Of course the first responsibility parents have is to choose an appropriate gymnastics program for their child and provide them all the necessary equipment and clothing. And it is extremely important to make sure they get to all their practices and competitions.
Parents are Not Gymnastics Coaches
There are also many things a parent cannot do for their gymnast. Gymnastics is unlike other team sports, like baseball or soccer, where the rules and skills have not changed significantly for many years
Coaching is Specialized
Gymnastics is a unique sport that requires highly specialized knowledge to coach. It is different than any other sport that we can think of in this regard. Even parents who may have been gymnasts in their youth will not likely have kept up with the increases in difficulty, rule changes and new training techniques and equipment.
Rules Change Frequently
Even coaches have to work and study to keep up with the rule changes and qualification procedures.
Hundreds of Skills and Infinite Combinations
There are hundreds of skills in each gymnastics event and an infinite number of skill combinations. The knowledge required to understand the proper safe progression and correct execution techniques is so extensive as to be beyond anyone not involved full-time in the sport. This, of course, eliminates all parents except those who are themselves coaches, from the expert category.
A Little Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing
As such parents should not be coaching or giving coaching advice. There are concrete reasons and safety considerations as to why parents should not be giving coaching advice, especially on difficult skills.
Pointing Toes is Not Always Good Practice Advice
For example, a parent might think they are doing their gymnast a service by encouraging them to point their toes during some skill, perhaps having heard this advice from coaches at some point and noting that their gymnast is not doing this on some skill.
First You Need To Land Skills
However, if that skill happens to be something like a Tzukahara vault, double pike or some other skill with an element of danger, misapplied advice could cause the gymnast to concentrate on something other than what the coach has told them (like block and lift) and cause them to fail to complete the skill and risk injury.
Parental Support Not Pressure
Also, parents should realize that all necessary competition performance pressure is supplied by the coaches. Extra performance requirements or requests by parents may upset that balance. Basically parents should refrain from any gymnastics coaching.
Hey! You Get to Be the Good Cop
What should parents do? Primarily, the best thing parents can do is to provide love, emotional and financial support. A parent’s job at meets and after practices is to share their gymnast’s successes and provide moral support for any difficulties.
Raise Funds to Better Your Gym and Program
Supporting the fundraising efforts of the team is another important function for parents. Parents should realize that the more funds that are raised the better the program for their gymnast and all the other gymnasts.
Strength and Flexibility Help May Be Okay at Lower Levels
The only a few things parents might even possibly be able to help their gymnasts with that are related to the sport. Gymnastics strength training and flexibility training are not so difficult or different from strength training for other sports that it would be beyond the understanding or abilities of parents to help. While hopefully all the necessary strength training is being provided by your gymnastics program, especially at the lower levels or if your gymnast does not have practice or strength training everyday, you can help give them an edge by helping them in those areas.
Beam Basic Training Okay
And since there can never be too much beam training, so a program like our Secrets to Staying on Beam, can also be done at home and parents can help with that.
Enjoy Their Gymnastics
There are always going to be some bad days in the sport and your gymnasts will need some support. There are also going to be some wonderful celebrations of the real successes your gymnast is sure to have in the sport. Supporting your gymnast emotionally usually means just listening to them, celebrating their successes or commiserating with them over their problems.