Gymnastics History – A Brief Overview

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Gymnastics, as an activity, has been around for more than

two thousand years in one form or another, from the ancient

Greek Olympics, to Roman ceremony, to today’s modern meets.

As an organized and truly competitive sport, gymnastics

has existed for a little more than a century. It was

introduced in the mid 1800s to the United States, where it

inexorably gained in popularity within school systems.

Amateur associations gathered together by the late

nineteenth century, offering classes and opportunities for

young people to join in on the fun. Eventually, these

associations began to have their own championships.

In 1896, at the first international Olympic games in Athens,

Greece, the sport we all know and love enjoyed its first

large-scale debut. Included in the Olympic tournament were

vaulting, parallel bars, pommel horse, and rings events for

men. The first women’s Olympic gymnastics events were held

in 1928. After the Olympics began to officially host

gymnastics, the World Championship gymnastics meet emerged

in the early 1900s, and it is still held to this very day.

Thus began a noble tradition that continues even in modern

Olympic games and in local, regional, national, and world

meets all over.

If you’re the parent of a young gymnast, odds are, people

are going to ask you, “Why did you choose gymnastics over

swimming, ballet, football, baseball, or soccer?” It is an

easy question to offer, but not a simple one to answer.

Their curiosity is entirely understandable–to the

uninitiated, may have a lower profile than others.

However, if you are indeed very serious about your child

participating in the sport, you can tell those people, with

great authority, that gymnastics is an excellent way to

spend time. Not only does it have a long and illustrious

history, but it also requires attention and discipline on

the part of a child–more so, perhaps, than one involved in

any other sport.

In order to become successful at the sport of gymnastics,

your child will have to get into a routine of practice.

This type of routine is different from, say, soccer

practice or hockey practice, in that it does not involve

the concept of physical rivalry with other individuals. A

gymnast is not typically seen chasing after another

gymnastics youth with a set of rings as one might see a

hockey player attacking another person on an opposing team.

Gymnastics does not encourage violence in the same way

contact sports do — indeed, when one is part of a

gymnastics team, one has to work in synchronicity with and

have a certain trust for the other members, a valuable

lesson in this individualism-driven social environment.

This can certainly help in any future employment,

especially if your child is interested in professions that

involve lots of interpersonal communication.

Beyond practice, gymnastics also requires physical

discipline. For instance, if you do not move in the way

that you are taught to move when on parallel bars, you will

have falls and disappointment–and then, of course, you

learn from the mistake, pick up, and try it again. Playing

at gymnastics braces a person for the future in that way:

it prepares them for the inevitable necessity of

determination and endurance in any of life’s endeavors,

whether in business or in education. In conjunction with

school study habits, practice for gymnastics can indeed

lead a young person into a level and graceful confidence.

In fact, for as physically driven as gymnastics happens to

be, it is also an extremely intellectual sport: every

motion requires forethought, for in the game, if you do not

think of what you are going to do before you do it, you’ll

end up on the mat.

Finally, and perhaps most obviously of all, there is the

fact that gymnastics will keep your child busy, as any

other sport might. This means that he or she won’t be as

likely to slip into a pattern of slacking or of hanging out

with the wrong crowd. Quite literally, when your child is

at practice, you will know where they are — you will not

have to worry if they have wandered off somewhere or are

unintentionally getting into trouble. This can lead to

peace of mind for you and yours, most assuredly, which,

like the skills they will learn, are absolutely invaluable.

By Murray Hughes

Gymnastics Secrets Revealed

“The book EVERY gymnastics parent should read”

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