As we all have learned, “hind-sight is 20/20” — and that runs true for gymnasts, too. Sometimes as gymnasts, parents, and even as coaches, we don’t realize many things we are learning until we look back on our experiences. We would like to introduce a new series of posts called LIVED, LOVED, & LEARNED that invites former gymnasts to reflect on the many things they learned from their time in the gym that helped them in their performances as well as their personal lives.
We are excited to introduce our first guest writer as a former gymnast and dear friend (as well as family member–Jessie’s sister-in-law): Natalie Eyre Pickard. Natalie graced the competitive gymnastics scene for sixteen years and earned her privilege to attend and compete in collegiate gymnastics at Brigham Young University (BYU) for four years on full scholarship. She was a beautiful gymnast inside of the gym, but more impressively, a beautiful person inside and out. She is a natural-born leader and we were thrilled when we introduced this series and invited her to share her thoughts. We love what she has to say and are sure you will too!
I’m so excited I’ve been invited to be a guest on Gym Gab today! I hope I can do this awesome blog justice and be able to help some gymnasts and parents out there. I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences that gymnastics brought me over the years as well as the lifelong lessons that I have learned. I was so very blessed to have an incredibly strong support system throughout all my years as a gymnast and I attribute a huge amount of my success and happiness from gymnastics to my awesome parents and family.
I have never been a parent (and I don’t claim to know anything about being a parent), but I DO know how it feels to be a gymnast and all of the stresses and pressures that go along with that title. If it wouldn’t have been for the love and support of my parents, I don’t know if I would have been as successful in my gymnastics career as I was.
Gymnastics is a sport that pleads for perfection. There is always, always something to improve upon. Let’s be honest here, there will probably never be a time when a gymnast will be “perfect”. However, the goal (perfection) is ever present, pushing and pulling the perfectionist inside of her. I know, because I am the perfectionist of all perfectionists. In club gymnastics it was always hard for me to recognize my successes. If it was a good set, and maybe even a great set, it still wasn’t a PERFECT set. As crazy as that sounds, that was MY mentality and probably is that of many others if they are a competitive gymnast.
I don’t tell you these things so you will feel bad for gymnasts; I’m telling you so that you can understand a little bit of the pressure that haunts a gymnast. With all of that going on in your gymnasts mind, don’t you think all they need is a little love and support? I can only imagine how a parent must feel at a competition: Years of expenses, tears and time are all weighing on your mind as you watch your gymnast compete. This is what they do all day every day, so they should stick it, right? Well, sometimes yes…and sometimes no. But either way, it’s okay.
It’s okay if she doesn’t score a Perfect 10, and it’s even okay if she falls once in a while (gasp!) because gymnastics isn’t who your daughter is, gymnastics is what your daughter does. That’s right! Even though it may be the most expensive, grueling and labor-intensive “activity” out there, when it comes down to it, that’s all it is: an activity…and a fun activity at that. Gymnastics is an activity for lesson-learning, friendship-building, confidence-boosting, exercise-getting, and most importantly, a way to have FUN!
NATALIE AGE 10 | AS A BYU GYMNAST WITH HER PARENTS
My coach at BYU (Brad Cattermole) had a few catch phrases that still play in my mind from time to time. One of my favorites is this: “We’re just doing gymnastics here. We’re not saving hungry people!” Boom. Simple as that! It took me a long time to realize this, but once I did, a whole new world opened up to me! I was able to recognize my little successes every day, which actually helped me to make MORE positive changes and have more fun. The more positive I was, the better my gymnastics got!
Positivity = Progress
As a parent you have an incredible amount of influence over your gymnast! I’d like to encourage you to make sure that you use your influence to help your gymnast fall in love with the sport of gymnastics, just as my parents did for me. Be the first one to congratulate her on her successes, but more importantly be the first one to hug her when she falls. Remind her that, above all else, gymnastics is supposed to be fun! Let the coaches do the coaching, the judges do the judging and the gymnast do the gymnastics. No one else can be the loving parent because that job is yours. Let your gymnast know that no matter what happens, you are there to support her, love her, and let her know that you are proud that she is doing what she loves to do! It will be more fun for both of you that way!