Artistic Gymnastics vs. Trampoline and Tumbling

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Hey everyone! Today I’m going to be talking about two fundamentally similar, but ultimately unique, sports: artistic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling. If you’re reading this post, I’m assuming you have at least some knowledge of gymnastics and trampoline. If you’re not familiar with the latter, I’m working on the post “Trampoline 101” which covers the basics of trampoline, double mini, and power tumbling. The main topic of this post is whether or not you, dear athlete, should choose artistic gymnastics, trampoline, or maybe both!

Pros of tramp

  1. If you have any gymnastics experience already, you will adapt easily to trampoline. There are a few technique differences in the jumps and somersaults, but most of your skills will translate very well.
  2. All the events use a pretty similar skill set. Tumbling is the odd one out of the bunch, but if you’re not too good at it or any other apparatus it’s not the end of the world because…
  3. You don’t have to be the same level on all events. This is by far the biggest pro in my opinion. If you’re terrible at one event, it won’t hold you back from advancing on other apparatus. You don’t even have to compete on all events. Most trampolinists I know do trampoline and double mini, but not tumbling. Conversely, some people only tumble, and others do all three. It is up to you, your coach, and the type of program your gym offers.
  4. It’s usually coed. Both girls and boys compete on the same apparatus, so most programs don’t limit their availability to only one gender, which is nice for boys trying to find gymnastics opportunities.

Cons of tramp

  1. It’s an unknown and under appreciated sport. Most people can at least sort of visualize what you mean when you tell them you’re a gymnast, but when you tell someone you do trampoline, most people will be confused. “That’s a sport?” And don’t even get me started on trying to explain double mini to people who’ve never seen one.
  2. Since it’s relatively unknown, finding places that offer it can be tough. I know this is not the same in all countries, but in the US, trampoline can be very hard to find. Not as hard as acro, but it is still a smaller niche than artistic gymnastics.
  3. Lack of “artistry.” I would argue that there is artistry in the technique and execution of trampoline and tumbling passes, but if you’re looking for dance and music, this is not the sport for you. This probably won’t be too hard for boys to come to grips with, as MAG is already like that, but for girls who love dancing on floor and beam, this is a major consideration.
  4. Lack of college opportunities. As of 2019, there is no NCAA T&T (though I highly doubt I need to specify the date as I’m wary of it ever happening due to insurance issues). The National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs has just added T&T (minus synchro) to its events, but there are still very few colleges that offer it. All is not lost, however: the emerging women’s sport of acrobatics and tumbling often recruits power tumblers. For boys (and girls), tumblers can also try to find scholarships from competitive college cheer teams, and trampolinists can try diving.

Pros of WAG/MAG

  1. It is a well established sport. Even in the most rural of places, one can find a women’s program. Boys’ programs can be a bit harder to find, but they are still more ubiquitous than trampoline gyms.
  2. Artistry. On the women’s side there are dance elements on beam and floor, as well as music with the latter, that many find to be the most fun and compelling aspects of the sport. If you loathe those elements, trampoline might be a better fit.
  3. College opportunities. There are a plethora of both NCAA and club college teams all around the United States offering scholarships or, at the very least, a good way to make friends in college. If you’re thinking of switching sports, high-level gymnasts can easily transition to cheer, acro and tumbling, or diving.
  4. Community. Just looking on YouTube, there are tons of channels dedicated to artistic gymnastics. Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media sites also have huge gymnast and gym fan communities; it’s hard to find basically any channels or accounts dedicated to T&T.

Cons of WAG/MAG

  1. It’s expensive. This is probably not the case everywhere depending on the level of the athletes, Xcel vs. JO, USAG vs. USTA and AAU, etc. but it seems to me that gymnastics doesn’t really cater to lower income families. Leotards are expensive, warm ups are expensive, practice wear is expensive, I can go on. It may just be the culture of my gym, but it seems most of the trampoline gyms here try to keep costs on stuff such as leotards as low as possible (my leotard was $35, I bought my warmups off Amazon and had the jacket customized).
  2. Gymnastics is incredibly hard on the body. It’s rare to see an elite female gymnast over the age of 25, let alone in her 30s. And tons more athletes burn out before they even become senior elite. Trampoline doesn’t have nearly as compressed a time table, with the majority of trampolinists being in their twenties or thirties. That’s not to say there aren’t junior elites in T&T, nor that T&T isn’t hard on the body at all, but the longevity of an athletic career is far longer in trampoline than gymnastics.
  3. If you’re bad at one event, in hinders your growth in all other areas. Maybe you suck at beam. Maybe you hate bars. Maybe you’re good at tumbling but have terrible leaps or turns. Regardless, you will be stuck until you are well rounded enough to meet the mobility score and move on to the next level. And with the Olympic committee continually shrinking down the team sizes, you can forget about being an event specialist.
  4. MAG and WAG are two different beasts. Despite the fact that the are both artistic gymnastics, men’s and women’s gymnastics only have two apparatus in common and an entirely different code of points. T&T is scored the exact same for men and women, the only major difference between the two being the level of difficulty of elite voluntary passes.

And there you have it. Some (not all!) of the pros and cons of MAG/WAG and T&T. I should also mention that some gyms don’t force you to pick one sport: I know several gymnasts who do both. However, due to both financial reasons and possible schedule conflicts, it may be wiser to stick with one sport. I hope this was helpful for those trying to decide between the two. Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you soon.