A Conversation About Conditioning for Young Athletes
Through my 20 years of coaching NYC gymnastics, I have observed that children who begin gymnastics at an early age are often successful in other physical activities. Whether it be soccer, baseball, basketball, football, golf or lacrosse, their coordination, balance, flexibility and strength are superior because of an early foundation in gymnastics.
Conditioning is a crucial step to a child’s success as a gymnast as it sets the foundation for their skills to develop. It is important for all young athletes and parents to understand the reasoning and importance of conditioning. Here are some important points to go over with your young athletes to help ensure they practice proper conditioning (ages 7+):
- The obvious reason for conditioning is to increase your child’s ability to perform athletically. At Gymtime, we coach our gymnasts with the understanding that they cannot accomplish the skills asked of them without the proper strengthening exercises.
- An important factor to consider about conditioning is that if your child attempts to do certain skills without building the proper strength, he/she may get injured.
- Intuitively, if the proper conditioning is not done, you will not proceed to a higher level of ability in gymnastics or any other sports training.
- If conditioning is not difficult, then your child is not actually strengthening muscles.
- Strengthening should be age appropriate. Never try anything that is not recommended by a professional or that could be detrimental to your child’s body or growth.
If your child complains of being sore after conditioning, here are some simple, easy exercises that he/she can do at home on days when there are no sports activities planned. Choosing just one a night can take less than a minute to complete! Exercises can be done while watching TV, in the evening after homework is complete or even while reading a book! (Your gymnasts will know all the terms used below.)
- Hold a “hollow body” twice for 30 seconds each.
- Do 10 push-ups twice.
- Do 20 sit-ups twice while someone holds their feet (arms crossed over chest).
- Hold a plank with forearms down, hands grasped together for 30 second twice.
- Lie on back, both legs straight up to the ceiling, lower back down on the ground- lower and lift legs 15 times twice.
- Hold each split for 1 minute each.
By: Chris Vollaro, Director of Gymnastics and Sports Programs at Gymtime