There are better things than first place

We are still in the relatively early years of gymnastics. However, I’ve learned a lot through many hours in the gym. I’ve seen the girls that show up and are naturally gifted. I’ve seen the girls that struggle every season to get all their skills in time. And then there’s the average gymnast like my daughter. She gets some medals, and can acquire her skills with some time to spare. However, my gymnast doesn’t always win, and I’m glad. She doesn’t even always walk away with a single medal. But here’s why I think there are better things than first place, especially in the early years.

There are more important things to be gained from sports than medals.  Gymnastics, like other sports, has much value to offer besides success in placement.

She knows she has to put in the work to improve

In the early compulsory levels of USAG development program, gymnasts are being compared on very specific criteria. Everyone is performing the exact same skills and choreography. By not getting medals easily, Biggs knows she has areas to improve. She’s learned her areas of weaknesses, and accepted that she has to work harder on those areas. She doesn’t have delusions that she is always going to be the best just by showing up and doing the skills. She’s had to learn to take LOTS of corrections. I’ve seen teammates struggle as things progressed when they started on top with their natural talent.

She has learned to celebrate the small victories

Paper clips for visual reminders of success

We focus on small goals for each competition, rather than score or placement. We celebrate the small wins in practice, rather than compare to skills her teammates. If she’s struggling with a skill, we celebrate any progression towards the skill. We even created this jar as a visual reminder of successes and progress. Check out my post here on mindfulness for the gymnast when they encounter struggles.

My gymnast has compassion

When Biggs has a teammate that’s struggling with fear, she is their biggest cheerleader. Even when it’s been a teammate that has generally placed higher in competition, she has encouraged them. Having been in the place of fear, or coming back from minor injuries, she has learned the value of encouragement from teammates. She also understands that struggles can hit any of them at any time.

My gymnast started developing mental toughness early

Over the years, we have encountered doubts that impacted a skill previously mastered. Usually a private lesson to break things down to identify what was failing and rebuild confidence was all Biggs needed. However, when she encountered a bigger struggle, with many potential factors, we took the approach of training her mind. We have loved the lessons she has learned through . Learning how to face those struggles that will come, will only benefit her in the long run.

Not feeling her best has made her even more determined

So in her 4 years competing, my gymnast has had ample opportunities to compete at less than her best. There have been the minor cold (pre Covid), and the 24 hour stomach bug (also pre Covid). Probably her hardest moment of determination was choosing to scratch an event at state which she had never done in her 4 years of competing. Read about our lessons learned with her foot injury here. In this particular instance, she scratched vault. Competing vault, immediately after competing floor on her foot with a sprain and tendinitis would have been too much to be able to finish the other events. It wasn’t her best competition, but she pulled it together and gave it her all.

Opportunity to be a good teammate to all, and differentiate between friends and teammates

Through struggles and successes in competition and practice, there is plenty of opportunity to learn to be a good teammate. The reality is it also presents opportunities to differentiate between those who make good friends, and those that you should treat kindly from a distance. All the struggles have presented an opportunity for conversations regarding those valuable life skills.

Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest, or subscribe below for more tips and tricks for thriving within an ADHD household, our gymnastics adventure, and my love of essential oils.

As an Amazon affiliate I make a small commission for purchases through my links at no additional cost to you.  I only recommend products I use and love, and appreciate the support to search out additional resources for my readers.  

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.

You agree to receive email communication from us by submitting this form and understand that your contact information will be stored with us.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *