For Parents Flyaway

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May 17, 2007
California, MD
This is very hard for me to write. I'm not only a parent but a coach for 3's and 5's. My dd is incredibly talented in gymnastics. Skills come very easy to her without much work. She is now a L-6 but with no flyaways... scared outside of the pit.

At her last meet a few weeks ago, with no flyaway, her AA was 33.05! Her coach informed her and another L-6 who doesn't have her flyaway either, at the next meet they would scratch on the bars! :eek: She said this hoping to do reverse psychology on them to get their has back-fired. Another L-6 has made comments, unheard by the coach, taunting my dd about the skill. This is a much younger girl who can do it, not very pretty to watch and fairly low bar scores but can release and tuck. With all of that, my dd is pretty beaten down.:(

Her coach has forbidden me to help her in any way, mentally or physically. I have been an instructor of different formats for many years and know that physical training is only part of the success for the athlete. My dd and I created a time-line a few months back to help her acheive the skill. Her coach never implimented it. :mad: She tells me the skill will come when she's ready yet now, she's telling her she will scratch!!!

I need someone to help me understand this type of philosophy that obviously doesn't work. She's a younger coach, late 20's and doesn't smile very often at the girls and offers few words of encouragement. She has followed my dd from the Pre-Team into L-6. She herself is a former gymnast. My dd enjoys her as her coach and I do for the most part. She is kind of stand-offish and hard to approach sometimes, even when I'm on the floor with her. She had/has a hard life and brings it into the gym with her on most nights but being grumpy, cranky, moody or quiet. It's always nice when she's in a good mood and approachable.

I want to help her not only as another coach but as my dd's parent and friend. Any words of advice or encouragement would be great!
Feb 26, 2007
Perhaps you can research some articles online, there are many great ones about the flyaway with various drills. Then you could ask the coach privately if she would look over the stuff with you, to see if there is anything new there that "she" thinks might work for your DD. If you approach it in a way that she thinks she is choosing everything she may be more receptive to discussion, this could also include articles about positive reinforcement.

Sadly, you cannot interfere with the coaches ideas, you can only find ways to talk to her that might help her understand your DD. I know how hard it is to want to "help", but it can backfire. It does seem odd to scratch bars with an AA of 33+, I would prefer to see a spotted flyaway, as you never know she might just "go for it" in the heat of the moment.

I have had my daughter visualize herself doing skills she has been stuck on. She watches a vid of herself or someone else doing the skill perfectly, then she imagines herself doing it that way. It does seem to help with confidence.

The nasty talk from other gymnasts is not to be tolerated, that should be stepped on quickly.

I totally feel for you, but the flyaway is certainly one of those tricky skills that can trip up any gymnast.
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Proud Parent
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
That kind of attitude is totally unacceptable for a coach no matter how good they are. These are young girls and young girls are very impressionable, they spend many, many hours a week with their coaches and their coaches are in many ways a role model for them. If you think about what we do as coaches. The skills we teach these kids will one day be gone, most of these kids will grow up and never do them again. But what will stay with them for the rest if their lives is the other lessons they gain from their training. I don't see a really positive one happening here if the coach is unapproachable. Maybe she does have difficulties outside the gym but it is our responsibility as coaches to leave those difficulties at the door of the gym and give ourselves fully to our gymnasts. I guess you know all this as you are a coach yourself but it is important to have similar standards for our fellow coaches as we have for ourselves.

However, having sad that, because you are a coach yourself you may find if you appraoch her on this issue you will not get very far. She may become defensive and feel like you are critisizing her coaching ability. If this happens the conversation will probably be pointless.

I would approach this as a mum not a coach. You as a mum know your daughter better than anyone. Let her know the reverse psychology doesn't work for your daughter, without critisizing her coaching style.


Proud Parent
May 11, 2007
Pacific NW
I can understand your hurt and frustration, but frankly I don't know that what the coach is doing necessarily bad. By telling her she'll scratch bars, it may take the pressure off. My advice is to be patient. The coach is right that your dd will do it when she's ready. For lots of kids, external pressure will only reinforce their mental blocks. My dd used to have a coach that tried to push, yell, and threaten the girls through fear issues and it was incredibly unsuccesful. (I'm sure this wouldn't be your approach, but even gently guiding can feel like pushing to the kid when there's fear involved.)

My dd had fear issues when she started level 5 and had to vault over the table. The most helpful thing was to tell her she could scratch vault instead of yelling at her that she had to vault. Once she had permission not to vault, she really wanted to vault and was asking for privates to work on vault.

Maybe it's different for your dd though. Does she see scratching bars as a punishment? In this case, I can see where it wouldn't be helpful at all. Maybe you could have a meeting where you, dd, and the coach sat down to talk about the situation and the solution.
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