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Nov 12, 2007
[FONT=verdana, arial, helvetica]Hello

I would like to ask everyone here who coach.. How does your club run? What are you programs like (recreational)?.
I am asking for as much detail here on your club structure what works, what needs a fix (in your opinion), ideas on what is the best recreational program, how to run a club optimally, staff training, classes structure,strategies on retaining kids you name... everything.

The reason is that within the next few months, the club i work with is going under new management, and as i happens i will be part of the people who will have to try and structure and improve the current program. I have pages and pages of stuff in my head, and on paper, but there is never enough. I would really appreciate everyone eleses knowledge, ideas, throughts, etc on the topic of club structure, program management, programs run etc...

This is purely from a recreational angle, i think the competitive is taken care off.

Please don't be shy to let it rip, and there is never enough detail.

Oct 27, 2008
Colby, Kansas
You know I am no expert but I feel as though are gym is very effective. I mean we know that we are not training olympic athletes we are mostly rec so I'll tell you a lil about our program but I will say we are in a small community and have over a 120 kids which has grown every year. And we still have a waiting list all the time. We have kids that drive 1hr and 1/2 to take class.
when placing kids in class we take into consideration their age, skill level and how much they want to be pushed.
On mondays we start at 3:30-4:30
with a class of second to thrid year students who strive to learn new things.
then and hour and half class from 4:30-6:00
this class is our younger kids that are moving and learning very fast
then last an hour and half class from 6:00-7:30
Our advanced class with our most advanced kids
Tuesdays are very similar except our second class has older kids that are still kinda beginners.
We try not to mix our older beginners with our younger ones because they often get discouraged by younger kids getting it faster than them.
Then wendnesday we have preschool classes that are only 50 min from
11:45-12:35 then from 2:45-3:35 this helps us get them done while the bigger kids are still in school. Then we have 2 more hour classes that are advanced kindergardners and then beginners between 1-3 grade. And lastly we do a short 20 min class with some challenged children one lil girl is blind and autistic it is an interesting class.
Then thursdays we start at 3:10-4 with another preschool class then from 4-5 we have second year kids who are a lil slower at learning skills and some 1st years. Lastly we have competition classes.
we are closed on fridays this year but by the size of our waiting list next year we will be starting classes on fridays as well.
We try to keep our classes relatively small we like to stay with 6 kids per teacher.
Like I said we are rec and our kids only come 1 time a week except our comp girls who come 2 times and that is all they come.
We love to start with a fun warm up game they stretch usually go to two lines work on our floor skills and tumbletrack at the same time. Then we break to bars and beam and finish with some vaulting and a game.
I hope that this is what you were looking for sorry if its not. I just thought I would try. Anywho if you want to know anything else let me know.


Oct 22, 2007
This is how things are done at the main club I coach at
We have 3 "levels" of recreation classes.
the first level is the Girls artistic (beginners) for ages 5-7. These kids come once a week for 1 hour. these classes are run Monday to friday from 4-5pm. and I think on saturday morning too.
the next step up is girls artistic extensions ages 7-9. They also come once a week (although some girls enrol in two different classes). These classes are available Monday and Thursday from 5-6:30 and on saturday morning.
next is girls artistic extensions ages 9-11. This is exactly the same as for 7-9 y.o.s except they come for 2 hours, 5 - 7pm. these classes are on Wednesday and Friday.
On tuesdays there is an artistic extensions for girls aged 11 and over, which also goes for 2 hours.

in these classes they learn the level 1 - 3 (C division) routines (I think you have the same system in NZ?). They are given the opportunity to compete in small friendly competitions but the majority of kids never compete.
This year I introduced GymStar (do you have that in NZ? it's a great program IMHO) and I had one group of girls do GymStar level 4. I am hoping that the co-ordinator/head coach will let more groups use this program next year.

the general structure of the class is that everyone warms up together in a group and then for the 1 hr kids the stretches are also done as a group but for the other classes we split up into our individual groups (8 kids per 1 coach) and we do streches in smaller groups. we then have a timetable to follow and the groups move around the gym and use all the equipment and for the 2 hour classes they also have a stength/flex rotation.

things I don't like:
  • there is no real regulation of who has what level. At the end of the year the co-ordinator just asks the coaches who they think should get a badge and they are then given a slip of paper saying congratulations, you got level (2). pay $5 at reception to get your badge. As a result, most kids never get their badge and kids are usually in levels that are too high for them. we also get a whole heap of kids who get to level 3 and expect to move to level 4 (will discuss this more later!).
  • we have a lot of coaches who have no idea what they are doing. they don't know what level to do with kids (again everyone just seems to go straight to level 3 whether they are ready to or not)or how to teach the skills properly etc. the co-ordinator has tried to implement educational type things such as providing basic lesson plans to work off etc but it never seems to do anything or last long. plus trainee coaches are never taught anything and are usually put with coaches who need help with their class, not because they can teach them to coach! they are also often given classes to take by themselves before (IMO) they are ready. (although I'm sure this was the case with me and if I may say so myself I've turned out to be a pretty good coach ;))
  • Sometimes I feel that an hour or even an hour and a half is not long enough. beginner kids only get about 10 minutes on each appartus. when you have 8 kids in a group it's really hard to get anything done in that time. for example on bars (we only have 1 set) it means each kid gets maybe one propper go on the bars.
  • more to do with administration than running the classes, but at the end of each term kids must re-enrol or they run the risk of loosing their spot in that class. With waiting lists a mile long this usually does happen. As a result there can be a high turnover or at the very least a handful of disapointed kids each term because mummy was disorganised and forgot to re-enrol.
  • these are probably my main gripes. will let you know if I think of any others!!
How I would fix the problems/ things I would change.
  • at the other club I coach at (and where I train) the levels are much more regulated. each kid who comes in starts at level 1, or if they are really young (or hopeless :rolleyes:) gymfun 1 (a modified version of level 1). it is up to the coach to teach them the routines and arrange for the head coach or club judge to come in one class and assess them. each kid is then awarded their badge (free of charge). I think this is much better as you know what level they should be doing and there are intermediate level (we have gymfun(GF) 1, level 1, GF2, level 2, GF3 , level 3) so kids do not "run out of" levels to do quickly and they are able to move up levels each year even if they would not be ready for level 2 say, they can do GF 2.
  • the second point kind of ties in to the above. if levels are more regulated then the coach automatically knows what level to do and they could then be given information etc on how to teach their class. I think we need to be encouraging new coaches (and some of the old ones!) to be going out and getting education (for example at leaps and bounds). plus the trainee coaches need to be put with coaches who know what they are doing!
  • with so many classes going on it would be kind of hard to increase class time but I think all classes should be at least 1.5 hours long. even the beginners.
  • I would have everyone's spots carry over to the next term (unless they say they don't want it anymore). perhaps then if they do not turn up in the first week of term (or maybe for the first 2 weeks) their spot can be given to the first person on the waiting list..... it's a hard one I guess..... I suppose you want kids coming up off waiting lists but you want to be able to keep the kids you already have as well.....
  • As I mentioned earlier I am hoping the gymstar program will take off in our club next year. We have kids who have made their way through the levels or been raced up to level 3 all of a sudden. either way, we have a whole heap of kids who are "stuck" at level 3 now. there is no way they can do level 4, because on 2 hours a week it's so hard to get all the skills etc and should they want to compete they would never be competitive, because let's face it, if they had talent they would be in a squad. GymStar has levels from 1 - 6, however I would only be looking at using levels 4-6 because I think levels 1-3 in the NDP are good as well. Once they have completed level 3 they can go and then do the gymstar levels. these levels are modified from the national program and are much easier. there are plenty of competitions available and the standard is not particularly high (no squad type kids are allowed to compete, it is purely recreational). I like the program because it allows kids to continue to progress and move up levels but not being pushed outside of what they are capable of doing. each level has base requirements and then plenty of bonus skills. theoretcially you could stay at each level for 2 or 3 years and the kids could just keep learning new skills to get the bonuses. there is also the added fun, girls can do boys appartus and boys can do girls appartus so it means even more skills for them to learn!! so anyway, as I said i'm hoping that more groups are able to use this program next year because the girls I coach really enjoyed it this year and I think it's a pity that once they get to level 3 there is nothing left for them to strive for etc and I think a lot of kids end up getting bored and quitting etc.
Things I like/are ok
  • I like how the classes are arranged by age, it means you don't have big age differences in the class. (although it can mean you get 11 year old beginners in with a group of kids who have don't gym for years.....)
  • we have timetables that we follow for each group. these are the same week in week out and they work quite well. It ensures that each group gets a go on each apparatus. It used to be a free for all and you could go weeks without your group having a go on bars because other coaches would hog them. Its much better with the time tables.
  • umm..... I can't think of anything else specific but overall I think how the club is run is fairly good. We always have massive waiting lists so I guess that indicates we are doing fairly well.
wow.... that is a massively long post and I'm pretty sure I just rambled on quite a bit. Hopefully you can understand me and it is some help to you! feel free to ask questions or PM me or whatever.
If I think of anything else I will let you know :)


I would you suggest looking into the CANGYM system in Canada. It has been revised down from 14 to 12 levels i believe. I think it is one of the best if not the best system for recreational athletes. I start using it at age 4.



Nov 12, 2007

Ohh wow thanks everyone your posts are golden!! thanks so much brilliant.
Keep it coming, maybe we can all benefit from it.


I'm not sure I'll be a lot of help. The club I work at only started up this year. As such it is very small with an enrollment of only 50 and all rec. All kids attend only once a week for 1 hour (as stated by someone else it's not really long enough). Next year we are expanding and will have an enrollment of up to 80 (due to demand) and will also start to run a competitive program. Like the other clubs we also have a waiting list.

On starting we implemented an internal grading system. Goes from 1-4 with grade 1 being very basic and grade 4 overlapping with some of the skills required in the levels 1-3 in Australia. This gives all the kids a place to start and an aim. Certificates and badges are presented as the kids progress through the internal grading system. It's also a good way of keeping track of what skills each child can complete and where their weaknesses lie.

Grading happens approx. 1-2 times during each term depending upon how the kids are going.

Our club try to group kids in ages. However as the club is in a rural area and many kids have to travel to participate we try to be flexible.

Classes begin with a warm up completed in a circle. Only goes for 2-3 minutes and involves things like warming up the wrists and neck etc. This is the same every week and is a good way to settle the kids and get everyone together. Warm up then continues with the use of music and a game. Then some stretching. After that the kids move to the apparatus. We try to incorporate some conditioning at the same time as we do skills. We only have an hour so it's quite hard to build their strength as well as working on skills.

We finish classes at the end like we started. In a circle completing a few stretches and chatting about up coming events etc. We have also used this time to re-inforce static positions/shapes.

We also give out a 'star award' in each class. We try to make sure each child receives the award a couple of times through the year. It's a way of recognising good behaviour, encouraging them to keep working on skills etc. The kids love it.

Hope this helps.



I don't mind month to month enrollment but it's much easier to collect if you have parents sign up for 2 month sessions and pay beforehand instead of having to call them up or get them to come into the office especially after that month is up. I think 3 month sessions are too long and just too much to commit to for rec but I like making competitive sessions being 6 months ( basically an on and an off season somewhat and they can pay in full or in 5 payments ).

3 and under, 4-5 or seperate classes for 4 and 5yo, 5-6 or seperate 5 and do 6-9, 9 and up work well. 9yo can get get along well enough with 6yo, but 10yo is asking too much. We've had good success with 9/10 and up with either gender. A lot of times we would have 10 and under tumbling and 10 and over ( rarely would we seperate 10-13 and 14 and up as far as female tumblers ).

I don't like boys being singled out in boys earlier than 5 unless they are in a pre competitive track. At one gym, we had a 5yo coed class and a 5yo boys only class. Coed class focuses primarily on the girl's events. Unfortunately many lil boys can have a lot more energy and less focus than their female counterparts and I can see why some gal coaches like to seperate the boys ( as they also tend to be less coordinated ).

I like the 55minutes/1 hour classes for beginners and bumping it up to 85/90 minutes in the advanced beginner/intermediate levels ( like L2/3 ). Bump it up to 2 hours in L3 with options for reccomended 2-3 days per week just like L2.

Some 4yo can deal with up to 1hr but sometimes 40/45 minutes is just fine. You can pack 2 of these into 90 minutes and maybe 5 or 6 of these into an afternoon. 3yo whether they are with or without a parent should be about 30 minutes. I only like it longer if they are on a pre competitive track as these kids should have proven to be able to be more attentive than the rest of their peers besides hitting certain strength targets and skill targets.

I prefer mostly circuits for 6 and under and most rec till intermediate levels. They are also easy to facilitate for conditioning setting up 3 stations for 3 or 6 kids or 4 stations for 4 or 8, etc. Rotate every 30 seconds or 1 minute or 20 seconds. Stuff like rope, rock to candlestick and pistol, block jump, wall walks, etc. About the only we do group lines is for lining across for kicking up to handstands or such or stuff like vault, chasse-ing across the floor, etc.

Having jr coaches ( coaches under 15 or 16 who are not allowed to coach on their own ) are very handy in the rec classes as a second hand. As for developmentally challenged children, I've had them with their tutors in rec classes with no problems so long as they don't hold the class back. Sometimes you can organize a developmentally challenged class but it's tough to keep numbers up and doing private lessons or a small private class of 2 or 3 might be more feasible. Sometimes the rare jr coach can run their own group but this will depend if your gym allows it and they are ready.

Preferably I keep skill sheets for every class and track progress at the end of the day per each class. It lets me figure out what the kids need to work on especially if certain gymnasts are really close to passing off the levels. It's also easier if you keep track on it instead of trying to lose 1 or 2 classes per 2 months to test all the skills ( which tends to be really boring through the entire class ). For a 2 month session, we would do a test at 4 weeks and a final test at 7 weeks so the last week we could pass out testing scores and any graduations to the next level.

For a month to month system, it's best to just do pass offs at the end of the month. With a session format, you can design a program for 2 months that will cover all the skills and progressions in that level which is nice and sometimes this can coincide with theme weeks.

If your rec kinder program gets big enough you can seperate into multiple levels of 4yo and 5yo. Not worth it for 3yo. Sometimes we use the L1-3 levels labeled for pre competitive only as we don't feel the compulsory levels cover all the basics and provide for as many class levels as something like levels A-E/F ( C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4 ). This also seperates the distinction of rec and competitive levels.

there is no real regulation of who has what level. At the end of the year the co-ordinator just asks the coaches who they think should get a badge and they are then given a slip of paper saying congratulations, you got level (2). pay $5 at reception to get your badge. As a result, most kids never get their badge and kids are usually in levels that are too high for them. we also get a whole heap of kids who get to level 3 and expect to move to level 4 (will discuss this more later!).

Paying 5 bucks just to advance a level? I dunno, I've bumped kids up on their first day in a class if it was too easy for them ( they were strong, well adjusted, and could do the skills ) and sometimes had to bump them up the next week. Sometimes an impromptu evaluation can be done before they try out a class. Per each skill level, you can filler skills and mandatory skills and skills to check during the first week of a class to evaluate incoming and new gymnasts just in case they might need to go into a higher level class.

Generally I like for most classes to do a short warmup, joint/stretch, ( for rec kids it doesn't really matter to stretch then to go over learning basic shapes but for for advanced rec do longer stretching at the end as these kids might get somewhere ) doing kick/press to HS drills ( even donkey kicks at the low levels ) or headstands. Break off to 2 or 3 events ( basically always hit floor and switch off bars and beam every other week and switch off tramp/tumbl trak or vault ). End with a game, pass out any theme papers or stuff to send home and give out stickers, stamps or blow bubbles.

For boys, basically always do FX and SR/HB or PB/PH. If equipment is set up right, you can make multiple stations of events.

I like rotational schedules but you have to make it mandatory that coaches follow them. Sometimes you can stay just a bit longer or rotate sooner but only if arrangements have been made and just in case the next rotation isn't ready. This should be the exception and not the rule. This can't be done when you start having too many gym kids.

Preferably I like kids to handle themselves making their way to the water fountain or bathroom so long as it isn't excessive, however only if they you know they know better to not run across the floor or run and jump around stuff so maybe only once they are 9 and over.

It helps if you have the staff and budget to have a floor facilitator. They aren't coaching a class of their own, but they can either help out in the office or help setting up rotations, lend an extra hand for a spot or to do first aid or in case a coach needs to go somewhere. They don't necessarily need to be management as an assistant manager can do this as well. They can also be doing gym chores like windows, bathrooms, etc or warming up kids so coaches can take a few minutes of a break.

If you do group warmups, it's good to set a schedule so that won't end up having the same coach warming them up always( like I used to ) especially if younger coaches allow the more older or senior coaches to do it instead. These younger coaches can resent some coaches who don't let other warm them up or just slack off in this regard.

This is why if you set your class duration at 5 minutes under the hour or 40 minutes it will allow those coaches some times to talk to parents or get some water or a much needed bathroom break. Besides, according to labor laws, you're supposed to get a break every 2 hours for 10 minutes or 30 minutes over 6 hours, etc. If you did group warmups, you could actually hit that 10 minutes just to cover your *** per that regulation.

Btw, always take really good care of your kinder coaches. More often that not, they will be pulling in more kids into your programs than the older rec classes. It's these classes that keep your gym in biz and if you don't pay them enough, they will be more likely to leave towards other employment opportunities. Obviously, we need to pay coaches with more experience and knowledge more, but keeping in mind that they are harder to keep the gym running afloat when it comes to profit and loss.

However, if your rec class coaches are not keeping the kids coming back and a senior more expensive coach can, it makes more sense to pay the higher wage and know that in the long run they will keep more kids in your program than trying to be cheap in the short run and hoping that the more jr coaches will be " good enough. " A good mommy and me coach can get so many parents coming back that you'll realize they are worth a lot more than the base pay though they aren't really able to teach more advanced gymnastics.

All the really successful gyms in the states probably ( private ) probably have really successful rec programs even if they are considered competitive gyms. Don't sacrifice one for the other, especially considering the percentage of children who actually compete gymnastics and go from level to level gets smaller and smaller.


Nov 12, 2007

Unfortunately we haven't done anything, the club has stuck with the same programs starting this year. They plan of reviewing the programs at some point this year.
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