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Gymnastics is one of the most fundamental and exciting of all physical activities.  The skills learned, such as balance, strength, and flexibility provide talent that a child can bring to other sports.  The age requirements for gymnastics vary based on the school and the programs that they offer.  The youngest age that you can start your child is 2 or 2 1/2 years old.  Gymnastic classes are divided into 10 levels.  Levels 1-3 are non-competitive, instructive classes and level 4 is the first level of competition.  Compulsory routines in vault, floor, bars and beam (girl's events) and vault, floor, high bar, parallel bars and rings (boy's events) are done in levels  4 to 6.  Levels 7 to 10 do optional routines, meaning they make their own routines with certain required elements.  At each level the skills get more difficult.  Elite gymnast are those that you find in the Olympics, high level colleges and national competitors that you see on TV and they would be considered above level 10.

Children are grouped according to age and ability.  Pre-school classes are geared to develop large and small motor skills.  Classes for ages 7 and over are structured to develop strength, flexibility and strong technical skills.  Most schools have novice, intermediate and advanced groups for each level in addition to their pre-school classes.  Your child will advance through level upon completion of required skills and must be invited to join the competitive team.

These programs are designed for children beginning at 2 years old.  The level of instruction will range from an introduction to gymnastics and physical fitness to advanced competition routines.  Some children will continue all the way just for fun and never compete while others will be invited to join the competitive teams.  Listed below is a breakdown of classes.

This class is for the 2 -21/2 year old children and it will provide stimulating exploratory play.  Your child will learn skills such as following instructions, taking turns and working with others.  the basis of the class is FUN.

These classes are geared to develop large and small motor skills.  The instructors teach these children through fun-filled activities that build strength, and flexibility.  In addition, this program will allow your child to gain self-esteem and confidence as their physical fitness level rises.  You will also see that their social skills will improve.  Children are usually grouped by age in order to enhance the learning process and these classes are available for those in the 3 -6 age bracket.  You will find that once your child reaches the 5 year old group, learning happens quickly because the children begin to work more independently.  Schools will break the age groups down further to novice, intermediate and advanced.  There are certain skills that must be mastered before the child is promoted to the next level.  These classes build skills in all gymnastic events and most lessons are centered around floor exercises, balance beams and bars.

LEVELS 1-3 (Pre-Competitive Levels - age 7 and above)
These classes are tailored for the beginning gymnasts.  Your child will be introduces and taught the basic core skills of gymnastics (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise).  Children will be leveled and then based on skill will be put into either novice, intermediate or advanced groups.  There are certain skills that must be mastered before the child is promoted to the next level.  Each level requires increased strength and flexibility to meet new challenges.  Most children remain at the same level for 2 -3 years.

USGA (United States of America Gymnastics) is the governing body of gymnastics in the United States.  It regulates everything from level 1 through the Olympics. 

Their job is to promote the advancement and success of gymnastics in the United States.  The Junior Olympic Program is the competitive program for the USGA.  They set rules for the competition including a code of points for scoring. 

In addition, coaches must be certified as a USA Gymnastics professional member in order to participate in the Junior Olympic Program.  The gymnast must also be an athlete member of USGA and must be able to successfully perform all of the skills for their particular level.  The program provides skill progressions for pre-competitive levels 1-3 and compulsory routines for beginning competitive levels 4-6.  The optional program, where gymnasts are able to perform their own unique routine, is from level 7 - 10.  The USGA still mandates skill requirements and guidelines for each level that must be adhered to by the gymnasts.  The final level, is an Elite level, for those who may be capable of competing Internationally or at the Olympics.

Gymnasts MUST be invited to join competitive teams at a gym.  Selection is based on the overall potential of the gymnast, work ethic, ability to accept criticism and use it to their benefit as well as age.

LEVELS 4-6 (Compulsory Teams)
Compulsory teams will provide an introduction to a more disciplined and dedicated approach to gymnastics.  The gymnasts will be given the opportunity to work through the USA Gymnastics Achievement programs.  It is the goal of the instructors at this level to prepare the child for the competition therefore emphasis is placed on training.  Level 4 is the first level of competition.  Compulsory routines are in vault, floor, bars and bean (girl's events) and vault, floor, high bar, parallel bars, and rings (boy's events). There are certain skills that must be mastered before the child is promoted to the next level.  Each level requires increased strength and flexibility to meet new challenges.  Most children remain at the same level for 2-3 years

LEVELS 7 - 10 (Optional Levels)
The optional levels are where the gymnasts show off their talent and creativity by making up their own routines.  Their routines are created to enhance their strength.  These routines must consist of requirements that are regulated by the USA Gymnastics program.  There are certain skills that must be mastered before the child is promoted to the next level.  Each level requires increased strength and flexibility to meet new challenges.  Most children remain at the same level for 2 -3 years.  Once your child reaches level 8, the gymnast competes optional routines only and must be invited to join the team.  This level has restrictions on difficulty and has modified rules with easier requirements than level 9 or 10.  At level 9. the gymnast competes optional routines only.  This level has restrictions on difficulty and has easier requirements than level 10.  Competitions for all these levels include Invitationals, State Championships and Regional Championships.


When do I need to register??

Again this will vary based on the school.  Gymnastic programs are normally 10 -12 weeks long.   This gives you the ability to join at various times throughout the year.  You will need to contact the gym to obtain this information.  Some schools will allow you to join in the middle of a session and will prorate your cost. 

Registration can usually be done in person, by phone, by mail or fax.  In addition, some organizations will allow you to register on line.  Normally these programs are very popular and space can be limited so don't delay registration or you may miss out!



High commitment -- Are you prepared?

Classes range from anywhere between 45 minutes and 3 hours.  Time will be determined by the class and level that your child is participating in.  When you register for gymnastics you are signing up for a 10 -12 week session. Most gyms will have 4 - 5 sessions per year.  Benefits in gymnastics are realized over a long period of time, so year round participation is encouraged.  Your child will begin to lose their skills if they do not participate all year.  Good attendance is imperative.  Absences and tardiness will result in your child missing important instruction time.

Practice in gymnastics is extremely important and is a necessity to show consistent progress. I n order for you child to correctly perform a routine they must be able to do it automatically without thinking about the moves.  This will only come from repetition.  The smart student will also participate in different types of lessons; private, group, practice and workshops.  As your child's skills increase so will practice time.  It is not uncommon for a gymnast to practice at least 3 hours per night for 4-5 nights per week.  Total commitment could be 12-15 hours per week at higher levels. 

It is a well known fact that warm-up is essential with any physical activity.  Therefore it is imperative that your child be on time for class so that they have the proper time to stretch out before lessons or practice begins.  Failing to properly warm-up could result in potential injury.

Meet season is from September to May and you will usually do 8 -10 meets per year. Meets can be on an average 1-2 hours from your house.  If your child achieves a qualifying score at a regular meet,  then they qualify for Sectional Championships.  If they get a certain score at Sectionals, you qualify to compete in State Championships, which can be anywhere in the state.  Higher levels can even go on to Regional or even National competitions which can be anywhere in the country.




How Much will Gymnastics cost?

A class could cost anywhere from 85.00 to 205.00 per class per session.  Your total tuition will be based on the total number of classes your child takes per session.  You will receive a discounted rate for multiple classes.  Payment in full is required at time of registration or in some cases two weeks prior to the scheduled class for current students.  Most gyms do not credit for missed classes and all payments are non-refundable.  All classes are filled on a first come basis with current students given priority.  You will be given ample notice of payment being due for the next session if your child is a current student.

You will be charged an annual registration/membership fee of anywhere between 15.00 to 40.00 in addition to your tuition.  You will also need to purchase practice wear and the proper shoes for the class.

In addition, if your child reaches the competitive level you will have the additional cost involved with competitions.  Depending on the location you may have hotel and meal costs.



Practice wear is required for all classes. Boys usually wear shorts or sweat pants, a T-shirt and bare feet. Girls normally practice in a sleeveless leotards without a skirt or tights and bare feet.  There are some gyms that require gymnastic shoes, which are soft leather shoes similar to a ballet shoe. Long hair must be tied back and jewelry is not acceptable. Gyms do not allow any clothing with snaps, zippers, or buttons. 


Helpful Hints.....

Children who are involved with gymnastics tend to perform better in school due to the fact that they have learned the importance of dedication, focus and practice.  Gymnastics also gives your child a sense of self confidence that will help them in the future.

Parents, grandparents, and friends are all encouraged to attend meets.  Remember that this is your child's chance to show everyone what he or she has learned.  In is necessary for you to provide a supportive atmosphere for your child so that their interest in gymnastics does not falter.  Meets will give the gymnast a huge confidence boost that will increase their motivation and progress.

Buying Girl's leotards......

The following information regarding girls'  leotards is compliments of

Leotards for gymnastics come in many styles and colors, and chances are your daughter will enjoy picking out her new gym wear. But which brand name should you buy? How should the leotard fit? What accessories will she need? These are some of the questions you will face when you shop for workout clothes.

Girls’ leotards come in many different fashions. For winter you can get long sleeve leotards for gymnastics. In the summer, buy sleeveless or short-sleeve outfits. The sleeves may be ultra short, just barely over the shoulder, or they can reach nearly to the elbow. They may have a tight or loose fit, you'll probably find most girls prefer the tighter fit. You can find scoop neck, V-neck, and tee-styles of leotards. There are even high-neck or turtleneck styles that might appeal to some gym enthusiasts. High-back and low-back styles are available. .

Then comes the matter of color. Solid dark hues of navy, black, and brown are often seen in gym classes, especially among older girls. But there are also pastel shades, floral prints, and two-tone suits. Whatever a girl’s personality, there is a leotard to match it. You'll find that the older girls (relatively older that is) have very specific ideas of what they want, usually something they've seen another girl wear; a neat trick is to take a camera to competitions and take gymnastics pictures of girls wearing leotards that catch your daughter eye, it beats having them describe it later and you can show your photo to the retailer for quick service.

It is important to ensure that the girls gymnastic leotards fit properly. Saggy or loose-fitting outfits can get in the way of a workout. On the other hand, tight leotards can constrict movement and the skin’s ability to “breathe,” thereby causing more sweating and heat buildup. The suit should fit comfortably and feel snug without irritation.

Accessories for girls’ leotards and other gymnastics equipment can be purchased at the same time. Sweatbands for the wrist and forehead typically match or accent the leotard’s design, color, or print. Hair ribbons or ponytail holders, as well as other adornments to keep hair off the gymnast’s face and shoulders, provide additional stylish support.

Tights that match the leotard, and often are sold as part of the ensemble, are available at many department, sports, or clothing stores. It may be a good idea to get two or more pair, so when one gives out, you’ll have another on hand and avoid the rush to try and match leotard with tights.





A stunt in which the gymnast turns completely over in the air without touching the apparatus with his or her hands.



One of the pieces of equipment used in gymnastics competitions.



To leave an apparatus at the end of a routine.


The performance of a routine.


The International Federation of Gymnastics is responsible for the governance of the sport of gymnastics on the international level.



 A routine is a sequence of skills on an event. The number and difficulty of skills depends on the competition format, and skill level of the competitors.



The body is curved backwards.