Salvage Relationship with Coach?

Subject: A bad gymnast-coach relationship

Sex: female
Age: 16
Gymnastics Level: 10

This is my fourth year with my coach. In the past we have had a good relationship but now things have dwindled. She doesn’t give me feedback unless i ask, she is not encouraging and rarely wants to work. I practically make my own training plan while she sits there talking with other gymnast. She has as you call it “flavor of the month” and does not show consistency as a coach. I have a great desire to improve, however i have not been able to with this coach. I like her very much as a person and she is very sensitive and is easily hurt. I don’t know if the situation is still salvageable and if so what to do about it?

There are essentially only two apparent potential answers to your situation. One is to stay with your current coach and work to change the current relationship and situation. The other is to make a change in gyms and  coaches.

If you do not already know what your options for other gyms and coaches are, that will be something that you will want to investigate. You may even want to visit the best potential options and talk to the coaches about what they can offer you. Sometimes it happens that you find you are happier where you are. Sometimes, you find a perfect solution you did not expect or know about. And sometimes, if your coach were to find out, she may also find that she would not like it if you were gone, and decides to make a much bigger effort with you.

Girls are often (nicely) concerned with the feelings of others, which is certainly an admirable quality. However, in this situation, I am going to recommend that you make at least one evaluation of your options, where you think only about what you really want and need. You can make another evaluation and consider the feelings of your coach, but this is your life and gymnastics career and, obviously, you are not now getting what you need and want.

One of the big mistakes, that women often make, is that they think they can change people. Often, they cannot. There are effective ways to change people (operant conditioning), but few people actually know how to do it and it is not a necessarily a quick and easy process. It takes time. If this is something you decide you are going to do, we can talk about how to do that then. basically, changing people requires reinforcing (praising) them when they act like you want them to, and essentially ignoring them when they don’t. For example, you might have to ask her for feedback, and then when she gives you effective and useful feedback, thank her effusively (sorry couldn’t think of any other word). Reinforced behavior tends to be repeated, so over time she will tend to give you more and better feedback because you praise her for doing so.

You have the option of making your own training plan and essentially coaching yourself, until any change in your coach occurs, if you decide to go that route. Again, if you decide to do this, I can give you some good advice on how to plan and run your training (one step of progress a day, etc.).  Many gymnasts, at your age and with your level of knowledge and experience, underestimate their ability to figure out what their training plan should be like. Of course, you still need some kind of feedback. Did someone say cell phone videos?

I am convinced that the secret to happiness, in life and gymnastics, is to have a very clear and specific vision of what you want your life to be like. If you know exactly what you want, your life and gymnastics career to be like, then the decisions and momentum to get there come along much more easily.

So I am telling you, that you need to really think about what you want the rest of your gymnastics career to be like – what skills you want to learn, what kind of training program you want to be in, what you want your coach to be like, how you want to do in competition, what you need to do to get a gymnastics college scholarship to the college, etc. You need to look inside yourself and see what it is you really want to do. The answers are all already inside you.

The process is not much different than imagining what you would do with the money if you won the lottery. Except in this case, you are imagining, if you could have anything and everything you wanted in your gymnastics career, exactly what would that be like. Once you know that, many of the answers to the questions you are seeking will not only become evident, but your subconscious mind will already be moving you in the direction of solving your problems and moving you toward the gymnastics career you want.

While I understand that might seem to be both somewhat simplistic and difficult to believe, it is really how the mind and life actually works. So give it a try. I always find such mental exercises great fun, in addition to being extremely useful and effective.

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me again if you need more help or have further questions.

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One Response to “Salvage Relationship with Coach?”

  1. John Howard July 28, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Melissa @MelliCheer added the comment:
    I’d also add that she talk to her coach about the issues & not disappear without giving her a chance to address them.

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