Gymnastics is the root of all sports…

For people that are not at all familiar with the sport, this statement may be a bit hard to understand, yet believe. Who would’ve thought? Gymnastics…such a “feminine” sport? Being a sport that can prepare you to excel in any other sport? Whaaaattt?! Let’s break it down, and get some facts straight that will help clarify why this statement is indeed TRUE.

Let’s begin by addressing the physicality required to perform gymnastics for both; women & men. Gymnastics is a sport in which in order to be successful, athletes must be strong, flexible, agile, aggressive, graceful, and coordinated. Yes, some of the above qualities may be complete opposites of each other, but to put it in a nutshell; the “job” of a gymnast is to perform extremely difficult acrobatics, make them look easy, and be as close to perfection as possible. Let’s break it down even further…let’s focus on women’s gymnastics and the apparatus they are required to perform on. Uneven bars, a favorite among many gymnasts. In this event, upper body strength is a must (obviously) but more important than that, gymnasts need to have an incredibly strong core, so that switching between different body shapes to create the right amount of swing is A MUST. Majority of this event is about being able to support your body in different kinds of positions around the bar. Athletes are given different requirements throughout the levels, but even down to the lowest gymnastics levels the focus around the event is teaching athletes to support their own weight on the bar, whether they are in a hanging position, handstand position, swinging, or circling the bar. Moving on to the Balance Beam; the “Fear Factor” event. Not only is beam a physical event, but it may even be more of a mental event. Athletes need to be extremely confident in order to perform well on a 4 foot high, 3 inches wide event. The key to balance beam is getting the athletes to perform different types of gymnastics elements and combine them into a routine that is fluid and graceful, without falling off the event or creating any kind of balance errors. From tumbling skills to jumps which require a 180 degree leg split, balance beam is filled with skills that demand flexibility, strength, and mental toughness. But above it all, you have to make it look like the first steps you ever took as a baby were on a balance beam! The floor exercise is a bit similar to beam, in which there are not only gymnastics elements required but some ballet and dance leaps, jumps, and turns. Athletes are required to perform different types of saltos (which means flips in which athletes receive air time, without the use of their hands.) Saltos are also perform in different directions, there are forward saltos in which the athlete is facing and traveling forward, backward saltos in which they face backwards and travel backwards, and sideways. At the higher levels of gymnastics, athletes begin to add more than one salto at a time, meaning that they complete multiple full body rotations before landing on the floor. Twisting is also another way to add difficulty to your routine. Twisting does not increase the amount of flips performed in the air, only the amount of full turns your body does before landing on the floor. At this day and time, the hardest skill performed by any athlete at a competition is Simone Biles’ (of Texas), she performs a double layout back salto with a half turn at the end right before she lands. Essentially she is performing 2 flips in the air, while maintaining as straight of a body as possible (which makes it harder to create rotation since you are in as straight of a body position as possible) and turning 180 degrees right before she lands the skill. Impressive, right? Finally we will talk about vault, where Team USA shines brighter than any other team or country we go up against! Vaulting requires incredible lower body strength, speed, and aggressiveness. Athletes are given up to 85 ft of runway space where they sprint towards the vault at their fastest in order to have enough power to flip onto to the vault table and block of their hands to reach up to 7 ft of air over the table. This height off of the repulsion gives them time to get as many twists as possible before landing on the floor. Although there are many types of vaults and vault entries, the most commonly used by women is the Yurchenko, a round-off entry vault.

Gymnastics is a great sport to put even little ones into, because it creates a great physical foundation that can help lead athletes towards success in any sport. Ever heard the saying if “Gymnastics were easy it would be called football. (Or basketball, or soccer, or volleyball, we’ve heard them all.) Well there is some truth to that, because gymnasts have to be strong in all areas of their bodies, and they have to be strong in different ways. Gymnastics really is the root of all sports…

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