Gymnastics Information: 20 FAQs Answered

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gymnastics informationOne of my goals for GymnasticsHQ is for it to be a good source of gymnastics information for parents and gymnasts.

Sometimes people don’t find what they are looking for, and I love how this website has made it easy for them to email or contact me with their gymnastics questions.

Here are 20 of the most frequently asked questions:

1. Why do Gymnastics ?

There are many benefits of gymnastics, both physical and mental. Gymnastics helps to build strength, flexibility, balance and hand-eye coordination. Gymnastics is a way for kids to keep fit and develop the habit of staying active. Gymnastics classes are also a place for kids to make friends in a safe, supervised environment. It can help teach kids how to follow directions. And teaches them important mental strength: perseverance, patience, mental toughness.  Here are 17 reasons why you should enroll your daughter in gymnastics.

gymnastics gym directory

2. Where can I take gymnastics classes near me ?

If you are wondering how to become a gymnast, and are interested in choosing a gymnastics gym, you can check out the GymnasticsHQ Gym Directory. You can search by location and by the type of gymnastics classes you are interested in to find classes near you.

Also, here are some tips for choosing a gymnastics gym.

3. What type of gymnastics classes are there ?

Gymnastics has four major disciplines- Artistic, Rhythmic, Acro and Trampoline & Tumbling. Most gymnastics gyms focus on artistic gymnastics. It’s the most popular, and what you usually see on TV. If a gym focuses on rhythmic, acro or trampoline and tumbling you will know it.

Most gyms have an introductory or beginner gymnastics class that you can sign up for, and from there progress. Gyms usually have separate preschool classes.

After you progress through gymnastics classes, you might be invited to the team. The type of team might vary: Xcel or Compulsory. Compulsory team is the traditional Junior Olympic (JO) program. An Xcel team is an optional program that runs parallel to the traditional program. Learn more about the Xcel Program and the Gymnastics Levels.

4. How old do I have to be to start gymnastics?

You can start gymnastics as soon as you are crawling! There are parent and tot classes that kids join as young as nine months. As soon as kids are in preschool they can join preschool gymnastics classes.

5. Am I too old to start gymnastics?

I get a lot of emails from teenagers thinking they are too old to start gymnastics. You are never too old!!

Yes, if you start gymnastics later in life you might not be able to progress to the same levels as gymnasts that started at a young age. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy some of the other benefits of gymnastics. Gymnastics, like other sports, is a way to stay fit.

The Xcel program is a great way for older gymnasts to compete and enjoy the benefits of gymnastics, wiwithout some of the pressure and stress of the compulsory JO program.

If you start gymnastics in middle or high-school you still might be able to become a member of your high-school gymnastics team. And many colleges have club gymnastics teams which you can join for recreational gymnastics.

Also, plenty of gyms have adult gymnastics programs for anyone that wants to continue doing gymnastics after school.

6. What do you wear to gymnastics class?what to wear to gymnastics class

Most girls wear leotards to gymnastics class. Girls should also make sure their hair is pulled back.

Boys wear shorts and a t-shirt.

The important thing is to make sure the clothing doesn’t have any buckles, snaps, zippers that can catch on the gym equipment. Gymnasts practice with bare feet–no socks. Here is more information on what to wear to gymnastics class.

7. Where can I buy gymnastics leotards?

You can buy gymnastics leotards on Amazon or at Destira.

 8. How do I Become a Better Gymnast ?

You can get better at gymnastics by practicing. The power of repetition is one of the biggest keys to becoming a better gymnast. It’s the principle that the more you practice something, the better you will be at it. You can practice at home or in the gym.

Another way you can improve and practice more is to try to master the basics. Here are 9 Basic Gymnastics Skills You Should Master.

If you’re looking to improve your gymnastics score, you can work on perfecting your form. Making sure your toes are pointed, your legs and arms are straight are some of the best tips for improving your gymnastics score.

9. What Skills do I need to move to the next Gymnastics Level?

Sometimes you can progress to the next gymnastics level based on your skill level. But once you reach level 4 in the JO program or the Gold division in the Xcel program, you must pass out of each level in order to advance. You do this by earning a minimum score.

You also need your coach to believe you are ready for the next level before advancing. Your coach might have other reasons like wanting you to improve your strength or form before they let you move up.

If you want to know the skills you need for each level, go to the Gymnastics Levels Guide and click on whichever level requirements you want to know. You might want to also check out gymnastics skill progression checklists.

home gymnastics equipment

10. How to Practice Gymnastics at Home?

You can practice gymnastics at home with some home gymnastics equipment. If you are going to get one piece of equipment, I would get a floor mat. With a floor mat you can practice basics like handstands, cartwheels, turns, and jumps with padding which decreases your risk of injury.

You can also do conditioning exercises on your mat, like sit-ups and push-ups. Increasing your strength is the number one thing you can do to improve your gymnastics, besides practicing.

Here are some gymnastics skills you can practice with your home gymnastics equipment.

You can also practice at home by doing some gymnastics basics and conditioning exercises in your backyard on soft grass.

11. I just started competing gymnastics. Should I compete in the Xcel or Junior Olympic (JO) Program?

There are some differences between the Xcel program and the traditional JO Compulsory program. Both programs are available to entry level gymnasts.

In the Xcel program, gymnasts compete optional routines. This means every gymnast has a different routine. This can be more fun for newer gymnasts. It can help keep them excited about the sport.

In the JO Compulsory program every gymnast competes the same routine. The JO Compulsory program is developed in order to create gymnasts with solid fundamental skills.

You can learn more about the Xcel Program here, and how it fits into the traditional gymnastics levels.

 12. What does AAU Stand for?

AAU stands for the Amateur Athletic Union. It’s a separate gymnastics league with it’s own gymnastics levels.

USA Gymnastics is the official governing body for gymnastics in the US.

AAU rules are less strict than USA gymnastics rules. The rules are designed more for fun and less for producing great gymnasts. Because of this, AAU gymnastics meets are less strict. The scores also tend to be higher.

Learn more about AAU Gymnastics here.

13. Why does Gymnastics on TV have different scoring?

Once you have completed all the JO Gymnastics Levels, you become an Elite gymnast. Those are the gymnasts you see on TV(most of the time). Elite gymnastics meets use International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rules.

FIG scores have two components. The D-score (or Difficulty score), and the E-score (or Execution score) are added together. The base score for the E-score is a 10.0, like it is in the lower gymnastics levels. Judges take deductions from the E-score based on the execution and artistry of the routine. The D-score is based on how difficult the routine is. It is open-ended. This is why the end score can be greater than a 10.0.

14. I’m Planning A Gymnastics Party. I need help and ideas!

The first thing you need to know when you’re planning a gymnastics party is whether you are going to have it at the gym or at your home.

If you’re having the party at a gym, they will be providing the entertainment. If not, you are.

Here are 20 Gymnastics Party Ideas if you need to plan some activities.

But regardless of where you are having your party, you will need gymnastics party supplies, party favors, invitations.

 15. Where can I buy gymnastics grips?

You can buy gymnastics grips online at either DGS (a gymnastics store) or from Amazon. If you’re buying grips, you will also want to buy wristbands. Wristbands protect a gymnasts wrist from chafing from the grip. Check out this guide to the best gymnastics grips for you.

display gymnastics medals

16. How do I display my gymnastics medals?

Once you are a competing gymnast, you are lucky if you are in the position of having a lot of medals! And you will want to display your medals in your room.

My sister, a level 9 gymnast, always had so much clutter in her room from all her medals. Hanging a medal holder is a great way to make them look nice and organized, while displaying your accomplishments.

Here are the medal holders in the picture above: Gymnast Medal Holder/ I Love Gymnastics Medal Holder/ Level Medal Holders / Custom Gymnast Medal Holder

17. How do I become a Gymnastics Judge?

To become a gymnastics judge you will need to pass the judging test. The first level is the level 4/5 test. You can find a test schedule here. You will also need a USA gymnastics professional membership.

To study for the judging exam you will need to purchase a Women’s JO Compulsory Book. You can buy it from that link, or you can download it from the Apple app store. The Women’s  JO Compulsory Book has all the material you will need to memorize in it to pass the judging test.

Here is more information on How to Become a Gymnastics Judge (and how much they are paid!)

18. How are Awards determined at Gymnastics Meets?

Awards are given out at gymnastics meets by age groups. The age groups are determined by the meet director. Gymnasts are divided up equally into age groups depending on the number of gymnasts at the meet. Gymnasts are then ranked within their age group based on their scores.

Event ties are broken by the gymnast with the highest all-around score. An all-around tie is broken by the gymnast with the highest score on any event.

Team awards are determined by taking a certain number of top scores in every event. The number of scores taken depends on the gymnastics level.

 19. When, Where and By Who was Gymnastics Invented?

Gymnastics started with ancient civilizations doing strength and acrobatic exercises. Johann Gutsmuths, a German, is considered the great grandfather of gymnastics. He published a textbook that was the beginnings of the sport.

Another German, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, is the father of gymnastics. He opened the first gymnasium in 1811. Learn more about the history of gymnastics here.

20. How should I deal with fear and mental blocks?

I think fear in gymnasts is a tough one. As a coach I never wanted to force gymnasts into doing skills that they weren’t comfortable with yet by themselves. Because while fear and mental blocks can make the learning process go slower and be incredibly frustrating, it’s also what keeps you safe. Fear is healthy because it prevents you from throwing skills that you don’t know how to do yet, and injuring yourself badly.

So, while I was coaching I tried to just stress repetition. To have gymnasts practice the skills they wanted to learn with a spot, or practice connecting skills with a pause in between until the gymnast had done the skill so many times that their brain was convinced it could absolutely do the skills without help.

Practice and repetition can be annoying because it takes time and effort, but many times its the solution to our gymnastics problems.

Also check out the mental workout all gymnasts should be doing to help deal with your mental blocks.

What other gymnastics questions do you have? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

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8 comments… add one
  • anna March 11, 2017, 8:45 pm

    hi im almost 11 years old and just started with gymnastics about a year ago i have tried to find gymnastics classes for beginners but all of the kids in those classes are 6 or younger am i still young enough to do gymnastics

  • Sophia DeGrasse April 11, 2017, 11:16 pm

    I’m a 10 year old gymnast in the Xcel program. I wrote a book all about my experience from JO to Xcel gymnastics and being a female athlete who loves everything from gymnastics to skateboarding to surfing and more! I’d like to promote my book on gymnastics websites, blogs and more….if you have any suggestions please DM me. I’d really like to promote my book in the upcoming weeks before its release.

    • Kami August 16, 2019, 7:57 pm

      Would love to read your book! I’m a cheerleader who has a bigger passion for gymnastics. Do you think Xcel would be great for competing at age 11?

      • Sophia August 16, 2019, 9:25 pm

        Yes Kami I would definitely try out for the Xcel team. You’re competing, you’re making friends, you’re doing all four events, and you’re having fun! It’s hard work but so rewarding. And the book is available on called Making it Stick. In the book Sophia talks about how hard it was and a lot of activities and sleepovers and birthday parties she missed because there was a practice. Just remember whatever you do, give it your 100% and make it stick!

  • Bobby Saint October 24, 2017, 10:00 pm

    Wow! I didn’t realize you can start gymnastics as early as nine months old! My wife and I are actually planning to enroll our youngest daughter in a gymnastics class that is located near our home. I will definitely inquire about their schedule and rates. I’m sure my daughter will be excited about it. Thanks.

  • Ved June 1, 2018, 10:09 pm

    Even though I started gymnastics a while ago as a self-taught gymnast, I didn’t know these many tips! Thank you so much for this amazing article, I will definitely try to remember these tips the next practice I have (Whether at home or at the gym)!

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  • madison kilgore September 17, 2020, 12:16 pm

    who created this website it is really good it tells me all that i need to know about gymnastics thank yo so much for teaching me more about gymnastics.


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