As I was watching our tumbling class last night, I could not think of a better activity to prepare young athletes (especially males) for long-term athletic success. In the short 15 minutes I watched, I noticed a handful of athletic traits being trained that every high school, college, and professional superstar has: mobility, flexibility, body awareness, relative strength, body control, and coordination. These traits combined are the foundation for athletic success.
The Soviets, considered the masters of long-term athletic development, dominated the Olympics for years and years. No matter the sport, their children from an early age participated in gymnastics. They firmly believed it helped prepare them for future success in athletics. Hundreds of gold medals later it appears as though they were on the right track. Dan John, one of the top strength coaches in the world, adds various gymnastic exercises to all of his athletes’ training programs. Gymnastics is one of the key components to the Crossfit training system.
Watch a middle school or high school basketball game. You can see the athletes that move almost effortlessly. They are so graceful. They all share those common foundational traits. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen middle school and high school athletes in the weight room that lack those traits. I cannot emphasize enough that those traits must be trained PRIOR to strength and power training. A kid that already has mastered those traits has a HUGE competitive advantage.
So before you sign your child up for that traveling team, consider a tumbling/gymnastics class. It would be a great investment.