Ever wonder why male Olympic gymnasts are so much older than their female counterparts? Picture this: it's the1996 Summer Olympics. A fresh - faced, 4'6", 75 lb, 14 year-old Dominique Moceanu is representing the USA alongside a 5'7", 161 lb, 26 year-old John Roethlisberger. The difference isn't when they began in the sport, but rather the fact that girls develop physically far faster than boys. Sorry, guys, but it's true.
"Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK have discovered that girls tend to optimize brain connections earlier than boys. The researchers conclude that this may explain why females generally mature faster in certain cognitive and emotional areas than males during childhood and adolescence. " This is according to a study published in 2013 in Cerebral Cortex.
Though that may be part of it, there is more to the story. The skills it takes to complete some of the most basic men's gymnastics skills sometimes just take time to develop due to the muscle, flexibility, and body maturity required. It is up to Mother Nature to determine when an individual boy's body is ready to handle such strength.
"Two vital hormones are necessary to gain muscle, and the body doesn't produce enough of them before puberty to build significant muscle mass. Without increased production of growth hormone and testosterone, resistance training won't result in much muscle gain, if any at all, for children. That's why kids under the age of 15 don't typically look like Mr. Universe or a fitness model. " (Livestrong.com)
So the next time you see your gymnast struggling with a particular strength skill on rings or pommel horse, picture this: it's the 2028 Olympics and it's your son that we are all rooting for to bring home the gold medal! Reassure them that puberty will come in time, and so will their skills... like wildfire!!!