It is difficult to be a child and not compare yourself to the other kids around you. Of course, gymnastics inherently compares and judges gymnasts in meets, so this can be even more prevalent in our sport.
As coaches and parents, as a rule, it is our job to help our gymnast compare herself to no one, and work to improve herself rather than constantly see how she stacks up against someone else. Let’s leave that on the competition floor.
How do we do this?
Help our gymnast make goals. Goals are very individual, and should remain so. Encourage our gymnast to write them down and revisit them often.
Celebrate small successes and steps in the right direction. In our gym we have a chart where gymnasts put up a star when they have a breakthrough or do something cool. It’s amazing how motivating that can be!
Let practice focus on individual improvement. Little contests here and there are fine, but should not be the focus. Help our gymnast see how far she’s come, what she has done to step closer to her goals, and what she needs to work on to get to where she wants to be.
Be careful not to compare gymnasts to one another. As coaches and parents, we need to remember that it’s not exactly motivating to say “Allison can do it; why can’t you?”
Be sure not to only say “I’m so proud of you,” but add “You should be proud of yourself.” It is important that she understands that she did the work. Yes, it’s nice to make your coach or your parent proud, but it’s also very important that our gymnast understands that it was by her effort that she accomplished something great!