For over 15 years, I have coached cheerleading, dance and tumbling, and for those 15 years, I have seen children transform. These are not just sports that children participate in – they can truly become a part of the child. There are 5 reasons I believe the sports we teach are not only fun, but necessary to every childhood.
1. Tumbling teaches children to rely on themselves. They learn quickly that no one else can do the work for them. No one can condition them or make them stretch. No one can make them practice at home or force them to work hard at practice. They learn (even as young as 4 or 5 years old) that if you want to get a skill – a bridge from standing for example – that you must do all the steps to get there. Simply stretching every day isn’t enough. Attending practice isn’t either. But setting a goal and taking small steps every day to reach that goal is one of the most amazing things children can learn. They pair individual work with teamwork and mentorship, and suddenly the recipe for success is there!
2. Cheerleaders and dancers learn incredible teamwork. They team up to lift their friends in stunts and basket tosses, jump and tumble in synchronization and learn that every teammate is equally as important to make a formation eye appealing and accurate. Regardless what school a child attends or what grade he or she is in – every teammate is necessary to accomplish a task. It takes adults years to learn this skill – and we are all constantly working at our jobs and daily lives to become better teammates and work better in groups. How amazing that children can learn this before they even hit middle school!
3. Fitness is one of the top reasons your child should participate in cheerleading, tumbling, or dance. It’s not just about physical fitness either. Emotional and mental fitness are also taught through coaches and mentors pushing children to reach their goals. Emotional resilience is inevitable through failing and picking yourself back up – something that happens often in this sport. Physically, children are guaranteed to obtain increased flexibility, core strength and balance. These aspects of fitness are vital to injury prevention regardless of their sport of choice, which makes tumbling a wonderful addition to any weekly routine.
4. Making friends and building relationships outside the home and school are very important to a child’s social development. At Bears, children from many communities, as far as 40 miles from our location, come together each week for a common purpose. Some of my daughter’s closest friends do not attend her school, live in our neighborhood or even are in her grade. She is learning about other cultures and families from her friends at the gym. It is teaching her to accept those who are different than her and celebrate their successes.
5. It’s inevitable that your children will truly be excited when they are setting their goals and ultimately – achieving those goals. Excitement is the #1 reason I coach. I love watching a child do something they love and develop a passion for something I love. It gives us a reason to bond. When that child grows up and needs a mentor – someone they can talk to outside of the home – their coaches are there. Children who start at a young age have years to develop this relationship before the tough years of adolescence begin. I am so glad that someday when my daughter feels like she can’t talk to her mom (because you know I just won’t understand whatever it is) she will know her coaches, with whom she has grown up, and who she trusts. I know that when she needs sound advice (or even a reality check) they will be there to guide her.