How Gymnastics Can Teach Children Real World Skills

The Feeling of Power

While gymnastics might just seem like a sport about swinging on bars and doing flips, sports can teach children real world skills, turning them into successful adults. In the course of a gymnast’s sporting career, he or she will be provided with an educational buffet beyond biology and artistic athleticism.

Their learning includes physics, teamwork, patience, nutritional science, physical and psychological toughness, planning, social skills, and work-life balance, to name a few. In fact, in 2015 the Harvard School of Education released a research project titled, "Why Your Kid Should Do Gymnastics if You Want Them to Develop the Kind of Character That Helps Them Succeed at School".

Despite its long title, the outcome was simple. The study of more than 4,000 young adults in the UK found the most important characteristic to predict a child’s success is grit. Grit – or determination, courage and a ‘growth mindset’ – had more bearing on a child’s future success than their general intelligence or exam results.

1. Discipline and Perseverance

For many of us, probably one of the biggest barriers to success is our inability to push ourselves beyond our limits. Too often when we fail, we become demotivated. When something is too difficult, we give up or pass the task onto someone else we feel can do it better.

Gymnasts are taught discipline very early on. This doesn’t mean they’re expected to work through pain or suffer – but they understand that in order to achieve their best, they must work hard. They are aware that success requires setting goals, and they have the discipline to achieve them.

2. Less Fear of Failure

Failure is a scary word for many of us. We have been raised in a society that discourages mistakes and berates those who don’t succeed the first time around. Thankfully this is changing, and our children should know that failure doesn’t equal the end of the road.

Gymnasts are familiar with failure. It can take weeks or months of failing to achieve a new skill before they succeed. Gymnasts are used to falling down and getting back up on their feet again.

And even once they nail their routine, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be the one walking home with the gold medal. It can get frustrating at times, but they are hyper aware that failure is part of the process – and this is an exceptionally strong mindset to instill in young children.

3. Teamwork and Individual Accountability

Gymnastics is an individual sport, but teamwork is also necessary for the overall success of the school, club or country they are representing. During training, gymnasts work alongside a group of people who become their friends, mentors and benchmarks for success.

They learn how to balance the need to lean on their teammates for support and advice with their drive to perform individually and show what they are capable of. Their tolerance levels are higher because of this, and it helps them to strive for perfection.

This level of self-awareness instills accountability, self-reflection and the ability to absorb critical feedback – all useful skills in the ‘real’ world, beyond sports.

4. Resilience and Determination

Success takes time. While some people are naturally talented in certain areas, even the best still need to practice and hone their craft.

And gymnasts, well, they truly know that the road to gold is paved with practice – and delayed gratification. In today’s world of quick-fixes and instant results, gymnasts learn to work hard towards achievements that can take years to reach.

In sports and in business, there is always competition nipping at your heels just waiting to steal the limelight. Just because you’ve won before, doesn’t mean you’ll win again – and if you’re only as good as your last win, then you need to constantly work to be at the top of your game.

Based on the original article "How Gymnastics Can Teach Children Real World Skills" from thenewageparents.com