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by Lori Vollkommer
Competing as an adult can give you an entirely different experience of fun as a gymnast. As mentioned on this page, there are many organizations to choose from when deciding to compete. Where you live and your ability to travel will be an important factor to consider.
For me, living in NY, I have many choices through USAIGC (USA Independent Gymnastics Clubs) locally, while no choices for NAIGC (National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs), AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) or USAG. I have competed with AAU but I have had to travel for that.
I am in a very blessed situation in which I practice with the team girls aged 9-15. There are no adult gymnastics classes that I have come across where I live in Long Island, NY. The team and club in which I belong, competes with USAIGC.
My very first competition after 33 years, in which I competed Silver, was so scary yet exhilarating! It was very comforting to have other “teammates” to share in the experience, lessening the anxiety. Since there were no adults competing with me, I relied on my coach and teammates to stay in the zone and not get caught up on the nerves. And to remember to enjoy the experience!
During the meet I reminded myself, "the hard work was already done. I was here to showcase it."
If you mess up, people really don’t care. Most were so happy to see an adult there and were supportive. In general, “regular” folk seem to think it is quite amazing what we do...and it is! We work hard!
• Pros: Competition schedule is determined by the coach. I then choose which I want to participate in and all forms and info for entry are handled by the gym. I competed Silver level. I have a coach present with me at all competitions. She adjusts all equipment, provides coaching and encouragement. All I have to do is show up. USAIGC has an International presence and many countries participate. This gives opportunities to compete Internationally!! This has been an awesome experience as I have competed in both London and Bermuda, something I never would have been able to do as a kid.
In addition, at the end of each competition year, usually end of June, they host a World Championship meet in which 7 countries participate. It is a two-day competition in which you compete for event finals and all-around finals. They alternate locations: Orlando every other year and choose different locations for the year in between. Some recent locations included Reno, NV, Nashville, TN, and this upcoming season will be hosted in New Orleans, LA.
• Cons: I have only encountered other adults in London and at the World Championship meet. The local competitions, I have been placed either in age 16 and up or 18 and up. This isn’t horrible and mostly for me has been about getting a score rather than feeling as though I’m actually competing against anyone. Though it is an incredible boost of confidence when you place higher than a 16 -year old!
It appears there is a much bigger presence for adults in both AAU and NAIGC. While I plan to compete with NAIGC this season, I did compete in AAU Nationals in Orlando In June 2019 as Xcel Platinum. There were 39 adults over all levels of gymnastics.
Because this was my first adult gymnastics competition, and I didn’t know what to expect, I was rather nervous. I did know some athletes and recognized names of others from the Just Like Fine Wine Facebook Group. That helped ease anxiety.
• Pros: Competing with all adults is an awesome experience. While it is still a competition, it feels much more laid back and supportive as we all giggle and laugh about the stuff that seems to ultimately go awry. Everyone including other competitors, coaches and judges are so supportive. Most don’t have a coach with them, as was the case for me. I was so nervous about this initially because I did not know how to set my equipment or felt confident in the process since I was used to just showing up. The other coaches there all told me, “no worries! We got you!” They set the equipment, work out the floor music situation, cheer you on, help and give feedback, and provide so much support that there is no need to think about anything but competing and having fun!
It was such a highlight to my year. I met so many other adult gymnasts many of whom I stay in contact with. I plan to incorporate more adult competitions through AAU and NAIGC this upcoming season.
• Cons: All meet entry is done by you, the athlete (This only applies if you don’t have a coach accompany you to meets, which I believe is most adult gymnasts). So, you also are in charge of your own equipment setting, floor music, etc. As mentioned, it’s likely other coaches are happy to lend a hand. So probably not much of an issue.
Have you seen our training page? There are all sorts of other competition tips there.
Go here to read Kimberly Decker's inspiring account of how much she enjoyed her first NAIGC meet as a mom at age 37!
Adult gymnastics is tremendously fun, whether you simply train or you also compete.
For many, choosing to compete helps with the enjoyment of the sport because it creates a deadline of sorts for training certain skills, and it also provides motivation and reward for all your hard work in the gym.
Competing can also be a wondeful opportunity to meet other adult gymnasts - and it is a great excuse to check out new places! Go here to find a league to compete in as an adult gymnast.
I also absolutely love adult gymnastics camp! I have met so many adult gymnasts there. Go here to find out when the next camp is!
Disclaimer: Adult gymnasts and coaches give advice and suggestions on this page. By reading and implementing the information, you assume all liability for injury. The advice given is for educational purposes only. Please check with your in-person coach and ensure that you have the proper pit, mats and/or spot available before trying any suggestions. If you don't agree to these terms, do not attempt anything that you see on this page.
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