Parents often have many questions about gymnastics when they first enroll their children in a class. After all, just spending a few minutes watching little gymnasts flip, leap and balance on the equipment always sparks amazement. Among the most often asked questions is what is the difference between gymnastics and tumbling. While these two are interlinked, knowing the differences between them will help you know which type of class will best fit your child’s skill set and interests.
What Happens in Gymnastics?
In a gymnastics class, gymnasts learn how to perform acrobatic movements such as flips and handstands on different types of equipment. In women’s gymnastics, they learn how to perform maneuvers on the vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Men’s gymnastics uses different equipment such as the rings, parallel bars and high bars. There are also rhythmic gymnasts who use hoops and ribbons as they artistically perform tumbling moves intermingled with dancing. Since many of the tricks performed in gymnastics are done at a height, you will also see thicker floor mats and harness equipment used to keep kids safe as they learn new skills.
How Is Tumbling Different?
Tumbling is simply another type of gymnastics. However, it focuses less on using equipment and more on floor routines. While your child will learn tumbling moves such as somersaults and back walkovers in gymnastics, these types of maneuvers will take on greater importance in tumbling. Due to the emphasis on learning how to do handsprings and other types of acrobatics, tumbling is also sometimes incorporated into cheerleading and dance classes. When performing a tumbling routine, kids tend to use a thinner mat than you would see under the uneven bars. However, they utilize thick mats, foam pits and other cushioned training surfaces as they learn how to do tricks such as flips and aerials.
Which One Is Best for My Child?
Taking your child’s physical strength, previous experiences and future goals into consideration is the best way to choose between gymnastics and tumbling. For children who are interested in learning how to perform tricks on equipment, gymnastics offers the best of both worlds since it also includes tumbling during the floor routines. Dancers and cheerleaders, however, may choose to focus strictly on tumbling so that they can reach advanced levels at a faster rate. Some children may lack the physical strength to perform tumbling on its own and prefer gymnastics since the equipment helps them to use momentum to complete their moves.
Do They Offer Similar Benefits?
Whether you choose gymnastics or tumbling, you can expect your child to learn similar skills. Strength building, mental conditioning and flexibility training are all critical components of both types of classes. Due to the complexity of the maneuvers, children in gymnastics and tumbling also learn perseverance, as they must practice a skill many times before it reaches perfection. While many gymnastics competitions include individual routines, children in these classes also learn teamwork and how to trust their peers and instructors as they spot each other on complicated moves.
Enrolling your child in a beginner’s gymnastics class is the perfect way to let them test out their skills. For many children, the prospect of learning to leap and fly between bars or balance on rings is all it takes to motivate them to engage in physical activity. By understanding the difference between tumbling and gymnastics, you can steer your child to the course that best fits their athletic goals and dreams.
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