It’s time for the spiel about gymnastics safety again – before, during and after your child’s time on the tumbling mats. Daily, the news cycle contains stories about gymnasts who thought they were safe, in trusted hands, who became victims of abuse and coverups. Every parent’s nightmare. It’s our job as parents to make sure our kids are safe, and there are a million little things we have to keep our eyes on to ensure that safety.
You might think that safety during gymnastics or tumbling practice begins with something as simple as a tumbling mat. But before you even consider a gymnastics program for your child, it is incumbent upon you to do your homework. Listen to others who’ve chosen a particular gym or studio. What do they have to say about the instructors? Insist on sitting in on a couple of classes and keep your eyes and ears open. How do the children interact with their instructor? Do they seem comfortable? Is there mutual respect? And of course, take a look at the equipment. If it’s held together with duct tape, you’re in the wrong gym. Nothing is more important than a gymnast’s safety in the gym, so if the apparatus and tumbling mats don’t look new and in top form, take your business and your gymnast elsewhere.
Once you’ve decided on a gym and an instructor for your child, it’s time to consider what to do at home. Practicing a couple of times a week at the gym is great, but to keep the momentum going and to ensure a steady rate of progression, having a safe space in which to practice at home is a great idea. We’re not talking uneven bars or a pommel horse, just some thick, shock-absorbing tumbling mats you can haul out when your kids want to practice. Tumbling mats at home keep the kids active instead of sedentary, they keep the interest level up by being accessible 24/7, and like a good parent, they’re always there to protect. Of course they can’t keep the kiddos 100% safe, but they’ll go a long way in protecting the practice time under your watchful eye.
Young gymnasts need helicopter parents and high-quality tumbling mats and other gymnastics equipment to keep them safe as they pursue their athletic dreams. Your job might seem overwhelming at times, but perhaps with a good tumbling mat at home, you’ll have a little less to worry about.