How Gyms Decide Who Coaches Work With

From: marie
Subject: Level selection

Sex: female
Age: 7
Gymnastics Level: 5

We have 3 Level 5 training groups in our gym.

Why is my child in Level 5 group Gold working with a compulsory coach and not in Level 5 Group Saphire with the optional coaches?

If she is not good enough for this group why am I paying the same price for lesser qualified coaching?

This is a very good question, but one you should really be asking your gym’s owner and coaches. There is no doubt that scheduling the best coaches to work with all team and potential team members is often problematic. Optional coaches often spend all their available coaching time, especially during the school year, working with the higher level optional team gymnasts.

There are Only So Many Coaches and Coaching Hours Available

Progressing to high level gymnastics often requires more training time than is available. There is little to no time left over to work with upcoming and compulsory gymnasts, regardless of how good an idea that might be. Having the optional coaches work with every gymnast could increase the pupil teacher ratio to an unacceptable level for anyone.

Size of the Team is a Factor

If all the team gymnasts, both compulsory and optional, are training at basically the same time, then the optional coaches cannot work with all of them. If the optional team is small, then one or more groups, of the “highest level” compulsory gymnasts, may be scheduled to work with the optional coaches to maximize the use of their coaching overall in the gym.  If the optional team grows larger, they may not be able to continue that practice.

Gymnasts Usually Split by Current Skill, “Talent” and “Ability”

There are a number of ways to split up gymnastics training groups. The most common method, and for coaches the easiest, is grouping by the current “ability” and skill level. That way, each group is homogeneous and will be working on the same skills. It is much more difficult for coaches to work with widely varying “abilities” of gymnasts at the same time.

“Talent” and “Ability” to Do Skills

For me, “ability” and “talent” are often too deceptive a word to use and can improperly label gymnasts way too early, and really should not be the sole determinant for grouping and training opportunities. “Talent” and “Ability” are concepts based on the idea that coaches can pick who is going to be the most long-term successful gymnast(s) early in gymnast’s careers. In spite of many coach’s belief that they can pick out who is going to be the best gymnast on their team, in the long run, there is no proven scientific way to do so. Coaches will know who is currently the best at each level, but there are too many factors for them to be able to predict who will be the best gymnast(s) on the team in future years.

Compulsory Coaches Can Be Just as Good for That Level

Good optional coaches often also will train the compulsory coaching staff to coach in a identical, or very similar, way to the way they would coach. This provides continuity in the program in training methodology and ensures that when gymnasts get to the optional level, they do not have to be “retrained” by the optional coaches. If this is the case, then your daughter would be getting identical, or very similar training to what she would get from the optional coaches.

Coaches May Work the Hardest with Their “Best”

It is somewhat natural for coaches to concentrate on their highest level gymnasts. Not having the optional coaches working your compulsory gymnast, who is not their main focus, may not be as bad a situation as you imagine, either. Having a dedicated, talented, hard-working compulsory coach whose complete focus is the development of the best possible compulsory gymnasts, (for them – their highest level gymnasts) may not be a bad situation at all.

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