The darker side of competitive gymnastics for kids

Are there any downsides to participating in competitive gymnastics for a child? Originally answered on Jan. 17, 2016.

This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter , Facebook , and Google+ .

Answer by Kristen Michelle Leccese, lifelong gymnast:

In short, yes. Absolutely. This is a topic I feel quite strongly about because of my own experience. I competed in gymnastics as a kid, and later as I grew up and evolved, I got to thinking about how insane the sport really is.  I am not saying that I have any regrets. Gymnastics is incredible, and those years of training shaped the person I am today. But as far as downsides, there are many. Before I go off on a tangent, let me give you a rough outline.

Injuries. Your kid will get injured. It's not really a question of "if" they will get injured — there is nothing to stop this in our sport. Right now, I am in my 20s and sitting here with pain in my back from a fracture that happened 15 years ago, a huge scar from a surgery you don't want the details on, and hips that make a noise no body part should ever make. It's hard to deal with for a kid, and harder to watch as a parent. There's no way around it.

Fear. I think some gymnasts are very good at blocking out the mechanics of what they are actually doing. I was not. When you break it down, this sport, simply put, is insane...


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