For Parents Gym Concerns

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.

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
Hi there,
New here. I have been having serious concerns about our gym and wanted to get a wide range of opinions on things that have recently come to light. I apologize, this may be long.
My daughter started as level 3 last yr at 7 yo. She did great last year, she really bonded with her teammates and identifies as a gymnast - she loves the sport. We don’t have a lot of options in our area so even though I have reservations about our gym, I let her drive and I just finance her goals.
This year (level 4, age 8) I’ve seen her perform several times and something kept nagging at me. It isn’t that she isn’t doing as well (she isn’t) but when I watched her perform, she wasn’t the same. I had that mom sense - something wasn’t right. So earlier this week she suddenly had this major breakdown after practice. She said she can’t take it anymore, she can’t keep going to practice and getting yelled at. After a very long tearful come to Jesus talk this is what I gather from her: the coaches don’t coach. They give small corrections and if you don’t do it the next time they just yell. With her being 8, and a sensitive soul at that, I tried to dig a bit to see what the context of the yelling was. I said “so what would you do instead if someone didn’t get the correction after being told multiple times?” She said “well I wouldn’t just yell. I would spot them on the move and show them the position and let them feel the difference, or record it and show them what it looks like. They just yell and make you go sit out.” Hm. So I told her I would come to practice and watch (HIGHLY discouraged by the coaches.)
I attended practice this week and here’s some things I saw. Granted, if I was a rec parent or not looking for it maybe I wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe I’m being too critical. But it bothers me.
When I walked in I noticed that immediately someone looked at me, typed something on their watch, and then another coach looked at her phone. That coach walked over and talked to another coach. That coach picked up her phone and sent a text. During the remainder of the evening, I watched the coaches sit on their phones all night, and you could tell at times they were texting each other - one picks up her phone and texts, a minute later another coach picks up her phone and texts. Like clockwork.
One girl in an older level seemed to be having a block on a skill. The coach gave her about 10 seconds to do the skill and then kicked her off the event. She called her out to the other girls, let the other girls work on their routine and basically told this poor girl, who was visibly crying, that she wouldn’t spot her, wouldn’t baby her, and sent her to the waiting room. It was not a supportive tone and seemed just plain mean.
During the vault for the higher levels (think 8-10) the coach sat beside the vault runway and ate, and texted, and sometimes glanced up. And these girls were practicing some major skills. There was no one spotting them on the other side of the table. And the coach wasn’t giving any corrections. I kept watching girls land on their back, etc. She was just hanging out. Low and behold, at the end of the night one of those girls limped out without being able to put weight on her foot at all. (No coach helped her out of the gym or went to talk to her parents, she just hopped one legged out into the snow).
For about an hour of this practice, I watched 3 of the 5 or 6 coaches sit on the floor and hang out like they were at a slumber party. They would sometimes look up and tell a girl to tuck her head on a handstand or keep her legs tight but they were mostly completely deaf to anything happening around them.
As for my daughter, she seemed to always go last and when she was doing her routine, the coaches were texting, or turned their back to her entirely to talk to another coach. They gave the slightest corrections “stay tight!” But no positioning or technique (which as her biggest critic, admittedly, she could use).
The following day I went to practice again. On uneven bars, while the level 4’s we’re doing their routine, the coach spotting them just walked away at one point with no direction or instruction, to talk to another coach. One girl almost fell backward off the low bar when her hands were already off it. One girl fell from the high bar onto her back. The coaches didn’t react. Come to think of it, 4 of our girls adjusted the bars before they even started, for about 10 minutes they were standing on the bars adjusting them without a coach coming over to help. Then my daughter did her routine and the coach yelled “you aren’t even TRYING to keep your knees together!” Real meanly. Couldn’t hear anything else - maybe she’s told her a hundred times. But with everything else I saw, it didn’t sit right.
There is a lot of standing don’t around overall, it seems like unless they are actively doing something (lined up waiting to take their turn for a routine) there’s no skill instruction. Halfway through the night the head coach decided they had enough of practice bc they had gotten through all the events. They ended practice an hour early, even though most parents weren't there.
Yesterday was our meet. I saw more Coaching during warm ups than I had seen in 6 hours of practice the two days prior. But when they got to beam, with more than enough time for a solid warm up after waiting about half an hour to move to the event, the coaches rushed them through about 5 minutes of quick messy warm up on the beam, and then stood around leaning on the beam talking. Our girls didn’t have good performances on the beam- even those who have solid skills usually.
At the end, as they were waiting for awards, every other coach was with their team or at least in the same vicinity. Our coaches were not - they sat along the wall on their phones, our girls were in the middle of the gym on their own (not that they minded but I was pretty irritated). And…the coaches came up to use before awards and explained that they had an early day tomorrow d had to leave. They left our team there alone for awards, didn’t see them win their team award, and on the way out our girls heard the head coach say something to her daughter about swimming back at the hotel.
All in all we have a large number of injuries right now, on the team. We have very little communication. Attending practice seems to be discouraged and it very much looks like a team parent showing up sends an alert from phone to phone. Parents are lectured that we are not allowed to leave before the end of awards but all of our coaches have (twice actually - they did last time too) and I don’t believe our girls are getting actual training.
On top of this, how normal is it to sign a contract? Parents must sign a contract at the start of the year that they will do/not do certain things, to make us responsible for the costs for the year (understandable to an extent) but in that contract
It states that if we don’t volunteer or don’t attend meetings etc we are charged $100 for each missed obligation. Where is our coaches obligation?
What are your thoughts? What would you do?
 

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
A few clarifications / additions….
Every gym has its own dysfunctions, but I notice there are gym favorites. Usually it’s the friends of coaches, kids who have consistently had privates for the last 3 years, etc. i notice that the non-favorites are treated poorly- the coaches glare at them and snap at them and refuse to adjust equipment for their height etc.
I’ve learned that in the last year, multiple girls have quit due to bullying from the coaches or a general dislike of the yelling. One girl who recently quit left because they wouldn’t change the height etc of the bars for her height, wouldn’t spot her on her back walkover on beam when they would spot other girls, etc. the mom tried to address this with the coach but was laughed at. She tried to move to a different team with other coaches and was told she wasn’t allowed.
The other thing I didn’t think of until now is that looking back, when my daughter broke her finger (at home) the coaches started her back to using her hand before she was cleared. At the time I didn’t think it was that big of a deal- the coach told me that they wouldn’t do anything that would put her at risk and only later did I find out they had her fully using her hand (back handsprings) before she was cleared by the doctor.
To clarify, when the daughter and coach discussed swimming, our girls heard that on the coaches way out, not on our way out.
I’m trying to check myself and not nit-pick. Am I blowing this all out of proportion? Again, our gym is the only local one, the other competitive teams are about an hour away and I work full time and my daughter goes to school.
I recently got her a private lesson with a coach she trusts just so that she could feel comfortable in the gym again and her past meet was way better - she looked like herself again. But it took a huge pep talk and a lot of me reinforcing that she should NOT worry about her coaches yelling at her for her performance and to just go out and have fun and think of the coach she trusts (who isn’t a main team coach).
I don’t want to keep my kid in an unhealthy environment and I’m wondering if it’s only a matter of time until she has a serious injury as a result of the lack of attention and training. But she loves gymnastics and I hate to take her out of it, it’s her dream. I don’t want to alienate her from her coaches but she already is.
On top of this the coach has them gather at the end of every practice and read a Christian devotional and pray. Theoretically this is a nice sentiment but it wasn’t disclosed to parents and it isn’t a Christian organization. My daughter, in the midst of her breakdown, says “my
Coach keeps saying to pray to God if we have a problem and I’ve been praying and praying but they just keep yelling.” It broke my heart.
Is it better to cut our losses and just quit? How do I advocate for her when I know the coach won’t listen to parent concerns?
 

txgymfan

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Fan
Sep 4, 2008
3,498
Houston
Walk away and then try new gyms. Pay your bill, gather anything from her locker if she has one (for cleaning) and then send an email thanking them for everything they have done for your child. Do not tell them about your concerns because you don’t want them to say bad things about you to a future gym. Then try out different gyms.
Do not allow her to stay in an unsafe environment.

There are many past threads here discussing making a gym change.
 

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
Walk away and then try new gyms. Pay your bill, gather anything from her locker if she has one (for cleaning) and then send an email thanking them for everything they have done for your child. Do not tell them about your concerns because you don’t want them to say bad things about you to a future gym. Then try out different gyms.
Do not allow her to stay in an unsafe environment.

There are many past threads here discussing making a gym change.
Thank you for reply. I’ve been looking through this thread for similar posts as well. This is what I personally would love to do, but other gyms are an hour away. I have another child who does another sport with daily practice. It is mind boggling to figure out how I could possibly get her to another gym for practice. I do shy away from addressing my concerns and I don’t know how anything will change. Feeling very torn.
 

PreciousJ

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
410
USA
Oh, wow. Where to start? Well, even after you've weighed your pros and cons, I think you should leave that gym.

First, my heart goes out to your daughter. She sounds like a very wise child, to be able to describe how *adults* should be coaching. If gymnastics is her dream, she deserves 100% better than what she's getting out of that gym.

Second, you are right that your daughter is at serious risk of injury (physically and emotionally) in such an environment. Hence my strong belief that you need to get out ASAP.

Contracts are pretty normal from what I can tell, we have a similar one in our gym. In 3 years I've never heard of a parent being fined for not fulfilling their duties, but it is in the contract.

My final thought - the coaches clearly have no interest in coaching. They probably get away with their behavior because they are the only gym in the area. I bet there are many more parents there who feel like you do, but the kids' devotion to gym is holding them there. However, I've heard that gyms can be downright mean and petty when gymnasts leave, so hopefully more experienced parents will chime in.
 

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
Yes, as I’m having trouble keeping my mouth shut after this week I have heard that multiple girls and parents have similar frustrations. I’m far from a trouble maker and usually avoid conflict at all costs but I’ve been told someone is actually considering reports to usag safe sport for her daughter’s treatment. Wondering if multiple parents could come together to complain but I don’t see what that would change.
 

Carly

Proud Parent
Jan 3, 2016
249
I have to agree with the other advice that you've received to leave the gym. It's not worth your daughter's emotional and physical well being to stay even if there are no other gyms in the area. Sounds like she is not going to progress as a gymnast anyway if there is no coaching going on. Maybe you could find a local place that does tumbling, cheer or acro dance.

I'm not sure that talking to the coaches will do anything to help. Is the gym owner also a coach?
 

Canadian Gym Mom

Proud Parent
Jun 22, 2018
26
36
Wow, this is a lot to take in. It certainly doesn't sound like a healthy situation. My heart breaks for your daughter. Was it like that last year? Are there many new coaches? Have you talked to other parents of gymnasts that have been there for a long time? It would be good to find out if this is only a temporary situation or one that has been happening for a long time and will never change.
 

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
Wow, this is a lot to take in. It certainly doesn't sound like a healthy situation. My heart breaks for your daughter. Was it like that last year? Are there many new coaches? Have you talked to other parents of gymnasts that have been there for a long time? It would be good to find out if this is only a temporary situation or one that has been happening for a long time and will never change.
Thanks. My heart breaks for her too. She’s so young I don’t think she understands the logical reasons to be upset but emotionally, knows it isn’t right.
There don’t seem to be any major staffing changes. My daughter told me that the older you get the meaner they are. But I think last year, things came more easily to my daughter, whereas with the new compulsory routines the skills were a bit harder (looking at you, vault). I think the warning signs were there but I didn’t see them, because additional coaching wasn’t needed for her to perform her routines well last year. Now she’s struggling (like to get height on the vault table without bending her knees) and instead of helping her work drills or figure that out they just yell. Is that normal?
 
  • Wow
Reactions: LPmom

Carly

Proud Parent
Jan 3, 2016
249
Thanks. My heart breaks for her too. She’s so young I don’t think she understands the logical reasons to be upset but emotionally, knows it isn’t right.
There don’t seem to be any major staffing changes. My daughter told me that the older you get the meaner they are. But I think last year, things came more easily to my daughter, whereas with the new compulsory routines the skills were a bit harder (looking at you, vault). I think the warning signs were there but I didn’t see them, because additional coaching wasn’t needed for her to perform her routines well last year. Now she’s struggling (like to get height on the vault table without bending her knees) and instead of helping her work drills or figure that out they just yell. Is that normal?
That is definitely not normal. Some gyms are better about working drills than others but yelling is not normal or helpful at all. They should be spotting and/or providing feedback. When my daughter was in the lower levels, her gym would occasionally have a gymnast with the skill (typically a higher level) demonstrate it so the girls could see what it should like and the coaches would point out what they should be trying to do.
 

LPmom

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2019
39
42
I don’t mean to make you feel bad by writing this but I hope it helps you make a decision that is healthy and safe. My daughter is close in age to yours. At my daughter’s gym:
-coaches don’t seem to use phones during workouts except for recruiting videos or to time the ninja course
-corrections are given quietly and are constant. They don’t escalate or come as a surprise or a scold. Anything loud has to do with timing (like telling a girl “now” when they are in the air and need to do something specific)
-parents are seen as neutral and have a big nice space to sit and work or watch with fast wi-fi
-warmups, workouts, etc are very regimented and the girls always know what to expect. I can’t imagine them going in a way that left coaches time to lounge around.
-girls do work on their own but only at stations that don’t require spots or shape corrections

I’m super frustrated for you. We drive far for a gym and I know how squeezed one can feel when there aren’t choices.
 

raenndrops

Coach
Oct 24, 2009
6,751
The 'Wood, Ohio
These are not necessarily in order, but:
1. Report your concerns to USAG Safe Sport. They had your daughter tumbling even though she was not released by the doctor. Plus, they are bullying her and other gymnasts.
2. Talk with other parents who may have expressed some concerns. Get their take on the situation. Suggest they observe practices for a couple days. Maybe they will also file a report.
3. Check out the gym possibilities an hour away. Set up trials with any that seem like they might be a good fit. See if there are ANY other girls at those gyms from your area (if a lot of girls have left your gym and moved to the same one you might move to, maybe a carpool would be an option).
4. Quietly get your daughter the heck out of there! If you have any automatic payments set up, cancel them right after you leave the gym. Then email the gym thanking them, but explain that your daughter will not be returning. Wish them luck in the future and move on!
 

gymgal

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,511
I would pull her now. Even if there is no other option, you cannot keep her in that environment. She is young and can/will find another sport. She has already told you she can't take the yelling anymore. She is ready to move on.

Just so you know for future gyms, if you choose to continue in the sport.
- contracts are very common, including the need to pay the entire year of expenses (tuition usually is 1-3 months but some will make you pay the whole year since your child took a spot on team that they cannot fill until the next season).
- limited warm-up on beam at meets is fairly common with some coaches, especially with the lower levels. Beam can really play with your psyche so sometimes it's best to limit the time before comp.
- A lot of coaches do not stay for awards. This may be regional but it was rare to see coaches watch awards. They were usually catching a bite to eat, checking in with their own family, or leaving for dinner after a very long day at the meet. However, parents and gymnasts should stay through awards to support the teammates.
- There are many gyms that don't spot skills but they do a lot of step by step drills.
- It's never ok for coaches to be on their phones and/or ignoring gymnasts during practice. Their full attention should be on their group. Sure, talking to other coaches happens but the primary focus should be the gymnasts\
- Injuries - while it shouldn't happen, it is common for coaches to think they know better than the drs and will push gymnasts to get back to practice as early as possible.

Hope this helps.
 

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
That does help, thank you. I’m trying to separate my negative feelings toward the gym with what I am currently seeing (trying not to be overly critical) and so your perspective / experience is very helpful.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Canadian Gym Mom

rd7

Coach
Proud Parent
Aug 18, 2011
170
To be honest I read the original post and began to wonder if it was genuine as it describes such a badly run gym. I love gymnastics and I understand why you don't want to take it away from her but she is already going to remember all this awfulness for the rest of her life, do you want to add more bad memories? Please leave, find her another sport or do the drive to the distant gyms.
 

ReluctantGymMom

Proud Parent
May 11, 2020
243
32
Things that are not abnormal:

- not staying for awards. Most coaches either need to go to the next session, need to go eat, or need to go home because they’ve been there since 8 am. It’s common for coaches not to stay for awards.

- not spotting. Some gyms have a no spotting policy. They’ll spot the first few times so the kids understand the skill, or they’ll do drills leading to the skills, and zero spotting. Our current gym is very heavy on spotting, which my daughter needs for shaping, our previous gym was strictly verbal and she is not a verbal person. It led to a lot of yelling and frustration. This is a gym preference and some kids do better without spotting.

- 10 seconds to do the skill or get off. Especially on beam. If you’re there more then a few seconds and not going, you’re not going to go. Leave the apparatus, it’s better than standing there for 30 minutes crying (I’ve seen both happen and my heart breaks when a girl is just standing there crying).

Things that are red flags:

- trying to keep parents out of the gym
- coaches who turn away from kids during their turn to ignore them (we had this issue with a coach we specifically left because of)
- coaches who leave LEVEL 4 BARS - those girls are very prone to peeling off the bars and flying off dangerously. Our coach always stands at bars and you can’t talk to him during a girls tap swings because he’s had to catch multiple girls midair
- coaches telling girls to pray on their problems is a red flag to me, if this was not at all discussed with parents. Not everyone is Christian.

We drive nearly an hour to the gym daily, with no carpool, because we left our previous gym - it sucks as a drive, but my daughter is happy. Her previous coach was determined to crush her spirit and I wasn’t going to let that happen. See if other parents have moved or will move and you can organize a carpool.

Don’t stay somewhere that will damper your daughters love of the sport and general spirit.
 

GymMomStarQuest29

Proud Parent
Jan 9, 2022
24
Thank you for the insight. Yes, I see there are spotting vs not spotting gym philosophies. And I guess I’m articulating it wrong…my concern isn’t that they aren’t spotting as in catching/holding/positioning, but that when a gymnast is doing a skill they’re physically on the other side of the table or at the other half of the bars area, no where near them. So that if something does go wrong, they don’t even see it and can’t react.

We will be looking at other gyms. I came here to half vent, half figure out if this was normal (coming from the “every gym is dysfunctional in its own way” mindset). Finding out through everyone’s comments that my fears are in fact valid and there are better options. So fingers crossed that one of those better options works out for us.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.