While you may have heard those words before, you still might be confused about the difference between the two. Read on to learn what sets them apart, and which is right for your child.
What is Gymnastics?1 of 5
In gymnastics, athletes perform acrobatic maneuvers like leaps, turns, flips, handstands and more on a variety of equipment. Typical equipment used in gymnastics includes 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.
What is Tumbling?2 of 5
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?3 of 5
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 started.
Most beginner classes tend to focus more on teaching the children 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 five 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 gymnastics training. Many tumbling classes offer a great introduction to cheerleading, as well, so if your child is interested in cheer, signing up for tumbling might be a better fit.
Tips for Parents4 of 5
It's up to you and your child to determine the appropriate class, and it isn't a decision you should just jump into (no pun intended). Do your research beforehand, and many gyms also 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 kids 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.
Finally, 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, and encourage them to play and climb on the monkey bars. Not only will this help them in gymnastics, it will also be fun!