Subject: Should I coach?
Gymnastics Level: High School
I have been asked to be a head high school gymnastics coach and I was wondering your thoughts on it.
My background as a athlete and coach are in football, wrestling, rugby and track. I played the first 3 in college. I coached wrestling for college and have been a head high school coach for wrestling.
I am a first year teacher in the district, and am teaching 3rd grade. The gymnastics gym is in the same building that I teach at. I am 26.
My concerns are being young and single and coaching high school girls. I know that now a days you can be accused of anything. But I would take the job with a desire to show a strong, Godly example of a man with core values to these girls.
With my athletic and coaching background, I know how to be a head coach, and I am a fast learner. The best coaches are also the best students of the sport.
I was wondering your thoughts on the situation I am in. Also, if I could learn enough before the season to be effective, if it would be too dangerous to coach as a young male teacher, and if you had any tips, or resources I could use if I do decide to take the job.
My primary concern is that I believe that gymnastics is too difficult and complex a sport to safely coach with no previous experience, especially on the high school level, where the girls are bigger. There are literally 1000’s of skills and skill combinations in the sport, and the gymnastics apparatus each have separate inherent dangers, that are not going to be apparent to someone who has not been around the sport.
High school gymnastics coaches would be expected to spot multiple moving tumbling skills, which is not a skill you can learn quickly and easily, no matter how much you study. Spotting skills on a gymnastics apparatus is often even more difficult and complicated.
The reason cheerleading has become the most, or one of the most, dangerous women’s sports is because the coaches do not have sufficient knowledge, training and spotting ability to safely coach the higher levels of tumbling, stunting and flying skills, now being done. You will be putting yourself in a similar situation, where you not only might, but even likely will, put gymnasts into dangerous situations, unknowingly.
I am sure, you fully understand the advantages, risks and dangers of every move in wrestling. You do not know the risks and dangers of every gymnastics skill, on every apparatus and in every combination, and will not have time to learn anywhere near enough, in the short time before the season will start. Do not put yourself and the girls at risk of potentially catastrophic danger because of what you do not know. Catastrophic injuries, paralysis and even death are possibilities in this sport, when girls do skills incorrectly or coaches miss even a single spot.
In gymnastics, coaches need to know as much as possible, but they also need to know what they don’t know. You don’t even have time to learn what you do not know about gymnastics, which makes you the “blind leading the blind.” Stick to coaching a sport in which you have the proper knowledge and experience. The extra money they pay you to teach gymnastics will seem like nothing if you are responsible for a severe injury.
I hope I have been clear enough about this to dissuade you. If not, the mere fact that you are concerned that you might be accused of something is clearly intuitive. Trying to learn spotting, with mature high school girls, is not going to necessarily be a “risk” free experience, either. Leave the coaching and spotting of gymnastics to someone who has the knowledge and experience. Even if they “have no one else” to do it, you should not consider doing this, as it is clear to someone with my knowledge and experience, to be too big a risk, that you will make a “fatal” mistake.