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No Pain / No Gain?

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We all know that any sport worth its salt carries the risk of injury, and gymnastics is certainly no exception.

In the mere 6 months that I've been observing my boy's workouts, I've been impressed with how few injuries really occur. With all the dozens of kids out there for hours on end, day after day, week after week, I find it truly remarkable that most of the owies and boo-boos are mostly limited to blisters, strained ankles, and bruised bottoms. Kudos to the coaches and staff for their emphasis on safety. :)

I've also witnessed the coolness of the veteran gymnastics parents who observe their children's mishaps with an experienced eye. They seem to be able to tell from a distance whether there's really cause for concern or it's just one of those character-building incidents. [Note: I am not referring to that callous SOB from another thread who sat and watched his daughter literally crawl to him from the floor exercise. :mad:]

So far, I've witnessed only 3 episodes that had me a little concerned. The first one involved one of the level 9 girls who was practicing a vault she had performed many times. Somehow she got her feet tangled up on the approach and wound up running headlong into the vault table. She was clearly dazed (and embarrassed), but her mom, who was standing right next to me just said, "She's not hurt, just mad. Watch what she does now." And indeed, the girl was already making another run at it with a certain fierceness that produced an above average vault. ;)

The second one impressed me by the extremely fine reactions of the coaches and staff. One of the higher-level boys, also on a vault, had a problem on top of the table (looked to me like his hand slipped). He came up short on the (second?) tuck and wound up landing literally on his face. Thankfully it was onto a thick pad on top of the foam pit. He was a little slow to get up, but otherwise appeared to be okay. However, the first words out of his mouth were, "My neck kinda hurts." :eek:

That started a flurry of action, the likes of which I'd never witnessed before. Several coaches converged and whisked him (gently) off to the side and laid him down. Within what seemed to be only minutes, the paramedics were there and I overheard one of them say, "Good call". They strapped him to a gurney with his head immobilized, and off he went to the nearby hospital for a serious checkup. Before the end of the workout we got word back that he was fine, although the doctors advised him to "stay off his face" for a couple of weeks. :D

I guess you don't mess around with possible neck injuries.

The latest one was so minor, it barely raised an eyebrow from anybody in the gym, but this time it was my kid, and my eyebrows went high enough for everybody. The coach decided that it's time for my level 4 guy to add the handstand to his p-bars routine. This was near the end of a pretty strenuous 3-hour workout, and his arms were already pretty shot. You can see from this video how it turned out. He said he could feel his left arm starting to buckle, and when he tried to correct, well, the video says it all. Nothing but bruises and damaged pride. Took me a couple of minutes to get my heart started again, but I survived, too. :p 5 minutes later he tried again, without mishap. :cool:

I've heard of much more serious episodes, but these are the only ones I've seen with my own eyes. Do you folks ever really get used to watching them crash and burn?

- Harv
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Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Feb 26, 2007
No I don't get used to it, I have had mine slide right over the top of the vualt table, luckily the coach jumped in and caught her before she ate mat. My youngest was doing a sole circle dsmount on the high bar when she was six and went right over the top, that was ugly and scary for us both. A few very nasty beam splats too. I don't watch them train now so I rarely see much, but it is still stressful, I loathe watching beam at meets!!! I don't think that'll ever go away.

Your son did a nicely controlled splat at least! Scary for Dad though for sure.

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I really shouldn't laugh at this, but I definitely smiled when I saw that crash; that crash (and it's variants) are the guys equivalent to girls straddling the beam: everybody does it at least once. And this one definitely wasn't nearly as bad as I've seen it for some kids.

One of my boys had a similar crash on a swing handstand a couple months ago; he swung up to handstand, fell forward, managed a quarter pirouette before landing on his belly across one bar, slid off, banged his face on the bar, flipped back and landed completely flat on the floor. He got up with an ear-to-ear grin and said "THAT WAS AWESOME!"

You never get used to it, even when you learn what sorts of crashes have the potential to produce a serious injury and which are simply going to cause scrapes and bruises, you never get used to these; they're always terrifying to watch.
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Well-Known Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
I still don't like watching people do bar dismounts (although I've never had issues doing them myself). I've just seen too many go awry and wayyyy too many people pull in on double backs for my comfort level.


Going through the parallel bars is super common with men and never seems to hurt as much as splitting the beam for the gals. And unfortunately it will tend to make them gun shy for awhile. Did for me and I've seen it do that for others. Sometimes boys do other real stupid things when doing it, like straddling their legs on the way down though it's safe to do that on the way over ( like your boy did sorta ). I've got a couple of 4's that are risking their life on their dismount because they straddle in the air and don't bring the hand over quick enough to push away. They did learn not to straddle early though. Ouch to the heels. I really wish we didn't have a mirror close to PB cause one always like to watch himself and it's a near miss every time.

I am so short ( in fact I pretty much have to build interesting platforms to spot on and I'd never be able to spot a double back ) that I simply put a block on the side so I can stand on it and spot the handstand on PB. I wouldn't be able to do much from the side except push them over to land their dismount. It helps to know how to shoulder roll through it but most 4's don't. At least he didn't collapse to upper arm which hurts or roll through which is freaky or buckle and face plant through the bars. Man, I hate PB sometimes.

Boys will also take some interesting spins off the mushroom and they just get more interesting when doing circles and flops on the pommel. And of course, shorts get caught when grabbing the pommel or you fall on the pommels.

I just saw a girl faceplant her flyaway out of giant the other day and I just thought she was so lucky she didn't break her forearm since she sorta ate the mat using her arms. She seriously needs to stop flinging herself out of her flyaway one of these days.

I've caught a handful of munchkins, L5's when doing handsprings off the table. Actually only girls who either their hands have slipped or they have balked.

Ya can't mess around with possible neck injuries...at all.


I've never gotten used to it--but I do hold back and see how she is before worrying too much!


You should definitely never get used to crashes. Being a former gymnast, coach, and judge you see them every so often but coaches are trained to help gymnasts minimize errors. Crashes are bound to happen. My mom hated watching them. At least your son's were minor so far. I wrote a book called Gymnastics in a Nutshell to be out this spring and there is an ode from my mom to all other parents about the "helpless" feeling. You should check it out


Feb 8, 2008
We had one incident at my gym in the 7 years I've been there. Last summer a girl was doing tap swings and the very next turn she was going to do her first flyaway. She was a daredevil and was really excited. For some reason she let go from her tap swings at the back of her swing, like the way that every beginner learns on their first turn on bars NOT to do, and she flew backwards, hit the low bar, and landed on the mat face down with her body curved above her head. Not good.

Luckily my coach is in college to be an athletic trainer, and before the girl could start trying she was holding her head and not letting her move. They called her mom and they decided to call the paramedics, who took her out on a stretcher in a neck brace.

She was sore for a while but there was no serious injury, she was back by next week and learned flyaways by the week after that. The girls that saw her fall on the other hand, took a little longer to get back to normal.
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