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Gymnastics for kids: Benefits of early training
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Gymnastics for kids: Benefits of early training

Gymnastics training enhances athleticism, develops physical and social skills and has several other benefits, making it an ideal activity for kids to learn

Gymnastics for kids

Cartwheels, handstands, flips, rolls — each movement showcases the strength, agility, grace and artistry of the gymnast. While the display of skill and acrobatics often attracts both parents and children to gymnastics, its benefits extend beyond aerial flips. It influences physical growth and personal development and instills many other skills in kids who start practicing at an early age.

Gymnastics and its benefits

Irish professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter Conor Anthony McGregor once expressed his admiration for gymnastics, referring to it as the “mother of all sports”. McGregor, a former UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) world champion, believes that the discipline, strength and precision inherent in gymnastics contribute significantly to overall athleticism and skill development.

Expanding on McGregor’s viewpoint, Bangalore-based gymnastics trainer and co-founder of Viswajit Nikhath Gymnastiks, I Nikhath, says, “Every sport demands elements such as flexibility, strength, coordination, agility and explosiveness, all of which are developed during gymnastics training.” Thus, in kids, gymnastics can serve as a solid foundation for other physical activities or sports.

One can start training at a young age — many centers offer classes for children aged 3.5. According to experts, starting gymnastics at such an early age can have a positive impact on their growth. “Despite varied childhood growth patterns, early training establishes a solid foundation for overall physical development by enhancing aspects like strength, flexibility and coordination,” says M Ashwin, a gymnastics trainer and national-level gymnast based in Chennai.

“Doctors recommend gymnastics for kids for two reasons — to encourage physical activity in inactive kids and help manage hyperactive children. During gymnastics training, kids learn to move their entire body — from head to toe — in a controlled and coordinated manner. The emphasis is on executing movements neatly rather than just performing,” adds Ashwin, the founder of Ashwin’s Evolution, a dance studio and gymnastics center in Chennai.

Social development through gymnastics

In gymnastics sessions, as kids pick up new skills with their classmates, they feel a sense of teamwork and mutual support. Apart from physical skills, the environment helps them develop essential social skills such as friendliness, a helpful attitude, and leadership qualities,” explains Nikhath.

Age-appropriate training

Gymnastics trainers keep in mind the age and abilities of kids while working with them. Nikhath explains, “Training in gymnastics progresses through various levels. Beginners start at Level One, which includes basic skills such as front rolls, back rolls, 180-degree handstands and cartwheels. These are easy to learn with proper guidance.”

Having mastered these skills, kids proceed to the intermediate level. Some children demonstrate exceptional ability and readiness to advance faster, regardless of their age. “We offer additional training to these exceptional students to challenge and develop their skills further,” she adds.

Safety measures for gymnastics training

As the risk of injuries cannot be completely negated, it is vital to ensure the safety of kids during gymnastics training. “The most crucial step in preventing injuries is the coach’s careful supervision of children. Proper training can help avoid many injuries. Thus, finding the best trainer is the first step,” says Ashwin.

Moreover, apart from the initial full-body warm-up, learning each new skill in gymnastics can require specific preparation. “When the coach assists with this [preparation], they need to ensure that the child understands how the movement works. By assessing the child carefully, the coach can minimize the risk of injuries,” says Nikhath.

Safety essentials like crash mats, cheese mats and rolling mats are also a must during gymnastics training for kids. They provide cushioning and support and help absorb shock and distribute pressure more evenly. This reduces the impact on the body during landings and falls, thereby minimizing the risk of injuries to the joints, bones and muscles.

Takeaways

  • Gymnastics training for kids helps them develop skills like flexibility, strength, coordination, agility and explosiveness, which are crucial to several sports.
  • Gymnastics trainers provide coaching according to the age and skill levels of children.
  • Every new gymnastics technique requires specific preparation in addition to the initial full-body warm-up to avoid injuries.

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