I am sure many parents of team gymnasts wonder about whether they should sign up their gymnast for private lessons. On the one hand, paying for normal gymnastics coaching is already not inexpensive and parents may wonder why they should have to pay even more for coaching than they already do. They may wonder if coaches are not doing everything gymnasts need during regular practices.
There is Never Enough Coaching Time
Parents need to understand that unless we are talking about 2 -3 session a day training like they do in China, there is really never enough time to do everything a coach would like to do and knows how to do to prepare gymnasts for competition. The American lifestyle does not really allow for the Chinese type of training system so compromises have to be made.
Need To Have Private Lessons with a Good Coach
One way to give coaches a chance to do some of the the things they cannot do during regular practices is to schedule regular private lessons with your gymnast. I am going to assume for the purposes of this article that parents will hire and will be able to hire effective coaches to work with their gymnasts in private lessons.
A Medal Guarantee?
I used to promise my Compulsory team parents that if they scheduled one private lesson every week with me, I would guarantee them a medal on that event at States. Only two sets of parents took me up on that offer and both their daughters won gold medals on floor that year. Now it is certainly more difficult to do that with high level Optional gymnasts but the concept is the same. Additional one-on-one coaching – private lessons – will pay off in improved performance.
Floor and Beam are the Best Choices for Private Lessons
There are definite differences in which events private lessons can help the most with and which are more efficiently coached in a private lesson format. Floor and beam routines can definitely benefit from one-on-one private lesson coaching. That coaching format allows coaches to go through routines one skill at a time improving each individual skill. That is difficult to do in a group floor coaching situation, like you have in regular practices. You can never have too much time on beam or working on perfecting floor routines.
Vault and Tumbling Privates
Vault and tumbling, on the other hand, are somewhat more efficiently done in groups. While one gymnast is walking back to do another vault, two or more gymnasts can vault and receive coaching. Unless there is a special problem or some very specific goal, I would just as soon work on vault and even tumbling, in practice. If I do private lessons for those events, I prefer to have semi-private lessons so the practice time and parent’s money can be used more efficiently. If I do semi-private lessons, I prefer to have gymnasts of about the same level and ability and who are working on similar things, but as long as the age/level diversity is not extreme, it can still work well.
Bar private lessons are among the most often requested and most often needed private lessons. One of the major problems with bar privates is that if gymnasts have already done bars that day or are spending a lot of time on bars already, that their hands may not be ready for extra work without risking rips or their hands may be so hot that it will hinder progress during the private. Bar privates are best scheduled on a day they did not have practice or did not do bars.
There are teams that require every gymnast on the team to do private lessons every week. I never did that, not because I didn’t think it would be useful, but because in consideration of individual family finances, I would hesitate to go that far.
But if parents have the financial resources and want their gymnast to be successful, regular private lessons are an excellent way to make that happen.
I could very well see creating a team practice schedule that included built in private lessons for every gymnast on floor and beam and was factored into and included in the team fee. This would be an ideal way to deal with individual gymnast problems, get one-on-one time with every gymnast on the team and still allow parents and gymnast to schedule more private work.
Private Lesson Schedule
I have done private lessons all over the world and gymnasts and parents have expressed their satisfaction with the progress their gymnast made in as little as half an hour (a shorter time than I normally like but a necessity to schedule all of the privates that parents and gymnasts wanted in the one day allotted). I normally do one hour private lessons, but prefer a 1&1/2 to two hour sessions if a gymnast did not have practice that day. I have gymnasts come early to warm up, but do not count that time as part of the private lesson. If I am just working with a gymnast, in general, not to solve a problem, I like to work on things that their normal coach does not or work on some of their skills in very different ways.
Fix Problems with Privates
Private lessons can definitely be a good way to solve individual gymnast’s problems on skills or on weak events for which they require extra practice time. Now, if gymnasts are having specific problems, like learning twisting, for example, private lessons utilizing trampoline and tumble trampoline can definitely be of benefit and efficient in training. Efficient coaching for competition success is often a matter eliminating the largest deductions or improving the weakest events, because there is more room for improvement. Private lessons can be regularly used to boost scores in gymnast’s worst events, in addition to perfecting events.
Personal Contact and Personal Sports Psychology Time
One of the reasons I really like doing private lessons is that it gives me a real good chance to get to know gymnasts personally and to directly and individually use positive psychology with them. Depending on who their coach is, sometimes that is damage control. On other gymnasts it is a chance to really boost their mental progress forward.
Put Privates To Work for You
Basically, I can recommend private lessons to parents, gymnasts, coaches and gym programs. Gymnasts benefit considerably, especially on some events, and for solving problems. So you should plan to use private lessons in your overall plan for your gymnast(s).