I love the crazy gymnastics life! Competitions are full of excitement, nerves, and proud mama moments. But gymnastics competitions are long! Sessions can be 4 hours long, which can get really uncomfortable if you aren’t well prepared. Here are things I recommend including in your gymnastics competition survival kit for parents.
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Seating for gymnastics competitions varies from metal or wooden bleacher, up to slightly more comfortable folding plastic chairs. Either way, four hours of sitting on a hard seat is uncomfortable. Bleacher seats or a cushion can make things much more comfortable. While I am often up and down to take video or pictures, improved seating still helps.
Temperature is often another source of discomfort. Some of the locations for competitions aren’t equipped to regulate a comfortable temperature for that many people. I have learned to dress in layers. I love these tank tops for layering. They work well for everyday wear and workouts too. When it is hot outside, particularly competitions hosted at a school tend to be overly hot. Vice versa when it is cold outside, and the extra layer provides extra warmth.
Don’t forget to bring cash
Biggs first competition season had a steep learning curve. The admission fees for spectators caught me a bit off guard after paying entry fees to the gym for my athlete. In our area prices have been between $5-$12, often cash only. That adds up quickly if you have a large family.
Many events will sell candy or fun items to deliver with a note to the gymnast as they are waiting for the awards ceremony. It is fun for the gymnasts, and of course they don’t want to be left out. The host gyms use it as a fundraisers, so prices are definitely high.
Food and beverage, or more cash
Competition sessions tend to be around 4 hours. Sessions often run through normal meal times. Many host gym’s offer concessions of varying degrees. This is another fund raiser opportunity for the gym. However, for spectators that don’t want to spend extra money, or want healthy choices, it is wise to bring food. I tend to pack a lunch bag with various healthy snack choices. There are often get togethers at a restaurant for gymnasts and their families after competitions if it’s not too late.
Fully charged electronics for video and photos
I generally bring both iPad and phone fully charged to the competitions. Many competitions post scores online or in one of several apps immediately. Wifi is sometimes poor or unavailable, so checking scores, etc. can take more power.
We like to video every event so we can see progress. Family is all out of state, so we want to have the videos to share accomplishments as well. For the nervous parent, it can work well to trade off video responsibilities with the parent of another gymnast. That allows each of you to fully watch your own kiddo.
I have loved experimenting with this camera, mostly to share with teammates. I’d love to upgrade soon, but am happy with photos I have gotten of Biggs teammates. There is sometimes a sports photographer at competitions taking photos that parents can buy. Sadly I have been disappointed in the composure of photos captured. This has led me to learn to take my own, in hopes of sharing the results with other parents that can do the same.
Entertainment for siblings
Entertaining siblings for 4 hours in a confined area can be quite the feat. Many competitions I have given in to extended screen time. However, read my post here about why I choose to avoid that now for Little Bit, my ADHD kiddo. Now we pack up a variety of activities to occupy Little Bit. She loves ”cooking” with this DIY play dough with bonus essential oils to encourage calm. This coloring book with these gel pens have kept her attention longer than expected. I have let her use an old digital camera we had to practice taking pictures. At 6 years old, with a basic camera, shes actually gotten some decent shots. It’s been a great opportunity for some natural learning.
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The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.