What Gymnastics Taught Me
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What Gymnastics Taught Me

...And Why I'll Always Be Thankful

What Gymnastics Taught Me
Jordan Garrett

"Oh, yeah, I did gymnastics for a while when I was younger!" It's a phrase I've heard enough times to make my head spin. It seems like everyone has taken a gymnastics class or two, even if it was 15 years ago. I guess it's kind of like soccer in that regard.

But I know so few people who stuck with it even until junior high. I feel deeply saddened every time I hear that sentence, because it's nearly always followed by "I wish I'd kept doing it." Because it's one thing to fall in love with football, or basketball, or baseball, which are all sports you can get together with friends to play forever. But gymnastics (or more specifically, tumbling) is something you can do without the aide of any equipment or any other people. You don't need anyone else to do what you love; just your own body and some open ground. Of course, the best place to do it is in an actual gym. There's nothing like the feeling of that puffy blue carpet under your bare feet, and the strange sensation that goes through your toes when you slip on it. The little bits of chalk that float through the air when you land a skill hard enough. The whack whack whack of the spring floor as your hands and feet hit it to execute your skills.

For me, I think the most entertaining thing about being a gymnast is watching gymnastics/cheerleading movies with non-gymnast friends. They get so wowed by the simplest stunts! And here I am, critiquing their every move. Undercutted handsprings. Flexed feet in layouts. Sloppy landings. But non-gymnasts never notice, and they're amazed by it all. To me it's nothing to throw myself around, or to see someone else do it, but others have no clue what that sensation is like.

"Can you do a backflip?" is always the first thing I'm asked when I say I took gymnastics, and for some reason it still surprises me every time. People actually think a backflip is the coolest thing about the sport. They've never seen anyone do an x-out, or a double back, or even a full. And even those are simple. I feel terribly that they have no idea how truly awesome the human body can be. Or what you can learn from it.

My dad will tell you that gymnastics made me a better softball player. And maybe it did. He says that for my sister and I, it made us more confident when diving for a ball or sliding into a base. We were so used to throwing our bodies every which way on the gymnastics floor that the casualness of it carried over to the ball field. He's probably right; neither of us have ever had any issue diving for a fly ball in the outfield, but that's something learned from being a gymnast for a very short period of time. Through my many years with the sport, the most important thing I learned was confidence.

You can't go into a skill being scared out of your skin; that's how you get hurt. Like other things in life, I've learned that it's okay to be afraid of what you're doing, but you have to take a deep breath and go for it anyway. If you let yourself be too afraid, you'll never accomplish what you want to do. Gymnastics taught me to face my fears, to push through my injuries, and, above all else, to follow my passion, even if all my friends decided it wasn't for them. These are things I will be forever grateful for, and I will always be thankful for the sport I fell in love with at such a young age.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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