The Most Effective Coaching Methods

From: Karen
Subject: Squad Training problems

Sex: female
Age: 7
Gymnastics Level: unsure

My 7 year old daughter started recreational gymnastic in March. Within 3 weeks she was put into squad training,  from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm Saturday and 9:30 am to 1:30 pm on Sundays. She loved every hour spent in the gym. After July’s club competition, where she came 5th overall out of 10 in her age group, she was moved to an additional day from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Since this additional day I’ve had nothing but issues with conditioning each lesson. I receive phone calls asking me to collect her as she’s refusing to do the conditioning each time.
I’ve told my daughter that we will stop the gymnastics if she doesn’t want to do this any more and she’s then thrown into a wobbly because she wants to do it!
Here lies my dilemma, she doesn’t want to to do the conditioning but loves the gymnastics, but does the conditioning without issues at home!
Should I be stopping the training altogether????
The coach isn’t much help, she just tells my daughter she does the conditioning or she get dress and goes home, any child of 7 will always pick the go home option!
Any advice greatly appreciated, there are no other gymnastic clubs near where we live that I can change to and get her there by 4:30 pm on a weekday?

You need to schedule a time to talk to the coach and/or owner of the gym. Check out this information about doing that. Your daughter is very new to the sport.  She likely has no idea what conditioning really is, or why she should want to be doing it, and no one apparently has taken the time to explain it to her.

What is the Real and Original Source of This Problem?

As a result, there may have been some negative experience having to do with conditioning, as if being singled out and threatened to be sent home wasn’t negative enough.  Try to see if she can identify the original source of the problem, or if the coach can.  It is the job of the coach to explain to young gymnasts just why they are there.  Young gymnasts likely see the fun in learning new skills and playing in a huge padded playground, but usually have absolutely no idea what competition is all about.  Someone has to explain it to them and let them know why conditioning is important.

Threats Don’t Work Well

Threats to a young gymnast are highly counterproductive.  Sending young gymnasts home is a highly questionable practice.  If a coach cannot motivate a 7-year-old, how are they going to handle a rebellious teenager?

Your Daughter is Very New to the Sport, So She Knows Little About It

Since your daughter has moved up so fast, she has not been exposed to many concepts of the sport yet, and she needs to be educated, and learn about the importance of strength and flexibility, the joy of learning new skills, the fun of competition, close gymnastics friends, travel opportunities, local fame and all of the other benefits that gymnastics has to offer her.  She is not likely to learn any of those things when she is being sent home.

Paint For Her the Bright Future for a Gymnast

For the best possibilities of success, gymnasts need to know where they are headed – new experiences, competition, the Olympics, etc.  No one gets anywhere without knowing where they are going, and that is even more true for inexperienced young gymnasts.  Someone has to take the time to teach her where she is going and why.

Coaches Don’t Like Parents Interfering, But Deal With It

Coaches do not generally like to have their methods questioned by parents, but your daughter must have talent or they wouldn’t be moving her up so quickly.  You have the right to request that they be patient with her, help her understand the implications of all the new moves she has gone through, and that she be given some positive reinforcement.

Fastest Progress Comes from Praise

Threats are a weak teaching and learning strategy, either for parents or coaches.  The best and fastest improvement comes when what they are doing right is reinforced immediately, or they are praised, when they do something the coach, or you, want them to do again.

Help Them to Change The Way They are Handling Your Daughter

If nothing else, meeting with the coach will force them to reconsider the methods they are using with your daughter, and how easily they could lose her talent if things don’t change.  Good luck.

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