Tips for Success at Gymnastics Competitions

Updated on November 17, 2016
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Stephanie's daughter has been competing in artistic gymnastics since she was 6 years old. She is now a Level 10 gymnast

Gymnastics Competitions

This year marks the 4th season my daughter has been competing at gymnastics meets. She is now 9 years old, and 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, as well as following coaches' tips and suggestions. My daughter currently practices 4 days a week, for 4 hours each session. She often asks to go to the optional Saturday 2 hour sessions, as well. Lauren is in 4th grade.

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, mentally and physically. Meditation exercises are also important to calm nerves before big meets.

For more detailed tips for success at gymnastics competitions, read on!

* All photographs and video in this hub, as well as the text itself, are the property of the author, Stephanie Hicks. Please contact me for permission to use.

Get on the podium at gymnastics competitions
Get on the podium at gymnastics competitions | Source

Gymnastics Training Leads to Success at Competitions

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

Gymnastics includes lots of strength conditioning and stretching. Of a 4-hour practice at the gym, my daughter's team focuses exclusively on strength training for the first 1/2 hour, and stretching for the last 1/2 hour.

Dance instructors also work with the girls to properly position their arms, legs and feet. Some gymnastics clubs will 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 both be present and have additional trained staff on hand to ensure that the gymnasts are not getting fatigued while they attempt difficult stunts. Importantly, proper spotting is key. A gymnast should know exactly "how far" they can go and will be able to listen to their body to rest/recover when necessary.

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

1st Place Beam Level 6 Gymnastics

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Back walkover on beam at Level 6 gymnastics competition
Back walkover on beam at Level 6 gymnastics competition
Back walkover on beam at Level 6 gymnastics competition | Source

3 Days Before a Gymnastics Competition

As with any athletic event, you should start preparing your mind and body at least 3 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, its time to put the crowning touches in your preparation for the gymnastics meet!

1. Diet: The last thing you want at a gymnastics competition is an upset stomach. Be sure to eat healthy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Avoid junk foods and fried selections. Think about keeping your blood sugar level and 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 8 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 will usually advise you to back off of strength exercises in the 2-3 days leading up to a competition. This will prevent muscle fatigue/failure when you are competing. Keep yourself feeling primed and ready to go, without extra strain.

5. Meditation: Gymnastics, like many sports, requires a solid mental foundation. Negative self-talk, whether from 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 silently to yourself in the days leading up to a gymnastics competition - and the day of the meet too!

Girls Gymnastics Level 6 Oregon State Uneven Bars Routine

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Level 6 girls gymnastics floor routine
Level 6 girls gymnastics floor routine
Level 6 girls gymnastics floor routine | Source

Aim 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's some tips for success at gymnastics competitions:

  • Eat a balanced meal at least 3 hours beforehand with healthy carbohydrates and protein for staying power
  • Stay hydrated - bring a water bottle
  • Compartmentalize any issues you may be facing: tell yourself that you can worry about your math grade, a best friend's birthday party, or upcoming social event later
  • Breathe deeply from your stomach and slowly blow out the breath through your mouth
  • Bring a healthy snack to eat between events, if necessary
  • Consider declining to watch other gymnasts' performances if you become anxious as a result.

Level 6 Girls Gymnastics Floor Routine 2011

Success at Gymnastics Competitions

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 7 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.

Level 6 Gymnastics Handspring Vault

Beam routine at Level 6 Compulsory Girls' State Meet Oregon 2011
Beam routine at Level 6 Compulsory Girls' State Meet Oregon 2011 | Source

© 2012 Stephanie Hicks


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      Derdriu 5 years ago

      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

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

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

    • joshd88 profile image

      Josh 5 years ago from Boston

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

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

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

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

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

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      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!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

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

      Best, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great info, Steph! Voted up and shared.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      *Kelly* ;-)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      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!