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Crying at meets

Discussion in 'Coach Forum' started by flipsandgrips15, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. flipsandgrips15

    flipsandgrips15 Coach Coach Former Gymnast

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    Yesterday we had a meet with our upper level Compulsories. The girls were having trouble during bar warm-ups...slipping off at the end of their kips and one even peeled off during her flyway. The bars were obviously really new so the chalk was not sticking to them at all. I told the girls to just do the best they can with what we have been provided and I stood there for all of their routines for safety. Anyway, one of the girls (11 yrs old) slipped when she went for her back hip circle on high bar & didn't make it all the way around so I had to help her back up. She immediately started to cry as soon as she realized she missed it. When I say cry I mean loud, hysterical, like she's seriously injured kind of cry! All I could do was to encourage her as she finished and try to calm her afterwards. This gymnast often cries when she messes up, even during practice, but it's rarely to this extent. Mom even says she does it when she makes a mistake in her other sports. My question is, 1) I'm at a loss on how else to handle this. Any suggestions? I encourage her & her teammates...meets are a do your very best and have fun kind of talk b/c I find pressure & threats for mistakes at meets is an awful way to coach 2) are there deductions for this kind of outburst? I ask this b/c the judges looked at me like control your gymnast now!
     

  2. raenndrops

    raenndrops Well-Known Member Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    Hysterical crying on the high bar is a safety issue. For her own safety, she should not have finished the routine.
    I am not sure about the actual deductions, but if she was up there, crying in front support, then the rhythm deduction was probably taken... And depending on how long it was between the fall and her next skill, the judge may have decided that she exceeded the fall time (only so much time to resume the routine after a fall).

    No advice really. Our coach sends them to the bathroom to get their emotions in check at practices and meets. Crying from physical pain and happiness are the only ones allowed in the gym - and happiness crying is limited too.
     
  3. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    I don't necessarily have a problem with crying in the gym, it just depends on the kid and the situation. That's just how some kids handle emotion- fear, frustration, pain, disappointment- and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. BUT, they also need to know how to calm themselves, change their perspective, and re-focus. So I think the key is not whether or not they can/should be allowed to cry, but rather helping them develop skills to regain control.
    In this situation, the child was probably a mix of scared, upset, disappointed, and embarrassed- in a high stress situation like a meet when you're 11, I think it's totally understandable for that child to respond in an outwardly emotional way. Maybe not to the extent she did with the loud wails and sobbing, but if that's how she typically responds, I wouldn't expect it to be any different at a meet. She needs coping skills.
    Ask if she's okay, see if she can tell you what's going on- is she scared, disappointed, etc. Have her take a few breaths and then encourage her to walk to the bathroom or get a drink to get herself together- try to avoid having her teammates get in her face and pester her- that seems to aggravate problems. When she returns, treat her as usual. Maybe just remind her how to move past the upsetting circumstance and refocus her energy on the new task at hand and the factors she can control. And really, once she has that crying outburst, she might be totally fine and ready to move on to the next thing. That's just how some kids (or people) release tension. I remember at one meet as a young teen, I could not make a single skill in beam warm-up. It was disastrous. I was worked up, stressed, terrified, and not a good competitor to begin with. I started crying- not obnoxious or attention drawing- quietly and keeping to myself, coach threatened to scratch me from the event, but I had so much tension built up that needed to come out somehow. I was slightly older than your gymnast, so I was able to calm myself in time and went on to compete the best beam routine of my life. Probably because I had released all of the tension that usually bogged me down on beam during warm-ups. Does that mean I should have had a meltdown before beam at every meet? Absolutely not, but in this particular circumstance- I had an overwhelming amount of feelings built up that needed to be let out somehow and actually letting them out (in the form of tears) proved to be more beneficial than just bottling it up.

    This would be a good learning tool for all of your girls, so make sure you talk about it at practice this week. Talk to them about things they can control vs. things they cannot (such as equipment) and that all they can do is focus on what's in their control- remembering their training and corrections and their attitude about the situation.
     
  4. coachp

    coachp Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Parent

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    as others have said, just scratch her in the middle. I also make them stand in the corner of the gym if they cry like that. (yes at meets). They won't do it again...
     
    CanGymCoach and Aero like this.

  5. CoachV

    CoachV Coach Coach

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    I don't tolerate crying for any reason other than injuries. I do however ask them to excuse themselves to the bathroom/lockeroom, take a moment to calm down, evaluate what the problem is, and try to come up with a solution before they return.

    Crying solves nothing. It just makes them more fustrated, annoyed, fearful, ect.
    My goal is to teach these kids life lessons and when they are older, they can't just start bawling their eyes out when things get tough or don't go their way.
     
    CanGymCoach and flipsandgrips15 like this.
  6. CoachS

    CoachS Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Relative Judge

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    I've had that happen with a few boys in the past. Luckily our gym has a buddy system for meets (Just in case anything catastrophic happens) so my assistant coach pulls the gymnast aside and calms them down after they finish the rotation while I continue. After the meet has concluded and the following practice day I would pull them aside and address it. No point in making it an even bigger scene at the meet by scratching them or with punishment.

    You were right in providing positive encouragement, you don't want to be known to the parents, athletes, coaches, and judges as that coach who screams at their kids at a meet.

    Lastly, no judge wants to see your kid fail, there are no deductions for crying to my knowledge in the J.O. or F.I.G Code of Points for Men (I'll double check my handbooks tonight just to be safe) so I would doubt it would be the case on the woman's side. I know I wouldn't deduct for the act of crying, and my athletes say I'm a mean judge! (They cheered when they learned that I wasn't judging them at a meet this year, lol)
     
    flipsandgrips15 likes this.
  7. ayyyrial

    ayyyrial Coach Coach Gymnast Former Gymnast

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    I fail to understand what punishing kids for crying accomplishes. Some kids do cry for attention but I think most do it because they are overwhelmed, or scared, or angry at themselves...punishing a child for crying only means that next time they feel scared/overwhelmed/angry, they will feel more that way because they know they will be punished. They don't need to be punished...although of course if they are crying intensely they should sit out from doing gymnastics until they are calmer.

    Some people also have a much lower barrier to crying than others - i.e. some people really cannot prevent themselves from crying when something happens that makes them emotional, while others rarely cry even when they are very emotional. I think that "can't prevent self from crying" thing is probably even more applicable for children, and for teenagers when the emotions are very intense always. The thing you do need to learn is how to get back to being calm when you are upset...sometimes that means crying quietly for a minute and taking some time alone to process, or maybe it means catching yourself becoming upset before it gets to the point of tears. I always found that being around my teammates helped a lot if I got upset, since they distracted me.
     
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  8. CoachTodd

    CoachTodd Coach Coach Proud Parent

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    Had it happen at meets. Normally I just had them go get some water and wash their face to get ready for the next event.
     
    GymDad9.9 and flipsandgrips15 like this.
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