There are countless studies and published reports proving that getting a child involved in sports helps keep them away from drugs and smoking, encourages them to stay in school, improves their scores on achievement tests, and boosts their self-confidence, in addition to the obvious benefits. Kids may just think they're having fun when they are involved in sports, but they're also learning discipline, commitment, teamwork, motor development, and how to be a follower and a leader. Not to mention the fact that they are developing interpersonal relationship skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Gymnastics offers particular benefits in all of these areas, perhaps more so than most other sports. Gymnastics is multifaceted―it draws upon a wide range of abilities, and develops muscles and endurance throughout the entire body. The movements involved help children develop not only strength, but also speed agility, grace and control, coordination, concentration, and competitive energy. There are three primary disciplines in gymnastics―men's gymnastics, women's gymnastics, and rhythmic gymnastics―and within those categories, there are at least 15 individual events. The possibilities and opportunities provided by gymnastics are endless.
Although there is a team element in most gymnastics programs, it is essentially an individual sport, in that, each athlete is responsible for his or her own success. Because it is challenging and can be difficult to execute a particular routine successfully, particularly when being scrutinized by coaches, judges, and an audience of spectators, gymnastics demands concentration, endurance, courage, and perseverance. Although these demands can be challenging, achieving them results in the desire to achieve excellence. With encouragement and support from parents and coaches, young gymnasts will be better prepared for handling the challenges life throws, because they have mastered the art of meeting and conquering difficult challenges in the gym.
You would think that the individuality of actually performing gymnastic routines would mean that the sport doesn't offer much in the way of social benefits. But the reverse is actually true. In most programs, children train with other athletes who are younger and older, and have varied skill levels. Interactions with older teammates help boost self-esteem and offers opportunities for learning. Working with younger teammates helps develop maturity, and offers opportunities for mentoring and learning coaching and leadership skills. Most other sports do not offer the wide variety of opportunities for social interaction with children of different ages and abilities.
Some people may think that the concentration and focus required to learn and excel at gymnastics may mean a child has to forgo some childhood activities in order to practice. But the social maturity and enrichment provided here is overwhelmingly beneficial when compared to the social ineptitude kids develop by strolling through the mall, playing video games, or watching television. Kids can still be kids and enjoy doing the things they do, but taking time out to practice gymnastics will enrich a child's life with valuable lessons about relationships, challenges, victory, defeat, and other realities they will face for the rest of their lives.