coaching, everyday gymnast, Gymnastics, Life Lessons, success saturday

Changing the Culture of Gymnastics One Gymnast at a Time

Plenty of people in the gymnastics community believe that the culture of gymnastics needs to change. However, it seems that no one knows how to do it. I was talking to a friend and colleague the other day about how we can go about this change. I had an idea of how it needed to change, but it seemed like a long shot. Neither of us came up with a good plan, but we did have a relatively good discussion about it.

The next day I saw a quote from Elon Musk. It said, “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

At that moment, it became clear; I knew the answer. It came back to my basic premise that gymnastics is an individual sport, and each gymnast must be treated and trained as an individual. This idea may be controversial to some, especially to those coaches and gym owners who believe that the team’s success is the most important focus.

Let me challenge that belief: without strong individual gymnasts, there would not be a strong team. It is as simple as that. By simply changing our focus to the individual rather than the team overall, we can open our eyes to what is best for each child.

We teach children. These children are forming into adults as we interact with them on a daily basis. As coaches, we are major influences in each of their lives. If we can show them that we value them as individuals, and not merely as cogs in a larger team (what can they do for the team?), then we can truly teach them how to believe in themselves, teach them about how the lessons they learn in gymnastics apply to life, and give them a safe place that builds them up, rather than something that they need to recover from later.

It comes down to this: Change the culture of gymnastics one gymnast at a time. This is what I intend to do.

Gymnastics

Kids are learning from us, even when we least expect it!

How many times have you heard anyone in gymnastics, or sports in general, say that kids can “learn so many life lessons” by participating? As a coach, I hear it all the time, and I read about it all the time.

If you have kids, or if you coach kids, and you’re interested in providing the all-important life lessons to the children around you, then you must take this to heart.

Kids are constantly learning, absorbing, observing, and listening (even when it doesn’t seem like it). They watch us, they hear what we say, they take in what we do. They observe how we react to things, and how we handle ourselves in sticky situations.

Kids are learning from us even when we aren’t expecting them to. As coaches, parents, and leaders in their lives, we need to remember that they are constantly soaking in our behavior and words. We are their role models, and we all need to remember that there is a kiddo lurking in the background learning from us when we least expect it.

I write a children’s gymnastics book series called Gym Rats. There are five books so far in the series, and I am re-launching all of them, beginning with book one, Basic Training! If you are interested in the life lessons that gymnastics has to offer your kids, then this is the book series for you. Subscribe to my blog or friend me on Facebook (or both!) for updates and great new deals coming your way!

coaching, competition, everyday gymnast, goals, Gymnastics, Life Lessons, USAG, USAIGC

Life Lesson #1 – Individuals FIRST!!

One of the most fulfilling things a coach can do is impart “life lessons” on her gymnasts.

USAIGC highlights some important differences between their program and USAG’s on their “About” page on their website. Throughout this and future blog posts, I will highlight some of these facets and dissect why they are important life lessons for our gymnasts to learn.

1. The Restrictive Compulsory Competitive Program was eliminated.

This may not sound like an important life lesson on its face, but it truly is. By doing away with prohibitive and limiting compulsory routines for each introductory competitive level, gymnasts are inherently treated as individuals. Coaches are allowed to cater to gymnasts’ strengths and teach a wider variety of basic skills, rather than merely teach to perfect a routine. Not only does this allow for more gymnasts participating in competitive gymnastics, it also eliminates the basic “formula” for perfection and subsequent pigeon-holing of athletes at the very beginning of competitive gymnastics. This rule allows for greater creativity and individuality in the sport, allowing gymnasts greater opportunity to build self-esteem and self-confidence because they are able to set themselves apart from others, and focus on their strengths.

Contrast this with the USA Gymnastics compulsory program. I have written extensively on the detriments of the system within which we (our gymnasts at TGC) were compelled to compete. This was the case until we brought USAIGC to Arizona. Under the USAIGC optional-only system, our gymnasts are free to meet the requirements in any manner they choose within the rules. This teaches gymnasts that what they do as individuals matters. This teaches them that there is more than one way to do what is best. This teaches gymnasts that when they perform to their strengths, they are more confident in themselves and their abilities in the gym and on the competition floor, translating to greater self-esteem and self-confidence later in life.

Life lesson #1: Individuals FIRST!