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Jun 3, 2009
So... my group of boys is awesome, most of the time. These guys have a lot of talent, and could be awesome. The problem, their attitudes. A couple of the L8s and 9s have attitude problems. The biggest attitude issue is the a lack of work ethic and respect for the coaches. They think that the gym is a place to flirt with the girls, and just laugh and joke around. When asked to take a turn, or told, the response is "it's not my turn" or "I just went" or "my ______ hurts". And then they turn around and go back to talking with the other gymnasts. It's gotten to the point where the younger L6s and 7s are starting to pick up these habits.

As I am not the head coach, I try to support him the best I can. I feel as I am in a catch 22 though. The head coach is very much set in his coaching ways. But the kids act out. The kids ask me when the the head coach is quitting. While I am building the pre-team, and L4s and 5s programs. The L6s and up are beginning to thin out...

The head coach yells and has a hard time making progress with the boys because they won't take turns. And the boys won't take turns because they are too busy talking/goofing around and because they have little respect for the coach.

Talking to the boys does little.... Talking to the head coach does little....
Any suggestions? or ideas?


How old are these boys?

If they keep mucking around their gym standard will slip. They might even find the L6 & L7's catching up.

You might like to point this fact out.

If my boys muck around they get benched, or they have to do pushups. I also talk to parents. Parents are not usually too impressed if they hear their kids are being disrespectfull!

How you handle the situation probably depends on the age of the boys.

I have found that separating my boys often helps. They usually muck around more when they work in a group. They can't muck around when they are separated and rotating through stations/activities.

How serious are these kids about their gym, do they really want to be there?

Don't they care how well they do at comp?


Getting attention is more important than the quality of attention.
As a coach you need to actively reward the behavior you want to reinforce, pay attention to the behavior you want repeated and passively ignore the behaviors that are negative.

Book-"Whale Done"

How do you train a killer whale to do tricks? If you punish it, you wont want to swim with it. Active positive reinforcement-Passive negative reinforcement.

email me [email protected] and i'll explain more how i use these techniques as a coach.
Jun 3, 2009
Unfortunately, separating them and sending them out doesn't have much effect. As gymcarl has mentioned, rewarding good behavior and work ethic works, unfortunately only to a point with the L8s and 9s. The L6s and 7s still want to please, and when faced with a reward they will work hard.

Stations with the older boys have been tried over and over, but don't work. They will only half do the station, and then will find someone to talk with or they'll just lay there.

Talking with the parents about the parents worked only a little bit. One of the parents sits and watches the whole practice, the gymnast doesn't care.... The other parents are very rarely seen. When they are around the gymnast works a little harder.

It's a tough situation. Compounded by the fact that I feel I cannot do much more than I already am....

Thanks for the help everyone.


Gymcarl. Can you give some examples of active positive reinforcement and Passive negative reinforcement. I would be interested to know a little more about how you have used this in the gym.

As a boys coach I find the issues Hammy20 expressed seem far more common with boys than with girls.

You are right Hammy20 in saying that sometimes they only half work at the stations. Some days are ok, others not so good. I find they are better with a short time at each rotation rather than a longer time.

It can be hard getting boys to focus for long periods, and to have the personal drive to work hard. How do you get them to change their mindset?


Lots and lots and lots of burpees. Why? I have almost no problem assigning burpees for punishment. Not for conditioning for punishment. Doing lots and lots of them eventually suck.

Per infraction:

1st-10 no biggie really, easy
2nd-20 kind of annoying but nothing too harsh
3rd-40 ok this really sucks, by this time you've now hit 70 and done 2x as many as you did before
4th-80 this sucks big time. i've had a few boys cry when they gotten this many assigned. it means they have royally buggered it
5th-160 yet to give
6th-320 or go home

doing them means acceptance back in the group otherwise they can sit by the lockers or in the bleachers

we rarely do burpees for conditioning, if ever. no real point. i used to assign stuff like wall sits or pushup position hold for 1,2,3, or 5m. These apparently don't suck enough.

there are certain occasions that are an automatic 100 burpees. fighting, swinging around or throwing equipment. stuff that is dangerous. trying to kick the coach in the privates for a funny ( which usually involves a lesson in why it's never a good idea to try to kick an adult in the privates- some boys just don't get it apparently )

many boys will cry with the automatic 100. really, 100 burpees suck because they are past failure by this time.

now, we goof off sometimes, but when it's not goof-off time ( as in season )- they know what can happen.

as well, I give 10 burpees for walking on a landing mat. mainly so they learn never to walk onto the dismount mats around PB or HB or SR or V or stuff like running the wrong path during vault and purposely distracting the next vaulter.

as much as I wish I wouldn't ever have to raise my voice, I do. Perhaps, this was just an effective way of getting me in gear when I was a kid ( because as a little kid, I was always doing extra conditioning for screwing around ). As well, many of my HS coaches found it effective that unless you yell loud enough, boys don't get it through their head.

However, I also can clap pretty loud to get their attention. I also have a system of claps that lets know them when to congregate and come, listen up aka shaddup, etc.

It works for girls, but I've rarely ever had to deal with such problems with girls to the extent of boys. Better concentration, I think.

However, I did have to snap at some HS male tumblers on Thursday and man, oh man- I must have come off like a jerk. However, I didn't care. Whenever I think I'd rather be teaching girls/WAG than boys, then I remember what it is like to coach cheerleaders. :rolleyes:


Jan 31, 2008
I don't coach boys, but the embarrassment of being sent home (after fair warning) and having to explain to your parents why you finished gym early is a good deterrent for a lot of girls. This is followed up with a parent - coach (gymnast?) meeting before next practice. If you are not at gym to work you may as well be at home. Kids messing around are a danger to themselves and others. If you do have to send one home often you will experience angelic behavior for many weeks after from the entire group.
Any chance you can sit down with the head coach and develop a combined strategy for dealing with undesirable behavior? Even if you have to concede somewhat to his teachings surly a combined front would be better than the current situation. I hope this is not a case of him seeing the behavior as normal and acceptable
Jun 3, 2009
Thanks for everybody's ideas and thoughts. I've talked with numerous parents and sent out to them a reminder of the gym rules and standards as well as coach's expectations. This was received with positive feedback from the parents, and most of them have talked with their boys. Things are on the way up. So, hopefully the upward trend continues.

Thanks again everyone.
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