Subject: My Gym Does Not Allow Private Lessons for Team Gymnasts
Gymnastics Level: 4
My daughter is 7 and just started Level 4. She has been in a TOPs prep program for the past two years at the gym and is in an accelerated class two days per week when she is not in Level 4. For some reason, my daughter lost her front stride circle, and I feel she would benefit from a 30-minute private lesson to regain confidence to get the skill back. My gym says that it is my daughter’s responsibility to get the skill in the time that she is at regular training. They do not allow private lessons, and now my daughter will not be able to compete bars because she does not have the skill. It’s a Catch 22! I feel she needs the one-on-one time to build her confidence. What should I do?
Well, first, let’s say that it is good that the gym offers and that your daughter is able to participate in a TOPs prep program for the two years before she was old enough to test TOPs. A TOPs type program or TOPs strength, flexibility and optional skill progression program are the best type of training programs for young gymnasts your daughter’s age. Her progress in that program is probably more important than how she does, or doesn’t do, in Level 4 or on any Level 4 skills, like a front stride circle, which she will never ever use again in her whole gymnastics career.
Gyms Have a Variety of Private Lessons Policies
Different gyms have different policies regarding private lessons, ranging from mandatory weekly private lessons for all team gymnasts, to offering private lessons when requested by parents for gymnasts of any level, often even allowing non-team gymnasts (and even cheerleaders) to take private lessons. It is also a common practice for gyms with Elite or National level gymnasts to have coaches spend a large amount of time doing one-on-one private lessons or training to improve their chances to win at the highest levels. Very few gyms do not allow any private lessons for both financial and competition reasons.
Not Allowing Private Lessons Makes No Financial Sense
It is truly difficult to understand why any gym would not offer private lessons which can generate significant income for the gym and coaches. In one gym that mandated weekly $40.00 (discounted price) one-hour private lessons for every one of their 75 team gymnasts, they generated $3000.00 gross weekly revenue and over $125,000 over the entire year. For any gym, that is significant income and a boost to the bottom line. Individual coaches could make up to $20,000 a year in additional income by doing an extra two afternoons a week of private lessons (depending on the gym policies and hourly charge).
Only Possible Reasons For Not Allowing Private Lessons
The only reasons that would make sense for not offering private lessons would be if the gym and/or coaches are fully booked and there is not coaching time and gym space available for private lessons. Very few gyms in the country are booked 100% for either coaches or gym space, to the point that they could not find a spare half hour for private lesson for a team gymnast.
Private Lessons Improve Competition Success and the Gym’s Reputation
One-on-one private lessons can also improve the competitive team gymnast’s level of gymnastics and competition success. That can only serve to improve the reputation of the gym, in addition to the financial benefits for the gym and coaches.
Gyms Compete With Each Other
One of the new gyms I consult with just recently featured the fact that they offer private lessons on their website. Two gyms in their area do not offer private lessons and within a week, two gymnasts from the other gyms came into the gym and signed up for a month of privates. Now both of those gymnasts have transferred to the new gym because of what they perceive as better coaching and a better facility. It would not surprise me if those other gyms suddenly decide to offer private lessons as well.
Gyms Should Offer As Many Private Lessons As Possible
It is obvious that I am a firm believer in gyms and coaches offering private lessons for both financial and competition reasons. In fact, I have already written another article about gymnastics private lessons that you should read.
Two Other Slightly Disturbing Points
You indicated that you were told it was your “daughter’s responsibility to get the skill in the time that she is at regular training.” Really? Your 7 year old daughter has the responsibility? I tend to look askance anytime adult coaches put the responsibility for success or failure anywhere but on themselves. Certainly, teaching gymnasts responsibility is one of the tasks of a coach, but to pass off responsibility to 7 year old gymnasts seems to be a poor gym and coaching policy.
You also mentioned that your daughter will not be allowed to compete bars since she cannot now do that one skill. Since most of the actual skills in Level 4, including the front stride circle, are not used later in gymnastics, the primary (if not only) benefit of Level 4 is for younger gymnasts to gain competition experience. The only real way to learn to compete is to compete. Decreasing the amount of competition experiences, for any reason, makes Level 4 participation much less beneficial.
Still Haven’t Answered Your Question “What should I do?”
I understand your question and confusion as to what to do. And your options are limited. Gymnastics coaches and gyms are not well known for being tremendously receptive to team parents questioning their methods and policies. To do so may damage your working relationships with the gym and coaches over an unimportant Level 4 skill.
- Option 1, you can just ignore the situation as not being worth the potential damage to your relationship with the gym and coaches and focus more on your daughter’s progress in the TOPs program. If you are happy at the gym, and/or there are no other gym options in your area, that is likely the best course of action.
- Option 2 is to push the point and push for a private or ask which of the other gyms in the area they would recommend for taking a one-time private lesson since they do not offer them. That is certainly not going to make your current gym at all happy with you and is not likely worth the problems it will cause.
- Option 3 only works if your gym offers open gym. Your daughter could go to open gym and spend extra time working on her own on the problem skill.
- Option 4 is to go talk to the gym owner and/or coaches and simply express your opinion and feelings again, but without any animosity or expectation of them changing their minds or policy. Even Option 4 does not seem like it is worth the potential problems.
If it were my daughter, I would likely just put this behind me and save confrontational tactics for a more important problem. Good luck. Let me know how it works out.