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Solith181

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Aug 26, 2022
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Hello! I am the Recreational Gymnastics Director at our Gymnastics facility. I was thinking about creating a coach's incentive program. It would be a program where the coaches would earn points towards something for going above and beyond, for following policies, for making gymnastics fun and educational for all levels. While at Congress last week, one of the presenters spoke about an incentive program where he would four times a year he does an Excellence Awards (certificates, prizes, and picks a Coach of the Season). Then once a year he hosted an "Academy Awards" Dinner for his coaches and gave them medals and trophies for different achievements throughout the year.
I LOVED THAT!
What ideas do you have? Things that could earn points? What incentives do you think Coaches would love best? I want to make it fun and exciting for them.
I am soft launching the program in September by having them participate in our themed week of Superheroes. They will have the ability to earn points by doing not so secret missions on the board that everyone can see and then if they are lucky to find a secret mission found in the facility and complete it - they get extra points towards a prize at the end of the week.

Thoughts?
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Jan 21, 2007
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Baltimore, MD
I know this isn't the answer you want to hear but

Coaches want exactly two things: a positive working environment and money. And the second one is the more pressing of the two.

I'll hazard a guess that most of your rec coaching staff are under 40. Millennials and Gen-Z-ers -- especially the ones that coach for a living -- are barely keeping our heads above water financially. We don't need pizza parties, T-shirts, certificates, or water bottles; we need money. Recognition of a job well-done is nice, but that can just be a comment or an email; it doesn't need to be anything fancier than that. But recognition doesn't pay the bills, and money is what ultimately determines whether or not we're able to continue coaching.

I speak from experience. The last gym I worked at was a perfectly fine gym (in fact, it's the one Donnell Whittenburg used to train at), but the biggest reason I'm no longer coaching is because a second-year electrical apprentice gets paid more than a coach with 16 years experience as an athlete and another 16 as a coach.
 
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Solith181

New Member
Aug 26, 2022
11
42
I know this isn't the answer you want to hear but

Coaches want exactly two things: a positive working environment and money. And the second one is the more pressing of the two.

I'll hazard a guess that most of your rec coaching staff are under 40. Millennials and Gen-Z-ers -- especially the ones that coach for a living -- are barely keeping our heads above water financially. We don't need pizza parties, T-shirts, certificates, or water bottles; we need money. Recognition of a job well-done is nice, but that can just be a comment or an email; it doesn't need to be anything fancier than that. But recognition doesn't pay the bills, and money is what ultimately determines whether or not we're able to continue coaching.

I speak from experience. The last gym I worked at was a perfectly fine gym (in fact, it's the one Donnell Whittenburg used to train at), but the biggest reason I'm no longer coaching is because spraying fertilizer on lawns with zero experience pays more than coaching with 16 years experience as an athlete and another 16 as a coach.
Thank you so much for your insight.
I can not personally do anything about their pay or money, but I can bring them a positive working environment! That is what I was hoping this incentive program could do! Just trying to get an idea of reasonable ways I could reward them and super support them.
 
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Solith181

New Member
Aug 26, 2022
11
42
I know this isn't the answer you want to hear but

Coaches want exactly two things: a positive working environment and money. And the second one is the more pressing of the two.

I'll hazard a guess that most of your rec coaching staff are under 40. Millennials and Gen-Z-ers -- especially the ones that coach for a living -- are barely keeping our heads above water financially. We don't need pizza parties, T-shirts, certificates, or water bottles; we need money. Recognition of a job well-done is nice, but that can just be a comment or an email; it doesn't need to be anything fancier than that. But recognition doesn't pay the bills, and money is what ultimately determines whether or not we're able to continue coaching.

I speak from experience. The last gym I worked at was a perfectly fine gym (in fact, it's the one Donnell Whittenburg used to train at), but the biggest reason I'm no longer coaching is because spraying fertilizer on lawns with zero experience pays more than coaching with 16 years experience as an athlete and another 16 as a coach.
oh and keep in mind 75% of my coaches are actually 35-45 year old Mother's of gymnasts!
 
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Aussie_coach

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Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
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Geoffrey Taucer makes a great point.

Most gyms have a few incredible and awesome coaches who have dedicated their lives to coaching the sport. They do it for the love of it not the money.

The rest are part time students or parents of gymnasts etc. very few make a career of this and very few can.

Sometimes incentives can backfire. It can pit coaches against each other, it can highlight some coaches strengths which will in turn highlight other coaches weaknesses. It can be impacted by the luck of the gymnasts they happen to have drawn for their groups.

We do need to promote a work environment that is fun, exciting, positive, rewarding, where coaches have a sense of belonging etc. But be very careful about putting them against each other.

Ideally you want a gym where everyone works together as a team to achieve.
 

JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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Wisconsin
Monthly or per session retention bonuses. Keep 100% of the kids in your class and get something per class. Like $10. So if a coach has 5 classes and they keep 100% of all 5 classes… they get a $50 bonus for that month.
 
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Solith181

New Member
Aug 26, 2022
11
42
Love all these answers. We did the Superhero incentive event and I noticed only three out of my 12 coaches did the activities. That was ok, because I actually got a win out of it! There is one coach (that is a lot like me - she is a Mom of gymnasts that has dedicated her entire time to the gym life as a coach without any gymnastics background experience) and she has had a hard time "making gymnastics fun" for the recreational classes she coaches. She tends to be more stern and fusses a little with the kids. She is the one who actually won the Superhero incentive challenge for the coaches for having so much fun! This has really opened her up as a coach and helped her vastly in her coaching after. A lot more joy in her coaching - I call this a huge win!
So, I have a few things I have started with my coaches. I have built a huge, what I call "encouragram" board center. It is where parents, gymnasts and other coaches can write letters of encouragement for each of the coaches and leave it in the envelope for them. I hand wrote a letter of admiration for each of them and put it as the first letter they received. I plan on putting little presents in the envelopes randomly to encourage them as they work. Things that they can use at the gym, things for just them personally (grocery store gift cards, etc.), and notes of thanks for all they do.
I have also started a prop of the week thing - they have to use the prop I bring in that week in a unique way during their circuits to keep things fun and interesting for the recreational program kids. (this week is jump ropes).
Each month we have a themed week that they can do fun things geared towards the theme of the week (October is pumpkin patch).
I am also going to do a Coach of the month each month (along with a gymnast of the month). and each quarter (season) I am going to pass out certificates of excellence for the coaches to highlight their amazing strengths (because every coach has a different strength!). I will also be giving them little gift cards and presents randomly each month/season. Then in December I am going to throw them all a BIG Christmas party (Academy Awards style) and give them trophies and such for being awesome!
The problem with money incentives is anything that is given to them comes out of my personal money. The owner's family is brand new to owning gyms and doesn't allow me any budget at all for the recreational program. I am purchasing everything I stated above for the coaches out of my money. I know this is not good long term, but I am marking down everything I am purchasing in a spreadsheet so that the end of December I can formulate a budget for next year and give it to the new owners to tell them what I require them to put aside for the program. They need to see that what we are doing is going to bring in the families and keep the current coaches on staff and that I can grow the program with that. Does that make sense?
 
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