This is a parent’s guide to gymnastics meets. When your child first starts gymnastics the first couple of meets can be confusing. Especially, if you are unfamiliar with the sport! Here is a guide of what you should bring, what to do when you arrive at a gymnastics meet, when to cheer, and when to take pictures. Hope this helps!
What to Bring to the Gymnastics Meet:
- Cash– You will have to pay admission to the gymnastics meet. You might also want to buy a program or concessions from the concession stand.
- Camera– You will be able to take pictures with the flash turned off.
- Stadium Seat– Gymnastics meets are known for being long, usually 3-4 hours depending on how many gymnasts are in the session. Most meets have bleachers for seats, so a stadium seat or cushion (like these) will make you more comfortable!
- Healthy Snack for Gymnast– Because gymnastics meets are long you might want to bring a healthy snack along for your gymnast and a bottle of water. When the meet is over and she doesn’t have to wait to eat something, she will thank you! Many parents bring carrot sticks, a cut up apple or a juice box.
What Time to Arrive:
It can be tricky reading a gymnastics meet schedule, but most should look similar to the one above. Your child’s coach will probably tell you when to drop off your gymnast, but here’s a quick run down of what the schedule above means. Open Stretch is when the gymnasts start stretching on the floor, Timed Warm-Ups are when they warm-up, and March In is when the national anthem is played and the teams are introduced. Then the actual gymnastics meet will take place, followed by awards. The gymnasts start at 12:45 in the example above but they will need to be there at least 15 minutes early to check in. They won’t start competing until after March In. So any grandparents or other relatives don’t need to arrive at the meet until March In time, or in this example 1:45. The example above is a traditional format.
Gymnastics meets can be held in traditional format, capital cup format, or a modified version of either of those. Basically capital cup format means that the gymnasts will be warming up an event and then competing it right after. These type of meets are generally held in a big facility with two different gyms. The difference you will see when reading the schedule (the schedule above is a modified capital cup format) is that there isn’t a big difference in time between Open Stretch and March-In. It’s important to notice this when reading the schedule so that you don’t miss the meet. However, you still read the schedule the same. The gymnast needs to arrive for Open Stretch and the spectators need to arrive for March-In.
What to do when you arrive at the meet:
When you arrive at the gymnastics meet you will pay admission for yourself and anybody else with you other than the gymnast. Most meets have a reduced admission price for children. Then you will need to check your gymnast in to the meet at “Gymnast Check-In”. She will get a number written on her hand or pinned to her leotard. Then your gymnast can find her coach and you can find a seat to watch.
*Tip*- If your meet session is in the middle of the day, there will be an influx of people while the parents and gymnasts from the previous session finish up awards and leave and the gymnasts and parents for the next session arrive. When the people from the previous session leave you will be able to grab a good seat and maybe improve your parking spot!
It’s definitely OK and encouraged for you to cheer for your gymnast and all her teammates. You can shout words of encouragement while she is standing waiting for the judge to acknowledge her before her routine starts. Then you can cheer after she finishes major elements and at the end of her routine. But don’t cheer while she is in the middle of a hard skill—you don’t want to distract her!
If this is your gymnast’s first meet or one of her first meets I wouldn’t worry too much about the scores. Gymnastic routines are scored in a range from 1-10. Any score above an 8.0 means the gymnast has a pretty good handle on the routine. If the score is lower than expected you can always ask the coach the next time you see them in the gym. They can probably explain to you where your gymnast can improve. To learn more about what the gymnastics judges are looking for when they score routines you might want to check out Gymnastics Scoring: 10 Minute Guide to How it Works.
Awards are directly after the gymnastic meet. During awards you can use your flash and get some great pictures. After awards you are done–and you survived!
Tips for a Successful Gymnastics Meet Experience:
- Don’t forget to bring cash! You won’t be able to get into the meet or buy anything from the concession stand. And you will probably end up driving around searching for an ATM.
- Don’t forget your camera and remember to turn off the flash. You don’t want to be that parent in the stands that gets a warning for having the flash on during the meet.
- Cheer for your gymnast and all her teammates. Meets are more fun when there is a sense of team spirit.
- Forget about the scores. Gymnastics is supposed to be fun and the more you stress about the scores, the less fun it will be.
Gymnastics meets can be long and if they are compulsory gymnastics meets they can be boring. But for the gymnasts they are an opportunity to show off all the skills they’ve learned. So sit back and enjoy 🙂
For a more in-depth parent’s guide to gymnastics meets (and an overall guide to the sport), check out my Parent’s Guide to Gymnastics Ebook.