For Coaches Dealing with magical convenient injuries

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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I'm sure we've all worked with kids that seem to have magical injuries that only bother them when we want them to work something they don't want to do.

How do you deal with kids like this? I don't want to flat out ignore the "injury," because there is a chance (though very slight) that it is genuine. And there's a significantly greater chance that, whether the injury is real or imagined, they'll complain to their parents that I made them work despite an injury (I have had a kid leave the gym because I did this once -- he was probably on the verge of leaving anyway, but still...) On the other hand, I can't just cave and let them use imagined injuries as a way of avoiding any skills they don't want to work on.
Sounds tough

There are gymnasts like that at every gym. I am in class with some of them. I have never coached kids like that but my coaches have and they handle it really well. I hope they post and here and give you some adivce. Good luck!
I love these injuries, we had a problem with this a few years ago and we decided that if something was complained about for more than a week they had to go have it checked out (of course you have to know your gymnasts to some extent). If the parent and child did not think it was serious enough to have it checked than we did not want to hear about it. I have also gone to doing the "injured event or skill" before something I know the gymnast likes, and would explain that if it hurts too much to do this you can't do that.

Lots of conditioning can sometimes work!!
I can normally tell if the injury is for real based on facial expressions, how they use the injured part when they don't think we are looking, and if it magically gets better when it comes time to do something fun (or magically gets worse only when it is time for conditioning).

But when in doubt, I give the gymnast the option to ice or condition a different body part instead.
I can normally tell if the injury is serious for fake. If a gymnast is in "too much pain" to do certain things I won't allow them to do anything that involves that body part. Say their ankle hurts to tumble on floor but it's alright to bounce on trampoline, i won't let them because they just want to get out of tumbling. I will generally have them go do strength. If it does appear to be serious i offer ice and resting and what not.
As a mom I know the "convenient" injuries are a problem for coaches. I've seen several girls at our gym have sudden pain when going to beam and when the coach tells them to go do strength instead, they somehow end up on the tramp doing tucks, layouts etc.

Our problem is the coaches who go too far the other way---don't believe a word a girl says or acts very annoyed if they say they are hurt. Its gotten so bad, most girls won't say anything---just keep on trying to practice. The gym owner doesn't believe this happens in his gyms. My daughter had knee pain last summer. Her routines started to suffer and all the coach would say was "its growing pains--keep going." Ok, he was right in one respect. The pain in her knee was related to growing and impact(Jumper's knee). We tried the conservative stuff with it only getting worse. When she saw an ortho he was not all that concerned about the growth plate, but more that her quads had gotten "mushy" since it hurt her to contract them much. She had to take 2 wks off completely--just strength and PT(not even allowed to do PE at school). Then it took her another 5 weeks to build back up so she could compete. I really feel that trust was lost between her and the coach and it has never quite gotten back to where it was before the injury. She is still very reluctant to say anything in the gym----including last night when she fell doing a BHS on beam(was trying to do the series) and hit her head and elbow. Got up and tried 1 just as practice was over and came running out with her gym bag. She didn't cry til we were in the car and when I asked if she had said anything----answer was no because she was afraid she would get yelled at for "whimping out."
ya although im not a coach its really annoying! i as well as rae rae are in a class with a few of these people. and it really annoys me but our coaches take it really well.
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