Hold on to your vaulting horse. In a study published in this month’s Pediatrics, researchers at Ohio State University reviewed U.S. gymnastics injuries in girls between 1990 and 2001 and found that it carries one of the highest injury rates of all girls’ sports. Some 27,000 gymnasts sustain serious injuries every year – numbers similar to ice hockey, soccer and (full-contact) cheerleading. Gymnastics would appear to be something of an athletic wild, wild west with no standards or rules for spotters, coaches and gymnasts.
So what’s a parent to do? While it may be difficult to prove compliance, parents should seek out gyms where safety training specific to gymnastics is an enforced mandate of coaches and spotters. So what constitutes adequate and appropriate training? Your guess is as good as mine since these sorts of issues need internal policing. Remember, however, that it's pesky parents driven by provocative studies like this that force the industry to change itself.
Most interesting finding: Injuries tend to spike during Olympic years when every little girl decides she wants to be the next Mary Lou Retton.