10 Benefits of rhythmic gymnastics for children and adolescents
Updated: May 29, 2020
Rhythmic Gymnastics is very beneficial in many aspects for anyone, especially young athletes as the sport will shape them not only physically but mentally. Some stereotypes worry parents and gymnasts about the type of training, and they feel confused about what Rhythmic Gymnastics is about. Some people falsely believe that Rhythmic Gymnastics is an easy girly sport, and some others think that rhythmic gymnastics training is too strict and restrictive.
The truth is that in rhythmic gymnastics, as well as in all other sports, you will find good and bad coaches and clubs with good and bad environments. Unprofessional attitudes in a gym affect gymnasts negatively. Overall, however, rhythmic gymnastics is one of the best sports to practice in your childhood and adolescence because of its all-around nature.
If you are not convinced yet, here are ten reasons why rhythmic gymnastics is highly beneficial for children and teenagers.
1. WORK ETHICS, DISCIPLINE AND COMMITMENT.
A child that did Gymnastics is an adult that will show up to a job interview well dressed, being polite and with a very good posture. This discipline emphasizes the importance of the little thing and a good presentation. Let's remember that in the competitions -it doesn't matter if it's a club one, regional or elite one- a gymnast has ninety seconds to show all the work they've put in a whole season. The message that sometimes first impressions matter stick with them, either consciously or unconsciously.
Gymnasts will learn from experience that progress does not come overnight and that it takes work to achieve your goals. They will have to trust and respect their coaches decision and they will be an authority figure in their lives. They will transfer this knowledge to their everyday lives, careers and personal goals.
2. TEAM PLAYER/ SOLO PLAYER
Rhythmic gymnastics has a complex and wholesome relationship with interpersonal connexions. Children and even adolescents absorb their surrounding to understand the word they live in, and training every week at a place where oftentimes you are part as a team, -if the gymnast is in a group routine for example, but also as part of a club as a whole- but also compete against those same people, - to stand out in your group and get and individual routine for instance, in competitions where everybody competes against everybody, to move up levels and so on- gymnasts will learn the right balance between needing a team to support them and being independent to look out for themselves.
There are team sports, like soccer or basketball, that teach valuable lessons about how to work with others, and different sports that may be more individual encourage self-growth by its nature. But Gymnastics will teach children the sweet spot between these two essential qualities.
Gymnastics re-enforces the importance of manners and how to conduct herself. It teaches her that in life there are certain rules that we must abide by.
Respect is learnt by accepting the score a judge gives them at a competition, by acknowledging they know your strengths and weaknesses. At training listening to the coach's feedback and working with fellow gymnasts, paying attention to their needs and rights as well as themselves' -setting up the equipment together, making sure nobody is doing more than others, sharing space so everyone has room to practice, etc..-
4. PROPRIOCEPTION INFLUENCE
This next point gets a little scientific, perhaps hard to follow. However, it shows the importance of the sport for an overall optimal range of physical skills.
Proprioception (or kinesthesia) is the sense through which we perceive the position and movement of our body, including our sense of equilibrium and balance, senses that depend on the notion of force. Proprioception is extremely important in motor learning, smooth motor learning, and preventing injuries. Research shows that Rhythmic Gymnastics improves and develops proprioception extremely well. This sense, essential for movement can be transferred to any sport once developed. This shows that along with other skills rhythmic gymnastics will help with an advanced body literacy that can be applied to any other activity.
Rhythmic Gymnastics is not the only sport that has a positive effect in proprioception but the results of a study by the Public Physical Education Department in Xuchang, China in collaborations with the Xuchang University, shows how the vicious cycle between proprioception development and rhythmic gymnastics training progression show it is incredibly effective. Click here to read the study.
5. BODY AWARENESS
This point is somewhat interlaced with the previous one, but it's a lot more general. Rhythmic gymnastics teaches a wide variety of qualities. It requires strength, endurance, speed, good eye-body coordination, gracefulness, rhythm, flexibility, balance, good reflexes... The list goes on.
Furthermore, demanding physical activity gymnasts do regularly helps them learn to read green flags and red flags physically. A gym is a place where you will hear very young children say things that adults may not even notice about their bodies: "Today I am so stiff" "The back of my calf feels weird" "I think I'm twisting too much doing X skill..." are not uncommon comments.
6. PREVENTS AND CORRECTS CHILDREN KYPHOTIC ATTITUDE
A study carried out by University of Suceava's Physical Education and Sport Section demonstrates Rhythmic Gymnastics and its diverse nature, particularly the corrective elements of body technique and handling of portable objects, can be a beneficial way to prevent kyphosis in children of school age.
Kyphosis is an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back. Some people experience back pain and stiffness in addition to an abnormally curved spine. It can be caused by a number of factors such as sitting in a desk for 4-5 hours, time spent at the computer, or other extracurricular activities involving the incorrect position of the spine.
Rhythmic Gymnastics prevents and corrects both low overall Kyphotic attitude and more advanced types of kyphosis. Click here to read more about the study.
7. THE REHABILITATION OF AUTISM AND DOWN SYNDROME
Rhythmic Gymnastics, a gymnastics discipline where music, dancing and expressions are a staple have proven to more be effective and beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Down syndrome (DS)children, as the results of The Effects of Gymnastics Training Combined With Music in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down Syndrome study by the faculty of Sport Sciences of Inonu University in collaboration with the Faculty of Education of Amasya University in Turkey,
demonstrated that gymnastic activities combined with music on balance, coordination and flexibility were more effective. This is the first study to compare the effects on balance, locomotive level and coordination of gymnastic activities combined with music used in the rehabilitation of autism and down syndrome. Read more about the research by clicking here.
As well as that the apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastic, their handling and difficulties performed with them help children with ASD and BD to control their strength and to handle objects skillfully very effectively.
8.REDUCES STRESS AND PRESSURE
Exercising is a natural way to loosen up and let go of stress. It is proven exercising daily works better than antidepressants on some individual with anxious and depressive tendencies.
A sport where you are aiming for perfection and quick thinking is required, problem-solving skills are developed, and these will teach a gymnast that, after all, there is always a way out and keep going. This simple mindset can help teenagers especially, an age where one starts to get caught up in small things and worrying too much.
They can also make new friends who can be there for them as a support system. Having goals and a motivating not to make the wrong decisions and making the wrong friends may keep teenagers out of trouble. The gym is a safe space to socialise in an environment that won't lead them to unpleasant aftermaths that may affect their mental health.
The creative aspect of the discipline is also somewhat therapeutic. As mentioned, expression and emotions are a big part of it and it can help gymnasts express a feeling that could otherwise get suppressed. Letting young gymnasts pick their own music, their own dance steps and routine styles is a good way to vent out.
Watching hard work pay off and achieving goals develops self-confidence. Achieving a sport or fitness goal encourages young people to achieve other goals they set. This is a rewarding and exciting learning process.
In psychology, grit is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state (a powerful motivation to achieve an objective). Anyone that has ever done gymnastics will tell you success does not come easy. Flexibility training is a very good example of this. In order to get more flexible, one needs to work on it every single day, hold your oversplits for about two minutes to see any real progress. It is not particularly pleasant, and the results are slow. It is safe to say that the feeling of getting a beautiful penche, or scorpion is a very rewarding thing, partly because of all the effort it takes.
Learning perseverance and patience from a young age it's important to make the right decisions later on in life. This can be applied to finance managing, career progress, etc...
Some of the points mentioned are inspired by the dancer Georgia Canning in her Ted Talk "Why Ballet is brilliant". Of course, the points she makes are adapted and tailored to Rhythmic Gymnastics and things have been added, researched, and deleted when needed.
We want to know what you think about this article. Whether you are a parent, fan, coach, or gymnast, we want you to share your experience for other's reference. Is there something we missed out? Let us know in the comments!