Repetition: The Importance of Practicing Skills... Over and Over and Over Again

Does it sometimes seem like watching your child’s gymnastics class is a bit like watching the movie Groundhog Day? Your kids only work on the same skills. They never seem to learn new, exciting, and challenging skills.

Has the thought ever crossed your mind... perhaps the teacher doesn't know how to teach! The kids have been working on cartwheels for months!

This can be incredibly frustrating to watch (and pay for). As difficult as this may be, if your child is happy, it is worth sticking it out! There are so many reasons why repetition of skills is important.

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Gymnastics is based on repetition and progression. While it may be fun for a gymnast to learn and work on new skills, if they don’t have the basics down, they will not be able to perform the advanced skills correctly or safely.

Our beginning classes focus on the basic gymnastics skills:

  1. stretching
  2. somersaults
  3. handstands
  4. cartwheels
  5. (and a bit more)

These skills are the foundation for every other gymnastics skill, whether it be on vault, bars, beam or floor, so it's crucial for every gymnast to master them with proper technique and form.

A good instructor will show different and creative ways to practice the same skills to keep students engaged. Once students master the skills, the teacher will start progressing them.

The cartwheel progression might look like this over time:

  1. Donkey kick
  2. Cartwheel hop over a mat
  3. Cartwheel down a wedge mat
  4. Cartwheel on a line
  5. One handed cartwheel
  6. Dive cartwheel
  7. Aerial

There is no set timeline on how long it may take a child to be ready to move on to more difficult skills or even a more advanced class. Every child is different and so many factors play a role in skill development.

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The best way to help your child progress is to encourage them!

  1. Tell your children they are doing great and that you noticed that they improved a skill.
  2. Make sure they attend class every week.
  3. Have them stretch at home.
  4. Take them to Open Gym (which most gyms have on their schedules) or even private lessons.
  5. Encourage them to practice simple and safe skills at home or in the yard. For example, kids can use the sidewalk curb to practice walking on the beam. They can practice cartwheels in the park or simply jump over puddles.
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If you do not feel comfortable supervising the basic skills, ask their instructor for pointers and advice about what they can do at home.

The more a gymnast practices, the stronger they will become and the faster they will advance. This process keeps gym exciting, challenging, and fun!

Brett Wharton