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By Carrie Spender, Tumbl Trak Educational Coordinator and mom of two competitive gymnasts
Preparing for a gymnastics meet is a huge undertaking for coaches, athletes, parents, judges, and volunteers who all have their part, leading up to the big day, in making sure the event is a success. For us parents, once the bun is secured in place and the last good luck hug is over, we settle into our seats and get ready for the show.
Early in January, I sat in front of a row of new-to-gymnastics dad’s (aka “the Peanut Gallery”), who had really good and entertaining questions about the things I’ve taken for granted over the years. Besides wondering about the amount of bling on the leos, and how tight a bun is, here are some other questions they posed:
“Why do they keep looking down at the floor before they vault?” (They are looking at the tape measure)
“Do they get judged on how fast they do a vault? Does the judge have a stopwatch?” (A fast run is an important part of a successful vault, but they are not timed like in track and field.)
“Do they do everything 2 times, like on vault?” (No, only once. They warm up first and then compete for the judges)
The entire meet went on, with more and more questions about each event and the peculiars of the sport their daughter has fallen in love with. There were lots of questions about scoring, mixed with the reflexive cringe when their daughter bobbled on beam. I explained the scoring basics where judges deduct points for bent knees, legs apart, toes pointed, and amplitude which armed them with viewing tools that somehow made them instant experts. “Oooh, that bent leg was a sure deduction!” How quickly my proteges caught on!
Before we knew it, the meet was over and we stood with an exaggerated stretch, ready to greet the girls with big smiles and cheers. But before we disembarked the bleachers, I shared one last tip - that the most valuable things their daughters needed to hear from them are, “I”m proud of your hard work. And I love watching you out there!”