Everyone agrees that children need to be supervised when they are in potentially dangerous or unfamiliar situations. For most young children, a gymnastics facility can be both unfamiliar territory and potentially dangerous to those unfamiliar with the equipment and traffic patterns. This then indicates that supervision plans and systems should be in place in any gym to ensure the safety of its participants.
4 Types of Gym Supervision
There are a four types of gymnast supervision that need to be in place, both for liability reasons and to do the right thing, which is to protect gymnasts to the highest degree possible. The types are specific instructor supervision of their own class, general instructor of the entire gym and gym areas, electronic/camera supervision of the gym which may or may not be available by feed to the Internet and traditional security supervision of the facility (a rare feature in gymnastics facilities).
Specific Class Supervision
Specific instructor supervision of their own class is the first level of gymnast safety. The primary goal and responsibility for this type of supervision is for instructors to always know where their gymnasts are and what they are doing. Instructors should position themselves to be able to see their gymnasts at all times and to be able to exercise verbal, if not physical control of their class.
Specific Gymnast Control
Specific supervision also includes specific control over any skills, which a gymnast is performing, including viewing, spotting, evaluating and teaching. Certain skills, which require hands-on spotting, require the undivided concentration and attention of the coach. Other gymnasts must be safely managed during that time, either by having them wait or perform safe skills in a safe area. If a coach has to leave the gym area for any reason or cannot supervise their, they should verbally pass their class supervision responsibilities on to another coach temporarily.
General Supervision of the Gym
General instructor supervision of the entire gym and gym areas can take place in two ways. General supervision involves picking up supervision of any gymnasts who may have wandered away from their class, anticipating any potential safety conflicts between two classes and generally making sure the entire gym is safe. Instructors of classes can position themselves to not only observe their own class but to have a view of as much of the rest of the gym as is possible, dependent on equipment placement. In this way each instructor can and should generally supervise the entire gym.
Shared or Individual General Supervision Responsibilities
One instructor, usually a senior staff member may also individually be assigned the task of general supervision. It would then be their sole responsibility to keep an eye on the entire gym. Ideally but very rarely, a senior staff member would have no other responsibilities during this task. If a single individual has general supervision responsibilities, if they leave the gym area for any reason or cannot generally supervise, they should verbally pass their general supervision responsibilities on to another coach temporarily.
Video supervision is not common in gymnastics facilities but is becoming more and more economically feasible with the dropping prices of multi-camera security camera systems, many of which are already set-up to feed directly to the Internet. Video systems can feed into the front desk area allowing front desk staff to help generally supervise the gym area, to a security office, to the coaches offices, to the owners office, or onto the Internet or a combination of some or all of these.
One Out of Four ain’t Bad?
Most gyms are aware of their specific supervision responsibilities, but it is the rare gymnastics facility that has expanded supervision to include general supervision systems and it is very rare to see video supervision systems or for a gym to have security personnel.