goals.
Suffering an even remotely serious injury can be really demoralising for any athlete, which is why learning the skills found within gymnastics can be such a great help as they assist athletes in minimising the chances of suffering an injury in the first place. But if one should occur then hopefully the positive mental attitude formed through gymnastics training can help them bounce back.
Don’t Believe Us? We have Examples!
There are plenty of prominent examples of highly successful athletes in a variety of fields who have trained in gymnastics in their formative years. So in this section, we’d like to list a few individuals who have excelled in their sporting fields to paint a picture of the range of options that a foundation in gymnastics can provide (academics, please excuse the use of Wikipedia for citations!)
- Max Whitlock – Max is the most successful UK Olympic Gymnast in history, having won three Olympic gold medals and three Olympic bronze medals, as well as 30 other medals from various global competitions. He began gymnastics at the age of seven and began competing in European Championships at the age of 17.
- Heather Cowell – Heather is a current member of the England Women’s Rugby squad. She was part of the gold medal-winning GB team at the 2023 European Games and will most likely be playing in the 2024 Olympic team. Prior to her rugby career, Heather trained as a gymnast and even competed in the Commonwealth Games.
- Rio Ferdinand – Rio is one of the most decorated English football players of all time, playing for the England national squad on 81 occasions and has received numerous awards and commendations including an OBE for his services to football and charity. Around the age of 10, he was training in gymnastics, football and ballet as well as creative activities such as theatre and drama.
- Elena Rybakina – Elena is currently ranked Number 5 in the World for Women’s Tennis, and earlier this year had achieved the number three spot. She is currently competing in major tournaments around the world including the US, French and Australian Opens, as well as Wimbledon. As a child, she originally trained in gymnastics and ice skating from a young age before taking up tennis.
- Tim Henman – Tim is one of the most famous and successful male British tennis players, with 15 career titles (11 singles and 4 doubles) and has also been awarded an OBE. As a part of his training regime, Tim would also do an hour of gymnastics training a day to complement his athleticism.
Hopefully, these five examples help to illustrate how gymnastics is not only an excellent foundation for other sports, but how it can also complement training for them. So whatever age they are, getting your child involved in gymnastics is potentially helping them to find a direction within sport; it’s helping them to develop their fundamental movement skills, and it’s helping them to develop their confidence and self-discipline. Simply put, gymnastics can provide a lot to children, and finding a reputable gymnastics club is the best place to start as they will be able to help them develop their skills in a structured (and hopefully fun) manner.
So if you’re even remotely curious about getting your child into gymnastics, why not book a free trial with us and come and have a go? You never know what it may lead to!