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BusyMomof2

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Feb 2, 2022
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Hi all! I'm very new to gymnastics and seeking advice for how to discuss my daughter's goals with her coaches. Or, if that is even something I should do?

Here is the situation: DD (8) was on a dev team at a good gym but really didn't enjoy it (it was all conditioning). After 4 months of having to drag her to practice, I pulled her out but there were no rec classes available. She was bummed, so I called around a few gyms in our area and one of the stronger gyms asked her to come in for an eval so they could waitlist her on the proper rec class. After her eval, they told me they thought she had great potential and said she told them she wanted to compete, so they had her work out with a competitive coach. She did, it went well, and they broke their own policy to allow her to join a team mid-season - a Silver Xcel team. She LOVES it. Like lives/breathes gymnastics, cartwheels more than she walks...you get the idea. We are now 3 meets in and she's doing really well, consistently medaling in all events/AA.

Last week, there was a group conversation during practice about moving up. She said she didn't really participate and afterwards, one of her coaches asked her why she didn't want to move up. She said that she told him that she thought another year of Silver would be best for her.

Here's the thing though - she is upset she said that. She actually does want to move to L6 optionals, as another teammate has planned. The other teammate has much more years under her belt but isn't any more skilled. I would say they are about equal skill-wise.

Now she wants ME to talk to her coaches. I don't really know what to do. I don't want to sound like a crazy gym parent and I don't even know if her goals are considered when they form new teams next year. If you asked my daughter, she would tell you she wants to compete in college - but she's 8. I thought all kinds of things at age 8 that never (thankfully) came to fruition.

Thoughts? If it helps, we're in a major US metro and our gym does not offer lower-level compulsory teams - just Xcel until L6. So, she could stay on Silver, move to Gold, or move to L6. I am fine with whatever happens as I really only care about her enjoying herself. I do think she has some natural talent, as she's picked up skills considerably well with less than 1 year of formal training.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. :)
 

JBS

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Just have a little meeting with the coach with your daughter and help her say what she is trying to say. Just don't speak for her... have her speak. You may need to practice at home a bit first.

If her goal is to try to become an upper level athlete... she should just state that to the coach. It's important for athletes to learn to speak to their coaches.

Things mean much more when they come from the athlete.
 

gymgal

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yes, set up a meeting and be there to support her. Let your dd know there isn't anything wrong with changing her mind and now wanting to push for the upper level. Side note though - unless this gym is run significantly different than the other gym, she still is going to run into a lot of conditioning as she goes up the levels. You will want to have that conversation with her. Also, depending on what skills they are competing in silver, there is a huge jump from silver to L6. You may want to talk with the coach about whether that is attainable for next season.
 

MuggleMom

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I agree with what the other's have said. My kiddo really struggles with talking to the coaches so its hard for me not to step in and do it for her. I would schedule a meeting with you and her there and help her communicate her goals to the coach. It will also help her to hear first hand what the coaches say. I have found whenever the coaches tell me something (especially positive) and I tell my kid she almost doesnt believe if but when the coaches say something positive to her in a meeting shes really hears it and it motivates her. It will definitely help your daughter to hear feedback directly from the coaches.
 
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rlm's mom

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Of course you can contact her coaches! Proper communication between parents and coaches (and gymnast) is a must. Ask the coach(es) for a quick meeting. Sit down and discuss your child's progress and goals and see what they have to say! This is probably all a mis-understanding which can be cleared up with some communication. The coaches can let you know how she's progressing and what they advise for next year.
 
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Coach Kate

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We also tell our kids that if they are nervous about talking to us, they can write us a note and we will read it privately! It works really well for some of our kids. It can be tricky as a coach to know what the parent goals are vs the kid, and some kids even get nervous being honest around their parents. We do try to do little check ins with individuals as well, so maybe let the coach know that your daughter would appreciate a little one on one discussion.
 
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GymMom23

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Jul 27, 2018
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I agree that setting up a meeting with the coach and having your daughter participate in the discussion. My daughter didn’t like speaking up either….finally was able to when she was up training from Level 8 to 9. Get her used to speaking her mind and her goals early on.
 

bookworm

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Just have a little meeting with the coach with your daughter and help her say what she is trying to say. Just don't speak for her... have her speak. You may need to practice at home a bit first.

If her goal is to try to become an upper level athlete... she should just state that to the coach. It's important for athletes to learn to speak to their coaches.

Things mean much more when they come from the athlete.
She is 8...not talking about a college recruiting trip here. I have a hard time when coaches say it "means more when it comes from the athlete" ...in some instances, ok , especially when the athlete is older, but you're not the parent they go home to venting/crying or in this case lamenting the fact that , at 8, she misspoke about what she thinks she wants. I think as the adult in the room, it is perfectly acceptable for the mom to relate what happened to the coach without making the child feel worse by making her grovel to say it herself.
 

gymgal

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She is 8...not talking about a college recruiting trip here. I have a hard time when coaches say it "means more when it comes from the athlete" ...in some instances, ok , especially when the athlete is older, but you're not the parent they go home to venting/crying or in this case lamenting the fact that , at 8, she misspoke about what she thinks she wants. I think as the adult in the room, it is perfectly acceptable for the mom to relate what happened to the coach without making the child feel worse by making her grovel to say it herself.
I hear you here but it is also a good learning opportunity for her, with the parent being there to add support (and words) if needed. It may go a long way in helping her talk to her coach more openly in the future.
 

BusyMomof2

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Feb 2, 2022
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Thank you, everyone! Appreciate the advice. After I created this post, I received an email from our HC (to everyone) explaining that they hold parent-athlete meetings after our state meet in April to discuss placement for next year so I'm hoping this will be the appropriate time for my daughter to share her goals. Thanks again, I'm so glad I found this site!
 

bookworm

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I hear you here but it is also a good learning opportunity for her, with the parent being there to add support (and words) if needed. It may go a long way in helping her talk to her coach more openly in the future.
I’m very leery going forward of just saying it should be the athlete approaching or not approaching a coach and talking to them , instead of the parent … it was this dynamic and power structure that led USAG down the rabbit hole of Nassar and Marta type abuses by keeping it “between the athletes and coaches” …. I’m sorry but I’m a hard NO on that . If you don’t want me involved or at least overseeing what you have to say to my kid , that’s a red flag for me.
 

Coach Kate

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Oct 13, 2021
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Thank you, everyone! Appreciate the advice. After I created this post, I received an email from our HC (to everyone) explaining that they hold parent-athlete meetings after our state meet in April to discuss placement for next year so I'm hoping this will be the appropriate time for my daughter to share her goals. Thanks again, I'm so glad I found this site!
That's perfect! That's how our gym does it at as well. Good luck to your daughter for the rest of the season.
 

JBS

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I’m very leery going forward of just saying it should be the athlete approaching or not approaching a coach and talking to them , instead of the parent … it was this dynamic and power structure that led USAG down the rabbit hole of Nassar and Marta type abuses by keeping it “between the athletes and coaches” …. I’m sorry but I’m a hard NO on that . If you don’t want me involved or at least overseeing what you have to say to my kid , that’s a red flag for me.

Wow... I was really wondering where you were going with the first comment above. This kind of response has absolutely no place in this thread.

As a coach and a father of 3 kids... I am highly offended.

I have had and currently have my kids in other activities and you are saying that my comment above will cause... "Nassar and Marta type abuses"? Having a meeting with a coach with the athlete... parent... and coach will cause "Nassar and Marta type abuses".

What are you talking about?

Maybe you read my post wrong?
 

Lucia

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Jun 6, 2019
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I’m very leery going forward of just saying it should be the athlete approaching or not approaching a coach and talking to them , instead of the parent … it was this dynamic and power structure that led USAG down the rabbit hole of Nassar and Marta type abuses by keeping it “between the athletes and coaches” …. I’m sorry but I’m a hard NO on that . If you don’t want me involved or at least overseeing what you have to say to my kid , that’s a red flag for me.
I agree with this. At our first gym there was little communication with either kids or parents, asking questions was not discouraged but still only seemed to result in brief but not insightful answers. At a gym my daughter trialed, the coach introduced himself to my 8yo and asked her questions while I sat next to her but made it obvious he would communicate with her, not me. It was weird and probably more upsetting than our original gym, where the communication style was largely cultural. At the gym she recently joined, the coaches are easily accessible and transparent and proactive about communication with parents, and they communicate clearly with the girls about their goals etc. It's so refreshing and healthy.
 

JBS

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Thank you, everyone! Appreciate the advice. After I created this post, I received an email from our HC (to everyone) explaining that they hold parent-athlete meetings after our state meet in April to discuss placement for next year so I'm hoping this will be the appropriate time for my daughter to share her goals. Thanks again, I'm so glad I found this site!

Definitely.
 

JBS

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I agree with this. At our first gym there was little communication with either kids or parents, asking questions was not discouraged but still only seemed to result in brief but not insightful answers. At a gym my daughter trialed, the coach introduced himself to my 8yo and asked her questions while I sat next to her but made it obvious he would communicate with her, not me. It was weird and probably more upsetting than our original gym, where the communication style was largely cultural. At the gym she recently joined, the coaches are easily accessible and transparent and proactive about communication with parents, and they communicate clearly with the girls about their goals etc. It's so refreshing and healthy.

Coaches should be easily approachable and talk to the parents... that doesn't mean that an athlete shouldn't be able to share their goals with the coach.

These are totally different things.

From a coaching standpoint... there have been a good amount of times in my career when the parent and athlete goals absolutely do not line up.
 

bookworm

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Wow... I was really wondering where you were going with the first comment above. This kind of response has absolutely no place in this thread.

As a coach and a father of 3 kids... I am highly offended.

I have had and currently have my kids in other activities and you are saying that my comment above will cause... "Nassar and Marta type abuses"? Having a meeting with a coach with the athlete... parent... and coach will cause "Nassar and Marta type abuses".

What are you talking about?

Maybe you read my post wrong?
It certainly does have a place in this thread because your “will cause Nassar and Marta type abuses” (your phrase) is not what i said . And you can be offended all you want as a coach and back in the day (not saying it was you) , the climate of intimidation by coaches was how the coaches like Marta et al came to be … by intimidating their athletes and parents from speaking to them and that’s where i was going with this thread suggesting its all on an 8 year to speak up to her coach because “it means more Coming from the athlete”… she’s 8 and she should be able to have parental support in speaking to her adult coach . I don’t think her words or wishes should mean less because she’s got a parent with her.
 
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Lucia

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Coaches should be easily approachable and talk to the parents... that doesn't mean that an athlete shouldn't be able to share their goals with the coach.

These are totally different things.

From a coaching standpoint... there have been a good amount of times in my career when the parent and athlete goals absolutely do not line up.
Yes I agree, I was just reflecting on our own experience. I completely see your point though!
 
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JBS

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she’s 8 and she should be able to have parental support in speaking to her adult coach

Did you even read my post?

It says for the parent to be there...
help her say what she is trying to say

This post has nothing to do with "Nassar and Marta type abuses". It has to do with an athletes goals.

If as a parent you don't trust a coach to talk to an athlete... then why on earth would you even send them to practice in the first place?

We had a gymnast come in and do this with one of our coaches just the other night... not our idea at all... the mom came in and did it all just like that. It had to do with a particular skill... not a level... but it was still goal oriented. It worked great for all parties involved. The mom is also actually a public school teacher.

Again... not sure where all of this is going. Yes... I was offended at first... but now I really just don't understand. Coaches have hours of practice each week with athletes yet still many times the athletes are worried to tell the coaches things. Why is it a bad thing for an athlete to be able to talk to their coach and tell them their goals?

@bookworm and @Lucia I am honestly very confused with this thread. I have read the posts a few times and I still just don't get it.
 
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JBS

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Yes I agree, I was just reflecting on our own experience. I completely see your point though!

Your post came in right when I was typing.

I do see how the coach only talking to the 8 year old is very weird.
 
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