Wondering if you are already too old to learn gymnastics is actually a very common question that people ask themselves along with wondering just how old is too old to start learning gymnastics. Face it, no one wants to start learning and to be placed with a group of kids half their own age who can do things better than they can!
You can start learning gymnastics at any age at all, no matter how old you are, so in that respect you are never too late to start gymnastics. However, the younger you are the better your chances are of doing well in this sport.
There are a number of different factors that you should take into consideration besides just your age, though your age is an important factor as well especially in this sport. There are also different age ranges that give you the best chances to meet certain goals. For example, if you don’t start learning gymnastics until you are almost thirty years old you probably shouldn’t hold out any hopes that you will make it onto the Olympic Gymnastics Team.
What Different Things Might Affect Whether You Are Too Late Or Not?
First of all, there is our age of course, but I will get into that more a little bit further down in the age sections. The next thing that comes into play in whether or not you are too late to start gymnastics is your natural abilities and how much you might already know. While already knowing how to do your cartwheel, handstand, splits, and other things are not things that you are required to know when you first start learning gymnastics, knowing these can give you a head start and help you pass the lower levels of gymnastics faster if you are a late starter.
Along with this is the fact that if you are switching over from something else like ballet that also requires flexibility and discipline then you will have even more of a head start. Part of this is because of the fact that gymnastics has a few of the same moves that ballet does, so this means that there will be fewer skills for you to learn. The other part of this is due to the fact that you will have already been working on your discipline and at increasing your overall flexibility, both of which are key factors when it comes to gymnastics.
The third thing that you should take into consideration is how much spare time you have that you can dedicate to your training. Even if you get a later start than other gymnasts, if you are willing and have the time to devote a ton of extra hours into practicing in order to catch up, then you are not too late at all. However, if your schedule is already pretty much full and you do not have any extra time to give to gymnastics, then you likely won’t be able to catch up if you get a late start or at the least it will take you a lot longer to catch up.
A fourth thing that you should think about is the funds that you will need for this. Learning gymnastics takes time in training classes, which in turn costs money. The more training that you need in order to make it to your goal, the more money it will likely cost you, not only for coaches but also for the equipment that you will need so that you can train at home in order to help you catch up.
If you start learning gymnastics at a young age, these costs are more spread out over the years that you are learning. On the other hand, if you are getting older and are trying to catch up to the younger gymnasts who started training years before you, then you will have to spend more money for extra training in order to make it there.
Finally, another thing that few people take into consideration is their health. In particular this applies to whether or not you have had any previous injuries such as broken bones, bad sprains, surgeries for any reason, or any other things of that nature. While a broken bone does heal over time, even taking the cast off does not mean that you are ready to start gymnastics again.
The same is true for sprains and other things. Gymnastics can be a very strenuous sport to learn and is rather hard on the different parts of your body. Often it can take weeks even after you are healed before you should be safe to start back up with your training again, and sometimes an injury at just the wrong spot can cause permanent damage that means that you should never try certain gymnastics moves.
Another part of your health that you should take into consideration before you start gymnastics is the current health of your bones, joints, and muscles. If you know that you have weak bones or weak ankles or wrists, then you will need to take extra time in order to build these parts of your body up. If you are in doubt about either the state of your bones or about any previous injuries, it is always a good idea to talk about it to your doctor at your next checkup and to ask them if they think you are fit enough to start gymnastics.
If You Are Somewhere Between The Ages Of 0-9 Years Old
This is the perfect age range to start gymnastics training at no matter what your future goals are for yourself in this sport. Whether you are just doing gymnastics for fun, or want to get into competing, or even if you want to make it all the way to being an Olympic gymnast, you are at the age where you can accomplish anything you want in this sport if you apply yourself.
Even though you are starting gymnastics at a great age, you will still have to work hard in order to make it to the elite level, the Olympics, or to be able to get a college scholarship. To make it to these goals you will likely reach a point where you will have to give up any activity that takes time away from your training and will also quite possibly have to quit going to a public school and choose to be homeschooled instead.
Being homeschooled is a great option for young gymnasts who know that they want to be a professional gymnast someday. One of the main benefits it offers is that it gives you so much more time that you can spend training. Not only will you not have to wait for a school bus twice a day and spend that time traveling back and forth to school, but you will also be able to do stretches while you are studying and other things like that which you would not be able to do in a classroom setting.
If, on the other hand, you are just interested in gymnastics solely as a way to make friends, exercise, and maybe compete a little too, then this is still the perfect age to start. Friends that are made in gymnastics classes can turn out to be lifelong ones, and even should you choose later on to switch sports, gymnastics will give you great physical foundations to build on.
If You Are Somewhere Between The Ages Of 10-13 Years Old
In this age range you still have a lot of different possibilities in regards to learning gymnastics. Even though this age range is still considered to be a bit old to be starting to learn gymnastics, if you can go fast enough up through the levels and have plenty of the skills that you already know, then you can still hold out hope that you can make it to the Olympics if you are willing to devote lots of extra time into practicing and are willing to switch to being homeschooled.
This is also the age range that college recruiters are starting to look for talented gymnasts in order to determine who they are going to give a college scholarship to. However, though they are looking at gymnasts in this age rage, they are looking at gymnasts who are at least level 9 or higher. This means that if you are only just starting to learn gymnastics at this age, then you likely will not get good enough for a college scholarship just yet.
However, just as often college recruiters are going to be looking at gymnasts who are up to 18 years old, so if you were to start now and put all your time into gymnastics training then you may well be able to reach level 9 or even level 10 by the time you are that age. The first few levels are generally the easiest, with the last 5 levels taking on average around 3 or 4 years to learn.
This means that if you apply yourself and can get to level 5 in 3 year’s time that it is entirely possible to make it to level 10 in gymnastics in just 7 years or so. While this is certainly not the case for all gymnasts, it is feasible if none of the skills of any of the levels hold you up, and it would result in you being at level 9 by around 17 or 18 years old if you start learning now. This would put you at both the right skill level and at the right age for you to be noticed by a college scout.
And, even if you are not at all interested in ever making it to those places, starting gymnastics at this age is still a great age to start it up as a hobby and as a way of meeting other kids and making friends. A number of kids do not start learning gymnastics until they are in this age range, so you will likely have plenty of company and will not have to be “stuck” with kids who are younger than you and who might be more talented.
If You Are Somewhere Between The Ages Of 14-18 Years Old
If you are between 14 and 18 years of age, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there are still things that you can do if you are starting here, such as competing in gymnastics for one. The bad news is that it will be much harder for you to go pro if that is what you want to do in gymnastics.
Since these are the last years that college recruiters are looking for gymnasts, then if you are only now starting to learn gymnastics then I am afraid you are too late to start gymnastics with the goal of getting a college scholarship out of it. Even if you were to start learning at 14 years old, you would not be able to make it all the way to level 9 and have the degree of proficiency that you would need in order to be noticed by a talent scout by the time you reach 18 years old.
Most gymnasts on the Olympic team are not too far away from the minimum age of 16 years old when they make the team, so by the time you reach this age range you are also too old to hope to become an Olympic gymnast. Those gymnasts are ones who have been at the elite level, and have been competing at that level for usually for at least a couple of years, before they reached 16 years old.
However, there are a few goals that you can still hope to achieve, even starting at this late of an age. If you want to get good enough to compete at gymnastics meets, there is nothing at all holding you back even if you don’t start learning gymnastics until you reach this age. You are never too late to start learning gymnastics if you are looking to compete, and Xcel programs allow almost any age to start as beginners. This program is also great at getting you into competing as soon as possible.
There is also nothing that is preventing you from becoming an elite gymnast if that is your dream goal. However, you will likely have to do this in a more round-about way, and I will tell you what I mean by this. In order to become an elite gymnast you first have to be a level 10 gymnast usually in the JO program.
In order to get into the JO program you have to start with level 1 before you can start working your way up to level 10. And this is where the hitch comes in: most gyms have a cut-off age for the level 1 of their JO program, and once you are past that age you are not allowed to start it as a beginner. This age differs some from one gym to another, but it can sometimes be as young as 6 or 7 years old. While most gyms allow kids into the program who are a bit older than that, you may have a hard time finding a gym with a JO program that will let you join if you are in this age range.
However, you are not without hope! This is where the round-about way comes in. The Xcel program is usually much more welcoming in regards to older beginners. By finding a gym that has this program and joining it, you can go up through its levels and learn a lot about gymnastics. The Xcel program does not take you up anywhere near the elite gymnast level though, which is where the JO program comes back in.
While the JO program may not let a 14-18 year old into the program who knows nothing about gymnastics, if you are already to the point where you are a diamond level in the Xcel program then you are much more likely to be able to join. This is because you will be able to breeze through the first 3-4 levels of the JO program and end up being a level 4 or 5 gymnast.
You should know if you attempt this that because your muscles are not properly trained it will take a lot more time to learn gymnastics than it would if your muscles had been trained correctly from the very beginning, but this is the best way to go about it if you are too old to enter the JO program level 1. There is also no age limit on how old is too old to become an elite gymnast, so you can still make it.
If You Are Somewhere Between The Ages Of 19-25 Years Old
If you are in this age range then you are still young and active and are still not too late to learn gymnastics, especially if you already have a history and have spent a few years or so at learning another physical sport that requires flexibility. While you are definitely too old to get a college scholarship or to go to the Olympics, you are not too old to compete by a long shot.
With a ton of work and practice, you may even find it possible still to become an elite gymnast if that is something that you really want to do. This is something that will take you much longer than you might think, however, since your muscles will have to be trained and you may also have to have a job or something at this age in order to pay for your classes. Having a job will also cut down on the amount of time that you can spend with your gymnastics training, which will make it take you longer to get to the higher levels.
If you are going to college, some colleges have gymnastics programs that you can join even if you are a beginner. These can be a great way to get into the sport and to start learning the basics if you can pick a college that has one of these programs and that allows beginners to join it.
If You Are Somewhere Between The Ages Of 26-40 Years Old
In this age range you may not feel that you are quite as young as you once were, and you probably feel that you are not nearly young enough to learn something like gymnasts. You should definitely schedule an appointment with your doctor before you start taking classes and you should be prepared to take the classes extra slow so that you don’t pull anything by going too fast.
Other than those two things, however, you should definitely do gymnastics if that is what you want to do. This is the perfect age range to take adult gymnastics classes, and if you can find a class that is specifically for adults then you won’t be stuck in a class with a bunch of little kids who are still young enough to be naturally flexible.
While most of the time these classes never take you to the point where you actually compete, they are a great start in getting to that point. While some coaches might be hesitant to teach adults the more complicated gymnastics skills for fear of them getting injured, other coaches are quite willing to work with adults that may be getting on in years and can be a huge help telling you where to go if they cannot help you themselves.
As mentioned, sometimes there is an age limit in some gyms and in some programs, so finding both a gym and a coach to teach you at this age may be hard if you want to go far in gymnastics and eventually compete or even to make it to the point where you can be an elite gymnast.
Having a full-time job will definitely make it take you longer and will give you less time to train, but may well be the only way to pay for the classes. Most adults who have every intention of becoming a professional gymnast choose a profession that has a high rate of pay that they can do part-time so that they have the money that they need for gymnastics in addition to having as much time as possible for their training.
If You Are Older Than 40 Years Old
If you are already over the age of 40 years old, then you likely believe that it is way too late for you to even hope to learn anything about gymnastics at all, but this is not true. Did you know that the USAG actually has a division in its competitions that is specifically for seniors who are aged 50 years old and up?
Also, the oldest competing gymnast at this point in time is a woman from Germany who is over 90 years old. She started learning gymnastics when she was ten, had to stop for a while due to WWII, and many years and three kids later when she was at the age of 57 she picked back up again. While gymnasts this age are far less common than younger gymnasts, if you are physically fit and 40 – or older – then if you want to be a gymnast you should still go for it!
At this age you will likely never make it to the elite level or anything else, but you can still compete – obviously even past the age of 50 if they have a specific division for gymnasts who are older than that age. This can be a great hobby that will really keep you in shape and that will also get you out of the house so that you do not become a recluse or anything after you retire.
You will want to give extra attention to your bones and train with added care so that you do not injure yourself, especially as you are first learning and building your muscles up. A doctor’s appointment can let you know if any previous injuries that you have gotten in the past should interfere with you doing gymnastics. Your doctor should also be able to tell you if there are any particular areas where you might need to be extra careful and may even be able to give you things that you can do or recommend certain vitamins that you can take in order to help you avoid getting hurt.
Perhaps you are wondering if any gyms will even let you start training at your age. While you will find it quite difficult to find a coach that will start training you at this age, just keep looking because those coaches do exist. Occasionally a senior citizens’ place will have a gymnastics class in the same way they might have a sewing class or a dance class, but other than this you may very likely have to just find a gymnastics coach that will train you in private lessons if you cannot find a class.