Subject: Home Gymnastics Equipment?
Every year when Christmas and my gymnast’s birthday come, I have again to decide whether I want to purchase some gymnastics equipment for her to use at home. Should I buy home gymnastics equipment, what equipment and will it really help her get to be a better gymnast?
– A Gym Mom looking for a gift
Let’s talk first about home practice equipment in general. There is a wide variety of so-called home practice equipment available, including, beams, trampolines, bars and mats.
Gymnastics is a very specialized sport requiring a high level of coaching knowledge and information to teach it correctly. It is not like other more common sports like basketball, soccer or baseball in which parents might have a high relevant degree of knowledge, which they could personally impart to their children. Even parents who may have had gymnastics experience in their childhood find that the rules of the sport have radically changed and the level of gymnastic has likely risen beyond their experience and knowledge.
Success in gymnastics, at a high level, is to a great degree dependent on learning the correct habits, form and technique. Early bad habits take up to 22 times more time and practice to overcome than simply learning things correctly in the first place. So parents buying, for an example, a trampoline for their gymnast have to understand that the kinesthetic awareness and extra practice their gymnast gets will be offset to some degree by potentially bad habits they might develop on their own.
The standard for trampolines in the modern gymnastics facility is in-ground tramps. Parents with concern for safety and liability spend the time and money to put their home trampolines in-ground as well. Take it from us, there is no substitute for taking adequate safety precautions.
There should also be some parental concerns about safety in the form of matting. The cost of safely matting a piece of home equipment should be taken into consideration. Often, enough of the right kind of mats to make home equipment truly safe costs significantly more than the equipment itself. Therefore, what most parents do is to buy minimal or no matting at all. Without proper matting, there is little gymnasts can and will do that is very difficult.
Thus, one primary alternative to buying home equipment that should be carefully considered, is to spend the money on additional gym and practice time in the form of more gymnastics classes, private lessons or even open gym. That way, gymnasts have access to safe, fully matted equipment and proper coaching and supervision.
On the other hand, we all know that young gymnasts are usually highly active children to say the least and that they are likely doing gymnastics all over the house anyway. We know of no way to stop this and home gymnastics equipment is at least as safe as the banister, the furniture and the hardwood floor.
You never see people buying home vaulting equipment. We don’t particularly recommend ever buying home bars. A gymnast’s growing size and skill levels soon renders obsolete any bar that is not anchored down and fully matted.
When a gymnast reaches full-time team practice levels, they are often practicing 5 – 6 days per week at the gym. At that point, use of home equipment by the gymnast becomes rare and extra money most likely is much better spent on private lessons, clinics and gymnastics camps. Buying home practice equipment usually only makes sense for gymnasts who are not going to the gym every day.
Good luck to you and your daughter.
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