Gymnastics: the sport of tumbling and flipping, twisting and twirling. It is demanding yet exuberant, intricate yet bold. It combines art with athleticism to inspire and produce awe-inspiring movement that shocks and delights. Watching gymnastics can be just as enjoyable as performing. The focus of this article, however, is on gymnasts.
Gymnastics originated in Ancient Greece, specifically Athens and Sparta. The word means ‘to train in gymnastic exercise’. The premise of gymnastics has remained unchanged through the centuries. It is still an intensely physical sport requiring flexibility, balance, strength, agility, endurance and coordination. The exercise targets various muscles throughout the body; hence gymnasts often have well-developed arms, legs, chests, abdominal muscles and backs.
Skill is a crucial factor in gymnastics. It takes time to develop enough dexterity to perform safely and correctly. A participant with enough training will execute seemingly effortless high-risk manoeuvres. The only way to attain such a level of prowess is to develop it slowly over time. This caveat is why gymnasts typically start their training at a very young age.
Beyond the physical demand, gymnastics requires significant mental fortitude. The athletes that can grow their capabilities enough to qualify for competitions also gain numerous psychological benefits, including:
Mental training refers to learning different methods of focusing the mind. When athletes can train their mind enough to dictate their emotions and reactions, they can manage stress and anxiety. With such an ability, there is every chance that there will be no trouble performing under pressure. Mental training occurs in stages; therefore, mental competence grows in tandem with physical skill.
The intensity of gymnastics can easily overwhelm a budding athlete. There is a lot to keep in mind while trying to perform correctly and remain safe at the same time. Added to that, the prospect of injury is very high. If an athlete were to get hurt, the recovery might be just as difficult as the activity. Consequently, gymnasts must work on building mental toughness as much as physical strength. Strength within the mind allows them to deal with highly stressful, anxiety-inducing situations appropriately and efficiently. The more fortitude they can draw on, the more likely they will be to overcome the setback of an injury and go back to training once they can.
Outside the gym, a gymnast can rely on their mental training to see them through different situations, no matter the severity, while avoiding a psychological breakdown. If they can retain their lessons, those learned habits can serve them well throughout their lives.
Gymnastic training is not for the faint of heart. However, when a gymnast can master a skill and execute it well, they get a boost of self-confidence. The more they grow their abilities and enhance their self-discipline, the more their self-esteem will increase. This heightened sense of self-worth then translates into life outside the gym. They will tackle adversities head-on while seeking, taking or creating opportunities when they become adults.
Gymnastics takes a toll on the body; hence, the majority stop taking part in the sport long before they are thirty-five to forty years old. While they may leave their physical training behind, the mental training often remains with them long after they are rendered unable to perform a cartwheel.
The dual nature of physical and mental health is widely understood and broadly emphasised. When gymnasts are taught from an early age how to channel their thinking to drive their achievements, they can use those lessons to help them attain their goals later in life. Since psychological education forms a part of their formative years as children, their mental health becomes more than an aspect of their lives when developing into teens and adults. It also forms part of their character.
Consider enrolling your child in a gymnastics program. They will be in a place that teaches them more than physical fitness. Their mental health will also be in a position to be nurtured and enhanced so that they will be able to draw the benefits of their training well into adulthood. You can look into clubs in your area offering gymnastics training or facilities for use. Your child will be the better for it.