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See what fans are saying about Gym Rats!
Some gymnasts are lucky enough to be starting their competition season now. Meet recaps are a great way to help motivate throughout the season and track improvement.
In gymnastics, we mainly coach children. Childhood, inherently, implies learning. Because children are learning, they do not know it all, nor are they perfect, nor are they able to make perfect decisions. Children learn, try, fail, learn some more, and try again, and hopefully succeed. That’s the way life is.
A competition season is no different. Provided that the gymnasts we are coaching are competing a level commensurate with their skill level, then they are not yet perfect. (If they are, they need to move up!) As a coach, I believe that a successful competitive season is one that ends up better than it starts, with measurable improvements along the way. How do we accomplish this, and how is it measured?
At TGC, we begin each season with a critique meet (or a mock meet) where a judge comes in and gives her feedback on the gymnasts’ routines. I am very clear with my gymnasts that we do not expect perfection at the beginning of the season; what we want is a baseline, or a place to start. It is very important for the gymnasts to understand that if we do not know where they begin the season, we cannot make a goal for where they want to finish the season. This is how we create a standard of quality for each individual gymnast on each individual event.
Coaches must not only state that perfection is not what they seek at this point in the season, but their actions and corrections must also reflect this. A coach can say it all she wants, but if she is constantly punishing imperfection, then she is not practicing what she preaches. We as coaches tread in dangerous territory when all we are seeking is perfection. What we need to look for is progress over perfection.
This is not to say that coaches should not expect effort. After all, effort is one of the most controllable elements that a gymnast can provide to her own training. If a gymnast wants to get better throughout the season and reach her goals, she must put in the effort.
After the critique meet, I compile all the notes from the judge, and share it with the gymnasts. Very often at this point in the season, most gymnasts’ corrections are similar. Routines are not refined yet from weeks and months of competition, so the focus is on polishing routines, hitting all their leaps and jumps, staying on high relevé, showing extension in dance, and showing off in general. We then set goals for the first meet of the season.
After each subsequent meet, I compile corrections for each gymnast. We call these “Meet Recaps.” I go through each individual event with each individual gymnast. I help her to understand where she had her greatest deductions, and whether or not she had a 10.0 start value. I focus on one or two deductions per event, and then give her a target score range that she should shoot for when she achieves her small goals for the next meet. I stress that we can’t expect an exact target score, but we can expect a target score range. All meets and judges are different; equipment and routines are different from meet to meet.
I find that this feedback from meet recaps helps focus our gymnasts on one or two corrections they need to focus on for each event for the next meet, like hitting a requirement, making a connection, or erasing a fall, rather than overwhelming them with all of their errors. Over the course of the season, progress is made, they can see on paper that they are improving, and they feel good about that. Scores creep up, and we find that by the end of the season, the gymnasts are truly doing their best work.
With meet recaps, I am careful to incorporate the good things I want the gymnast to see in her routine. Maybe she has been having a hard time sticking her full turn on beam, and she did it in this meet. I mention that and give her kudos, and make sure she recognizes it and gives herself a pat on the back. Although a little more work, individualizing the meet recaps helps to make each gymnast understand that she is important, her success is important, and her progress is important.
I, as a coach, can pick and choose what facets of the routine is most important to focus on for the next meet. Let’s face it: these kids can be hard on themselves. They tend to focus on all the bad things that happened, and steer away from the good. In a meet recap, I’m able to show them what they did right, highlight a few corrections for the next meet, and help the gymnast tailor her focus so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed with corrections. She will see progress in the next meet, find success with small improvements, and get closer and closer to her goal.
Meet recaps not only include a target score range for each event, but also a target all-around score range. I think this is a valuable piece of information for gymnasts; they get to see just how much the small deductions add up, and they get to see that concentrating on just a few improvements can really improve their overall score. All of a sudden, a certain all-around score seems attainable.
Included in the meet recaps are team scores. Although my focus is not on team awards, but on individual progress, I like to show my gymnasts just how much their improvement helps the team improve. It helps them see that they are an important part of TGC, and when they improve, the team improves.
I began doing meet recaps the second season of competition in our gym. I wanted each gymnast to have a personalized feedback from each meet to show her just where she needed to improve, to show her that there are little things that she can do to tangibly increase her score, and demonstrate to her that it was possible. I believe my girls appreciate this part of our season training; they have individualized attention, sit down one-on-one with me, and can really learn how to advance. I always see improvements throughout the season with this approach.
As a gymnast of 17 years and a gymnastics coach of 25 years, I have encountered many occasions where I and my gymnasts have suffered from low self-esteem. One of the questions that remains is why is it so common for some of the strongest girls on earth to suffer from low self-esteem?
In my research and experience, I believe that the answer lies in how we perceive self-esteem and what we believe it is.
Self-esteem is related to how we view ourselves, not to how others view us.
In order for us to best help develop a high sense of self-esteem in our children is for us to remind our kids how strong they are, how capable they are, and how, given the opportunity and dedication they put in to something, worthy and deserving of success they are.
When we tell them how proud of them we are, we need to remind them that they should be proud of themselves, too. Remind them that they are the ones who worked hard and accomplished something. This will teach them to believe that they are capable and worthy of success – learning to think this way takes time, consistency, and effort.
Part of this is helping our kids develop their own goals and their own paths to reach those goals.
We need to teach our kids that their goals are important; the work they put in is important, and the outcome is important. If we don’t teach them this now, then they will not learn to be self-sufficient, strong, and ambitious. Let’s help them by encouraging goal-setting, their work, and their success!
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With a glossary of gymnastics terms, complete with videos, you can study up! Now you’ll understand what your gymnast is talking about when she comes to you wide-eyed and excited to share with the people she loves about the sport she loves!
Gym Rats Basic Training is FREE for download on Amazon through October 6th! Hurry and grab your copy!
Competitive gymnasts thrive on being busy, making and obtaining goals, and working hard to reach those goals. As workouts are beginning to shift back to the gym from online meetings, we need to help keep our gymnasts stay focused on the future and her goals.
How do we do this? Here are a few suggestions to keep gymnasts motivated.
Watch old gymnastics championships. Not only are gymnasts unable to have a normal competition season, but the 2020 Olympics have been postponed, meaning that all elite gymnastics competitions have been put on hold. This can mean that gymnasts don’t have many things to look forward to. However, with YouTube, there are many opportunities for gymnasts to watch previous Olympics, World Championships, and NCAA meets. This can be a source of great motivation. As a young gymnast, I don’t know how many times I watched the 1988 Olympic Games when it was a race to the finish for Yelena Shushunova of the Soviet Union and Daniela Silivas of Romania. It was a ridiculous fight between the two of them, each receiving two perfect 10’s during the all-around competition alone! The little gymnast in me was nervous and excited every time I watched ii, and it made me pine to get into the gym to keep working hard.
Find a baseline. Do some preliminary conditioning testing. How many push-ups can she do without stopping and without losing form? How many sit-ups can she do in a minute? How long can she hold a handstand? How’s her press handstand? How many jump ropes can she do in 5 minutes? There are a number of baseline conditioning elements that we can use to test a gymnast so she can see where her strengths and weaknesses lie. In addition, this will help give her a measurable goal to see if she can improve.
Sit down and review goals. Taking some time to think about and write down goals for each event and the upcoming year is important. There are a number of factors that are different about this upcoming year that come into play as gymnasts contemplate what comes next. Sitting down and making concrete and realistic goals will help gymnasts to put some thought into what comes next, and it will help them look realistically at the future.
Stay positive. Read motivational quotes and books. Gymnasts can help fuel their positive attitudes by reinforcing it through inspirational books and stories. Find Gym Rats books here!
Get your FREE new Kindle edition of Gym Rats Basic Training starting on Sunday!
The NEW Kindle edition of Gym Rats Basic Training will be up and available on Amazon for FREE on Sunday, October 4th! Be sure to download your copy so you can follow along during my LIVE reading at 2 PM PT, Sunday, October 4th.
I am proud to offer the Gym Rats children’s book series to our gymnasts. The books reinforce the important life lessons that gymnasts can learn in the gym from a great sport like ours.
What to do:
One of the things that sets gymnasts apart from the rest of the world is their ability to climb a rope that hangs from a tall ceiling (16-20 feet high). In fact, good gymnasts tend to make this feat look so easy that most of their brothers think they can do it, but can’t once they get out there. (This humbling experience for the boys is quite comical for the girls – and it makes the boys realize just how strong their sisters are.)
I love watching gymnasts climb the rope. It’s not because I’m a sadistic coach who likes to watch her gymnasts suffer and struggle. It is because I love to see my gymnasts fight. I love to see the grit and the tenacity that climbing the rope, under their own power, requires.
On the rope, a gymnast is only dependent upon herself. She must rely on her strength and her drive to make it up to the top. She is strong. She is powerful. She only has herself to depend upon.
This is one of the best lessons I can impart on my gymnasts: never give up on yourself. Fight for yourself. Get yourself to the top. Be successful. You are strong. You can do it.
One of the best lessons I can help a gymnast learn is to go for a skill by herself. As a coach, my knowing that a gymnast can complete a skill safely is only half the battle (maybe more like a quarter of the battle…). It is getting the gymnast to understand that she can complete a skill safely on her own where the reward comes in – for gymnast and coach.
I was watching one of my gymnasts go through the mental anguish of doing her back handspring on a medium-height beam for the first time. I could tell that she really wanted to go. I counted to three. She said, “One more time!” I counted to three again. She said, “Ugh! I almost went!” I counted to three again, and she started to swing her arms, and I knew she was committed. She did a great back handspring!
But this was only one day.
The next day, and throughout the next week, the process was much the same. But she was able to get herself to go, and after her first one or two, I didn’t have to count anymore. Each day, by doing this skill by herself, and getting herself to go on her own, she is building her confidence in herself and her ability. She is coming to understand that she doesn’t need me there to save her; she is strong enough and good enough to do it alone.
This is an amazing thing to watch. I love watching gymnasts come to the understanding that they can do something by virtue of their own power. I want them to say with pride, “I did that!” This is one of my favorite parts of coaching: giving my gymnasts the tools they need to be self-confident, self-reliant, self-driven, and to have high self-esteem throughout their lives.