There are some girls that just seem to have naturally good form in gymnastics. However, my girls have had to work extra hard at all the little details. Check out my post here about gymnastics scoring that explains some of those details. This is why dance has been so helpful for gymnastics.
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Both of my girls are long and lean. This can create beautiful lines when there is excellent form. However, when there are challenges with flexibility, slightly bent knees are very apparent. Scoring for so many skills is affected by flexibility. Especially during growth spurts, the extra focus on safely stretching often is helpful. Check out this yoga swing, which hanging from this chin up bar has been a great tool for both strength and flexibility.
Point your toes
When I really stop and think about it, it boggles my mind the amount of body control and precision that is expected of these young girls in gymnastics. These girls need to be aware of all the right muscles to squeeze, from fingertips to toes. A stretch jump, or straight jump is so much more than just leaving the floor. Judges want to see amplitude, correct arm position, chest up, and definitely point those toes when the gymnast leaves the ground. Same with leaps and split jumps. Dance, especially ballet, has many of the same guidelines. Hearing point your toes in a different context can help solidify it. Muscle memory helps too.
To really shine at the floor portion of gymnastics, gymnasts need more than just powerful tumbling. Regardless of the level, the gymnasts that execute choreography precisely and energetically with the music give the extra boost to their performance. Seeing a gymnast ”feel” the music can be a beautiful thing. The extra practice with dance can enhance that ability. For those that it doesn’t come naturally to, extra exposure to dance can help.
Ballet in particular focuses on graceful movements from head to toe. There is detailed attention to arms and fingers to portray grace and beauty. Extra attention to this can help this come more naturally, when focus is directed to things like staying on the beam during difficult turns, jumps and leaps. The judges want to see pretty fingers too.
Leaps, jumps, and turns, done well, look almost effortless. However, as my gymnasts have struggled with leaps and jumps, I have learned how much strength is required. Similar conditioning is practiced in dance. Strong ankles, feet and legs are needed for both activities. As long as there is caution to prevent overuse, the extra strength gained can help. Check out my post here for survival tips from our story of a gymnastics foot injury that likely started from slight overuse between dance and gymnastics.
One of our favorite strength tools are these resistance bands. They can be used in so many ways to strengthen so many muscle groups. These therabands with the loops are also great, especially for strength and form to develop excellent kicks and leaps. Biggs will hook a loop between her toes to work kicks in all directions. She also uses it to focus on form for her back walkover.
Some of the techniques for dance translate well to gymnastics. Spotting during turns is one of these. To stay in control, gymnasts and dancers alike need to understand importance of directing your eyes. Where you look affects where your body will go. It also helps the brain maintain vestibular control.
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