For Coaches Good coaching

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

Mom9024

Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2020
14
49
Question here on coaching technique. For reference, DD is 10 years old and training L4. I notice at our gym some coaches are more hands-on for athletes as far as moving their limbs in correct position, or the coach will demonstrate the body position themselves. Other coaches rely more on verbal instruction. Does the hands-on make a difference? I feel like this is an obvious question, but we just lost our HC who was very experienced and was hands-on with the girls, so I'm watching some of the new interim coaches who have a different style. Also, I notice some of the coaches give lot more verbal feedback than others. Guess I'm a little nervous the HC left (she left for personal reasons)--she was someone who I felt like who knew her stuff. Management is currently interviewing for a new JO HC. What are signs of good coaching short of watching the team scores at meets? Right now, most of the girls are performing well in their respective age groups.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,504
Baltimore, MD
Question here on coaching technique. For reference, DD is 10 years old and training L4. I notice at our gym some coaches are more hands-on for athletes as far as moving their limbs in correct position, or the coach will demonstrate the body position themselves. Other coaches rely more on verbal instruction. Does the hands-on make a difference?

It really depends. Generally, the longer I've coached, the more I've favored progressions involving little or no spotting. With a strong technical understanding and some creativity, it is definitely possible to coach well with little or no spotting. But there are also plenty of situations where extensive spotting and shaping can be very helpful. Depends on the level and skill, also depends on the stylistic quirks of both the coach and the athlete.

So a lack of spotting could be indicative of very knowledgeable and creative coaches.... or it could be indicative of very lazy coaches. Hard to say from just a text description.

I feel like this is an obvious question, but we just lost our HC who was very experienced and was hands-on with the girls, so I'm watching some of the new interim coaches who have a different style. Also, I notice some of the coaches give lot more verbal feedback than others.

It's hard to judge the quality of the coaching just from the amount of verbal feedback. If there's a lot of feedback, is it because the coach has a deep understanding of the skills that they are working to impart on the athlete, or is it because the coach doesn't know how to clearly explain what they want to say? If there's only a little feedback, is it because the coaches aren't explaining the skill, or is it because they are giving very specific, succinct corrections and focusing on one thing at a time? Again, impossible to say from just a text description.

Guess I'm a little nervous the HC left (she left for personal reasons)--she was someone who I felt like who knew her stuff. Management is currently interviewing for a new JO HC. What are signs of good coaching short of watching the team scores at meets? Right now, most of the girls are performing well in their respective age groups.

Looking at meet scores at lower levels is not a strong indicator of coaching quality. I'd say as you move up through the levels, it becomes a progressively stronger indicator, but scores at level 4 or more or less irrelevant.
For high compulsory scores, an athlete needs two things: 1) A strong understanding of the technique and form that underlie all skills and routine, and 2) Strong execution of the specific choreography and quirks of the compulsory routines. The first is very important to continuing development of quality gymnastics; the second loses all relevance the instant they finish compulsories.
Because of this, scoring extremely well at compulsories and succeeding at the upper levels are not correlated as strongly as you might think.

At any rate, to answer your over-all question of what to look for in a coach and how to evaluate whether your DD is receiving effective coaching, here are the things I'd look for, in order of importance:

1) Are the workouts safe? Do you see a lot of uncontrolled falls at practice, and/or a lot of injuries? Both happen occasionally in any program, but if they are regular occurrences, that's a red flag.

2) Is your DD having fun? Is she excited about the sport? Does she look forward to practice?
Even if we're looking at this from a purely-developmental perspective, enjoyment is of paramount importance, especially at the low levels. The single biggest obstacle between lower- and upper-level gymnasts, the challenge that must be overcome ahead of all other challenges in the sport, is that the athlete must have enough of a passion for the sport to want to stick with it for the long term. An athlete who sticks with the sport will always reach a higher level than an athlete who burns out, and an athlete who feels motivated and excited about the sport will always train more effectively and efficiently than one who doesn't want to be there.

(You'll notice I haven't even touched on how to evaluate the technical quality of the coaching yet -- that's because these first two are of overriding importance. You could find the absolute most brilliant technical coaches in the world, but if they aren't safe or aren't fun, then they won't be effective coaches.
Having said that, here's what I would look for as indicators of quality technical coaching, but let me emphasize one more time that the rest of this list is far less important than those first two things)

3) Breaking the technique down into smaller chunks
This probably takes a bit of practice to really see, if you're not a coach. But in general when an athlete is struggling on a skill, does the coach break the skill down into more basic chunks? Or does the coach just have the athlete try the skill over and over again?
Doing a particular skill or drill repeatedly is not always a bad sign, but a coach who sees an athlete struggle and says "let's break this down, try this and this drill a few times, then come back and try the skill again" is pretty much always a good sign.
 
Last edited:

Lucia

Proud Parent
Fan
Jun 6, 2019
114
At my L4 daughter's former gym, which would be described by some as more technical and "serious", the coaches did minimal hands on and more tight progressions, breaking skills down etc. This gym is known for their technique. She just moved to a gym where the coaches are more hands on, and while I think the coaching is good, it's probably less technical. This is all to say that minimal spotting doesn't mean lack of coaching skill, it just depends on if it's part of a strategic set of progressions.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mom9024

Mom9024

Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2020
14
49
It really depends. Generally, the longer I've coached, the more I've favored progressions involving little or no spotting. With a strong technical understanding and some creativity, it is definitely possible to coach well with little or no spotting. But there are also plenty of situations where extensive spotting and shaping can be very helpful. Depends on the level and skill, also depends on the stylistic quirks of both the coach and the athlete.

So a lack of spotting could be indicative of very knowledgeable and creative coaches.... or it could be indicative of very lazy coaches. Hard to say from just a text description.



It's hard to judge the quality of the coaching just from the amount of verbal feedback. If there's a lot of feedback, is it because the coach has a deep understanding of the skills that they are working to impart on the athlete, or is it because the coach doesn't know how to clearly explain what they want to say? If there's only a little feedback, is it because the coaches aren't explaining the skill, or is it because they are giving very specific, succinct corrections and focusing on one thing at a time? Again, impossible to say from just a text description.



Looking at meet scores at lower levels is not a strong indicator of coaching quality. I'd say as you move up through the levels, it becomes a progressively stronger indicator, but scores at level 4 or more or less irrelevant.
For high compulsory scores, an athlete needs two things: 1) A strong understanding of the technique and form that underlie all skills and routine, and 2) Strong execution of the specific choreography and quirks of the compulsory routines. The first is very important to continuing development of quality gymnastics; the second loses all relevance the instant they finish compulsories.
Because of this, scoring extremely well at compulsories and succeeding at the upper levels are not correlated as strongly as you might think.

At any rate, to answer your over-all question of what to look for in a coach and how to evaluate whether your DD is receiving effective coaching, here are the things I'd look for, in order of importance:

1) Are the workouts safe? Do you see a lot of uncontrolled falls at practice, and/or a lot of injuries? Both happen occasionally in any program, but if they are regular occurrences, that's a red flag.

2) Is your DD having fun? Is she excited about the sport? Does she look forward to practice?
Even if we're looking at this from a purely-developmental perspective, enjoyment is of paramount importance, especially at the low levels. The single biggest obstacle between lower- and upper-level gymnasts, the challenge that must be overcome ahead of all other challenges in the sport, is that the athlete must have enough of a passion for the sport to want to stick with it for the long term. An athlete who sticks with the sport will always reach a higher level than an athlete who burns out, and an athlete who feels motivated and excited about the sport will always train more effectively and efficiently than one who doesn't want to be there.

(You'll notice I haven't even touched on how to evaluate the technical quality of the coaching yet -- that's because these first two are of overriding importance. You could find the absolute most brilliant technical coaches in the world, but if they aren't safe or aren't fun, then they won't be effective coaches.
Having said that, here's what I would look for as indicators of quality technical coaching, but let me emphasize one more time that the rest of this list is far less important than those first two things)

3) Breaking the technique down into smaller chunks
This probably takes a bit of practice to really see, if you're not a coach. But in general when an athlete is struggling on a skill, does the coach break the skill down into more basic chunks? Or does the coach just have the athlete try the skill over and over again?
Doing a particular skill or drill repeatedly is not always a bad sign, but a coach who sees an athlete struggle and says "let's break this down, try this and this drill a few times, then come back and try the skill again" is pretty much always a good sign.
Yes to #1 and #2. DD has lot of fun which is why we stuck with our gym, and it's a safe environment. I will keep an eye out for #3 on the new coaches, but now that you describe it, I've noticed some of the regular coaches doing this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Geoffrey Taucer
Status
Not open for further replies.

New Posts