The sport of gymnastics encompasses many different elements, including the balance beam, a horizontal beam on which gymnasts perform a variety of jumps, flips and balancing feats. If your child is active and enjoys exercise and flexibility, she may be interested in trying gymnastics. When your child is learning this new sport, it is important that she practices on balance beams built for kids.
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Once your child has expressed an interest in learning to conquer the balance beam, the first decision you'll have to make is whether you sign her up at a gymnastics centre or create a gym-like setting in your basement or backyard. Gymnastics centres have myriad benefits, including a variety of equipment, skilled instructors and peers for your child, but it's also possible to get her started in the comfort of your home. You can buy balance beams through many different gymnastics suppliers online, and if you're skilled at building wooden objects, you could build a beam for her.
Beginner's Balance Beam
If your child is brand-new to the sport and you want to create as safe a setting as possible, ensure that you use a beginner's balance beam. These beams are the same width as beams for more advanced gymnasts (typically 4 inches), but are often made of a soft material that won't cause injury during a fall. Best of all, there are no legs to these beams, so they sit directly on the ground. This way, the gymnast will still be able to balance on the beam, but stand just 2 inches above the floor.
Other Balance Beams
As your child gets more comfortable in her jumps and leaps, you can add short legs to the beginner's balance beam or buy a novice beam that stands several inches off the ground. As she practices on this beam, she'll notice that slips and falls are a little harder because she's higher off the ground. Over time, she'll get more comfortable with the height of the beam and you'll eventually be able to get her working on a full-height beam.
Balance Beam Safety
The biggest danger of the balance beam is that the child will fall off it and hurt herself. Slips and falls are likely to happen with gymnastics, just as learning any sport often requires a few setbacks. Accidents are common and it's important that you encourage your child to keep trying despite minor bumps and bruises. It's easy for young athletes to get discouraged or scared after an accident, and it's your job as a parent to remind them that every elite athlete once began with no knowledge of the sport. When your child is learning, you may wish to give her kneepads, elbow pads and a helmet until she gets comfortable with basic jumps and leaps.
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