Level 5 Boys Gymnastics Motivation

Subject: Level 5 Boys Gymnastics Motivation

Sex: male
Age: 11
Gymnastics Level: 5

Hi – My son, age 11 is currently a level 5 gymnast training for level 6 this summer. He has totally lost all his self confidence and does not want to continue. He has never been the best kid on the team. As a matter of fact, his younger brother 9, also participating at level 5 training for 6 this year is better than he is.

The younger brother tries not to make a big deal of his “superior” skills. However, the older brother is teased by others on the team and feels like no one likes him. The coach is young and is trying to remedy that but over the past year it has not worked. The head coach, a well established and successful coach, seems to have washed his hands of both of my boys.

I have not another good choice for a team in our area…

My older son likes his coach but has not made any significant improvement in the past year. The coach says he is not being “smart”. Meaning he doesn’t apply the feed back he is given. I agree.

The boys have had a different coach every year they have been on the team. The current coach is having some health/financial issues and recently told the boys he probably will not be continuing. My oldest is really having trouble with this.

My questions… Do you have any insight. If I really encourage him to stay might he get over the “hump” and then begin to love it again?

Is this a common issue at this stage?

How might I begin to build his self confidence to even try.

Do you have suggestions?

Thanks for your time,
Very Distressed Mom

Boys gymnastics, is in general, and at many gyms a smaller and less stable program than women’s gymnastics.  There are fewer boys participating in the sport than girls and they have many other popular sports options.  Financing boys equipment and hiring and paying high level boys coaches is difficult in this situation.

Other than the advanced psychological techniques I have developed, there are a few ways normal gymnasts and coaches can build more confidence and motivation.

The strongest levels of motivation primarily comes from internal drive toward a very clear and specific gymnastics goal. Understanding the current and future benefits of being a gymnast can also contribute to higher levels of motivation.

You want to read another one of my articles on motivation.  It is written in response to a question about a girl who is a gymnast, but the concepts are true for both girls and boys.  It provides very complete information about benefits, perspective, motivation and goals.  Basically, it describes the fact that most gymnasts have never had their potential future in the sport even ever discussed, they have no idea of the current and future benefits of the sport for them and most coaches make no good use of sound psychological training principles.

As far as self-confidence, you have already described the problem with that.  Gymnastics confidence comes gymnastics success, either in competition or in learning new skills.  Your older son evidently did neither this year and so his confidence is naturally drained.

One of the jobs of a great gymnastics coach is to set up learning situations, so that gymnast do experience success in practices and in learning new skills.  The most fun in the sport comes from learning new skills.  If this is not happening, then the fun goes out of the sport and along with it, the motivation to continue.

I always have a problem with coaches, or parents, who blame young gymnasts for lack of motivation, progress or any other significant problem.  My view is that professional coaches should be able to create teach new skills and make progress with virtually any young gymnast.  If no progress is being made, then I look first to what the coach and the program are doing.

I am not an advocate of using the USAG compulsory system as a training system for either boys or girls.  Compulsory levels are fine for allowing competition opportunities for lower level gymnasts, but a true training program should be geared toward producing high level optional gymnasts.  If a gym’s training program is not doing that, then many, if not most, of the  opportunities for learning new skills and making progress are gone.

The problem with “competition” between the two brothers is much more problematic.  There are often many other previous factors, unrelated to gymnastics, that could be going on, that it is difficult for any coach to deal with this.  I would be trying to focus on having your older son concentrate on his own progress and not that of any other gymnast, including his brother.  This is, in fact, the perspective all gymnasts should be taking towards other gymnasts, brother or not.  Gymnasts and parents should be looking at their own individual progress, not comparing one gymnast to another.  This will be more difficult in your situation, but it is what gymnasts should be doing.

I wish you luck in this situation.

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