Warm up games in gymnastics prepare children for practicing skills. Games are designed to increase flexibility, get blood flowing and familiarize children with movements that are used in gymnastic skills. While older children, or children who are at the competitive level, use running and drills to warm up, games help toddlers and grade-school children enjoy aerobic activity.
Follow the Leader
This game helps children with concentration, balance and flexibility. One child will begin and will walk along designated areas such as the floor apparatus and low balance beams. The child can choose from a variety of different walks like the bear walk or crab walk to navigate the gym. (See Reference 1). The aim is for the other children to emulate the movements and follow the path.
This game teaches young gymnasts proper technique and combination skills. One gymnast will perform a skill or movement and the next gymnast will have to do the first gymnast's skill and add on another one. Continue this way until someone misses a technique or gets the order incorrect. If the gymnastics group has more than 10 children, this can also be done in pairs. Gymnasts will go back and forth adding on new skills. Continue until someone fails to execute a trick.
This game tests a child's balance, coordination and skill level while warming them up. The children begin by weaving around each other and then the leader will announce a pose. The children must immediately freeze into that pose. The poses can range from standing on one leg, to side splits, headstand and bridge. Advise the gymnasts to give each other enough room to perform a skill in order to avoid collision.
Another way to incorporate bear walks and crab walks are through relay races. This can be a high-intensity aerobic exercise that prepares children for more difficult skills. The strength and coordination used in selecting different walks helps children get accustomed to moving their bodies differently. Begin by having two teams line up behind a line on the floor exercise. When the coach says go, the first member of the team has to move as quickly as possible to one side of the floor and back and must tag the second member of their team in order for the second person to go. The team who gets all of their members across the floor and back first wins.