10 expectations I think coaches should follow…
Please remember this is just my point of view. I do not claim to know everything about gymnastics. I also do not think I can coach better than others. These are just the expectations I believe coaches should follow in the gym. I would love to hear your input!
- When a gymnast has mental blocks don’t scream at them, don’t punish them, and don’t make them feel even worse by ignoring them. Most of these gymnasts don’t understand why they are having them. In fact, some don’t have the life skills or tools to figure out how to get through it. Help them work through it. It may be a very long process or it could be a short one. You are the coach, it should be in the best interest for both of you to figure it out together.
- Stop screaming! An athlete of any age will usually listen and comprehend better when a coach just simply explains the drill or expectations in a normal tone. This can also prevent a growing fear gymnasts can get when they are constantly being yelled at.
- No gymnast is the same. This means, training programs for one gymnast may not work for another. This doesn’t mean the athlete still cannot succeed, you just try to change your coaching style. I think coaches can be surprised how much a little change can do for a gymnast and their potential.
- Your gymnast is not your friend. Do not share stories about what is going on in your personal life outside of the gym to them. They are athletes who are there to train not to be your social outlet. You are an adult they are not. Along with this, never talk about a gymnast to another gymnast. This is very unprofessional and unacceptable.
- A coach should leave their problems outside of the gym. Young gymnasts, athletes with anxiety and/or depression, those having family struggles, or even older gymnasts going through normal teenage problems cannot always figure out how to do this. This means some days are going to be better for them than others. As a coach if you see that someone is going through a hard practice, change their routine some. Let them know you understand bad days can happen and that it’s okay! Coaches often expect more from their gymnasts everyday than they expect from themselves. Coaches have bad days, they are not perfect every day….so why do they expect their gymnasts to be?
- Learn to listen to your gymnast and watch them, their behaviors and movements. This will help both of you understand if too many repetitions are being done or if a gymnast is too injured to practice. Injuries can happen at any time and by knowing your athletes limits you can decrease this immensely. This can also be helpful by seeing if a gymnast is too tired to keep working. Nothing productive will be completed by a gymnast with no energy. This can also result in injuries.
- Be realistic! All coaches want that top gymnast. Be honest to yourself and your gymnast. Don’t make promises that you have no control over. Prime example: “If you include this skill in your routine you will be the top gymnast at nationals, or you may get a full scholarship to any top college you want.” Don’t create unrealistic expectations. Coach the best you can and the results will come. If you start to get ahead of yourself, it’s the gymnast that can pay the price. Maybe having a gymnast repeat the same level a few years will help to get their scores up. It is better to have a successful and top level 8, then a last place level 10 just to say you have a level 10.
- Stop taking credit for your gymnast. If an athlete can do a double back on the floor, or any difficult skill, then that athlete did the proper drills, listened to what you told them about doing the skill, and then worked hard to achieve it. You are not doing the the double back or whatever skill it is, so don’t take credit for it. Let the gymnast bask in that glory- it is your job to help them.
- Keep learning. You never know everything. There are always new drills, new ideas, and new concepts to consider and try. Don’t limit your coaching abilities by thinking you know it all. Keep your mind open and you may find something that could change a gymnast’s destiny.
- Don’t ever punish, ignore, or yell at a gymnast because of their parents. This is unfair, unprofessional, and unacceptable. When you ignore or make a gymnast feel bad about themselves in practice (bullying), can leave lasting effects on them long after gymnastics is over. Sometimes when a gymnast reaches the higher levels, a coach can end up spending more time with a gymnast then the parents do. If this happens, remind yourself that their self-esteem, self-worth, and mental state is impacted by you daily. It can lead to many difficulties in their lives. It can also help them become successful and well-adjusted adults. Which one would you like to help them become?
I would love to hear your feedback on what I think a coach should be. What do you want to see in a good coach?