Gymnasts' "Time Out" during a meet?

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Proud Parent
Mar 12, 2010
Okay, we (parents) saw something kinda strange at the meet this past Saturday. While competing on beam, one whole team of about 20 girls were in what I would call "time out" (lol). They were in a long line, sitting down and facing the wall. Not talking to each other, not watching their teammates.


Why do this? Someone said it was because if they see one kid fall off the beam, then they all fall off the beam. That they need to be "focused" and thinking of their routine...
Okay, I can see maybe not watching the kid that goes right before you, or maybe not watching the other teams compete, but the whole time? I felt bad for the last little girl who had to sit through 19 of her teammates before she could get up and join the "living" again, so to speak. And none of these kids cheered on their teammates at all.

Why so serious? (this is level 4 and little kids) I guess I feel like, We pay more into this sport than we are ever going to get out of it( I mean, money and fame wise, lol), and I want my dd to enjoy herself and have fun. Our team is very supportive, they cheer each other on and pump each other up.

Oh, and, BTW...if the thinking was to make them score high, then it didn't work...on the whole, they didn't do any better or any worse than any of the other teams that were there. that I've said this, my dd blanked in the middle of her beam routine and had to repeat part of it and ran over the time limit. She has to write her routine down and take it in to gym practice today as her "homework", lol. Maybe the "time out" would have worked for her...? She didn't fall off, though, and a few of her teammates before her did fall. They didn't forget their routines though!:D

Really, just curious...anyone else seen this or used this technique? Does it seem to work?
I fully agree that we (gymnasts, coaches and many many parents) take this sport far to seriously, especially at the beginning levels. I have never seen what you describe at a meet (my 12th year of going to meets starts this fall) and I have no idea whether this was intended to improve their performances on beam (apparently it didn't help if that was the intention), but it seems to be to be a poor way to teach little girls to love gymnastics and to have fun and enjoy being part of the team and the competition. It almost sounds as if this gym/coach is trying to instill some kind of mind control over them during the beam. Let Them Be Kids!
Honestly, this sounds kinda weird. I've seen coaches not allowing a girl who struggled on beam to watch, but nothing more then that. Weird.
takes 'neurotic coaching' to a new level. and it doesn't work anyway...:)
That is crazy!! I'm sure the girls were embarrased also. I have never seen that before. I think that is part of learning how to compete. They need to be able to see girls make mistakes and still be able to control themselves and their minds. Our coach keeps the gymnasts too busy practicing for them to pay attention, but it is just to keep them warmed up not to keep them from watching.
Ive seen a gym do this. It struck me as really bizarre. They were sitting there quietly with their hands over their eyes during all their teammates's routines. It also struck me as a way to induce a sad superstition about watching or being watched.
I did something like this for my level 4/5's. We had one terrible year on beam, and decided to try something new. I haven't seen any other team at the time doing this, but our girls would sit facing away from the beam and would visualize their routines. It actually worked. We went from scoring 6 and 7's to 8.5-9.5's in 2 meets. Once they actually got the hang of it, I noticed how much more focused they were. Once they competed that event they cheered for their teammates.

We only required it for a couple meets, and on beam only, but once they started seeing results, we noticed them doing their own verisions of it. Some would turn around, others just put their faces in their hands and closed their eyes. I found it funny that after those couple of meets, even 2 years later, some are still doing that visulation technique. It really seems to focus the girls. They understand why they are doing it, and it really made a difference. It turned into their way of concentrating before their event, even if its only a couple minutes before its their turn. It also helped that we never let our girls see their scores, can't get to upset if you don't get a score you wanted if you can't see them. That was something else that worked really well.
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I've seen it done a couple of times. Occasionally, if I felt really nervous about my beam routine, my coach would ask me not to watch the few girls before me so I wouldn't psych myself out, but we never did it as a whole-team thing. I don't understand it at all - especially at level 4. Gymnastics is serious enough without all that stuff! Plus, I always felt like cheering on my teammates and hearing them cheer me on was the best part of a meet! I couldn't have done it without all my teammates' encouragement. Having a really close team is... indescribable. You keep those friends forever. Basically, I think that the sit-and-stare-at-the-wall-and-be-quiet approach is flawed, to say the least.
AT one meet last season I saw a coach do this, we were sitting pretty close and we were all horrified. The club always places very well, they are sandbaggers for sure and train more hours than they are supposed to as well. They were on beam rotation and every girl fell off, the coach was furious and she told the girls to sit on the floor with their legs crossed, facing a wall.

As parents we all said that would never be okay. As gymdad says, some clubs take themselves far too seriously.
well, it is definatly too keep them focused on themselves, and not what anyone else has done, but yes that was taken way too seriously. During a meet, I always have my headphones in listening to music loudly so I can't hear anything going on around me. I don't look up to see scores, or even my teammates. Every 5 to 10 minutes I will stretch out, and that is how i stay focused, not by staring at a wall for an hour.
As a parent I'm failing to see the horror. I think possibly a nice meditative time for positive visualization might be a nice thing to throw into one event.
As a parent I'm failing to see the horror. I think possibly a nice meditative time for positive visualization might be a nice thing to throw into one event.

THe horror was because the coach was punishing the kids publicly for falling off the beam, she said it and the girls sat there for 20 minutes. Not cool, though maybe you wouldn't mind, our group of parents said they would not be paying for that kind of negative coaching.

To each his own I guess.
I agree that coaches shouldn't get all upset during the meet. I think it might be OK if it was the pre-agreed-upon plan for the girls to try to do their best, not a punishment.
I dont see it as punishment..perhaps a coaching technique I dont agree with tho.

One of my favorite things at the meets is hearing them cheer for each other...I would really miss that!
We compete against a gym that does this. The idea is to do your best and not worry about the scores/performance of the other gymnasts/teams. It is weird to watch but those girls dominate every competition. We moan when we see they are up against us. Our state has 5 or so strong gyms so it is a choice that the girls must agree with or they would gym hop for sure. At one meet, 2 of the girls scored 10's on their routines. 2! At states! for Level 8.
As a parent I'm failing to see the horror. I think possibly a nice meditative time for positive visualization might be a nice thing to throw into one event.

I can see it as a coaching technique if the girls were told to visualize their routines, but I can understand parents being upset if it was done as a punishment for girls falling off beam.
From the OP, I dont see it as a punishment, but rather being proactive giving the kids something to do while waiting. I dont think punishing kids for falling is ok or productive. I do something similiar, but I keep the kids moving thru a circuit of warming up on the floor or sitting & waiting & doing arm routines facing away from beam to keep them focused. I think you'd have to had a group of 15 young level 4's or 5's to coach/ warm up/ keep focused while waiting for beam to understand this technique being used. I dont really see the purpose of covering their eyes, I prefer to keep them moving- but maybe this was a very unruly group and this was the only way the coach could keep things calm. If I had a large group & no space (like many meets) I would have the kids sit & just do visual routines or arm sets.

Like I said, if you have never been through coaching beam with a huge group of young, inexperienced gymnasts, you would NEVER understand. Its WAY hard!
I have seen it used in prepreation of a beam routine. But I have never seen it used as punishment. My DD actually does this before beam in some meets.
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