Don't Stop Your Son from Doing Somersaults

Robert Ealy


Don't Stop Your Son from Doing Somersaults

When I was just a wee young'un with a mouthful of loose baby teeth and a pasty complexion, my parents enrolled me in
gymnastics. In a small hangar (we're a military family) full of multi-colored mats, trampolines, balance beams and an eight-foot-diameter beach ball, I learned tumbling, flexibility exercises, how to fall safely and much more.

Now, some parents might curl their lips at the thought of their son "prancing around" on mats and performing flips on a crossbar. In that case, they may instead opt for what they think is a more "physically demanding" sport such as football. This is supposed to fill their young sons with testosterone so they can grow armpit hair at an early age, I suspect. But lost in this false theory are the physical dangers of such a sport compared to the safety - and teaching of safety - in gymnastics.

How Your Son Can Benefit from Gymnastics

The benefits of gymnastics are both physical and social in nature. Granted, a lot of my personal experiences are anecdotal and unscientific; but there is hard evidence that men feel the positive effects of taking gymnastics as a youngster well into adulthood. Parents might wonder why doing a backflip or cartwheel would benefit their child, and how that could possibly help him later in life. While the literal act of doing a backflip has no sway on success in life, it's the skills required to perform such an amazing physical fete that will.

Such a task requires a great deal of strength, flexibility and coordination. All three of these skills assist a child in every physical or extracurricular activity he will perform through his adolescence and into adulthood. This ability will breed confidence in your son, as he can physically compete in all activities.

Another aspect of gymnastics that nurtures confidence is the conquering of fear. Doing a backflip is, in and of itself, scary. Could you launch into a backflip without a slight shake in the knees? Children who overcome this at a young age grow more assertive and self-assured.

Additional benefits include the encouragement of a healthy and active lifestyle, learning how to fall and land gracefully and the development of social skills. With so many positive takeaways, there's little reason parents should not encourage young boys to pursue gymnastics.

And, if they feel embarrassed by the leotards and stirrup pants, it's pretty easy to convince someone that somersaults and splits are totally mind-blowing.