One-Stop Guide to Competing as an Adult Gymnast

Say what? Adult gymnast? We are anyone 18+, with a general range of probably 22-45. And yes, we still compete!

If you are an adult gymnast, it can be difficult to figure out how you are able to find and enter competitions. This one-stop guide will show you how to jump into this fun and exciting world! 

AAU: Ladies Division

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer, sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs.


Pros: Costs are lower than many other gymnastics leagues. Your club doesn't need to be an AAU member. And most meets don't require you to have your own coach. Simply let the coaches at the meet know you are alone and they are usually glad to help you set your springboard, the bars, etc. You can train at adult classes or open gyms as fits your schedule and just show up for the meets.

Cons: Some areas of the country don't have many meets. Other than Nationals or Junior Olympics, there are not often many adults to compete against (although the more of us who enter, the better!) There is a winter nationals and a summer nationals, and JO happens mid summer. The sites vary from year to year across the United States, but are usually in Florida or the Midwest.

Step 1: Become a member. Memberships usually run Sept. 1 thru August 31 of each calander year. You can purchase one- or two-year memberships. The AAU Adult Athlete Membership $24 for a year. If you have a coach you will want on the floor, he/she will need to become a Non-Athlete Member. The Non-Athlete is $16. Become a member

Step 2: Figure out what level you will compete. Reference the AAU Gymnastics Handbook. Levels are the same as USAG. The only exception is that you can use air-o-board for any Xcel level with no deduction. And there is no time limit on floor or beam. Otherwise, the rules are exactly the same at the national level. There may be a few districts that have modifications to the rules such as Florida and Georgia. These changes should be available online if you search 'Florida AAU Gymnastics rules' for example.

You will compete in the 'Ladies Division.' Bike shorts are allowed in meets. Many meets only offer Ladies Division XCel levels. These routines are optionals, meaning that you create your own within the rules. It's OK if you don't quite meet the requirements. Your score will just start from less than 10.0 on that event.

Step 3: Find events in which to compete. You will have to send in your intent and the fees typically at least 2 months ahead. Ladies don't have to pre-qualify to any meets. Find an event

NAIGC

The National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC) is an organization set forth to provide further gymnastics opportunities for college aged and adult gymnasts. The NAIGC is a great place for male and female gymnasts with any level of experience, ranging from absolutely none to training elite. The main goal of the NAIGC is to provide a fun environment for gymnasts to continue/start their gymnastics careers.

There are a handful of meets in October and November, but most meets occur January - March. People can participate as individuals or as a part of a club. The season culminates with a National Championship meet in April. With exception of a few competitions, the NAIGC is co-ed. Most NAIGC clubs will not have tryouts and everyone will make the club team. Most clubs will have semester or annual membership fees.


Pros: There's college club teams all over the country and you don't have to be a student to compete. The meet fees are lower than with most organizations. There are also a number of community adult clubs for which you can compete as an individual who typically trains alone.

Cons: For women, there is only the choice of USAG Level 8 or 9, which are harder levels than many adult gymnasts have achieved. However, you may compete as much as you can and just accept lower start values. Many do, and it's a low-pressure, fun environment. To compete in Nationals you have to be an NAIGC member which is about $30 and comes with a membership gift along with the Nationals meet fee which covers your competition and includes a meet t-shirt. Note: Men have their own levels and rules.

Step 1: A list of clubs appears here: List of NAIGC clubs

Step 2: You can also check out our facebook page: NAIGC Facebook Page or member group NAIGC Member Group as a good way to learn more and connect with NAIGC members.

USAIGC

USAIGC provides an environment that fosters and nurtures the attributes of a sound mind, sound body leading to successful healthy and well-rounded gymnasts. The competitive program is built on long-term skill development with the intentional slowing down of our gymnast's learning curve providing the necessary time to develop and perfect gymnastic skills in a safe, logical, progressive order without excessive training hours (such as what might be needed in a compulsory entry tract). 

The competitive options prevent gymnast's 'frustration' of being stuck in a competitive level: 

1. The gymnast's skill level determines their competitive entry level. 

2. Mobility between competitive levels is decided by the coach, not by a score. 

3.  Mobility between competitive levels does not have to be in progressive order. 

4.  Gymnasts may compete on two consecutive competitive levels (All-Around and/or an Individual Event Specialist) on their next level up.

5. There are five competitive platforms: (a) All Around, (b) Individual Event, (c) Team and (d) Club High School, (e) International. Our International competitions are open to all USAIGC competitive levels.

The membership fee is $40/year.


Pros: No coach or club affiliation needed; just select United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs as your club when you register for your membership and you will be able to compete as an independent: Click here to register for your membership. There are TONS of meets to choose from and there are pretty much meets offered every weekend during the season. Click here for the master list. USAIGC is very supportive of adult gymnasts. In many of the meets, you will be introduced to the audience as an adult gymnast and held up as a great example for all the competitors before a competitive session.

Another great Pro is WORLDS! Every year at the end of June-beginning of July, USAIGC hosts a World Championships. Gymnasts from all over the world (USA, Bermuda, Canada, England, India, Mexico, Romania, South Africa & Wales) gather for a week of competition. Meets are usually held in Orlando or Palm Springs (alternating each year). They even have event finals for ALL competitive levels! It's an amazing experience. Adult athletes (16+) are allowed to directly qualify to the World Championships from any meet hosted by USAIGC (not by a local club), making it easier for adults to qualify and not having to compete in so many meets. Click here for a list of those meets. They have a Club Directory, making it easy to find a club near you.

Cons: The main concentration of USAIGC clubs and meets are in the NY/NJ area. Judges need to attend special USAIGC trainings each year in order to be available to judge meets for the organization. This has made it hard for the league to expand into other areas. Meet fees are comparable to those in USAG (which can be higher than other leagues). Meet fees aren't listed on the website for most meets so you'd have to contact the host club for that information.

USAG

Any USAG Junior Olympic level or XCel level offers the opportunity to compete with other athletes of a similar skill level. USAG aims to encourage participation in all aspects of gymnastics, and support athletes in their pursuit of competitive excellence, generate public awareness of the sport of gymnastics. Summaries of some of the various levels are listed below.

Age groups tend to vary from meet to meet from state to state.  I There is a chance you won't have other competitors in your age group. You may be the only adult competing in the meet. Some meets will place you in an age group where you will have competitors (these age groups are usually a certain age, 'and up.' Example: 13+ or 15+.

Here are some links to the rule charts to help you determine which level/division is most appropriate.


JO overview

JO level 6-8 cheat sheet

JO level 9-10 cheat sheet


Pros: There are TONS of meets all over the United States. You will have a coach, since you will be affiliated with a member club. And that coach will send in your info. to the meets for you. There will always be gymnasts in your age group.

Cons: Not every gym will allow an adult to train with the team, for either insurance or other reasons. It never hurts to ask though! However, there are not that many adults who compete UASG, so you're typically in a meet with mostly youth athletes (i.e. age 18 and under). Also, the meets tend to be more expensive than with other leagues.


Step 1:  Search for areas around you that have competitive gymnastics teams.

Step 2:  Call, email or stop in to inquire about the opportunity to train with their team. Usually if there is a possibility, just like with children, you will be asked to 'try out' one day before a commitment is made.

Step 3:  Make sure their practice schedule jives with yours! Many practices occur right after school, which can be tough for adult schedules.

If you are in New England and don't currently have a coach who can accompany you to meets and you'd like to compete USAG, please contact Melody of Oxford Hills Gymnnastics. She may be able to help you out!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.