Gymnastics: Approaching Your Gymnast's Coach

J Howard

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Coaching is Already a Full-Time Job

Coaches rarely have the time to sit down and explain everything they are doing and why. With practice time and planning time and other coaching management responsibilities, coaching is a more than full-time job with barely time to explain the sport to gymnasts, much less parents.

Beware the “Phone” Game

Gymnastics team practices are usually too long for all but most compulsive parents to sit through and observe. Thus parents only hear second hand what is going on in the gym either from gymnasts or parents. We all know how accurate secondhand information is.

Everyone on the Same Page

The coach should hopefully have discussed their coaching philosophy, goals, methods and training system. This information should help you understand why your gymnast's coaches are doing what they are doing. Sometimes, however, issues or questions may arise during the year that you might feel have to be addressed by the coach.

Don’t Try to Argue About the Sport

It is rarely useful, possible or wise for parents to challenge coaches on anything to do with the sport itself. Parents are not experts in the sport. Hopefully, the coaches are. Realistically, parents may not know if coaches really know what they are talking about because coaches will certainly know more than the parents will.

Parents Are Experts With Their Own Child

This leaves the areas where parents are expert – that is the behavior and feelings of their own child. Parents should definitely approach coaches whenever they detect something in the behavior or attitude of their gymnast occurs that interferes with their gymnast’s progress or continuance in the sport that coaches are not aware of or the coaches may appear to be mishandling.

Make an Appointment

If you believe that there is a problem with the coach and if the situation warrants, make a private appointment to meet with the coach, but outside of practice time. You may wish to let a few days pass first if the situation would benefit from perspective or a cooling down period on either side.

Know What You Want to Say

When you meet, carefully and concisely explain the problem to the coach and ask for the coach's perspective on the situation. Listen carefully to the coach's response. At his point you may discuss any differences between your perspective and the coach's viewpoint and try to come to an agreement about how the problem will be resolved or take some time to evaluate the coaches response.

Keep and Eye Out for the Silent Response

Often, even if coaches are negative about a solution during a meeting especially if it is in the least way confrontational, they will absorb and digest the situation and take some action quietly on their own.

20 Books and Counting

John Howard is the author of 20 books and e-Books about gymnastics, gym design, gymnastics humor and cheerleading. More books are already on the way. He has 25 years experience and has coached State, Regional and National champion gymnasts and international competitors and cheerleaders at the National level in NCAA Division I.

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