For many young gymnasts, finally being able to graduate to being a level 3 gymnast can be an exciting time. This is because level 3 is the last of the non-competitive levels and as soon as you can graduate from it you can start participating in competitions.
In order to became a level 3 gymnast you have to be at least 6 years old and be able to pass all of the things that you learned in level 2 of Gymnastics. Sometimes you can graduate to level 3 within several months of reaching level 2, but you should never move up to level 3 until your coach says that you can.
Some gyms will have practice competitions with other gyms for its level 3 gymnasts. This not only helps to motivate the students, but it also can help work on stage fright and other things as it conditions you to get used to crowds in smaller doses. Usually by the time you get to level 3 of gymnastics you have also likely started to notice some of the benefits of it, and there is a long list of these.
What Are The Skills That You Need To Pass In Order To Graduate To Level 3?
By now you have no doubt learned the names of most, if not all, of the basic gymnastics positions and can do them fairly easily and can do them with little to not spotting. These positions include the pike position and the V-sit position, both of which are good exercises to continue to practicing in order to help you to build up the right muscles.
On The Floor
The first things that you have to make sure that you can do well are a handstand and a headstand. The gymnast must be able to hold both of these positions for at least a second or two with no wobbling. Your splits must be at least 120 degrees and your cartwheel must have the proper form.
In addition, you must also be able to do the backward roll to pike position. You must be able to do a cartwheel, a round-off, and a backbend all with the proper form as well. Certain dance moves like jump splits, pivots, and leg balance must be mastered too or at least be close to being mastered.
On The Beam
You should be able to mount the beam without having to struggle to do so and while on the beam do various maneuvers without falling off or nearly falling off. These include the half-cartwheel and a tuck jump as well as normal jumps and leaps.
The releve walk should be perfected on the beam as well as the basic turns on the beam. Other than these you mainly have to show that you are at least capable of the other things you have been learning in level 2, even if you have not entirely mastered them yet.
On The Bars And Vault
To show your core strength you must be able to do at least one full and un-aided chin up on the bar starting from a dead hanging position. You must also be able to do at least three leg up to pikes. You should also be able to dismount the bars with a round-off and stick your landing when you do so.
You should have gotten the leg cut down fairly well by now and also be capable of doing the more complicated bar maneuvers that you have been working on, though these may very well still need some practice in order to be perfected.
As for the vault, since you are not actually vaulting at this point still, you often don’t have to do anything at all for this part. Some coaches will still expect for you to show at least some improvement in jumping into a handstand though in preparation for vaulting.
What Do You Learn In Level 3 Of Gymnastics?
As with level 2, level 3 of gymnastics builds on what you have already learned in the previous level and it also adds a few new maneuvers and positions that are completely new. All of this building usually means more practice time, since you not only have to learn the new maneuvers but also keep up practicing with at least most of your old ones as well.
On The Floor
You will have to add at least 2 seconds to the amount of time that you can hold steady when doing a handstand or a headstand. You will also learn to add a forward roll to the handstand. The heel snap turn is also worked on, both on the floor and also starting on the beam.
The backward roll will also be added to with an extension and it will be added to the end of your round off maneuver. Extending your backbend into a back walkover maneuver can be a somewhat challenging addition to your skills too. To start this you have to first get into the proper backbend position.
Then you need to quickly lift one leg to point towards the ceiling and kick up with it hard as you do so. Keep it moving forward and use the momentum of that foot as you do the same with your other foot. Once you have practiced this repeatedly you should eventually be able to use this to flip yourself right side up again to your feet.
Out of all the new skills that you learn on the floor in level 3 of gymnastics, perhaps the most difficult is the backward handspring. This is sometimes also referred to as the round-off back-handspring, but either way it can sometimes be one of the main things that prevent a gymnast from moving on to a higher level if they cannot do it well.
Almost any backward maneuver can be really hard to get the hang of at first since as human beings people naturally feel uncomfortable rolling backwards. Part of this because you cannot exactly see what is directly behind you very well. However, with practice you can get used to this sensation and eventually will not even think twice about it.
On The Beam
While up until now you have probably been hoisting yourself onto the beam from a front support mounting position, in level 3 you learn the squat-on mount. Some of the basics are the same for both of these, but they are a bit different too.
In order to do a squat-on mount you start from a standing position next to the beam with the palms of both hands firmly grasping the beam on either side of your hips. Jump up as you push down with your hands to get yourself into a squatting position on the bar.
Jumping into a front support position is great exercise for this since it requires the same muscles. Mostly you have to be able to jump higher and push down harder to get this to work.
Also, while you are in the squat position on the bar, you will do turns in either direction. If you have not started doing the V-sit position on the bars yet, you will start doing that in this level. You will also add a squat to the end of this position and “swing” from a V-sit to squat.
In level 3 the cartwheel that you worked on perfecting in level 2 will now be put on the beam. You will also get to change up your half-cartwheel from level 2 and turn it into a kick-to-handstand, which is only slightly different. This in turn is gradually changed into what is called a cartwheel to side-handstand dismount.
A side-handstand dismount like this is one of the simplest dismounting maneuvers for the beam and to do this you first need to get into a side handstand position. Once you are there, you should let yourself fall feet-first straight to the side of the beam and land so that you are on the floor beside the beam and you are facing the beam.
As mentioned you will also be transferring the heel snap turn to the beam too. The releve walk down the side of the beam will have a leg swing added to it to make it more difficult and the coup walk will be put on the beam. A split leap will be worked on as well until the gymnast can do a 60-120 degree split leap and jump on the beam.
On The Bars
On the bars you will start practicing more and more by starting off various maneuvers from a dead hang. As you improve, your goal is to work your way to the point that you need no “empty” swings to get your momentum going before doing a maneuver.
At some point during level 3 you should be able to accomplish a complete pullover starting from a dead hang position. You should also be able to successfully do the maneuvers you started working on in level 2. These include the mill swing, the single leg basket swing, and you should be able to start working on new ones such as the glide kip.
The glide kip can be every bit as hard to master as the mill swing and can also be used as a way to show off your skills as you mount the bar. To start this you first grab the bar while standing back from it as far as you can. Then swing yourself forward onto and under the bar, raising your legs at the end until your feet are pointing straight up while your arms are straight and your hips are near the bar.
Let your feet fall back down but keep your hips near the bar and use the momentum of your legs falling to spin the top part of your body into your upright support position at the bar. During this whole maneuver your arms and legs should remain straight except when you are first grabbing the bar and swinging under.
The simpler things like leg cuts should be mastered completely by know and should take no more than a moment to do. The single leg shoot through is also begun at some point in this level. This is where you “shoot” one leg through your hands to get it over the bar instead of moving one hand off to put your leg on the bar and then having to grab the bar back again once your leg is on.
On The Vault
There is very little more to level 3 vaulting then there was to level 2. The only real difference is that you continue to practice jumping into a handstand position and you can start doing this onto the actual vaulting table instead of onto a tall stack of mats.
What To Expect For Gymnastics Competitions For Level 3
As mentioned, level 4 is when the competitions really start. However, there are such things as non-competitive meets that can still take place for the level 3 of gymnastics. Sometimes different coaches will also take their gymnastic students on a trip to another gym to compete with the gymnasts of the same level that are at that gym.
These are also called “meets” sometimes and can be done at almost any time of the year. There are not nearly as many official meets of level 3 as there are of the higher levels. For this reason, and to get their students motivated are the main reasons why coaches arrange gym to gym meets. Also, this lets the coach see how well each of their students can perform under pressure before taking them to an actual competition.
What Are The Benefits Of Gymnastics?
By the time you have gotten this far in gymnastics you have likely started to notice some changes. These changes are not only physical with your muscles and your flexibility, but you may have also begun to notice mental changes in the fact that it can really give you a confidence boost.
All in all there is not one area of life that is not in some way benefited by participating in gymnastics and the very few negatives are things that can also be applied to any sport and many hobbies as well. While to list all of these benefits would be far too much, I will try to hit the highlights in the top 5 list that I have written out for you below.
1. Gymnastics Helps Prevent Certain Health Problems
For children in particular, gymnastics can help prevent things like obesity. Being overweight can cause any number of health problems and it is much better to avoid it in the first place than to try to lose weight after the fact.
Not to mention the fact that different diets and other methods to try to lose weight can sometimes be almost as unhealthy as being over weigh itself, especially for a kid’s still-growing body. This is why an exercise like gymnastics is a great solution for this to help prevent not only things like diabetes, but other health problems that are sometimes linked to this as well.
Plenty of exercise in and of itself is a good way to stay healthy and it helps your heart and lungs stay strong which can be helpful for things like asthma. Also, most people tend to sleep much better at night if they have gotten plenty of exercise during the day, so gymnastics can literally help you sleep better at night and everyone knows how important a good night’s sleep is to their health.
All these things add up and build on top of each other to actually help to strengthen your bones. For this reason alone it can be a good idea to do over the years, even when you get older, since bone degenerating diseases can cause a lot of problems later in life if you do not do things to strengthen your bones to help prevent this.
Along these same lines, gymnastics is also a great way to establish good posture practices. This is very good for your back and often your joints as well and can prevent certain back problems in most cases. The building up of your joints also helps prevent things like sprained ankles or wrists, though accidents do sometimes happen while training as they do with any sport.
2. Gymnastics Helps You Be Practically Strong And Flexible
Gymnastics is a sport that requires a lot of muscle. This is not in the same way that a weightlifter is strong, but is even better in that it is more of a practical strength. For example, knowing the best ways to jump down from a high spot without getting hurt can be a very practical thing to know how to do.
Doing gymnastics will not only help you know the right way to do these things, but will build up your joints as well as your muscles so that you can do them without getting hurt. Getting onto the beam and the bars both require arm strength and torso strength, as well as some leg strength to help you swing into the proper positions.
This means that gymnastics helps to strengthen muscles in practically every part of the body. The result of this is a well-balanced body that you know what it is capable of doing. The muscles you get by doing this are lean too, which means that you will have a great strength to weight ratio.
The different maneuvers that you have to perform in gymnastics help to keep you both agile and flexible. They also gradually build up your endurance level, and the constant task of learning new and more complicated things is something that prevents your body from stagnating by getting into a rut of the same tasks over and over again.
Gymnastics is also one of the very best ways that helps you to get good muscle coordination. You pretty much have to be coordinated and to a fairly large degree in order to do flips and things on a 4” wooden beam without falling off of it. This coordination can be very practical to have in other areas of your life as well.
3. Gymnastics Is Good For The Mind
There are many reasons why learning gymnastics is good for the mind. The first one I will mention is that it builds up your confidence both in yourself and in your abilities. Most people who do gymnastics learn to overcome any fear of heights or fear of falling that they might otherwise have had.
While this is due in part to conditioning as the gymnast gets accustomed to being high on the bars or standing up on the beam, this is not the only reason. The other reason why it builds confidence is because gymnastics can really give you a strong sense of your own body and a knowledge of your limitations as well as all the things that you are capable of doing.
For children in particular, gymnastics can be a good way to teach them perseverance and it gives them goals that they learn that they have to work for. These are great life lessons to start working on at an early age and they come included with a few lessons in responsibility as they learn how to take care of their own body by doing warm ups and things before practicing hard.
Having to pay attention to their coach also helps to build concentration and can help to lengthen a child’s attention span sometimes. The increased activity also causes your body to release endorphins which boost your mood and make you happier overall.
The constant challenge of learning harder and more complicated maneuvers can also make you enjoy challenges more and to not be afraid of them. Most of the time this will also make a kid in particular more curious since they will want to constantly test the limits of what they can do and they are much less likely to be afraid if they fall down once or twice in the process. In fact, falling down rarely bothers anyone at all if they are used to gymnastics.
4. Gymnastics Is A Good Way To Socialize
Regularly being around other people your own age, whether you are a little person or an adult, is a great way to socialize with others. Not only are you around other people, but these other people are doing the same things and facing the same struggles that you are!
This makes the perfect recipe for starting up conversations and for making some new friends. Even if you are usually the quiet one, you will often still be able to laugh and sympathize with the other members of your class. And you won’t be able to deny that seeing these same people regularly will help you grow more comfortable around them over time if you are a shy type.
Just as important, gymnastics is a good thing for you to do if you struggle with finding things to do out of the house and want to get out more often. It is especially a good way to help kids to build up their social skills as they have to listen to their teacher, take turns doing things with other kids, and follow directions that are given to them.
It is also a good way to learn how to accept constructive criticism as the instructor give you pointers and tells you what areas you need to work more on. While some of this part depends on the instructor, it can still be good practice no matter what age you are.
5. Gymnastics Is Just Plain Fun To Do!
What could possibly be more fun to a kid than getting to climb around on things, jump off of things, and at times to quite literally be told to roll around on the ground?! While older kids and adult might feel rather silly doing these things at first, it is a great way to bring out your inner kid which is something that most adults could use more of.
No doubt as you learn gymnastics you will develop favorite things that you like the best. The bars tend to be a general favorite, however, since the spinning and flipping around on the bar can be quite exhilarating and can almost give a feeling of near weightlessness.
Also, the skills you learn in gymnastics can even be made to apply to other sports as well. Ballet, cheerleading, various kinds of dancing, and even a few martial arts moves are all quite similar. This means that if you want to tinker around in any of these areas then you already have a head start. It also means that if you were to get into a conversation with a person who does one of these that you will at least be able to understand most of what they are saying.