A major factor in the retention of gymnasts in the gym is positive, rather than negative coaching. Positive coaching is not being a cheerleader and talking about self-esteem. It is telling the gymnast exactly what to do to improve, not pointing out obvious general faults after the fact.
Half Empty or Almost Full
A 7.0 score can mean two things – Are you emphasizing all of their faults and deductions? Or are you making sure they realize they are doing things correctly for the most part (70% correct and only have another 30% until they perfect it).
“Don’t Do That.” = Do Not – Do
Some of the most common coaching language and it is a paralyzing oxymoron. What are they supposed to do if they do not do? That’s what you are supposed to be telling them.
Giving them the specific advice on what they are to do.
“Do This To Achieve That.” That’s Positive Coaching.
If you are yelling at a gymnast, trying to intimidate them into doing something or chastising in front of others, where is the coaching professionalism there? Here you are a mature grown adult (okay, forget the mature part) and you are screaming at a child – a gymnast, but a child. We’re supposed to be teaching them and you’re screaming at them. You’ve lost all semblance of a professional and have lost yourself in your own selfish emotions.
Don’t Be a Control Freak
You weren’t hired to make that gymnast a puppet of yours, to turn them into an automaton who only does what you want. You were hired to help them become a gymnast, a gymnast who can think for themselves, speak for themselves, motivate themselves with spunk and personality. If you want or need someone to control, do it on your own time. Better yet, get a shrink and work on your problem.
Gymnasts You Can Control Can’t Cut It Anyway
Any gymnast you can thoroughly control isn’t going to become a great gymnast, anyway. They won’t have the strong psychological make-up required for high level intense competition. They will be weak. You can not “build” a gymnast yourself. They must build themselves and compete alone. You can only help them build.
Psych Up, Not Psych Out
Spend your time assessing them and teaching them and psyching them up. Input positives and you will see a positive attitude, can-do gymnast emerge. Lose your temper (lose emotional control) and by example, you will have taught them to lose control. If you can not control yourself in a simple practice situation, how are you going to expect your pupils to maintain control in an intense competition situation.
Over the Long-Term, Positive Is The Only Way
Coaches say some athletes respond better to pressure (read yelling and screaming) that may certainly seem true in the short run. But abusive language is not a successful long-term strategy. It is defeating and de-motivating over the long term and gymnastics is nothing if not a long-term sport.