An online resource for parents provided by USA Gymnastics
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  • Articles

    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
    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    High School Gymnast Timeline for Pursuing a College Scholarship

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

    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.

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