Safe Gymnastics Outside

Tumbling On the Grass

Tumbling On the Grass

Gymnast tumbling on the grass in the Netherlands


There is little doubt that doing gymnastics in a well-equipped gym is the safest place to do any and all skills. A gym has all the correct matting for every situation and skill. In spite of the fact that both coaches and parents may prefer that gymnasts limit their gymnastics activities to the gym, most young gymnasts are going to perform skills outside the gym. Because of that, they should understand what they must do to protect themselves and keep themselves safe.

Don’t Use Outdoor “Equipment”

Gymnasts should not attempt any gymnastics skills on improvised or substitute equipment that they may find outdoors. There may well be distinct and potentially dangerous differences in improvised bar and beam apparatus. They may be too slippery, unstable, the wrong size or otherwise unsafe. In addition, there is no suitable matting under such improvised equipment, which makes them dangerous as compared to equipment in the gym.

Resist Peer Pressure

Many gymnasts’ friends and peer group are interested in what skill gymnasts are doing and few of them have much of an idea of the skills and strength required to perform them or of the danger of performing them without proper equipment, matting, coaching and supervision. Gymnasts must resist the impulse to show off skills which they have not yet mastered or to take dares to do skills which they are not completely certain they can safely perform.

Restrict the Level of Skills

One o the most important safety tips for gymnasts is for them to restrict the level of skills that they performs outside of the gym. They should not attempt any skills outside which they are still working on mastering. Gymnasts should most likely not even perform any skills outside that are only one level below what they are working on in the gym. In other words, if a gymnast is working on doing a full in the gym, they should not attempt to do layouts outside. At most, they should perhaps do back tucks (a number of levels below what they are working on).

Find a Level Soft Surface

For doing tumbling skills, an uneven tumbling surface can be a negative safety factor. Tumbling uphill can cause gymnasts to jam into the ground as they are used to tumbling on a flat surface. Tumbling downhill can throw off normal tumbling skill timing making it dangerous. Tumbling on a sideways slope could put considerably more pressure on one arm and leg during tumbling skills making them more dangerous.

No Obstructions

Gymnastics facilities are carefully planned to have sufficient clear areas to do all of the different gymnastics skills. Gymnasts need to choose an area where there are no obstructions of any kind and should especially avoid any potentially dangerous obstructions, like posts, trees, rocks, etc.

Pre-Check the Terrain

Outdoor terrain can be unpredictably rough. It can be rough enough to cause ankle or wrist injuries even doing skills which a gymnast can easily do. The appearance of a smooth grassy tumbling run can be highly deceptive. The only sensible thing to do is to check out the area first by walking the entire length and checking to make sure there is nothing unexpected and that the terrain is as anticipated.

Look Out for Holes, Bare Spots and Uneven Patches of Grass

In particular, gymnasts should look out for and holes in the ground which could easily cause a very serious injury. A wrist or an ankle landing half on a bare spot and half on a clump of grass can be enough to cause injury. Even uneven patches of grass can potentially cause injury.

On Harder Surfaces, You Must Bend More

Gym landing and tumbling surfaces are made to provide a certain amount of give when gymnasts tumble and land. There may be little or no give at all in outdoor surfaces and gymnasts must bend their arms and legs more on harder outdoor surfaces than they would normally do in the gym. This will also cause timing differences in tumbling, which must be adapted to.

Don’t Tumble Alone

As with all activities that might be even remotely dangerous or have the potential for accidents, gymnasts should never tumble outside alone. In case an accident should occur, having someone to go for help may be critical for safety.

If You Don’t Have To, Don’t

We can’t emphasize too much that the only really safe place to practice and perform gymnastics is in a well-equipped gym. If you can refrain from doing gymnastics outside, you will be safer. If you want to show your friends your gymnastics abilities, invite them to the gym to see you. If you can’t restrain yourself, follow the safety tips above.

 

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