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10 Steps to Safe Gymnastics by John Howard
Build Your Strength First
It is much safer and much easier to build sufficient strength first to perform the skills you are trying to learn. If you are not strong enough, you will never be able to do many gymnastics skills no matter how many times you try. Building strength also makes you safer in potentially dangerous fall situations.
You need to be aware of what is going on around you in the gym if there are other gymnasts, especially bigger ones, around. You need to be aware and pay attention to everything and everyone around you who might crash into you or land on you. You also need to pay careful attention to your coach so you understand exactly what they expect of you to learn efficiently and keep yourself safe.
Check Equipment First
Make sure all equipment is set and sturdy before you begin to perform any skills on it. Handles and cables need to be tight enough so the equipment is safe for you to be on. Don't assume the equipment is correctly set and tight. Check it and make sure first.
Know Fall Zones
Don't sit or stand in potential landing or fall zones. Too often gymnasts waiting for their turn do not stay enough out of the way of other gymnasts who need adequate room to dismount or a place to fall.
Don't Do Gymnastics By Yourself
Just like swimming and other physical activities where there is even the remotest chance of injury, gymnasts should only work out when there is at least one other person around. This means on those home trampolines, too.
Don't Spot Other Gymnasts
Spotting is an art and requires the knowledge, strength and experience of a gymnastics professional. Any error in judgement on your or their part could lead to you being involved and responsible for their potentially serious injury.
Only Let Professional Coaches Spot You
By the same token, you should only let qualified gymnastics professionals spot you on skills you cannot do and need help with. You risk potentially serious injury by being spotted or coached by someone who is not qualified, knowledgeable, experienced or strong enough.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for a Spot
Ask for a spot if you are doing tricks if you need or want it. You are the one most likely to know and remember if you need a spot or not and it will be too late if you attempt a skill you are not sure of and fall. Spotting can protect you and build your confidence in doing the skill until you are ready to do it on your own safely. Don't tell a coach that you can do skills if you are not 100% sure you can do them safely.
Stop, Look And Listen
Just like crossing a street, when you approach an equipment area, the floor exercise mat, tumbling strips or other mats and pieces of equipment, you need to stop and look both ways before you cross or enter to make sure you are not in the way or going to get landed on.
Watch Where You are Going
Watch where you are walking. Nothing is more embarrassing and sometimes painful and dangerous than falling over mats, into pits, over bar cables, etc. There are lots of obstacles in every gym like different heights and softness levels of mats.
Copyright 2005 John Howard. John is the author of 15 books about gymnastics, gym design, gymnastics humour and cheerleading. He has 25 years experience coaching State, Regional and U.S. National champion gymnasts and international competitors.
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