Beyond the Balance Beam: Transitioning in Gymnastics

Transition, defined simply, is change, and let’s face it—change can be challenging! Within the sport of gymnastics, which is my focus here, transition can occur during injury or illness, moving up or down levels, going from club to collegiate, and ultimately, transitioning out of the sport altogether.

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Theresa as a “little gymnast”

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Theresa nearing the end of her career in college.

Quite honestly, my transitions within and out of the sport were very challenging. I suffered two ACL tears and had to go through extensive rehabilitation to get back to the sport, and the last thing I ever did in the sport was tear my rotator cuff on uneven bars at NCAA Championships my final year of college. So, things didn’t always go how I wished they would have, and they certainly didn’t end how I wanted. I do feel, however, that everything I learned during those struggles has taught me incredible lessons that I can now bring forth into the world to help current and former gymnasts dealing with transition.

My hope is to offer the support, guidance, and validation that is so needed during times of transition. So often we judge ourselves for feeling sad, confused, scared, and hopeless when these are all very normal human emotions and usually go left unspoken. Maybe people fear being judged or being seen as weak. Maybe they aren’t even really sure of what is going on within them and don’t know that they can seek outside help and support. It’s critical that these athletes don’t feel alone in their suffering and that those of us who have been through it have survived and can help.

The ultimate transition out of sport can bring up a variety of thoughts and feelings that may include:

  • Fear of the unknown

  • Loss of a sense of self and identity

  • Confusion

  • Doubt

  • Depression and sometimes hopelessness

  • Poor self-image

  • Feeling alone and lacking social support

  • And many, many more!

It’s so important that you as a gymnast know that you’re not alone. Never hesitate to reach out for support. It’s a sign of strength! You will survive and come out on the other side able to thrive and live a fulfilling life.