Gymnastics Coaching Styles… Watching and Winning

It is interesting to observe the variety of coaching styles present at a gymnastics meet. Gym coaching styles are evident from observing a team during warm-ups and the competition. Individual coaching styles are evident from directly observing a coach during his gymnasts’ performances or warm-ups.

Coaches are often more animated when their gymnasts are doing well in a particular competition. Coaches whose teams are not excelling often fade into the background or at least try to.

Many coaches are posturing during warm-ups and competition. They seem to be trying to ensure that everyone (spectators, parents and other coaches) sees them as competent, even if their gymnasts are not. They go to great lengths, use big visual coaching displays and actively interact with gymnasts, often obviously more and differently than they do at practice in the gym. They are only too aware that they are being watched and they put on a show.

Gym coaching styles can be perceived by watching the teams. Some teams are obviously closely supervised. Each movement is trained and each skill has been worked and worked. These teams are as successful in competition as their difficulty level allows.

Some teams must use repetition as the sole or primary means of coaching. They may be consistent, but their skills also are consistently showing uncorrected flaws. The routines look ordinary in their execution because the individual skills have been too long subjugated to routine repetition and have not developed in amplitude and refinement of execution.

Some teams are dance and execution oriented and others are big-skill oriented.

Some teams seem unable to function in warm-ups unless their coach is actively directing them and other teams have been coached to work and warm-up independently.

Some teams work at a fast pace and others seem to drift casually along. Some just proceed at a slow pace.

Some coaches seem to do all their coaching at the meet. Well, not really. It only seems that way. They can been seen or heard giving long lists of things for their gymnast to remember before they compete. You begin to wonder if they had forgotten to teach any of this back at the gym and have just now remembered.

Perhaps the worst are the coaches whose personal egos are so closely invested in their gymnasts that they explode in anger or some other equally inappropriate emotion.

Some teams are predominately timid and coaches are always spotting or being asked to spot or “stand there.” Other teams are aggressive and the gymnasts jump right up and do their biggest skills without hesitation.

Coaches who have been successful over a period of time are often quietly confident. Their gymnasts are confident and well prepared. Their coaching has already been completed before the meet and they most often acknowledge their gymnast’s efforts with a nod or a smile. The coaches are there with the gymnasts but there are no histronics.

What does all this mean? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. If you are a coach, try to see yourself and what your meet coaching style is, and see if it is the one you really want. As a gymnast, watching other teams’ coached style, may just give you the knowledge edge you need to win the gold.

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