An online resource for parents provided by USA Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a great sport for a number of reasons. Check out some articles that can give you plenty of reasons why. Scroll down for different categories.

Gymnastics & Parenting
The Mental Gymnastics of Winners

“It seemed only logical to me that winners are people with tall trophies, blue ribbons, or gold medals. I looked around my home and I didn’t have any tall trophies, blue ribbons, or gold medals. Therefore if winners have these things and I have none, I must be a L____! Oh, I couldn’t even say the word, but it only made sense based on my own logic. “

Winning Connections Newsletter – April 2015

– Message from David: The Impact of Sacrifice
– The Sports Gene – by David Epstein
– Sport Parent Approach – Assessment and Course
– Meet a GCFL True Hero Track Partner: Utah Olympic Park (UOP)

The Five Temptations of Youth Sport-Parents

By David Benzel
The five most common temptations parents face as they navigate the deceptively dangerous waters of youth sports.

Winning Connections Newsletter – March 2015

– Your Villain Becomes Your Child’s Villain
– Rich on Paper, Poor on Life by Philip McKernan
– Sport Parent Quiz
– Meet a GCFL True Hero Track Partner

Winning Connections Newsletter – Feb. 2015

– Restore Calm to the Family Storm
– Resource: “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers” by Gary Chapman
– Coaching Revolution
– Meet a GCFL True Hero Track Partner: Legacy Gymnastics Center

Are You a Mentor?

By David Benzel
Some words are often tossed about as if they are interchangeable, like teacher, trainer, instructor, tutor, etc. However there are two words that should never be treated as synonyms: “mentor” and “coach”.

Getting What You Want as a Parent or Coach

By David Benzel
Whether you’re a parent or a coach, you probably have some general idea of what you want for your family or your team. It might be “a happy family”, or “a winning team.” Unfortunately many people have not thought about these things in detail, but only in general terms.

Winning Connections Newsletter – Jan. 2015

Help Your Child THRIVE, Not Just Survive
From Chump to Champ – How Individuals Go From Good to Great
Meet a GCFL True Hero Track Partner: Nitro Swimming

Losing It and Other Emotional Hijackings

By David Benzel
It’s an obvious fact that nothing stirs the emotions quite like your child’s misbehavior. It can be the catalyst for losing control emotionally without realizing what really happened.

Winning Connections Newsletter – Dec. 2014

– The Research is Clear About What Matters Most
– Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time

Caveman Conversations – How to Avoid Fight or Flight When Talking to Your Child

By David Benzel
When conversations get ugly one or more family members have chosen to head toward fight or flight – battle or retreat – both verbally and sometimes physically. Neither one of these alternatives will give you the most important outcome you ultimately desire with your child…trust and closeness.

Winning Connections Newsletter – Nov. 2014

– Top 10 Books for Sport Parents and Coaches
– A Resource to Tap: Cool Runnings the movie
– Swim Clubs in Virginia Host Parent Workshops with David Benzel

Is It Too Late to Make it Right with My Child?

By David Benzel
Here’s the inevitable question I hear from parents when they realize they’ve been over-bearing
and critical: “Is it too late for me to do this right?” The answer is “No”. It’s never too late, but it
does require some humility to make a believer out of your child.

Winning Connections Newsletter – Oct. 2014

What Does Life Feel Like in Your Family?
LEGACY – 15 Lessons in Leadership – By James Kerr

Winning Connections Newsletter – Sept. 2014

– Are You Leading a Spirited Family?
– “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn” by John Maxwell
– 24 Situations Sport Parents Face and How to Handle Them

Does Your Support Have Strings Attached?

By David Benzel
Is it justifiable for us to expect a ROI (return on investment) from our support of our child’s athletic endeavors? Is it fair for us to treat a child’s sport performance in the same way we treat a stock on the New York Stock Exchange? Something about that doesn’t seem right, in spite of the fact that our investment can be significant.

Winning Connections Newsletter – Aug. 2014

Better Than Perfect – by Julie Learner
A Resource to Tap: “Before Happiness”
Help Your Child Learn Skills Faster

Winning Connections Newsletter – July 2014

Have You Taught Your Child to Learn?
A Movie to Watch: “The Blind Side”
From Chump to Champ – How Individuals Go From Good to Great
Special Olympics Florida Hosts Growing Champions for Life

Family Traditions Create Great Memories (PDF)

By David Benzel
One of the cornerstones of family culture is the traditions you embrace and honor throughout the year. These traditions build strong connections between family members and promote a sense of belonging to this special group of people. Children find security and safety in an environment that consistently provides positive and predictable experiences.

Winning Connections Newsletter – June 2014

Why Your Child Needs the Drug of CHOICE
Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom
The Sport-Family Advantage
Iowa Gym-Nest Hosts David Benzel’s Workshops on Confidence Building for Parents and Athletes

What My Wife Taught Me about the Dreaded Car Ride after Competitions

By David Benzel
In the early years of my son’s baseball career, the car ride home was always fun and cheerful — win or lose. As I look back now it’s obvious to me which one of us started taking the fun out of that car ride.

Winning Connections Newsletter – May 2014

Does Your Child Appreciate the Financial Cost of Sports?
Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments
Give Yourself an Educational Gift – Watch a FREE GCFL Webinar

Winning Connections Newsletter – April 2014

My Coach Doesn’t Like Me
How Children Succeed
The Coaching Revolution
National Sports Center and the Schwann Super Rink Hosts GCFL Workshop

The Sport-Parent Paradox – Less is More

By David Benzel
In what way must the parents of athletically gifted children behave differently than the parents of average performing children?

Winning Connections Newsletter – March 2014

Can You Give Your Child the Eye of a Tiger?
A Resource to Tap
GCFL Resources

Five Parenting Decisions that Reveal Your True Values (PDF)

By David Benzel
We all have a built-in “compass” that offers direction for decision-making. Just as a mechanical compass shows magnetic north, your internal compass reveals your True North Values. These values should be considered whenever you lead family choices. There are five crucial parenting choices observed by your children everyday. Are your choices in alignment with your True North Values?

Winning Connections Newsletter – February 2014

Passion is Caught More Than Taught
The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
New GCFL Promotion
A Creative Spin to Growing Champions and Figure Skating Success

Ankle Injury – 0-72 Hours (PDF)

By Gymnast Care
The steps for dealing with an ankle injury in the first 72 hours. For an accompanying video, click here.

Winning Connections Newsletter – January 2014

Humility or Arrogance: Where is Your Child Headed?
12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School
New GCFL Promotion
David Benzel to Speak at US Figure Skating National Championships

Avoiding Defensive Conversations (PDF)

By David Benzel
Here are some tips about avoiding defense conversations with your athlete.

Why Gymnastics is Great For Kids (PDF)

Gymnastics provides a fun and safe activity that gets kids physically active. Not only does the sport provide a good, solid fitness foundation, gymnastics also provides many other benefits, from socialization skills to life skills to basics that can enhance performance in other

Gymnastics is the Answer! (PDF)

Gymnastics not only increases strength, grace and flexibility, but also encourages hard work, discipline and determination.

The Role of Gymnastics Parents

By Michael A. Taylor
Signing a child up for a Gymnastics class is a major first step toward a healthy lifestyle. What happens then? Research strongly suggests that parents play the largest role in influencing the development and healthy socialization of their children involved in sports.

Gym Dandy and the Flying Kazuki

By Mike Peal
I’m a gym dad. Been one for about seven years and I’m finally beginning to catch on to the “gym lingo.” I now hear real words instead of grunts and groans followed by hand signals and head shaking from the coach.

What’s So Great About Gymnastics?

By Nancy Marshall
A personal story about the effects of gymnastics.

Preschool / Recreational
My Kid Has Talent? So What, She’s Only 5! (PDF)

By Julie Cross, Recreational Gymnastics Program Director for the Champaign County YMCA

Wee Workouts

By Eleska Aubespin – Florida Today
You’re never too young to exercise. Yet, with a growing industry of gadgets and toys that can occupy baby’s time, parents might be missing that point.

Warming Up to Kids’ Fitness

By Samantha Critchell – Associated Press Writer
The importance of warming up before exercise. Even for children.

Get Moving, Baby!

By Hilary Shenfeld – Daily Herald Staff Writer
According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, babies, toddlers and preschoolers need to spend up to two hours every day in active pursuits.

Starting Gymnastics as a Preschooler

By Jeannie McCarthy
In general, a child will benefit by their involvement in gymnastics regardless of the age that they begin! The magic is that they experience challenges and new skills as they mature. A 3 year old student’s pride in being able to walk on a two foot high beam is as much a milestone as the 5 year old who learns a one-armed cartwheel.

Even Babies Need Exercise

By John Casey – WebMD Feature
Regular exercise causes the kind of development that may be critical for health in later life. Infancy and the toddler years are the time that the brain is developing pathways and connections to the muscles.

Competitive Gymnastics
The Importance of Small Wins

By David Benzel
What appear to be major athletic breakthroughs are normally the sum total of many small daily wins accumulated over time.

Conquering the Fear of Failure (PDF)

By David Benzel
I was recently asked by a parent, “How can I help my child get past the fear of failure.” An athlete’s fear comes from disappointing experiences and exists on three different levels. So the question must be answered on several levels and I’ll use a swimming pool metaphor to expose the depth of this common challenge.

Taming the Beast within Your Child’s Coach (PDF)

By David Benzel

It’s NOT All About the Numbers…

By Dr. Alison Arnold
2013–2014 is an exciting time for USA Gymnastics! Every eight years USA Gymnastics Women’s Junior Olympic Program Committee creates new routines for the Junior Olympic levels. That means, new skills, dance, and the best part of all…new music! With all the changes this year, USA Gymnastics is also implementing a new numbering system for the levels.

Nutrition / Sports Psychology / Fitnesss
Gymnastics Brains Under Construction

Any time a child participates in activities that require moving large muscles and the compression of joints, this is referred to as heavy work. Heavy work is a term
used in the therapy world to describe the types of activities that help focus the brain.

Handling Adversity: Prisoner, Settler, or Pioneer?

By David Benzel
It appears that people come in three flavors when it comes to facing adversity, and these responses explain the varying degrees of success we witness in ourselves and our children. There are Prisoners, Settlers, and Pioneers.

What is Sever’s Disease (Heel Pain) in Gymnasts? (PDF)

By Joshua Eldridge
Heel pain in gymnasts (and other young athletes) is a real, sometimes mysterious (for parents and providers), and serious problem.

How to Recover Swagger (PDF)

By David Benzel
Confidence is a fragile commodity for young athletes, and it seems to be especially fragile for young female athletes. Recovering personal swagger requires that an athlete first identify the basis for the swagger that’s now lost.

Mentally Strong Tips for Pre-Meet and Practice

Mental toughness is especially important in sports like gymnastics – where there is time in between routines and rotations for the competitors to think about their actions. Here are some tips to build and maintain a mental edge from Dr. Chris Carr, sport and performance psychologist at St. Vincent Sports Performance.

Want to Become a Better Gymnast? Train Your Core (PDF)

By Joshua P. Eldridge –

Sedentary Behaviors in Youth Predict Inactivity Levels and Risk of Obesity in Later Life

Active kids are more likely to remain lean and healthy during their youth and inactive adolescents are more likely to become adults who do not exercise, according to new results on tracking of physical activity behaviors in children to help predict the physical activity and fitness levels of adults.

Healthy Nutrition (PDF)

Climbing the Pyramid or Just Hanging on the Plate? What’s the Difference?

Childhood Obesity: A Weighty Issue

Reproduced with permission from Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing newsletter
With record numbers of us tipping the scales in the overweight range, problems previously seen in middle-age or beyond are now occurring in young people: There’s been nearly a tenfold increase in type 2 diabetes among children and teens since the 1980s, once so rare in youngsters the condition was called adult-onset diabetes.

Study: Gymnastics Strengthens Girls’ Bones

Supporting the notion that weight-bearing exercise throughout life can cut the risk of brittle bones later on, a small study shows that young female gymnasts build bone mass at a higher-than-average rate.

College Recruiting
Networking Tools That Advance the College Search for Prospective College Athletes

By Tom Kovic The college search for athletes is a marathon, not a sprint and the recruiting process can, at times, be exhilarating and uplifting, especially when your personal plan is working on all cylinders. That said, even the best executed plans can run into roadblocks or even stall completely. A successful recruiting effort will […]

Video Tips on Strategically Showcasing College Prospective Student-Athlete

By Tom Kovic
Developing an effective and streamlined recruiting video that makes the job of skill evaluation by a college coach an easy one, is the first step in showcasing a prospect effectively.

Rising above temporary setbacks in the college search for athletes

By Tom Kovic
The college recruiting process can be a daunting effort if it is not well planned and executed with organization and enthusiasm from start to finish. In addition, one’s mental approach to the college search, especially when checkered with roadblocks, can make the difference between a fair and a great experience.

The Changing Climate of College Recruiting

By Tom Kovic
College athletics has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Coaches are under tremendous pressure to achieve two important goals: 1) Win and 2) Drive program revenue upward.

Capitalizing on the Character Component in the College Search for Athletes

By Tom Kovic
The college search for athletes is an “individual” quest. A winning strategy for one prospect could be a losing strategy for another. I think we can all agree that when it comes to recruiting, the “blue chip” kids are going to be found…It’s just a matter of when.

Maximizing Prospect Communication with College Coaches

By Tom Kovac
Effective communication between prospects and college coaches can be a critical component in the final choice in the college search for high school athletes. That being the case, prospects should try to cultivate this skill early on in an effort to demonstrate their willingness to be an equal partner in the coach-prospect relationship.

The Team Approach: Managing College Athletics Recruiting

By Tom Kovic
The team approach during the college athletics recruiting process is suggested to maximize efficiency and minimize individual pressure and stress as families navigate a potentially daunting effort. Forming a trustworthy group of individuals who play specific roles during the recruiting cycle will increase your chances of reaching pre-determined goals.

5 Factors in Building the Initial College Recruiting List

This article offers 5 factors to help integrate your initial college list and provide you with an organized approach as you begin navigating the college recruiting process.

Summer Tips for the Prospective Student-Athlete (PDF)

By Tom Kovic
Many believe the summer is a time where college coaches switch to lower gears. The regular season is complete and the student-athletes have headed home for a well-deserved break. Nothing can be further from the truth! Opportunity is eminently knocking and if there is a prime season for recruiting, it is during the summer.

High School Gymnast Timeline for Pursuing a College Scholarship

Compiled by Bobbie Cesarek, Ed.D. – President, National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women

U.S. all-around champion Atler writes children’s book

Vanessa Atler of Bakersfield, Calif., who tied for the U.S. all-around title in 1997 and won two 1998 Goodwill Games gold medals, has written her first children’s book, “Let the River Flow.”

Challenges with your local gymnastics school…

Thousands of private gymnastics schools are operated throughout the United States, and the vast majority host happy parents and well-taught athletes. Unfortunately, some parents and/or their children are not satisfied with gymnastics school where they are enrolled.

The Great Myth of Fame

By David Benzel
Is it your aspiration that your child be famous? Do you have an athlete whose goal is fame – the kind we see on TV in professional sports? Perhaps it’s not too soon to teach a healthy perspective on the topic to avoid the overwhelming odds of misery down the road.

Girl Power! The Surprising Link Between Sports and Success

By Linda Marsa – Family Circle Magazine
Extensive research shows that girls who are involved in athletics boost their self-esteem; improve their physical fitness; do better academically; are less likely to drop out of school, do drugs, smoke or get pregnant; and are more able to weather the physical and emotional storms of adolescence.