Helpful Tips For Attending Your Child's First Meet

Posted on Sept. 30, 2016
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You’re excited but also a little nervous about your child’s first meet. Like your child, you’ve also been preparing for this moment: attending practices, talking to coaches or other parents — but there are still some things you want to remember when attending your child’s first gymnastics meet.

You might feel overwhelmed once you’re actually at at the meet but that’s okay. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your first gymnastics meet as smoothly as possible.

Familiarize yourself with the meet schedule.

The average gymnastics meet lasts about four hours but this can vary depending on the format (capital cup, traditional format, Chicago-style, etc.). Generally, you can anticipate that a basic meet will have the following schedule:

  • Check in
  • Warm ups/stretches
  • Competition
  • Awards ceremony

You’ll want to arrive at least 20 minutes early so you can give your child plenty of time to relax and give yourself time to find the best view.

Plan, plan, plan!

The day before the meet, make sure that you have already planned ahead. It’s best if you allot some extra time if problems arise. Rushing to a meet only adds unnecessary pressure for you and your child! If you don’t know the location of the gym, do a quick search on Google Maps. While you’re at it, check alternative routes/shortcuts you can take to avoid traffic (you never know). Also, check if you need to bring extra cash for entrance fees and souvenirs.

No flash photography!

It’s easy to get excited and take lots of photos of your child’s first meet. But before you snap away, make sure your camera’s flash is turned off. This is for safety reasons so that the gymnasts are not distracted during the competition. Be a responsible spectator!

Understand how the scoring works.

You might be confused by how scoring in gymnastics works but don’t be alarmed. Many parents who have had their child competing in the sport for years still struggle with understanding the scoring system. Men and women’s scoring is out of a 10.0 for most competitions you will encounter, although the days of earning a perfect 10.0 are gone. When watching an International Federation of Gymnastics meet on television, be aware that scoring is different than the average meet. For scoring, judges take into account various elements including the base score, virtuosity and bonus. Don’t be surprised to see scores of 12.7 or 15.2. The rules are pretty complicated. This will be a blog in itself, coming soon.

At most meets, you will see judges put a score on the table first. This is the start value of the routine. That is, if the routine was perfect, what it should score. The next score flashed will be the final score that takes into account any errors or deductions that were made.

Scores for all events determine your child’s all around score. For team scoring, most add together the top 3-5 scores from each event. In the end, the individual/team with the highest score wins.

Give lots of support.

Some parents make the mistake of grilling their child about their routines before a meet. It shouldn’t be this way. After all, that’s a coach’s job. Your job, on the other hand, is to be supportive.

Be confident in your child’s abilities and trust them to do their best. No matter what the outcome of the meet is, just focus on having a good time and enjoying your child’s first meet.

We hope that this article has helped you. As your child progresses with gymnastics, you’ll eventually learn the ins and outs. You’ll be the pro parent in no time and other new parents will turn to you for advice.