If you are considering the possibility of moving your child into a competitive gymnastics program, congrats! Competitive gymnastics are a great way to encourage your child to strengthen both their mind and body. Many parents have questions about what exactly they will be getting into if they decide to make the switch from a recreational gymnastics center to a competitive gymnastics training center. There are a great many differences in how your child’s training will look between the two types of centers, and it will be easier for you to make that leap into competitive training if you first are able to understand the differences between the two types of gyms.
A recreational gymnastics class is designed to teach children gymnastics but also to stress that they have fun while they learn and grow. The learning pace is going to be different for every child, and the classes are structured so that they can allow room for every child to learn at a pace that they are comfortable with. The class structure typically does not focus on attending meets, but instead they prioritize strength building, increasing flexibility and coordination and growing a child’s confidence. At centers like the World Champions Centre, the recreational classes are available for children that are as young as five years old all the way up to 12th grade. They begin by learning simple skills such as cartwheels and handstands and learning to manage the vault and bars. The highest levels of recreational gymnastics require that your child attend classes twice a week so that they can continue to challenge their boundaries and attempt more difficult steps. The focus is more around fun and less around a competitive spirit. Many parents especially like that because it allows their child to learn and grow at a pace they are comfortable with, however sometimes learning can grow stagnant in that situation because competition tends to foster growth.
A competitive center is more focused on furthering the abilities of the child, so the competition exists both in the center and at the meets that they attend as a team. That being said, there is also a feeling of comradery and friendship that begins to grow between teammates as they spend so much time together. The idea behind competitive gymnastics classes is that all the students are given healthy, consistent and disciplined training. The training centers on the philosophy creating a firm foundation of skills and then continuing to grow them. The mission statement at World Champions Centre captures it all quite nicely: “Provide a safe, healthy, fun environment to develop each individual to reach his or her maximum potential.” The goal is for every child to be as successful in the sport as they can be and also to set them up for success at meets and invitational. Of course, the Olympics is always the ultimate goal for a gymnast, and some of them will even make it there one day, but the focus in competitive gyms is both shortsighted and always looking ahead to the next challenge.