Gymnastics competitions. Love them or loath them, competitions are a big part of our gymnast’s lives. My own teenage years were filled with various trips to watch my sister competing, and before my sons were old enough to compete for themselves, I would take them to watch the children my husband coached – in fact, Mr S attended his first gymnastics competition at just three weeks old, where he spent most of his time asleep in a car seat under the table I was sitting at to sell raffle tickets!
Although I do love the opportunity to see my boys displaying their skills in competition, I would usually feel a bit nervous beforehand. Would everything go well for them? Would I be able to get a good seat? Would their younger siblings get bored of watching and make a fuss, distracting the competitors?
Despite the inevitable worries, I was sad when Lockdown 1.0 meant that Mr F’s upcoming 6-piece competition would need to be cancelled. Still, I consoled myself by thinking about the floor and vault event that he was due to take part in a few weeks later, followed by Yorkshire grades later in the year. Of course, neither of those events happened, either, and it’s now been just over a year since my boys attended their last gymnastics competition.
I know that they -and my husband- miss the competition environment and, even though I’m normally just a spectator, I’m really starting to miss it, too. Read on to find out why.
The ‘buzz’ of competition day
Waking up early, travelling to an unfamiliar gym, seeing other people from all over the region who have done the same thing. Every person at the competition, be they coach, gymnast, parent, or other spectator, is excited to be there. The wonderful, familiar routine as the gymnasts march onto the floor at the beginning of the competition, and parents begin to clap, brings the whole room together and creates a powerful sense of anticipation. That makes for a fantastic atmosphere, which I always enjoy being a part of.
Gymnastics competitions are a time for us as a family to celebrate the boys’ achievements. Even if they don’t win, we’ve still spent time doing something just for them, and we make sure that it feels like a special occasion. We’ll almost always head to McDonalds afterwards, for example, or order in a favourite takeaway for when we return home. If they did win, we send photos of them with their medals to grandparents and aunties, who all send back enthusiastic messages of love, telling Mr F and Mr S how proud they are of them, too.
Showcasing their gymnastics skills
Gymnasts spend so much time in the gym perfecting their skills, focussing on improving even the tiniest of details. Competitions are when they get their chance to really show off what they have learnt- and their talents are celebrated by a whole room full of people, not just their friends in their own gym. I always enjoy watching competitors from other clubs performing their routines, and seeing which names might be ‘ones to watch’ in the future.
As a parent, it’s a wonderful feeling to hear other people clap when your child finishes their routine – but of course, most of the time us parents are fairly focussed on what our own child is doing, so knowing that other people were watching yours for a short while as well as their own is really lovely.
Getting to know other gymnastics clubs
I always like visiting a new gym club. I find it really interesting to see the variety of facilities where children are training, the equipment in use, what the parent viewing facilities are like, and so on. There’s also the all-important (for my boys, at least!) question of whether the club has a tuck shop where they can buy snacks and drinks!
Other boys in the sport
In gymnastics clubs across the UK, and probably the world, it’s fairly common for boys to be well outnumbered by girls. My own boys are quite used to this, and they make good friendships with both boys and girls in their own club. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, they get on well with other boys they train with, even when there’s a big age gap. But a competition gives them a chance to see boys who train at other clubs, and reminds them that even though there might not be very many boys in their own club, there are plenty of other boys across the country who are gymnasts just like them.
Are you missing seeing your children take part in gymnastics competitions? If so, please share this post, so others can read it too!