Teenagers rebel. Especially American teenagers rebel. Somewhere around age 13 or 14, if not sooner, American teenagers rebel. This is true for American teenagers who are gymnasts, also. Sooner or later gymnasts become teenagers.
Intimidation Leads to Rebellion
Young gymnasts, especially young female gymnasts are relatively easily intimidated, especially by male coaches. Young gymnasts may temporarily be pushed faster by intimidating coaches. But at some point, at some age they are going to rebel.
Change or Lose
At that point, a coach has two choices. Change his coaching style or lose the gymnast. Gymnasts hold the ultimate trump card in coach – gymnast confrontations. They can quit.
What Works With Every Gymnast
Change your coaching style with one or two teenage gymnasts and keep the intimidating style with all the rest of the younger gymnasts? That doesn’t make any sense. How about a system that works with gymnasts of any age?
What Makes Sense?
Those of us who have coached adult male gymnasts who are bigger, stronger and in better shape than us know it would be useless to try to intimidate them. Let’s face it. They could kick our butt, if they wanted to. We deal with them on an equal footing – “man to man,” peer to peer.
We are Equals in the Sport
So how do we coach gymnasts, especially young female gymnasts? “Man to man.” We respect their independence and feelings and they respect our useful experience and opinions. They ask us what we think they could do to improve and we give them our opinion. We ask them what they think of our plans for them. We work out a solution between us. We deal with them “man to man”.
Works with Everyone
We can use this system of coaching with everyone, even young girls. We can respect their talent and take their feelings into account. We won’t have to decide when to change coaching methods. We won’t run the risk of driving gymnasts out of our gym over control issues.