Children's Gymnastics: Facts & Fun Ideas
Expert advice and interesting facts
Gymnastics became an Olympic sport in 1896.
Artistic gymnastics is usually divided into Men's and Women's Gymnastics. Men compete on six events: Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and High Bar, while women compete on four: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.
Only women compete in rhythmic gymnastics which involves the performance of five separate routines with the use of five apparatus (ball, ribbon, hoop, clubs and rope) on a floor area.
Trampolining and Tumbling consists of four events; individual and synchronized trampoline, double mini trampoline and tumbling.
NASA scientists have discovered that jumping on a trampoline is up to 68% more effective exercise than jogging. It burns about 410 calories an hour.
Acrobatic gymnastics is a group gymnastic discipline. Acrobats in groups of two, three and four perform routines with the heads, hands and feet of their partners.
Aerobic gymnastics involves the performance of routines by individuals or groups of up to 6 people, emphasizing strength, flexibility, and aerobic fitness.
The pommel horse was developed centuries ago as an artificial horse used by soldiers to practice mounting and dismounting. Even Alexander The Great is thought to have used one.
How to pick a gymnastics club for your child
Some key points to consider when choosing a Gymnastics club/class for your child:
- What ages and skill levels does it cater for? Does this suit your child?
- What is your child hoping to gain from Gymnastics classes? Will this type of gymnastics achieve these aims?
- What should your child wear for the classes? Do you need to buy anything specific prior to starting or can he/she wear their own clothes initially in case they decide not to continue?
National associations & clubs
British Gymnastics is the UK National Governing Body for the sport of Gymnastics. It is dedicated to developing gymnasts, coaches and clubs across a range of disciplines.
Qualifications & exams
Qualifications / grades for children
FUNdementals is a programme designed and developed by British Gymnastics to help younger children (toddler-6 yrs. old) learn essential physical, social and emotional life skills. These sessions can be found running in locations such as community venues and schools by FUNdamentals Award Scheme Coaches who have been trained by British Gymnastics, operate within its codes of practice and hold an enhanced CRB disclosure. At the end of each term badges and certificates are awarded to the children to acknowledge and encourage progress.
FUNKY Cat loves gymnastics and, with his friends, helps to identify each skill through a FUN medium. Steady loves to balance, Springy likes jumping, Stretchy enjoys the warm-up sessions, Speedy has good locomotory skills, Swingy likes using apparatus and Sporty is well co-ordinated.
There is also a Pre-School Gymnastics Award Scheme for children from 3 years old and The Proficiency Core Gymnastics Award Scheme which follows on from Pre- School for beginners and children aged 5 years & upwards. The Advanced Proficiency Gymnastics Award scheme is for children aged 11 years plus.
The Trampoline Proficiency Award Scheme is built around 15 award levels, each offering a variety of skill development. Awards 1–5 are suitable for pre-school and beginners. Awards 6-10 are suitable for gymnasts from 5 years old and Awards 11-15 are suitable for competitive gymnasts aged 11 plus.
Qualifications of tutors/coaches etc
A gymnastic coach should hold a UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 2 or equivalent.
Learning from the activity
Children who get regular exercise benefit physically in many ways but there are other advantages specific to gymnastics. Social confidence and improved body image are especially important for older children who often struggle with self-esteem issues. Younger children may learn about sharing and taking turns on apparatus. Gymnastics can be particularly enjoyable for children with special needs. Going to a gymnastic class/ club can help develop social skills while the solo nature of gymnastics results in little or no pressure to perform ‘for the team’.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter Suri Cruise (born April 18, 2006) swaps her designer dresses for a blue leotard when she goes to a gymnastics class near her home in New York. The recreational centre describes its gymnastics class for girls as offering "skills development and gymnastics fitness." Suri learns such Olympic-style events as the vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam, and floor exercise.
5 year old Annie demonstrating the old adage – if at first you don’t succeed –try, try, again!!!
Effect of Rhythmic Gymnastics on Volumetric Bone Mineral Density and Bone Geometry in Premenarcheal Female Athletes and Controls. In a study of 26 elite Rhythmic Gymnasts who had trained for at least 2 years, and 23 girls who just did PE at school (aged 9-13) it was concluded that rhythmic gymnastics significantly improves bone health in adolescent girls.