Gymnastics is a sport that requires strength, flexibility, and precision. It’s a physically and mentally demanding sport that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. For kids who love gymnastics, competitions can be an exciting way to showcase their skills and talent. However, for parents who are unfamiliar with the sport, it can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help parents and kids navigate their way through gymnastics competitions. We’ll cover everything from what to expect at a competition to how to prepare for one, so you and your child can feel confident and prepared.
Firstly, let’s start with the gymnastics journey to competitions. Most gymnasts will start with only 1 hour a week of gymnastics, whether it be in a preschool session or juniors/recreational session. Coaches will monitor and assess gymnast on a regular basis and from there your child may be invited to trial for a squad based on their skill level and progression.
At Wickers we have a large variety of squads training 1 to 20 hours a week depending on the level of competition. We offer squads in General gymnastics and Women’s Artistic. General gymnastics squads may compete in all four apparatus or just floor and vault. Typically, General gymnastics squads train up to 8 hours a week and compete within the Region. Women’s Artistic squads compete up to 20 hours a week and can get a little confusing when it comes to the different categories. Here is a little run down for you.
Gymnasts are split into 3 different categories when they do their grades in the first half of the year. There are Club grades, National Grades and Compulsory grades. Compulsory grades being the grade being the most difficult of the 3. Depending on which grade they have competed will determine the voluntary level they do at the end of the year. Club grade and National grade gymnasts will do…… and the compulsory kids will do the Voluntary levels.
This may have all gone over your head like sticking your head out the car window at 70ph, but we promise you, you’ll get the hang of it after your first year of competing.
Now for the more interesting stuff!
Preparing for the competition. We all know that even before we can enter a competition, we would have been doing months if not years of training. Gymnasts can compete the year they turn 7 but could be in a squad from age 4.
Once the competition comes around you may be feeling very anxious but not to worry as your coach will send you a list of dos and don’t before the day. You will receive an entry letter that will need to be paid for and brought back by a certain date. The coaches will then submit your child’s entry and pay the fee to the organisers. A programme will be emailed to your child’s coach with the timings of registration, warm up, competition and presentation. This information will then be passed over to you. The club has no control over when the programme is sent out or the timings therefore you may only receive the information the week of the competitions. This may be inconvenient at times when the competitions are spread over a weekend. Block out the whole weekend in your diary!
Ensure and early night and prepare your competition bag and set out your competition attire. No one wants to be rushing around looking for a hand guard or a leotard when they are feeling the nerves of the day. Have a good breakfast as you may be waiting a long time before you can eat again. If you have long hair, make sure its tide up nice ad tight. You don’t want it falling out while tumbling in your floor routine. Try arriving at least 10 min before the programme states. You never know if traffic looming round the corning. Ensure you have cash as you may have to use it for your entry fee. All spectators will need to by a ticket on the door. If you are unsure of the fee, ask your coach before the day. This information should be sent out.
Your child will then be called to register with their coach, or this will be done at the door. Once warm up is announced your child may need to warm up in a separate hall but mostly on the main floor. Expect the competition to go on for a couple of hours. Some longer that others. Scores are no longer shown on little flip charts but on big tv screens at regional competitions and may not be shown at all at invitational competitions. Score sheets will be available at most competitions after the presentation.
As a parent we know that this may be a very anxious and nail-biting experience and it doesn’t get any better but just know your child’s coach is there every step of the way and will be there for all the highs and lows. As you and your child get more experience with competing it will all be second nature and hopefully, they will go onto having a very successful and exciting future in gymnastics!