How to Tell the Best Coaches from the Worst Coaches

Liang Chow and Gabrielle Douglas
John Geddart

TwistarsUSA.net photo of John Geddart

The Best Coaches Have a Coaching Team or Coaching Group

I am unaware of any coach who has produced Elite gymnasts all on their own. It seems to take at least two really good coaches to produce Elites. A common coaching team is a male coach who primarily works vault, tumbling and bars and a female coach, who mostly works choreography, beam and floor. Sometimes a group of three coaches will be a perfect fit to enhance each other’s coaching strengths and weaknesses.

The Best Coaches Won’t Accept Mediocre Results and Performances from Themselves

Great coaches have standards for their gymnasts, but first of all, they have high standards for their own performance and take responsibility for the results their team achieves. The best coaches set the standard for other coaches and their gymnasts, in areas like work ethic and the best coaches follow their own high standards.

The Best Coaches Train Their Assistant Coaches, Instructors and Staff

One of the most important requirements for developing a successful high level optional gymnastics is to develop good basic technique and habits in young gymnasts from the very beginning. If the highest level coaches don’t train the coaches who work with the young gymnasts, bad habits will develop, which will slow, limit or destroy any possibility for developing really high level gymnasts.

Liang Chow and Gabrielle Douglas

The Best Coaches Have Excellent Social and Interpersonal Skills

While gymnastics technical knowledge is an obvious requirement, the real necessary talent a coach must have is the ability to transmit that knowledge to young gymnasts. This only occurs when coaches have, or develop, the interpersonal skills, social skills and charisma to make learning happen. Without that, even the highest level of technical knowledge is useless.

The Best Coaches Adapt and Change

No long term training plan is ever perfectly designed and the best coaches learn from their mistakes, adapt and change their training and plans. When necessary they also create and improvise new training techniques to overcome particular individual training problems. The worst coaches resist change and new ideas.

The Best Coaches are Enthusiastic and Energetic

Enthusiasm is contagious and coaches who are enthusiastic excite their gymnasts to work their hardest and perform their best. Energy is also contagious and and energetic coaches show their gymnasts they are interested in them and how they train. The worst coaches are lazy, lackadaisical, uninterested and unenthusiastic.

The Best Coaches Exhibit Excellent Judgement

Gymnastics is a difficult, and potentially dangerous sport. It is extremely important that coaches exercise good judgement, especially in deciding when gymnasts should first try more difficult skills and put new skills in routines. Perhaps nothing else is as important as making good judgements in regard to the safety of young gymnasts.


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