Hang in there girl, it will be hard…but you got this!
Gymnastics is hard. I know. But, I also know that is why you love it. The challenges gymnastics faces you with everyday in the gym are the reasons you show up to practice everyday. You “want” to get better. You “want” to make it to the next level. You “want” to be just like the “big girls” in the gym. But being successful in the sport of gymnastics takes a lot more than “wanting”.
Being successful in gymnastics takes a life consuming dedication to the sport. You may be having a hard day, week, or month in the gym right now but don’t give up on yourself or the sport that loves you just quite yet. You are a gymnast, that means you are currently training in one of the hardest sports in the world. You may not realize it right now, but this sport will teach you so many life lessons. You are a tenacious girl, with a fiery spirit who can out do all the boys in a pull-up contest on the playground any day. So here is my letter to you. Gymnast to gymnast, I know you can get through this…all you need is a little pep-talk.
Gymnastics is a sport in which we are, first and foremost, so blessed to be able to participate in. So many people don’t even have the option to participate in sports, yet as able-bodied gymnasts, we have two hands that can swing us around the bars and two feet that can leap across a 4-inch-wide-balance-beam. These are both such basic, yet precious gifts that you should never take for granted.
Gymnastics takes more than just strength, flexibility, and balance. Mastering this sport is a matter of executing it all with grace and poise, and that is the most difficult part.
This is also one of the main reasons why we have all spent more days in the gym in our life than we can count! Practice makes perfect (…well almost), but you should always continue to strive for it.
Together as gymnasts, we also share many things in common. From the bad to the good…we know what a rip on your hands from bars feels like, or splitting the beam (like right down the middle), and even just the plain frustrations that come along with everyday practices. But there is also so much reward from the hard work we all put in…from finally getting that new skill moved up to high beam, or doing a release move on bars for the first time, to be being able to be a part of a State Championship winning team.
Every sport has their good and bad but what makes being a gymnast so unique is our ability to keep pushing through even when times get though. We have our coaches, parents, and teammates to thank for pushing us through these hard days, which make the good days even more rewarding.
From my personal experience (which is still continuing to grow and learn) YES, gym is hard and YES you feel like giving up at times and YES you want to kill your coach after a night of grueling practice and conditioning….But NO, giving up is never an option. I was always reminded especially in my early days of training is that if you leave the gym the same as you came in, you didn’t achieve much. And not achieving much won’t get you to the next level…as a gymnast…and even just in life.
You can look at gymnastics as just a sport, but in reality you are taking away so much more than just learning how to flip. You are molding your character. Teamwork, work ethic, and leadership skills are the three traits that I see most take form while training as competitive gymnast. Teamwork is something we learn at a young age in gymnastics and is something we find that grows stronger year by year. I don’t know about you, but my best friends were created in the gym. Teammates are there to support one another not to be in constant competition with them.
You should all be each other’s biggest fans, pushing each other to better one another as gymnasts and as teammates and as people. Practicing 6 days a week demands a sense of work ethic in itself, but you as an individual have to push yourself. As we all know very well, gymnastics is the biggest mental game of all. You, and only YOU, have the ability to stay on the beam, or make yourself go for that new skill. From this, I have learned that work ethic isn’t only physical, but mental as well. You have to make time to learn and to train your brain, teach yourself that there is no option but to practice your hardest day in and day out. Additionally, that calls for a level of personal pride and integrity.
It means working hard for YOU, not to please your coach, not to please your mom, but because you know it is the right thing to do. It means not cheating in conditioning when no one is counting but you. It means listening to your coach when you are in one of those teenage, bad moods. It means paying attention to the little details…it means giving 100 percent each day…it means going to bed at night knowing you gave it your all.
So, try something new the next time you are having a hard day..think less about failing, rather think why are you failing and what can you do differently to help train your brain to not make the same mistake over and over again. Something else I have found comfort in while dealing with hard days…is that you have to fall to learn to stay on . As I say this a lot to myself on beam, it really relates to the other events as well. At the end of the day just keep working hard, and you will find yourself a better gymnast.
Finding your role as a leader doesn’t necessarily come with time and experience. At any age you can be a leader. A leader is someone who sets an example, follows the rules, and is a team player. Becoming a leader doesn’t mean walking around with a big ego rather it means remaining humble and realizing that you are a role model and younger gymnasts look up to you. You have a responsibility to them as well as to your peers who hold a level of respect for you.…teach them by your actions, for actions speak louder than words.
Missing Friday night football games for practice, or a winter formal because you have a meet isn’t the end of the world. As your non-gymnast friends may value these things that you feel you are “missing out on,” they have no idea what you are gaining from putting so much time in at the gym…and trust me some will just never understand. But take it from me, the opportunities gymnastics gives you in life are way more valuable than the little school functions you may miss out on.
So… just hang in there! As I can’t really tell you what to expect, I can tell you that I have been in your shoes. I know things in this sport get tough, but just keep on pushing forward. You will love yourself for it in the end. Whether your goal is to go to the Olympics, or just to move up to the next level, any goal is attainable with a lot of hard work and a lot of LOVE- for the sport and for the people that help you along the way… coaches, parents, and of course teammates. Enjoy the journey and the memories that come from each and every day you enter the gym. Keep working hard 🙂
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