If your classes seem to have a high dropout rate, that can result in the overall growth of the gym becoming stagnant. As a result, you need to improve your class organization and teaching methods. Instructors and coaches should be expected to plan every class.
External and Internal Reasons
The reasons why students drop out of classes can be broken down into two basic categories – external and internal factors. External factors deal with reasons outside of the gym club and are generally beyond the control of the coaches. Some of these factors are time conflicts, lack of finances, or the lack of follow-through by parents. Internal factors focus on those which the program director and the instructors have control. Some internal factors might include group size, length of class, and available equipment.
Keep Students Using Their Time Productively
Students usually drop out of an activity because either the student’s parents or the gymnast don’t like what is going on. Parents like to feel that their money is well spent. If a parent sees chaos in line as students wait for their turns, the parent will probably feel that the class lacks control and the time spent is unproductive. One key to productive time use is to assign the children safe activities to do while waiting for their turns, i.e. stretching, easy conditioning exercises, and so forth. Classes must look organized as well as be organized.
Minimizing the time a student stands in line makes his or her parents feel that their child is doing something constructive rather than spending the majority of the class time standing around. This strategy affects the parents and student. When a student spends a long time in line between turns (down time), he or she gets bored which can lead to misbehavior or a lack of attention.
Make Sure They Learn and Are Successful
Most importantly, gymnasts love to learn. As long as they are learning and progressing, they will be coming back. Children like to learn more than they like to eat. Your responsibility as a coach is to teach them something new every class. Review basics, review last week’s new skills, and teach a new skill.
Vary the Classes for Interest and Excitement
Another major factor in decreasing drop-out rates is to increase the variety of activities. When a student has done the same things in class over and over again each week, the student will lose interest. Every class should be different and every effort should be made to do different things each week. Different warm-ups, different skills, different event rotation, contests, competitions, use of different matting (up , down inclines, over obstacles, etc.).
The Eight Second Rule
There are several ways to reduce the time between turns. One helpful method is the Eight Second Rule. The Eight Second Rule is a simple and effective way of keeping the lines moving and reducing time between turns. The instructor gives each student an eight-second turn to perform each skill. During the eight seconds, the instructor should spot, correct, and praise the student-this is possible when the instructor makes a conscious effort. With a group size of seven students, each will get about one turn in less than a minute. For beginners or students aged seven and older, 50 to 70 seconds between turns is acceptable. For the preschool classes and younger students, a 30 to 45 seconds down time serves better to keep the student’s attention level.
Use Supervised Side Activities
Even that 30 second down time can be eliminated or cut down by reducing the number of students in the group and/or by using the Eight Second Rule in conjunction with another activity which the student can do unaided. For example, if the lesson is on the bars, after student takes a turn, they might do a few handstands on a nearby line on a floor mat. This technique also works well with preschool classes.
Keep Them Learning and Keep Them Coming Back
Down time is a leading factor contributing to student drop out. Kids love gymnastics, and they will keep coming back as long as they don’t spend a lot of time between turns. It’s just more fun!
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