There is a big difference in coaching boys in gymnastics and in coaching girls gymnastics. The most noticeable difference is the level of confidence that boys and girls have. Boys often have more confidence than their talent should engender. The opposite is often true for girls.
Girls Often Don’t Understand How Good they Are
Female athletes do not usually exhibit a high level of self-confidence. Often they do not have a realistic knowledge of just how talented they are and it is not an easy task to get them to understand just where they fit in the sport.
Coaches Must Constantly Work to Build Confidence
Coach must use a variety of strategies to build confidence in young female gymnasts. Deviance from this strategy of confidence building even for short periods can cause major confidence set-backs.
Praise is Primary
The primary tool must be the liberal use of praise, catching them doing something right and pointing it out and building on it. A strong gymnastics strength training and conditioning program has the added benefit of building self-confidence in addition to the benefits to learning and performing in the sport.
Coaches Should Be Truly Confident In Their Abilities and Program
Coaches can set an example by demonstrating their own real level of self-confidence (not the fake braggadocio confidence too many males attempt to inflate themselves with). Combined with a solid successful training program and the use of other positive psychology strategies and motivational techniques can work to give female gymnasts the confidence they need to be successful at the highest levels of gymnastics competition.
Coaches Need To Allow More for Individual Differences
Way far more than with male gymnasts, coaches need to be aware of the individual differences in their female athletes. Knowing which gymnasts to pat on the back and congratulate and which ones to challenge is vital to the successful coaching of female gymnasts.
Coaches Controlling Behavior Does Not Work in the Long Run
Most female gymnasts are unimpressed and remain unmotivated by coaches who resort to yelling, screaming, verbal intimidation and attempts at controlling behavior. Most female gymnasts prefer a more calm and interactive approach to learning the sport. It is key to determine which individualized approach motivates each gymnast best.
Coaching is Teaching
To be successful when coaching female gymnasts you must be a good teacher and also a good listener. Ultimately, all coaching is nothing more than teaching. Coaches must successfully transmit their knowledge and experience to their gymnasts in a way that allows the gymnasts to put it to good use for themselves. Too many programs and coaches try to treat their female gymnasts like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them a pile of manure).
The Training Program Must Be Solid
Coaches must be knowledgeable about the skills and events being taught. The program must be implemented in a logical and progressive manner. Gymnasts need to be taught the basic skills and fundamentals essential to future skill levels and future skill performance.
Their Feedback Will Help The Training Process
Female athletes will provide coaches with valuable feedback as to how to improve their training if the coach is a consistently good listener and sensitive sounding board for their feelings, problems and desire. Certain girls make excellent team leaders and they should be used as intermediaries and allies in the training program. Doing this can allow coaches to be able to work better with the other female team members.
Positivity, Praise and Participation
The most successful strategy in coaching female gymnasts is to use liberal amounts of earned praise and positive reinforcement. Allowing female gymnasts to actively participate in their own short and long-term goal setting will also contribute to an easier and more successful learning process.
Pay Attention to Them
A large factor in the successful coaching of female gymnasts is to pay careful attention to them, their training and their reaction to the training. Positive, constructive feedback and praise is extremely important for the development of female athletes. You need to catch them doing something right, point it out and praise it. They will be much more likely to repeat the praised behavior and you now have a platform on which to continue to build for the future. Paying sufficient attention means constantly watching and providing continuing feedback and encouragement to build for future success.
Knowledge and the Ability to Transmit It
There are two things coaches must have. One is a thorough knowledge of the sport and a consistent training system by which to teach it. The other is the ability transmit that knowledge and information successfully to the gymnast. To teach and motivate female athletes is by far the most difficult part of the success formula. It is far easier for some coaches to get their gymnasts to train as needed than others.
Democracy with Direction
A good coach will be democratic in allowing for considerable individual input into the everyday management of their training while at the same time successfully (maybe even intensely and forcefully) directing gymnasts in the path they need to follow. Coaches must set goals (with input from the gymnasts themselves) to help motivate their female gymnasts to strive for the level of excellence necessary to be successful at the highest levels of the sport.
Maintain Control and Goals
Coaches need to be extremely cognizant of any attempts by their female gymnasts to attempt to control the training process. Gymnasts should not be running the program or team and certainly not using the open and democratic process to play control games (and any of those other girl games) on other girls on the team or the coach. When such misbehavior occurs, the coach must become a firm disciplinarian and maintain control of the gymnasts and the program.
Mutual Movement Toward Positive Goals
Coaches will find themselves very successful if they create a positive training environment for their female gymnasts. Involving girls in their own training decisions and being aware and attentive to their reactions to the training process will only speed progress and build the confidence that is necessary to compete at the highest levels of the sport successfully.
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