Updated date:

Tips for Success at Gymnastics Competitions

Stephanie's daughter has been competing in artistic gymnastics since she was 6 years old. She is now a Level 10 gymnast.

My Daughter on the Podium at a Gymnastics Meet

My Daughter on the Podium at a Gymnastics Meet

My daughter has been competing at gymnastics meets since age six. She is now a Level 7 artistic gymnast registered with the USAG. She trains at Cascade All-Star Gymnastics in Bend, Oregon.

Since she started training years ago, we have learned what does and does not work for success at gymnastics competitions. Lauren has trained with a former U.S. Olympic medalist and has her sights set on making it to the Elite Program, which follows Level 10.

Success at gymnastics competitions requires a dedicated practice schedule and commitment to following a coach's tips and suggestions. My daughter currently practices four days a week for four hours each session. She often asks to go to the optional Saturday two-hour sessions as well.

As with any top-level athlete, the gymnasts on Lauren's team pay close attention to their diet, stretch often, engage in strength training, and get plenty of restful sleep. Of course, competitive gymnastics is stressful both mentally and physically. Meditation exercises are also important to calm nerves before big meets. For more detailed tips for success at gymnastics competitions, use the tips outlined below.

Proper Training Leads to Success at Competitions

A gymnast does not become strong, flexible, or graceful overnight. No matter their natural talent, they must practice consistently and in a "smart" manner to stay safe and avoid injuries.

Gymnastics includes a lot of strength conditioning and stretching. Of a four-hour practice at the gym, my daughter's team focuses exclusively on strength training for the first half-hour and stretching for the last half-hour.

Dance instructors also work with the girls to help them properly position their arms, legs, and feet. Some gymnastics clubs require separate dance lessons for girls on the team. At our gym, the dance instructors have a studio upstairs, time is set aside each week for dance training, and their fees are included with the monthly tuition.

An excellent coach will be present and have additional trained staff on-hand to ensure that the gymnasts are not getting fatigued while they attempt difficult stunts. Proper spotting is also key. A gymnast should know exactly "how far" they can go and should be able to listen to their body to rest/recover when necessary.

While injuries may not be 100% preventable, proper instruction will help a gymnast keep their body position properly aligned, and strength training will build muscle to help the execution of skills and prevent many joint-related issues. Stretching, too, is important for flexibility and injury prevention. Coaches and assistants work with gymnasts so that stretches for all major muscle groups are accomplished in a safe, effective manner.

What to Do Three Days Before a Gymnastics Competition

As with any athletic event, you should start preparing your mind and body at least three days before a gymnastics competition. Of course, this assumes that you already have been consistently training, following a healthy diet, stretching, and getting good rest. Now it's time to put the crowning touches in your preparation for your upcoming gymnastics meet! Here's how it's done.

  1. Diet: The last thing you want at a gymnastics competition is an upset stomach. Be sure to eat healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Avoid junk foods and fried selections. Think about keeping your blood sugar level consistent to prevent spikes and valleys that can make you feel lethargic or irritable.
  2. Rest: The body heals itself, and you will also feel less stress when you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Avoid caffeinated beverages and over-the-counter medications if possible.
  3. Stretching: Keep muscles limber and loose with regular stretching as advised by your coach. Be careful not to overdo it before a gymnastics competition. Stay consistent with your daily stretching routine.
  4. Strength: Coaches usually advise gymnasts to back off of strength exercises during the two to three days leading up to a competition. This will prevent muscle fatigue/failure when competing. Keep yourself feeling primed and ready to go without putting extra strain on yourself.
  5. Meditation: Gymnastics, like many sports, requires a solid mental foundation. Negative self-talk, whether in the form of doubts or fears, may undermine your performance. Pick a mantra to repeat during the meet ("I can do this," or "just do your best") and repeat it silently to yourself in the days leading up to your gymnastics competition and on the day of the meet, too.


Tips for Success at a Gymnastics Competition

When it comes down to the day of the gymnastics meet itself, keep in mind that you have done everything possible to prepare. At this point, there is nothing more you can do but remain calm and focused. Here are some tips for success at gymnastics competitions:

  • Eat a balanced meal at least three hours beforehand with healthy carbohydrates and protein for lasting power and energy.
  • Stay hydrated! Bring a water bottle.
  • Compartmentalize any issues you may be facing: tell yourself that you can worry about your math grade, best friend's birthday party, or upcoming social event later.
  • Breathe deeply from your stomach and slowly blow out through your mouth.
  • Bring a healthy snack to eat between events, if necessary.
  • Consider not watching other gymnasts' performances if you become anxious as a result.

Who Succeds at Gymnastics Meets?

In the end, those that enjoy success at gymnastics competitions usually exhibit most or all of the following:

  • Natural talent
  • Drive to perform well
  • Dedication to hours of practice each week
  • Desire to stretch and strength-build even outside of practice
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Ability to obtain at least seven hours of restful sleep each night
  • Focus and determination
  • Ability to "tune out" other competitors' performances
  • Ability to "tune out" outside influences including the audience, sources of daily stress, etc.
Beam Routine at Level 6 Compulsory Girls' State Meet in Oregon, 2011

Beam Routine at Level 6 Compulsory Girls' State Meet in Oregon, 2011

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall

Comments

Corvette Mighty from Jamaica on August 03, 2020:

Hi Miss Marshall this was very helpful I am a gymnast myself and I have faced many downfalls but your article has taught me ways to control relax and breathe when it comes to that aspect I found your tips before competition the most helpful as I sometimes get nervous

Lily on January 07, 2019:

This is amazing I wish I can get better at this so I can do that.

Derdriu on October 12, 2012:

Steph, The visuals are so enjoyable here, particularly with your daughter perfectly illustrating what following the rules brings: success for her and crowd-pleasing performance for the audience.

Your information actually is helpful to keep in mind for succeeding in sports, school and life. It really comes down to diet, focus, preparation, and rest.

Respectfully, and with many thanks and all the votes, Derdriu

Dianna Mendez on October 04, 2012:

I have a great admiration for those in gymnastics. It is hard work. Thanks for sharing the successes with readers.

Josh from Boston on October 04, 2012:

nice hub.. you should read mine to.. thanks!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 04, 2012:

Thank you Nell! It is a joy to take photos and videos of my daughter's gymnastics. Thank you again! Cheers, Steph

Nell Rose from England on October 04, 2012:

Wow! how fantastic! I loved watching the videos, you must be so proud! great information for everybody who is thinking of joining, wonderful!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 04, 2012:

Bill, I am old enough to remember Olga K. and Nadia C. in the Olympics in 1972 and 1976. Blew my mind. Always wanted to be a gymnast like them. Thanks for the comment and support, as always, Steph

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2012:

I am in awe of gymnastic participants and always have been since the first Olympics I watched. Strength and beauty.....just a wonderful sport. Great pictures....great video....great article! Nice job Steph!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 04, 2012:

Hi Terrye - thank you! Appreciate the read, comment, vote and share. ;-)

Best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 04, 2012:

Thanks Robie - loved putting this hub together. I have hundreds of photos and lots of videos to choose from. We are really looking forward to Level 7 gymnastics this year. The girls get to pick out their own floor music and choreograph routines. Lauren's gymnastics training helps keep us all a little more "honest" when it comes to eating and taking care of ourselves. Cheers, Steph

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on October 04, 2012:

Great info, Steph! Voted up and shared.

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on October 04, 2012:

This was just great, Steph. I loved watching the videos of your daughter competing. She is just amazing and I have always enjoyed watching gymnasts perform.... so this hub was a real treat for me. Great health and lifestyle tips too and not just for competitive gymnasts-- we could all use reminders about keeping our minds and bodies in good order. Thumbs up up up

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 03, 2012:

*Kelly* ;-)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 03, 2012:

Thanks Kelley - my daughter is fortunate enough that I was a gymnast myself (as well as springboard diver and cheerleader). I understand the sport, as much as I try not to be THAT gymnast mom. ;)

I would love to have seen your Maddy at Six Flags. Poor girls having to perform under those conditions. But WTG!!!

Thank you for the compliment - Lauren loves gym and I'm happy to support her in every way possible in this endeavor! :) Best, Steph

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on October 03, 2012:

Hey Steph - my girls took tumbling and Maddy did a couple years of gymnastics. She did a short season that was super fun - the competition at the end was a nightmare. It was outside and raining...they were FREEZING when they finally performed at Six Flags. When they came out in their tiny outfits shivering and then did their routine almost flawlessly - it was a moment of pride!

Oh and they won 1st place:) lol

WTG - you guys are serious! I love the sport but it really takes dedication. Sounds like you guys are great and what a beautiful daughter you have!