For Parents Am I a pushy timewaster?

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KarenUK

Member
Dec 30, 2010
93
England
Hi all,

I'm a relatively new gym mum in the UK, my daughter is 10 and has been doing 8 hours, training four pieces but competing mainly floor and vault for coming up to a year now. My girl is focussed and hardworking, but a few issues are cropping up. I hate to see her unhappy and can't answer her questions, I want to make an appointment to speak with the coach but don;t know if I would be labelled as a pushy timewaster!

P started competing at novice level this year and quickly moved up to intermediate, and has been in the medals at every competition since. She has been told by her group coach that she is moving to advanced shortly. The other two girls who have been given the same news, both a year older and both have been squad gymnasts for at least a year longer than P, are training with the advanced group and have been for several months, while still competing intermediate. P is still training with the intermediate group, a very small group of 8 year olds. She can't understand why she has been left behind, and is frustrated watching the other two girls working more advanced skills - her POV is that she will be competing with them, same level, same age group, next year but they are having opportunities that she is not. When the other two girls started training with the advanced group, the only comment we had was that P is 'so good with the littler ones' - is that a good enough reason to keep her with this group? Her strength and flexibility are not an issue for the skills she is doing.

She has not been told what she needs to achieve skillswise, but knows from watching the next level in competition that she needs a minimum of a consistent handspring, ROBHS, and handspring vault. The intermediate group coach will not spot a BHS or handspring vault - says that she doesn't know how. P's floor handspring is fine, just requires more consistency but no support, and her flatback over the vault is fine and scored well in competition (they go over the vault table onto a mat pile of the same height). She feels frustrated that she is in a group where the coach is not able to help her achieve the skills she needs - again, more frustration as she watches the advanced group working with a coach who can spot these skills and more.

The inter coach does things that seem to me, as a non coach, a bit nonsensical. One example - P is working on cartwheel on beam. On a line on the floor, no problem, but on the floor beam she consistently doesn't get her second foot down - I think it's been going on so long it's now a confidence issue. She will be sent to do 10 on the floor beam and lands maybe 1-2. The coach does not offer any advice or help - even when asked, she just tells P to 'go practice it'. But she does insist at the end of the 10 on floor beam, P does 5 on the high beam. No spot, no help - and at yesterdays count she had 19 bruises on her legs. I can't understand the insistence on taking a skill that is not improving on the floor beam onto the high beam, and the constant lack of interest in helping. I know that minor bumps and scrapes are to be expected, but I do not feel confident that my child is in safe and protective hands.

P does not dislike the inter coach - her perception (at age 10) is that the coach is a nice person who is just not interested in being her coach. The coach sought me out at the end of Saturday training this week - she has been P's coach for about 8 months and this is the first conversation we have had. It was because she is interested in having me make uniforms for her cheerleader team... At the tumble competition on Sunday (P's first tumble event), P was sitting on the bench waiting for her turn - the coach was sitting with her back to P - not even watching the competition, just staring into space, looking out of the window, in a dream world. Apart from telling P where she should be, she didn't communicate with her at all.

I am finding the lack of communication from the gym really frustrating. I don't want to be 'one of those mums', but I think as a new squad member, in a year I should have had some feedback really - does she seem happy and settled in the gym? Is she progressing as they expected? Or not? Is there a plan for her? Is this lack of information the norm for gym clubs??

Am I fussing about nothing? Should I pipe down? These concerns come from a conversation I had with P a couple of nights ago - I asked her if she was OK and it all came flooding out!

Thanks for reading my essay!
 

dunno

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Apr 28, 2009
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yikes!..............................
 

gymmommy72

New Member
Dec 30, 2010
31
I think you have legiment concerns and should address them with her coach, the head coach, and or gym owner. Communication is a big thing. At our last gym, I was not big into communicating because I didn't want to be one of "those" parents...that really was our biggest mistake. When we switched gyms, I decided that I am the only advocate for my child at the gym. So when issues arise, I do not hesistate in talking to the coach(es). I find I am a bit happier when it happens, even if I don't see a change, I know they know where we stand and I know where they stand. It does make for a happier relationship.

We are currently in a similar situation with moving up (or lack of) and I keep talking with the coach and seeing what is needed etc...and my dd is also good with the younger kids, but that should NOT keep her back, nor your daughter back. The only thing that should hold a gymnast back is lack of skills (IMO). Good luck, and I suggest you talk to the coach and exress your daughters concerns.
 

KarenUK

Member
Dec 30, 2010
93
England
yikes!..............................

Is that yikes because I am a pushy mum? It's fine if you think I am - I don't want to be - but I don't want to be the mum of a broken child either. These are concerns voiced by her in a heart-to-heart, that I can't answer.... she's quite a deep inward looking type of child. Mostly as far as gym goes I just drive, pay the bills, and ask her 'what did you most enjoy today?' on the way home. Oh - and buy arnica cream for those bruises!
 

my4buffaloes

Well-Known Member
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Apr 14, 2010
5,288
Midwest
When stuff like that started happening at our old gym I knew it was time for a switch. The normal progression for dd now is to stick 5-10 of a skill on the floor beam and then gradually work their way up to the high beam. Not miss almost all on the floor beam and go directly to the high beam. I would talk to the owner/head coach about the issues and if you can't get her moved to a more appropriate group with good coaching then look at a gym switch. Good luck!
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
When the other two girls started training with the advanced group, the only comment we had was that P is 'so good with the littler ones'...

It sounds like this coach is using your dd as a "babysitter" for the littler ones and that is why they want to keep her with the littler ones because "she is so good with them". I also find the behavior of the coach at her meets (ignoring your dd and not even watching or communicating with her) appalling! I would definitely be more than a little annoyed. You are a paying customer and your dd should receive the same training and opportunities as the other kids in her level.

I would try to have a meeting with the owner and coach to get a clear plan for your dd. Ask them what their plan is for your dd for the next year and where they see her in 2-3 years. This will give you an idea if they are truly "vested" in your dd and her potential at the gym. If they give you vague answers to the point where you feel like they have no clue, then they probably don't have a clue. I would then look at other options just to see if there is a better gym that suites your dd and her growth as a gymnast. Good luck!!
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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NO that is yikes because the coach is doing nothng to advance your shicld skill wise. Just being a butt on a bench doesn't make you a coach. Tome for a chat with the head coach. Skills do not usually go to the high beam until they are sold on lower beams. IF DD is being given no indiation of how to fix skills she may never be able to.

You are so far from pushy.
 
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10.0

Guest
What a mess. No you are not being a "pushy timewaster" those are very legit concerns. The first thing I would do is talk to the coach or better yet the owner and simply say "I would like for my daughter to move to the advance class if possible, I was told she would be moving on and I think it would be very helpful for her to train with the kids at that level now." And then if they debate you can state your concerns. Like others said you are the customer.

As far as beam that is crazy! For cartwheels our girls do line on floor, foam floor beam, low beam with panel mats stacked to make it even to get used to landing on the hard beam, then the panel mats slowly get lowered, they also do a lot of drills to learn to stay on and then they move to a medium height beam with mats stacked under with a spot, the mats slowly go away and they get less and less spot until they have it with confidence. Granted not all kids need this much prep and it can go by quickly but we always do progressions not just hop up do it and bruise yourself. That is just wrong. This coach seems like she is mostly interested in her paycheck and not coaching.

In the end if you can't get her moved out of that group I would start looking for other options when it comes to safety you have to! next time it might be a broken bone instead of a bruise. Good luck!
 
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cher062

Guest
I use to worry that hte gym might think I'm a pushy mom or what ever then I realized this is MY KID and I have questions, and concerns I want answered so really does it matter what they think? NO it doesn't. I pay for them to teach my child and if I have concerns, am confused or what ever about the program I am Paying for I want it cleared up.

Make an appointment with the coach and just let them know of your concerns, you're not trying to push your daughter into levels she isn't ready for but that your Daughter doesn't understand some of what is happening and you can't answer her questions.
 

KarenUK

Member
Dec 30, 2010
93
England
... IF DD is being given no indiation of how to fix skills she may never be able to.

This is one of my concerns - I know nothing about gym, but my common sense says that if she is doing dozens of cartwheels on beam without correction, her body is learning the wrong shape and it will be hard to come back from. There are similar issues on bars - she tried to ask for help, but as soon as the coach hears her start to speak she interrupts and just tells her to 'go sit it out then'. P was really upset - she said the coach looks at her as if she is lazy and stupid in front of the younger girls, rather than letting her speak and answering her questions. She now just struggles on in silence because she'd rather do that than sit out.

Sigh.

I've called and made an appointment to see the owner tomorrow, who is also the coach with overall responsibility for the floor and vault squad. I am not unhappy with the club at all - the overall ethos is to have happy kids, achieving the best they are capable of - not overly pushy, but with a good eye for basics and correct form. They have a former olympic gymnast on the coaching staff who started out at the club, it has a friendly, fun, family atmosphere and the gymnasts generally do well. I don't know if they feel that P has aspirations above her ability, and that she needs to stay in the intermediate group for a while, but no-one is telling her that, and my perception is that with the current coach she will never achieve the skills she is working so hard to try to get - I am seeing handstand pops, standing backbend, to two footed kickovers at home, in between the constant watching-tv-in-splits, straddle lever, straddle into and out of handstand - her current aim is to bend her back leg to get her toe to her head in her 'bad leg splits' - she doesn't sit still, but I guess as this is a parents forum you'll all know about that stuff!

I just have this dread of going in and being told that my child is useless and I am some kind of 'stage mother' :)
 
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AlexsGymmyMom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Mar 20, 2009
2,532
USA
It does sound like they are kindof using her as a babysitter for the littler kids.

I used to feel the same way about asking coaches for feedback but finally I got the nerve up to ask some questions and they were more than happy to answer them. I got out some great insight about why my daughter was afraid of some skills and then we were able to work together to help her! I don't feel that you are being pushy at all if you ask a question. Most coaches and owners want to have open communication also but may not even know there is an issue unless you bring it up. You are not being pushy!!!
 
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cathiann

Guest
Really glad you made the appointment to talk to the owner/head coach. You have legitimate concerns and they should be addressed. I would write out your questions/concerns ahead of time--just to make sure you cover everything you're wondering about.
 
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cher062

Guest
This is one of my concerns - I know nothing about gym, but my common sense says that if she is doing dozens of cartwheels on beam without correction, her body is learning the wrong shape and it will be hard to come back from. There are similar issues on bars - she tried to ask for help, but as soon as the coach hears her start to speak she interrupts and just tells her to 'go sit it out then'. P was really upset - she said the coach looks at her as if she is lazy and stupid in front of the younger girls, rather than letting her speak and answering her questions. She now just struggles on in silence because she'd rather do that than sit out.

Sigh.

I've called and made an appointment to see the owner tomorrow, who is also the coach with overall responsibility for the floor and vault squad. I am not unhappy with the club at all - the overall ethos is to have happy kids, achieving the best they are capable of - not overly pushy, but with a good eye for basics and correct form. They have a former olympic gymnast on the coaching staff who started out at the club, it has a friendly, fun, family atmosphere and the gymnasts generally do well. I don't know if they feel that P has aspirations above her ability, and that she needs to stay in the intermediate group for a while, but no-one is telling her that, and my perception is that with the current coach she will never achieve the skills she is working so hard to try to get - I am seeing handstand pops, standing backbend, to two footed kickovers at home, in between the constant watching-tv-in-splits, straddle lever, straddle into and out of handstand - her current aim is to bend her back leg to get her toe to her head in her 'bad leg splits' - she doesn't sit still, but I guess as this is a parents forum you'll all know about that stuff!

I just have this dread of going in and being told that my child is useless and I am some kind of 'stage mother' :)

If you are "not happy with the club at all" maybe after your meeting you need to consider looking for a gym that is more inline with your thinking of a gym. Every gym is different and the way they do things is different from gym to gym. Our gym change a year ago was the best thing we could have ever done for my DD - she is just soaring now at the new gym. And the way they do thing is more in line with the way I would do them, the way they treat the gymnasts is the way I like too.
 

jcs

Member
Jun 11, 2011
144
Connecticut
If you are "not happy with the club at all" maybe after your meeting you need to consider looking for a gym that is more inline with your thinking of a gym. Every gym is different and the way they do things is different from gym to gym. Our gym change a year ago was the best thing we could have ever done for my DD - she is just soaring now at the new gym. And the way they do thing is more in line with the way I would do them, the way they treat the gymnasts is the way I like too.
I actually think she says she is "not unhappy"....which means she likes it....
 

sportyspice

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Jan 10, 2009
106
New Zealand
This sounds like a dangerous coaching situation, your daughter deserves a lot better than this. In particular, progression of skills on beam is a serious concern. Do not be afraid to be "that mother" if it is required, your daughter needs protection! Just a small note for your meeting though - comparison of your daughter to other gymnasts is very much frowned upon, so keep comments to what your daughter is experiencing directly.
 

KarenUK

Member
Dec 30, 2010
93
England
Thanks - more food for thought :) This has been really helpful - your feedback has enabled me to untangle my daughters outpouring and pull out what I perceive the issues to actually be.

I am happy with the club, there is a lovely positive, friendly family atmosphere and I feel that it is the right place for my daughter to be. I think that my two issues are really the lack of communication to both my DD and myself, and that I am not impressed with the group coach. Regarding the coach, my concerns are over her methods and my daughters safety during training, that her skillset does not support DD's needs (and also those of the group - there will be others looking to move to advanced that will also be unable to work on the required skills) and that my daughter perceives that the coach has a complete lack of interest - and I have seen nothing to indicate that she is wrong!

In terms of comparing her to other gymnasts, it is not a case of pushing her to have a particular position in the group, more that P's observation is 'we are all pretty much at the same level in the gym, we are all pretty much level on competition scores (P is usually in the middle of the three in terms of comp scores), I can't understand why I am being treated differently.'

The UK system is that they have two levels of competition for the girls - womens artistic gymnasts work through grades and put in many training hours, floor and vault target kids who are either not quite as talented, or don't have the time/money to train artistic, or start later. The floor and vault level is aimed at children who train up to 8 hours a week, they compete mainly two piece competitions, but a couple of times a year can enter four piece events. They start at novice level, going through intermediate and advanced, then bronze, silver and gold. Having had a look around this board and the skills mentioned, I think advanced/bronze are broadly similar to USAG level 5.
 

dunno

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no. yikes is for the program that your daughter is in.
 

KarenUK

Member
Dec 30, 2010
93
England
I went in today for the meeting. I started by explaining that on the whole we are very happy with the gym, our daughter is generally happy, and from what we can see is working hard and making good progress. I was told that she is working hard, has made good progress on floor and vault, and stronger than expected progress on bars and beam which is good to know. They also feel that she is becoming more settled and confident over the last 4 months or so - they feel that she had a tendency to say 'I can't' too much to start with, but they are not really hearing than any more.

I explained how she was feeling and our concerns arising from this. I was told that she had been kept in the group she is in because the coach felt that while she would be socially happier in the advanced group (it is a chatty group of 11-13 year olds) she would be more likely to maintain her rate of progress in the smaller group. They said that she would stay in her current group for the time being, but that she would still be competing at the advanced level. I was told she is being 'treated differently' to the other two girls, but that this is because the club tend to review the gymnasts individually rather than as a group. I said that was fine, but no-one had explained the situation to my daughter or me, and that better communication would probably have avoided most of this. And that looking at the situation from an adult point of view it was perfectly reasonable, but if you looked at it from the POV of a ten year old child who is still the newest gymnast on the squad it could look different.

Re my concerns about the coach telling P that she can't spot some of the skills, I was told that she is trained to do it, and that actually only the handspring vault is really important anyway - she said that she could compete with a roundoff as her 'flight skill'. I don't know how I feel about this as it doesn't tally with what we have seen watching advanced floor at competitions, but hey ho.. I feel a little concerned that the aim there seems to be to get her to the minimum required for that level of competition rather than, with 7 months til the season restarts, looking at what else she could do in that time - I am just thinking about how far she has come over the last year and, knowing my daughter, she will find that stance frustrating.

Re the coaching issues, they felt that I did have some valid concerns and are planning to speak to and observe the coach. They said sometimes with younger children coaching on beam, sometimes you just have to get the child to 'go for it' and this could be what has been happening. I said that I felt that it was unsafe to try to get my daughter to 'go for' skills which she was not solidly landing on floor beam more than 10% of the time - especially when the coach was not staying with her, and that as a parent my overriding concern must be her safety.

Re the lack of interest, I was told that the coach acknowledges that P is older than the other girls in the group and is trying to give her a bit more independence, so that she can feel that she is not being treated like an eight year old. I said that was fine and the thought was appreciated, but maybe she had gone too far with that if it involved not actually teaching/coaching. We agreed that they would speak to the coach about trying to get the balance right, but that my daughter needed to take more responsibility for asking for help when she needed it. I have mixed feelings about this - I feel that a coach who only has 3-4 kids in her group should be noticing who needs help, and in P's experience, asking for help would get a reply of 'in a minute' (but the help would never come) or would fall on deaf ears.

So I came away with a bit of a mixed bag - I understand their position a bit more, and feel happier that I have had the chance to air my views and explain that all of this angst in my daughter could have been avoided if someone had taken the time to speak to her. I felt a little that they would defend their coach to the death, but to a degree that is to be expected, but feel better in the knowledge that they are planning to speak to her and keep an eye on things.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts - it really helped!
 
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