Pieces of the physed puzzle: Gymnastics

This is a the first in a series of posts discussing the pieces needed for a complete, well rounded physical education program.

Pieces of the physed puzzle: Gymnastics

Whenever I have a discussion with a parent about physical literacy and progress, an inevitable question pops up, “what sport should my child play to help them develop to where they need to be?”.

handstand

In the past, I would usually talk about following the child’s passions and encourage them to ask the child what they would like to do. I still believe this approach is valid, but I will now always advocate for the role of gymnastics.

Gymnasts are some of the world’s most well rounded athletes. They are strong, flexible, coordinated and have an amazing senses of where their body is and how to move it. Gymnasts have also shown a great capacity to transfer to different sports successfully. This has been attributed to the sports ability to teach and train foundation movement skills.

Once mastered, these foundational movement skills will allow a child to pursue any physical activity they wish. High level gymnasts have shown a great ability to transfer their skills and become world class at another. Some of these are logical, such as diving or aerial skiing, but other examples include gymnasts becoming elite crossfitters, track and field athletes or american football players. Personally, I have observed many students who were gymnasts who were quickly able to become proficient at any physical activity I could throw at them throughout a year.

Not only does gymnastics provide this foundational movement base, it can be one of the most fun units of the year. Students love tumbling, hanging off bars, balancing on beams or building pyramids. It’s amazing to watch a student land a flip or hold a handstand for the first time, their face displays pure joy. This holds true even up to HS seniors, who through a gymnastics lesson remembered what it was like to play and gain enjoyment from moving there body.

Gymnastics is a must to include in a well rounded physical education program. You would be hard pressed to find another physical activity that develops students foundational movement is such a comprehensive way.

Links and resources to help you begin or improve your own gymnastics unit:

The PE specialist: Gymnastics unit

Gymnast better postural control research

ESPN Sport Science: Gymnastics

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