Being a gymnast requires you to be agile, powerful, and — most importantly — mobile. As such, gymnastics competitions feature a variety of movements that require competitors to demonstrate the ability to move their bodies in challenging ways.
If you’re an aspiring gymnast who happens to be taller than most of your peers (and your future teammates), does that mean you’ll never get to demonstrate your skills on the bars, balance beam, or floor exercise? Not necessarily.
While many people see gymnastics as a sport that’s only accessible to those with average height, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although it can be challenging for tall people to find clothes that fit, especially pants and shorts, there are no height restrictions for participating in gymnastics.
Whether you’re a tall man with lanky limbs and an above-average wingspan or a tall woman with long legs and arms, there are still plenty of ways to participate in the sport. In fact, many popular gymnasts such as Simone Biles and Madison Kocian are also quite tall (Biles is 5 feet 9 inches; Kocian is 6 feet 0 inches).
There are several reasons why being tall might actually be a benefit when participating in sports like gymnastics — as long as you’re willing to work extra hard to make up for any natural shortcomings.
In this post, we will answer your question, tell you how being tall might be both an advantage and a disadvantage in gymnastics, how to make up for your shortcomings, and also give some insight into training if you want to pursue becoming an elite level athlete.
How Does Being Tall Benefit a Gymnast?
When you’re tall, you generally have longer limbs than someone shorter. Though this is true for all kinds of people, it might benefit a gymnast in a few key ways.
You can probably reach further on bars (and rings), have a longer lever for pushing and pulling on the floor exercise, and have a longer leg for the pommel horse.
This gives you an edge when trying to do skills that may otherwise be difficult for someone with shorter limbs, like handstands on bars and the rings, or even jump connections on the uneven bars.
If your long limbs are properly trained and developed, they can be an advantage for other sports as well. You might have an advantage in basketball, volleyball, or even swimming, though it will vary sport by sport. In sports like soccer or tennis, however, you might have a bit more trouble covering the court or hitting the ball.
Why Might Being Tall Be a Disadvantage for Gymnastics?
If you’re really tall, you might have a disadvantage on the bars and floor exercise, depending on how you are built. You might have shorter arms or shorter legs, which can make swinging and doing certain skills a challenge.
On the floor exercise, you may have a higher center of gravity, which can make stunts like back handsprings more challenging. Generally, though, it’s the gymnasts with shorter legs who will have the hardest time.
On the uneven bars, taller gymnasts might have an advantage because they can go over the bar with a lower hand position. This can make it easier to connect between different bars.
On the balance beam, you may have a disadvantage because you’ll have to jump higher. Not only does this mean you have to have more power and speed to get off the beam, but you also have to have precise timing to land the jump.
If you’re taller, this can be challenging because you may have to jump higher than the other gymnasts.
Help for The Shortcoming: Tricks and Skills
If you’re tall, it might be beneficial to practice more advanced skills that use your height to your advantage. For example, the uneven bars require a handstand at some point.
If you’re tall, you’ll have an easier time balancing in a handstand on the lower bars. If you’re struggling with a particular skill, it might be helpful to practice more advanced skills that use your height to your advantage.
Alternatively, you might want to find a skill that’s more suited to your body type. For example, the floor exercise is mostly about leg strength and power. If you have a shorter leg, this might be a good event for you to compete in.
If you’re really tall, you may want to consider the following events: high bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, and the floor exercise. If you’re on the shorter side, you might want to consider the vault, the uneven bars, and the low bar.
Here Are Some Insight into Training If You Want to Pursue a Career in Gymnastics
Building the Foundation: Basics and Stretching
To build a strong foundation, gymnasts should focus on building core strength with exercises such as planks and bridges. These exercises help to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body, which is essential when performing gymnastics skills.
In addition to building strength, gymnasts should focus on building flexibility. Exercises such as yoga can help improve flexibility, which is important when performing multiple skill variations.
In addition to building strength and flexibility, gymnasts should also focus on improving their technique. This can help prevent injury and allow gymnasts to perform at their highest potential. When training, gymnasts should focus on slow and controlled movements. This helps to improve technique and prevent injury.
Progression and Consistency Are Key
As with any sport, it is important to build your foundation and master the fundamentals before progressing to more advanced skills. It is important to start with the basics, such as bodyweight exercises, core strength, and flexibility. It is also important to be consistent with your training.
When participating in a sport, it is essential to train at least three times a week, with one of those training days focusing on technique. To progress and perform well in a competition, a gymnast must put in consistent hard work, coupled with a healthy diet and adequate rest.
Do Not Neglect Upper-Body Strength
While gymnasts should focus on developing their core, they shouldn’t neglect their upper body strength. Having strong arms, shoulders, and upper back is essential for many of the events in gymnastics.
Exercises such as push-ups and free weight exercises, such as dumbbell bench presses and overhead presses, are a great way to build upper body strength.
Gymnasts need to have good upper body strength because it helps them maintain a strong and stable posture, which is essential for balancing and lifting skills. A strong upper body can also help prevent injury and improve overall performance.
Being tall is a blessing and a curse. If you’re tall, you may have an advantage in sports like basketball, volleyball, or gymnastics. On the other hand, you might have a disadvantage in sports like tennis or soccer.
When participating in a sport like gymnastics, it is essential to build a strong foundation and master the basics before progressing to more advanced skills.
It is important to focus on building core strength, improving technique, and building upper body strength. It may also be beneficial to practice more advanced skills that can take advantage of your height, such as the uneven bars.