College Gymnastics Scholarship?

Subject: college gymnastics

Sex: female
Age: 14
Gymnastics Level: 5

Dear Coach,
I’ve been doing gymnastics for a year and I’m already learning new level 6 skills, but I’m still afraid that I don’t have enough time to get to a higher level. My question is what does it take to get onto a college team? I really don’t know much about it. And also how could I get a gymnastics scholarship? I go to a great gym with amazing coaches, and I would love to do college gymnastics. I didn’t get the chance to start younger like many successful gymnasts who start years before me, but I love gymnastics.

It appears your progress is relatively rapid for starting late in the sport. Your goal should always be to advance at least one level every year and that rate of progress would put you at Level 9 or 10, four years from now, when you are 18 and ready to go off to college.

What are College Coaches Looking For?

Colleges, of course, would first like to recruit any eligible Elite Level gymnasts that are graduating. But there are fewer than 50 total of those ranging from ages 13 – 18, so few of them will be coming out of high school when you will. Traditionally, colleges recruit primarily Level 9 and 10 gymnasts, so you should certainly be aiming to reach one of those levels, but more importantly, you should be working on getting the “C” “D” and “E” level difficulty skills that college gymnasts compete and that you will need to have to be considered.

How Could I Get a Gymnastics Scholarship?

There are a number of things that you can do to improve your chances of getting a college scholarship:

  • Compete at Recruiting Meets – There are certain gymnastics meets that college coaches check out, like the USAIGC gymnastics federation has a meet specially for college recruiting.
  • Gymnastics Video – One of the most important recruiting tools is producing a gymnastics video, highlighting your gymnastics skills. The video need not be complete routines, but can be training videos of the highest level and most difficult skills on which you are working. You should be keeping a gymnastics resume of any and all awards, medals and honors you receive, primarily in gymnastics, but also in general. You can edit that resume, later, to showcase your most impressive highlights.
  • Attend College Camps – If you have a few colleges in mind that you would really like to attend, you should attend their summer camps, if they have any, so you can meet the coaches and let them know personally of your interest in going to their school.
  • Keep Track of Colleges Offering Scholarships – The list of schools offering scholarships changes almost every year.  Keep track, so you know where to aim your efforts.
  • Consider Specializing – Many colleges offer partial or shared full scholarships for gymnasts who do only two events.  If you are much, much better at two events, then you might consider specializing, at least for your last two years to give you a better chance to excel and stand out.
  • Get Really Strong and Really Flexible – Strength is a huge advantage in gymnastics.  The strongest gymnasts often win the most, especially on bars and vault.  Flexibility makes so many skills look even more beautiful, which is of great benefit on beam and floor.
  • Take Advantage of As Much Additional Training Time as Possible – To a great extent, the amount purposeful practice determines your success in the sport.  Get in as much practice as possible in the next four years.
  • Compete as Much as Possible – You can only really learn how to compete by competing, so since you started a little late, you want to get as much competition experience as possible at whatever level.
  • Talk to Your Coaches – You should let your current coaches know of your intentions and ask their help in making sure you are training the skills you need to compete in college. Get as much competition experience as you can over the next four years.

A Worthy Goal

College gymnastics is a unique experience in the sport with its very strong team (rather than individual) emphasis. It is an experience I highly recommend, so you are wise to start thinking now about how you can be one of the ones to enjoy it.


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