For Parents How to discuss DD goals with coach (if at all)?

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JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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I'm just going to put a disclaimer in here that even though I am a father of 3 kids... I am a career coach... I do think much more like a coach.

I am actually learning right now.

ChalkBucket was created to "help everyone learn more about gymnastics". Back in the day it was phrased also as to "help people see through other peoples / groups eyes". For example... to help a coach see through the eyes of a parent. This concept is often very hard. As you can see I am struggling with it right now.

This process of seeing through other peoples eyes is part of the power of ChalkBucket. I have to say that I am thinking of the way that we approach things at our club right now... is it right... is it wrong... we try very hard to get things right... however... people just see things differently.
 

bookworm

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JBS i don think it’s bad for an athlete to be able to talk to their coach and tell them their goals … if they are able to do that . From the OP’s post , it sounded like she had an 8 yo maybe rec/ maybe Xcel level gymnast who was asked about her goals and clammed up and didn’t say what she really wanted until she spoke to her mom later. It doesn’t seem like she’s been at that particular gym that long that her comfort level in speaking with the coach directly was there but when the mom asked …lots of comments were how it has to be just the kid “speaking for herself “ and at some point , maybe that kid will get there but she’s 8 so I don’t think there’s any harm in having her mom tell the coach (either with the kid or not) what her goals are at 8.

I do get that you need to be comfortable with your coaches and as someone who had kids going to the Ranch alone back in the day, i was very comfortable with our coaches but i can see being a little more careful if i started down that road again.
 
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bookworm

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And JBS to your point about Chalk Bucket “created for everyone to learn about gymnastics “ , we have a lot of newer gym parents on here now. And when people start in the sport , they see stars snd the Olympic rings and head down that road without question, like was done before.

I think it is our duty as veteran parents in the sport to tell new parents that the era of blind obedience and never questioning the coach for the sake of gold is over . Coaching should be left to the coaches as that is their expertise but if something doesn’t seem right, you as the parent have to advocate for your athlete.
 

JBS

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@bookworm Your above 2 post make perfect sense to me... it was really just those 2 names that kind of slapped me in the face when I was reading.

At the same time I was like... "This is coming from @bookworm... what am I missing... why am I unable to see this?"

I just like to hear goals from the athletes as there have been many instances in my coaching career when the parent and athlete goals didn't line up well.

And JBS to your point about Chalk Bucket “created for everyone to learn about gymnastics “ , we have a lot of newer gym parents on here now. And when people start in the sport , they see stars snd the Olympic rings and head down that road without question, like was done before.

Yes... lots of new parents... we have been working hard to get the site up and running stronger again.

I think it is our duty as veteran parents in the sport to tell new parents that the era of blind obedience and never questioning the coach for the sake of gold is over . Coaching should be left to the coaches as that is their expertise but if something doesn’t seem right, you as the parent have to advocate for your athlete.

Yes... yes... yes. It has been such a different journey for me because I was at the Ranch with my own daughter... I was coach and parent as one. I was able to advocate for her right away. We were definitely looked at differently as a father / daughter team.
 

gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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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.
…lots of comments were how it has to be just the kid “speaking for herself “ and at some point , maybe that kid will get there but she’s 8 so I don’t think there’s any harm in having her mom tell the coach (either with the kid or not) what her goals are at 8.
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 looked back, all the responders suggested that the parent be there in the meeting to support the child. And you quoted my post specifically, in which I said that the parent should be there and help the child through the meeting.

What you are saying doesn't make sense to me. You want to protect them from potential situations that happened in the past but you are not OK with encouraging them to speak up for themselves with parental support (which is what everyone here are saying).
 

bookworm

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I looked back, all the responders suggested that the parent be there in the meeting to support the child. And you quoted my post specifically, in which I said that the parent should be there and help the child through the meeting.

What you are saying doesn't make sense to me. You want to protect them from potential situations that happened in the past but you are not OK with encouraging them to speak up for themselves with parental support

Yes I get that gymgal, but my point in this particular instance with an 8 yo child who sounds like she's in rec/xcel and not hanging out in the gym for as many hours to get to know a coach like the JO kids do, that rather than harping on her "speaking for herself" , that it's perfectly acceptable for her mother to convey what she'd like to say until she gets more comfortable with her coaches. I just think it's a lot to expect from an 8 yo to be comfortable in this setting just yet and speaking for herself...I'm sure there are kids that can/do, but I think we can give a little grace to the OP and her daughter if the child would like her mom to convey her wishes to move to JO. That is all.
 

LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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Yes I get that gymgal, but my point in this particular instance with an 8 yo child who sounds like she's in rec/xcel and not hanging out in the gym for as many hours to get to know a coach like the JO kids do, that rather than harping on her "speaking for herself" , that it's perfectly acceptable for her mother to convey what she'd like to say until she gets more comfortable with her coaches. I just think it's a lot to expect from an 8 yo to be comfortable in this setting just yet and speaking for herself...I'm sure there are kids that can/do, but I think we can give a little grace to the OP and her daughter if the child would like her mom to convey her wishes to move to JO. That is all.
Yes, this is a topic that often comes up. I think it is very appropriate for a parent to be involved in communicating with the coach in the case of an 8 year old. That is pretty young. I wouldn't say coaches have been thrilled with my involvement, but I definitely assisted both of my girls in communicating with their coaches until they were old enough to do it on their own. There is a huge difference between a 12 or 13 year old taking ownership of her gymnastics and direct communication with the coach versus an 8 year old. We have been in some gym situations and interactions with coaches who have had very poor boundaries, and it was just a lot for a young child to navigate. Regardless of the level or # of hours spent in the gym.
 

Dahlia

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Sep 27, 2013
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I agree that if needed it's best for the child to communicate to the coach with the parent present. Learning to self-advocate is an important life skill.

Since this would (most likely) be her first time doing so, it is also essential to explain the scenario and to practice what to say at home and even formally act out talking to the coach. And it'd also be appropriate if she feels shy at the meeting for the parent to step in and prompt her.

Is talking to adults hard as a child? Yes! Can parents make it easier? Yes! Preparation is key, and in a few years she won't need parental assistance for basic self-advocacy.
 
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GymAir

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Aug 28, 2018
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It’s been a little painful reading these posts because I think there’s been a misunderstanding and you guys actually agree. I’ll sum up what I read, and you can tell me if I’m off base. It’s good for an athlete to be able to communicate with their coach on their own, but young kids will probably need some help. It is NOT okay to foster an environment where communication is only between coach and athlete where the parent is shut out.

I would be very leery of a gym that did not let parents watch practice, and also wanted to only communicate with the kids. Kids should feel free to relate any and all conversations to a parent. On the flip side, I think it is unhealthy if the athletes don’t feel like they can talk to their coaches, since it can lead to a “don’t question, just do” gym mentality.
 

Janneke

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Feb 12, 2022
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Interestingly we had something like this happen with my little one today. Last week they were practicing their floor routine and the coach has said that they would start doing it with the music next time. Come Monday, no music, so little one was definitely disappointed (first ever competition is coming up in 4 weeks, first practice with music is a big deal). Today only half the group practiced with music and it wasn't her group, so when she came out it was clear something was up. She mentioned why she was disappointed and I asked if she wanted to talk to her coaches. She did, so we went back in. And then.........., yep nothing. OUtside she was all ready to tel them what was bothering, but once back inside all she managed after a lot of help was "music".

To a child adults are big towering giants and while the theory of talking to the coach is a great idea, I am going to say that it is a skill that must be learned and something that doesn't properly develop until later. Somewhat related, if you are a coach, can I suggest that sometimes it can be helpful to talk to the little ones at the same height as them? I know it is not always practical, but do sit down from time to time, so you are not this big scary shadow looming over them.
 

LJL07

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Jan 27, 2014
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It’s been a little painful reading these posts because I think there’s been a misunderstanding and you guys actually agree. I’ll sum up what I read, and you can tell me if I’m off base. It’s good for an athlete to be able to communicate with their coach on their own, but young kids will probably need some help. It is NOT okay to foster an environment where communication is only between coach and athlete where the parent is shut out.

I would be very leery of a gym that did not let parents watch practice, and also wanted to only communicate with the kids. Kids should feel free to relate any and all conversations to a parent. On the flip side, I think it is unhealthy if the athletes don’t feel like they can talk to their coaches, since it can lead to a “don’t question, just do” gym mentality.
Yes, it sounds like everyone agrees. One of my girls was in a “day program” at 8 years old. The coaches flat out told the girls, ”what happens in the gym stays in the gym,” and “don’t go home and talk to your parents about gym.” Uh, no. Not at 8 years old And really not ever. I know that is not what we are talking about here at all. I thought at the time though that this was very typical of gymnastics programs and that I was being a helicopter parent. I’m glad I’ve had the quasi-anonymity of this board over the years to ask questions. And I’m in agreement with bookworm that it’s important to share these experiences with new parents.
 

MuggleMom

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Dec 22, 2016
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Virginia
I will add that 12-13 year olds are still children too and yes while they should take more ownership in talking with their coaches if they cant there needs to be understanding around that as well.

My kiddo is painfully shy and has a lot of trouble talking to her coaches and telling them when something is wrong. She also tends to take their comments very personally when sometimes they aren't personal. All this to be said I communicate with her coaches a lot. I know it annoys them but to their credit they are pretty accommodating--but I get the general impression they dont really understand why my daughter cant just talk to them about this stuff. And these are good coaches with no ill intent I do trust them. I still work with my kid to speak to her coaches but its an uphill battle.

For the coaches on here don't assume that your older kids are well equipped to just talk to you they still may need help on this life skill. Coaches often mistake the good naturedness of many of these kids as nothing is "wrong" There are lots of girls in my kids group that are scared to tell their coaches when they need help, are hurt, are tired, etc. but think its only my kid because I am the parent that brings it up the most. Its not that they are bad coaches its just that 12-13 year olds are still just kids that are super intimidated by adults and especially coaches whom they desperately want to impress.
 
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