Do you remember the first time you or your parent signed you up for a gymnastics class? In all likelihood, you experienced some form of “neophobia”: the fear of something new. Trying new things definitely comes more easily to some people than others. As a psychiatrist blogger explains, “Unfamiliarity often rings the alarm bell ‘danger — potentially unsafe.’” Well, one way that you can help mute (or at least lower the volume) on that alarm sounding for new gymnasts is by providing them with a “Bag List” before their first practice.
We’ll start with more basic items, familiar to any person or athlete, and then move to more gymnastics-specific items.
Personal Hygiene Items
Personal hygiene items top the list, because they’ll help your gymnasts avoid embarrassment or discomfort — both enemies to all that confidence and comfort we all want to encourage! First on the list is definitely deodorant. This must-have item will be important on a hot day or during or after an especially intense workout, or when stakes feel especially high, like they will on that first day! Lip balm and lotion may also need to be reapplied after practice to combat the effects of the dry gym environment. But be sure to add this caution: If used during practice, moisturizers can lead to slipping. Afterward, they’re necessary to replace the moisture.
Hair Care Items
In addition to body care items, gymnasts will need to have hairspray, a brush, and hair accessories on hand. This isn’t just about appearances — it’s also important for safety. Gymnasts have to have their hair pulled back, offering optimal visual range. Long hair needs to be secured to prevent catching. Any hair accessories should lie close to the head so they reduce opportunities for injury, instead of increasing risk. Depending on hair length and personal preferences, a variety of clips and hair bands should be kept in any gymnast’s bag, along with any styling tools needed for an after-practice do.
Hydration & Refueling
Water or a sports drink will be crucial for during practice, and a healthy snack should be ready for afterward. Gymnasts should be allowed to keep a spill-proof water bottle on hand throughout practice to provide much-needed hydration. It’s not a bad idea to have an extra one ready in their gym bag for after practice. Because of the energy they will deplete during practice, they’ll also need a high-energy snack that’s easy to digest, such as granola bars or trail mix, for after practice ends. Natural, protein-rich snacks are definitely preferred over highly processed, sugary ones. (More about that, in another post.)
Creating and distributing a “Bag List” won’t cost you much but will repay you with gymnasts who feel successful, confident, and comfortable, from the start.
For the remaining recommendations for items to include on your Bag List, check out Part 2 (coming soon!).
Image credits: Top © pololia/Fotolia; 2nd © pololia/Fotolia; 3rd © satyrenko/Fotolia; 4th © Photographee.eu/Fotolia; 5th © Makarenko Alexandr/Fotolia.