The Critical Need for a Positive Gymnastics Coaching Style

While it often seems that coaches have an inflated sense of the effects of their training system on the physical aspects of the sport and gymnasts, there often seems to be total disregard for the effect of their negative comments on the success of their gymnast and their team.

Most Coaches Aren’t Positive – Most Coaches Aren’t Successful – What Does That Tell You?

It is a rare coach and gym in which we find predominantly positive coaching commentary and a positive psychological environment for gymnasts. For some reason, coaches don’t relate this to the approximately equal lack of serious success national and international success of their program.

Too Many Negative Coaching Role Models

Worse, too many coaches champion negative coaching pointing to the success of Eastern European and Asian coaches known for being negative to the point of yelling, screaming (Bela who?) and verbal abuse.

There Are Other Reasons for Their Success

They (and those coaches) fail to understand that sometimes gymnasts succeed in spite of coach’s methods instead of because of them. Or there were other factors in place that were the reason for whatever success those coaches had, like successful recruiting and a systematic training system. And if basically all of the high level programs are primarily negative coaching/psychological environments, who would know if the positive approach works or not.

How Many Burned Out Gymnasts Did It Cost To Find One Who Was Coach-Proof?

Similarly they fail to calculate what even greater level of success and how many more successful gymnasts would have been created in a positive coaching environment. There is certainly tremendous empirical data to suggest that many gymnasts are “burned out” by high level negative programs.

Who Says Positive Coaching is Best – Sports Scientists

So if the programs that have been successful internationally are the negative programs, who is to say that is not the method all coaches should adopt. Sports scientists are the ones to say. Science says clearly that a positive environment, especially for girls, is far more productive and even more than that positive coaching is critical to the production of successful, confident athletes.

Coaches’ Feedback in Practice, Not Meet Performance, Most Important

T. S. Horn’s 1985 study of coaches’ feedback and its effect on children’s perceptions of their physical competence concluded not only that athlete’s perceptions of their physical and cognitive abilities were related to coaches’ evaluative feedback at practice, but that positive competition success and feedback was not related.

Coaches’ Negative Response Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Not only are a gymnast’s perceptions of their abilities and possibilities for success dependent on their coaches feedback in practice, but success in competition would not overcome negative coaching in practice. Perhaps this is not so outlandish a concept considering the amount of practice time in relation to the relatively small number of competitions.

Negativity and Punishment Deeply Affect the Gymnast

The study showed that athlete’s perceptions of competence and attained level of skill ability were directly related to their coaches’ practice evaluation and feedback. Similarly, punishment was negatively correlated with athlete’s self-perception.

A Coach’s Negative Mental Attitude Will Eventually Drive the Gymnast Out of the Sport

The implications are clear that an athlete will eventually come to believe what a coach says about his or her standard of performance at practice. If a coach does not respond positively, then the athlete’s self-perception of his/her competency in the sport will ultimately be degraded.

Coaches Must Take Deadly Serious Their Responsibility to Become Positive Forces in Their Gymnasts’ Careers

There is no avoiding the heavy responsibility this places on coaches to control their emotions and provide a positive coaching environment. Or they must take the credit for the gymnasts who they have psychologically programmed to fail and for the overall lack of success of their negative coaching for the majority of gymnasts.

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