streettalk (2007-42)

Lacey MaplesTeacher of toddler gymnastics

Street Talk

Whatâ’s it like training preschoolers to be gymnasts?

Coaching preschoolers is a very rewarding yet challenging job. I love how excited they get when they learn a roll, handstand, cartwheelâ"anything reallyâ"for the first time. But because they are so young, it is very difficult at times to keep their attention. I mostly work with children ages three to five (at Premiere Athletics).

Do you ever have toddlers who are natural gymnastic athletes, or do they all take a little time to get the hang of things?

Every now and then we do have hotshots that come in and just show a natural ability for gymnastics. They have no problem kicking up to a handstand or pulling themselves up on the bar. But on average, it takes most children a little while to get the hang of things.

Do small children compete, or is it just for fun and exercise?

We attempt to make preschool gymnastics a fun experience for the children, as well as teaching them basic gymnastic skills in case they want to pursue it later. While we do have a level-three competitive team made up of five-, six- and seven-year-olds, we still strive to keep gymnastics fun within that environment.

How do gymnastics benefit small children in everyday life, outside of the gym?

Gymnastics is excellent in helping children improve their coordination. It also helps them to focus, become more disciplined, and teaches them how to interact with other children.

Do you have a gymnastics career of your own?

I did gymnastics for a total of 12 years and competed for seven of those years. I have been coaching gymnastics for about five years, and have worked with many different ages, but enjoy coaching preschoolers the most. â" Greg Wilkerson


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