So, your child wants to start getting competitive in gymnastics. You see how inspired your child is by other gymnastics and wondering if you should let them pursue gymnastics in a competitive way, and you want to know what you should expect for choosing competitive gymnastics.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between recreational and competitive gymnastics. Recreational gymnastics welcomes anyone who is interested in getting involved, and there’s no pressure to compete. Practicing gymnastics recreationally is great for having fun and staying fit.
On the other hand, competitive gymnastics includes going to competitions. Athletes work hard to train, refining skills to show off in front of judges. Many competitors want to show progress to the state, national or international level someday.
If your child really wants to go the competitive route, it’s important to know what to expect from competitive gymnastics. What will be on a team involved? How much time will your child spend training? What are competitions like? Here’s a closer look at what to expect if competitive gymnastics is your child’s choice.
The Time and Financial Commitments
Unlike recreational gymnastics, you won’t just drop your child off for an hour a couple of times a week and be done. Competitive gymnasts usually spend 2-4 hours per day practicing multiple days per week, while higher-level gymnasts may train even more. If your child is a new gymnast on a team, expect them to spend 6-12 hours weekly practicing. During competition season, meets will occur on weekends, which is an additional time investment.
Beyond paying your child’s gymnastics club for tuition, there can be a variety of other financial responsibilities that come with competitive gymnastics. Just a few include:
- Booster Club fees
- Warm-up fees
- Leotard fees
- Extra equipment fees
- Travel expenses
- T-shirt and paraphernalia fees
- Team event fees
Practices vs Classes
Competitive gymnastics practices differ from recreational classes. While your child may be practicing some of the skills she already learned, once on a team, she’ll be focusing on flexibility, body basics, strength, and learning body shapes. Your child’s coach will focus on preparing the new gymnast for the skills they’ll compete with now and in the future.
Practices during the in-season versus the off-season vary too. In the season, your child will focus on perfecting the routines and skills they’re competing in currently. The off-season is when gymnasts work to level up their skills and push for higher levels.
What’s Needed for Competitions?
Young gymnasts need to have team leotards and warm-up suits, which you’ll need to pay for but the team generally orders. Your child will need a gym bag as well. At some point, your gymnast will need to have hand grips for bars. Stashing a roll of tape, prewrap, and Band-Aids in that gym bag will always come in handy.
Hairbows or scrunchies will be used to keep hair in control, and some additional hairspray and hairbands should be kept in the gym bag. A water bottle is a great idea, too, just in case your gymnast needs to hydrate throughout the competition. Hand sanitizing wipes are always a great option, too.
What to Expect on Competition Day?
Competition days are very busy, and once on site, your gymnast will receive their competition number after checking in. You’ll get to sit in the stands to watch the show, and your child will head off with her coach. You may end up waiting for 15-30 minutes before the competition begins as gymnasts warm up.
No matter what type of competition your child is involved in, gymnasts begin with warmups and then compete in each event. The order of competition differs from meet to meet, so the coach may communicate with parents to let them know what event the team will start on. Your gymnast will compete against others at her same level and if there are a lot of gymnasts at the same level, they may break down competition groups by age as well.
While meets are fun for you and your gymnast, they can be long. Plan to be there around four hours. Once the meet is over, there’s also an award ceremony.
The Competition Schedule
Your child’s team will let you know how many meets your child will be competing in. Some areas have one competition season, while others have both a spring and a fall season. The spring season is usually from January to March (sometimes into April) and the fall season usually takes place from September to December. If your child only has one season, it’ll likely begin in December or January and go through March or April.
Gymnastics meets generally take place on the weekend. However, larger invitationals may extend meets to a Thursday or Friday. In rare cases, they could be held on holiday Mondays as well.
Competitions won’t start earlier than 8 a.m. and will never finish after 10 p.m.
Depending on your child’s team, meets could be close to home or even out of state. It’s a good idea to find out how much travel will be required for your young gymnasts from the beginning.
Sometimes your gymnast will have an incredible meet, and other times it may not go well. What your gymnast needs are your support. Remember, competing in gymnastics is more like a marathon, so enjoy the ride and provide support to your child when they need it.
Get Started in Competitive Gymnastics with Lake City Twisters
At Lake City Twisters, we offer two competitive gymnastics programs to help your child reach their full potential. Our Developmental Program consists of Levels 3-10. Our teams practice 4-10 hours a week for compulsory levels and 15-20 hours a week for our Optional level gymnasts. For youth gymnasts who want to experience being on a competitive team, but still have time to pursue other interests, we also offer a Youth Xcel Gymnastics Program. To learn more about our competitive gymnastics programs, reach out to us and enroll your child today.