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Monday, January 11, 2016

How to Win at Gymnastics Every Time

I coach my own kid. That arrangement has pros and cons, but one of the best parts is that being her coach gives me a better understanding of what success means for her in gymnastics.

It can be difficult for parents to understand how routines are judged, but I can assure you it's a very complex system that strives for maximum fairness. But you don't need to understand the judging rules if you're aware of what your child, personally, has been working on.

My kid loves gymnastics and it doesn't come easy for her. She works so hard and it's  frustrating for both of us when she struggles with skills that other kids master very quickly. A back that just won't bend, flat feet, and low muscle tone have made a roundoff back handspring an ongoing struggle for her, while her friends are performing that skill effortlessly with hardly a second thought.

But yesterday was different. Fueled by the adrenalin of competition, she finally performed that skill with the technique that allowed her rebound and finish properly, instead of landing tha-thump with hands still on the ground. I could see the excitement in her smile. When she came off the floor, grinning, she exclaimed, "It was so high! I felt like I was FLYING!"

And THAT is why your kid does gymnastics.

Don't underestimate kids by assuming that they're disappointed if they didn't win. Ask them what skill they love. What skill they want to achieve next. What's hardest, most fun, scariest, easiest. If you're in tune with what your kid is working on, what they're good at and what they struggle at, you'll have a better idea of what constitutes a "win" for them. Because most moments of exhilaration and joy and don't happen on the awards stand.