Growing up I remember trying all sorts of sports. I loved playing games and being involved in a collective group where I felt accomplished and welcomed. For me that was my time involved in recreational sports. I did these sports purely for enjoyment and didn’t really care whether I won or lost.
At one point, I was ready for more.
Right around the time I turned 9, I was involved in soccer and in tumbling. Those two were the sports that I was best at and enjoyed the most. I later left recreational classes and became and competitive tumbler and my soccer team moved on to a competitive league. At this point, I wanted to put a vast amount of dedication and training into my competitive sports. I met multiple times a week for competitive tumbling, where my classes became longer and tougher. I also achieved a lot more over a shorter period of time. Since I was in the gym multiple times a week for extended periods I dedicated myself to my tumbling so I was ready when it was time to compete.
Going beyond my personal limits
I like to think of recreational sports as the “try it, before you buy it.” This gives kids an opportunity to explore their interest and learn about sports or activities they like. Recreational sports do not have a need for a serious dedication to them, which can be great for kids who want to be involved in sports without all the extra practices, competitions and games. This can be great, because this allows kids to be involved in multiple activities without being held down and confined by one activity.
Although class was tough, I enjoyed being pushed to my limits. My coaches were harder on me and expected more out of me but I LOVED the challenge. For me this is how I moved from recreational to competitive. I enjoyed tumbling so much that I was up for a challenge and the hard work that came along with it.
The benefits of recreational sports
Recreational sports allow kids to be kids, all while having fun and learning new skills. Not every child wants to play a competitive sport, and that’s great too. The best part about recreational sports is that kids can really have the time to explore all options and learn what they like best. Think of recreational sports like the buffet and competitive sports like a particular type of cuisine. The food is great no matter what – but what you’re hungry for is entirely up to you!
Whether you’re looking for gymnastics, tumbling or cheerleading, it’s important to find a gym that has a program for you. Not everyone is interested in competitive sports, and not everyone is interested in recreational sports. Find a gym that can value you and your athlete for what you want and hope to achieve.