GYMNASTICS ACTIVITY CARD
Parts of the Body Worked
Upper & Lower legs
Hips & Butt
Shoulder & Neck
Just what does it take to do gymnastics?
Unlike some other sports, gymnastics doesn’t require a lot of equipment, but there are certain things you’ll need for specific events, and some standard gear that all gymnasts should have.
Female gymnasts usually wear leotards (one or two piece outfits that fit snuggly to the body). Boys can wear running shorts or sweatpants with fitted tops, or with your shirt tucked in. Just make sure you don’t wear clothing that is too loose—it could get caught on the equipment when you are performing your tricks and cause you serious problems! For those of you with long locks, you’ll need to pull it back with a hair band or in a braid—this will prevent it from getting in your face during your routine which could cause you to lose concentration and sight.
Gymnasts also wear hand guards and use chalk to prevent their hands from slipping when working on the floor mats, rings, or bars. The hand guards help prevent blisters and make it easier to swing around on the bars.
Play it Safe
The most important gymnastics rule to remember is to know what you’re doing! Never attempt a trick you are not familiar with. Make sure you always have a trained spotter (someone who stands near you in case you need help while doing your tricks) just in case you lose your balance on the beam, or attempt a wobbly handstand.
Before you attempt any trick or stunt, always make sure the equipment is sturdy and has been set up properly (always ask a coach or another grown-up for help). Floors should be padded with mats that are secured under every piece of equipment. Also, make sure there is enough distance between each piece of equipment before you start swingin’! Collisions can cause you, or others around you, to get hurt if you don’t watch out. Use your head! Pay attention and be serious about your practice — horseplay and goofing around can get you into trouble! Always know what your teammates are doing and where they are.
And last but not least, never eat or chew gum while doing gymnastics — the moment you become unaware of what is in your mouth, it can easily become lodged in your throat and you could choke!
How to Play
Gymnastics is known as the sport of all sports. It's a great way to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination for other types of physical activities, and it's a great way to meet new people and have fun!
It doesn't matter if you're a guy or a girl—gymnastics has a few different categories to choose from so you can find your favorite. Artistic gymnasts use lots of skills to perform on many different kinds of apparatuses (pieces of equipment). Boys participate in six events (floor, vault, parallel bars, high bar, still rings, and pommel horse) and girls in four (floor, vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam). Gymnasts who participate in rhythmic gymnastics jump, tumble, flip, and dance to music while using rope, hoops, bars, or ribbons as part of their routines. In gymnastics, there's something for everyone!
But, before you get started, you need to know (and master) the basics!
The handstand is one of the basic skills of gymnastics. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to practice your handstands against a wall until you get your balance and build up your strength and confidence. And remember, it is always good to have a spotter—just in case you need some help along the way!
Follow these tips to a perfect handstand:
- Face the wall.
- Get in a squatted position so that your knees are bent and your body is close to the ground.
- Put your hands on the floor with the tips of your fingers facing the wall (your hands should not be any wider than shoulder width apart).
- Bend your head down to the floor—keeping it between your arms.
- Kick your legs up putting all your weight on your hands—keeping your upper body straight and tight.
- Once your feet hit the wall, straighten out your legs.
Now that you’ve mastered the handstand—wanna’ try something trickier?
Practice these steps to conquer the cartwheel:
- Stand in a ready position, your "favorite" leg in front, knees bent slightly. To find out your favorite leg, stand up and take one step. The leg you step forward with first is usually your favorite.
- Raise both of your arms.
- Reach forward with your right arm, putting your right hand on the floor/ground.
- Shift your weight to your right arm and kick your left leg up (If you're a lefty, reverse these directions).
- Your left hand should follow very quickly—as it touches the ground, shift your weight to your left arm. Your right leg should be off of the ground.
- Bring your left leg down, right hand up, right leg down, left hand up.
Did you know that you could lose weight by doing handstands? You can—but it’s only temporary. Many athletes who have to “weigh in” before competitions such as wrestlers, weight lifters, or rowers do handstands for about two minutes against a wall before they step on the scale. While they’re upside down, all of the blood rushes to their head. When they step on the scale, the blood is in free fall, causing it to be weightless and the athlete a few pounds lighter!
The first large-scale gymnastics competition was during the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
At the 1976 Olympics Nadia Comaneci made history by becoming the first gymnast to ever score a perfect 10. At those games she received seven perfect 10’s, three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze.
A standard balance beam is only four inches wide (that’s about the width of a loaf of bread), and almost four feet off of the ground.
- Page last reviewed: May 9, 2015
- Page last updated: May 9, 2015
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