Gymnastics vs. Tumbling

Your child loves to roll around, jump and climb, and you are thinking of enrolling them into a gymnastics class. After a quick search online, you find gyms offer many different classes, and there are two words that keep coming up: gymnastics and tumbling. While you may have heard those words before, you still might be confused about the difference between the two.

What is Gymnastics?

In gymnastics, athletes perform acrobatic maneuvers like leaps, turns, flips, handstands and more on a variety of equipment. Typical equipment used in gymnastics include the balance beam, uneven bars, parallel bars, high bars, still rings, vault, ribbons, ropes and hoops. Most people are familiar with the sport from watching artistic gymnastics at the Olympics, which features common competitions like the balance beam for women and the still rings for men.

More: Homemade Healthy Snacks for Your Gymnast

What is Tumbling?

Tumbling is a form of gymnastics performed without props or equipment. Also referred to as floor gymnastics, common moves performed in tumbling include flips, somersaults, tucks, handstands and handsprings. While some moves in the floor routines seen in the Olympics can be considered tumbling, tumbling does not feature the same elements of formal dance associated with rhythmic gymnastics. Some sports, like cheerleading, typically use tumbling moves.

Which is Right for Your Child?

If your child is younger, you will want to begin with a gymnastics class. Some gyms offer gymnastics classes for young toddlers, which is a great way to get your little one moving around. Most beginner classes tend to focus more on children learning how to listen to instructions and pay attention. As your child gets older and enters more advanced classes, he or she will learn basic gymnastics moves like walking on the beam, but chances are your child can't take one of these classes until he or she is at least 5 years old.

Tumbling requires more strength and skill than basic gymnastics classes. Most gyms recommend your child be a little older before signing up for a tumbling class, and they must have some basic gymnastic training. Many tumbling classes offer a great introduction to cheerleading, so if your child is interested in cheerleading, signing up for tumbling might be a better fit.

More: Leg Exercises for Cheerleaders

Tips for Parents

It's up to you and your child to determine the appropriate class, and it isn't a decision you should just jump into: Do your research. Many gyms offer a free class before signing up. Make sure to get a good feel for the gym and staff before paying any tuition.

Once your child begins classes, remember that every child is different. Some children learn moves more quickly than others. Don't compare your child to anyone else. It is important that they learn the techniques as best they can at their own pace to prevent injury.

Try and get your child moving. Whether they are signing up for gymnastics or tumbling, both sports involve flexibility and strength, skills that your child will have to develop slowly. Take them to the park. Encourage them to play and climb on the monkey bars. Not only will this help them in gymnastics, it will also be fun.

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About the Author

Samantha Guzman

Sam is a writer, photographer and videographer for Active.com. She loves traveling, dancing, trying new things and strength training. Sam is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a degree in journalism. Sam enjoys spending time with family, cooking and playing with her dog, Woody. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google Plus.

Sam is a writer, photographer and videographer for Active.com. She loves traveling, dancing, trying new things and strength training. Sam is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a degree in journalism. Sam enjoys spending time with family, cooking and playing with her dog, Woody. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google Plus.

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