Gymnastics Coach’s Code of Professional Conduct

Because you paid a fee and took a test does not make you a professional gymnastics coach.  Coaching is a lifetime commitment to learning and teaching.  Coaching is understanding your own shortcomings and weaknesses and fixing them.

Professional gymnastics coaches control their own feelings and emotions in order to move gymnasts forward in dealing with their gymnastics careers.  Professional gymnastics coaches have the highest standards when it comes to the the role model they are for gymnasts and how those gymnasts move through their gymnastics career and the rest of their lives.  Professional gymnastics coaches live up to even higher ideals and standards than they expect of their gymnasts.  Professional gymnastics coaches follow a code of conduct in their personal and professional lives.

Always speak positively about gymnasts

Build gymnasts up mentally.  Never say anything negative about any gymnast to or in front of any other gymnasts or parents other than their own. Always make any necessary negative comments or corrections in private.  Find opportunities to praise gymnasts in front of their parents, teammates and friends.

Deal positively with parents

In gymnastics, there are two customers and constituencies – gymnasts and parents. A gymnast likely cannot ever be highly successful without the support of their parents. Coaches need to help gymnasts garner this support.  Do the work to know both your gymnasts and their parents well enough that you can influence both to further their gymnast’s career.

Always speak positively about other coaches

Never say anything negative about other coaches to any gymnasts, parents, the media or members of the general public. Always make any necessary negative comments or corrections in private.  Gymnasts need to have faith in their coaches in order to have faith in themselves.  Never do anything to undercut that.

Use positive reinforcement as your major training tool

Never verbally abuse, intimidate, embarrass or degrade any gymnast. Build upon each gymnast’s strengths.  Negative coaching, at many times, seems to be a short cut to coaching success, but what it really does eventually is cut short a gymnast’s success and career.  Positive coaching builds gymnasts and negative coaching tears them down.  How can you ever expect gymnasts who you have had nothing but negative comments for to have confidence in the biggest meet of their lives?

Always speak positively about the gym

Your job is to build the gym program in every way including public relations.  If you don’t like your job, get another, but running down the gym at which you work, says more about you than about that gym.  And how can you expect gymnasts to have respect for you if you would work at a gym that is bad as how you are bad-mouthing it to be?

Always speak positively about the sport of gymnastics and other gyms

When you talk down other gyms or the sport of gymnastics to gymnasts or parents, you don’t raise your relative position of yourself or your gym in their eyes, you lower their general impression of the whole sport and can make them wonder why they would want to be associated with any gym in the sport, including yours.

Concentrate on improving the gym, your program, gymnasts and the sport

Resist assigning blame for any problems to any individual and concentrate on creating solutions and positive action. Become part of the solution, not part of the problem.  There is much need for improvement in the sport starting with you as a gymnastic coach and all the way up to how the sport is managed and run at the international level.  Quit complaining and get to work on improving what you can.  Commit to continual improvement, both personal and professional – there is always more to learn about coaching, no matter how long you have been doing it.

Always be professional in your manner of speech, methods and appearance.

Gymnasts and coaches are evaluated on how they present themselves.  If you want to be respected and treated as a professional, then you must look, act and speak like a professional.  Gymnasts and parents can only react to what you present to them, so give them the professional coach, they need, want and deserve.

Coaches Responsibilities to Gymnasts

  • Maintaining gymnast safety must be the first and over-riding concern of every coach in every situation and in every coaching decision.
  • Do all of our homework regarding the rules of the sport to level the playing field and give your gymnasts a fair chance to win.
  • Keep yourself in the best possible physical condition for the safety of your gymnasts and as a role model for their future life.
  • Know your gymnasts, their gymnastics strengths and weaknesses, their life which gives you the window into their mind and their family which affects their practice and performance.
  • Set mutually agreed upon goals for each season and preferably long-term goals.
  • Be prepared. Plan practices ahead of time, ideally in written form you can share with gymnasts and other coaches.
  • Give gymnasts specific instructions as to what you wish them to do in every practice, for every turn and for every skill.
  • Carefully watch their performances and observe from that performance what you want them to continue to repeat doing.
  • Comment positively on the positive phases of their performance so that they will be motivated to repeat those positive things again and give them specific advice on what to do to improve their performance in other ways.
  • Work to increase their motivation and build on their successes by “catching them doing something right” and praising it.
  • Constantly work and study to improve your level of knowledge and expertise in every aspect of the sport.  There is a lifetime of knowledge to acquire and the sport and the business of coaching and running a successful gymnastics program is changing every day.
  • Become proficient in positive coaching methodologies.  If you do not know how to positively psychologically affect your gymnasts, then you really don’t know how to coach.  Learn the coaching techniques and strategies that really work.
  • Work to raise the level of your teaching skills and methodology.  Some coaches are naturals.  If you are, you still need to figure out what it is you are doing so you don’t lose it and so you can teach it to other coaches.  If you are not a natural, you need to work, learn, use and practice the best methods of teaching gymnastics.
  • Present your gymnast in a positive light to their parents, teammates and the world.  Take every opportunity to praise gymnasts in front of their teammates, friends and parents.
  • Coaching psychology is equally important to your and your gymnast’s success as technical knowledge so match your technical knowledge of the sport with psychology knowledge.
  • It is your job and responsibility to subvert your emotions, ego and feelings for the good of your gymnasts.  The sport is about what gymnasts do on the floor, not about how great a coach you supposedly are.
  • Share your knowledge with gymnasts and coaches.
  • No matter what you do, you are going to leave some kind of impression of the coaching body of work you do in your life.  Make sure your personal gymnastic coaching legacy is the most positive one you can create.

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One Response to “Gymnastics Coach’s Code of Professional Conduct”

  1. Tumbl Trak (@TumblTrak) December 23, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Here is a great article that I found through GymMomentum!

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