Anon Keeping a gymnast motivated

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Anonymous Post

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Feb 16, 2022
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I'm the parent of an 11 year old gymnast. Her coach recently mentioned to me that she has been slacking off a bit at recent practices - not completing her repetitions at side stations, and generally being a bit lazy and silly. Now, her coach is exceedingly patient and does allow fun activities during practice, but I'm rather embarrassed that my DD is not consistently working as hard as she should. This has happened a few times this season, and the coach has asked me for ideas to help DD stay focused.

DD says that she gets bored sometimes and that's when she starts goofing off. She says working on the same routines over and over during comp season is boring (she's Xcel). I get that, to a degree, but she's one of the oldest on her team and honestly I expect her to be more focused and set a better example for her teammates. She does not want to quit gym and loves her teammates.

Have others experienced kids who "check out" from time to time in gym? They do uptrain, not much during the season, obviously. The coach builds games and fun things into practice. I don't think this is a gym/coaching issue, I think it's just that my kid needs to develop a better work ethic.
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Last competitive season my daughter was one of the youngest on her team. She's innately a very hard worker, but that season we had issues with older girls slacking off, messing around, and distracting my daughter.

When it became a pattern my wife and I calmly took her aside and explained all the reasons why it's important to always give your best effort. We then told her that we expected to see her best effort going forward. It hasn't been a problem since.
 

txgymfan

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I'm the parent of an 11 year old gymnast. They do uptrain, not much during the season,I don't think this is a gym/coaching issue, I think it's just that my kid needs to develop a better work ethic.
I disagree, it’s a coaching issue. Ask the coach what else they could do to challenge your daughter. If she hits XYZ goal can she uptrain more, if she is focused could she have an extra privilege. Would your daughter enjoy helping her younger teammates? Talk to your daughter and the coach and facilitate a discussion about what to do with her extra energy and how to challenge her productively.
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Partly coaching issue, I agree.
Take a moment at home to reassess gymnastics. It sounds like your dd likes it and that's great. But why does she like gymnastics? The fun skills? The exercise? The competition? What goals does she have? To get a certain score, a new skill, or move up a level? She may not be the super serious 9.5 kid but she still has goals to reach. She shouldn't spend so much time at gym if it is "meh" for her.

Competition season can be boring for kids that are less score oriented. Talk to her coach and find a strategy to stay focused and have fun. I'm not saying to try to completely change coaching methods, but go to the coach and say "DD and I have been working on a plan to stay better focused at practice. DD mentions the skills at her level are feeling boring." Explain how dd does not want to skip things, but might find gymnastics more interesting with more challenges. Even if that is a form related challenge. At the end of the day trying to clean a decent scoring routine to 1st place is just not worth it to some kids.

If the issue continues maybe have her miss the next practice if she can't focus at the current one or reward for good effort? But really, she should work hard for herself, not for a reward.
 
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Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
OP here, your responses have given me a lot to consider. Thank you so much! I think my next step is to have a more in depth, goal oriented discussion with DD. We need to come away with some points to bring to the coach. I found the response about being 'not score oriented' very eye-opening. That's DD all day - she scores well (low 37s AA), but that's relatively low compared to her teammates. She doesn't really seem too concerned with trying to match their 38+ scores. It also got me wondering if she is intimidated (demotivated?) by higher scoring, younger teammates....
 
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Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Repetition is part of gymnastics. While this can be hard for younger gymnasts, older ones should understand that repetition is key to progression and mastery of the skills/routines. While your dd may still like gymnastics and in theory she wants to stay on team, she may not want to make the level of commitment (focus/attention to detail) that is required by the gym. You may want to have some conversations with her regarding her mindset and discussing that season is just __weeks long vs training season which is much longer. When put in concrete terms, she may better understand and want to fully commit, working her hardest even during all those repetitions.
 
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Aussie_coach

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Its not unusual for pre teen a young teen girls to become more distracted and less hard working and goal orientated as they were when they were younger. Their brains go through massive changes in these years, and it reflects in their behaviour.

As others have said its important to have goals. Lots of different types of goals too. First thing is to identify long term goals, ultimately what does she want to get out of gymnastics. College, level 10, go to Nationals, learn high skills etc.

The Mid term goals, where does she want to be with her gymnastics next year and in the next few years. then what does she want to achieve this year, in the next few months, this month in the next few weeks, this week etc.

Setting micro goals for the day in the car on the way there can help too.

Aside from goals, kids also need to feel like they are doing well and progressing in order to continue to be motivated to work hard. If she feels like she has stagnated, isn't keeping up, isn't learning new things it can be very demotivating. A lot of the time this isn't actually the reality it6s just what they are thinking and feeling and they just need a way to see how well they have progressed.

Sometimes when kids complain they are bored its not because the skills are too easy and they need more challenge. Often its because they don't understand what they need to do to make it better.

How many handstands does a gymnast do in their life? Many, many thousands, but it isn't boring because every time they do a handstand they strive to improve it, hold it a little longer, do it a little better. But if they did the handstand exactly the same way every time, then yes it would be boring.

Ultimately as a parent you also need to decide how you feel. Some are happy to just leave it to the coaches, or you may not be prepared to keep paying for lessons and driving her there if she is going to waste time. If thats how you feel, let her know.
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Agree with all the good advice you're received. Every single day on the way to practice, my daughter will tell me what her goal is for that day. She started this a few months ago and it's been fun for her to set little mini goals and then let me know when she gets home if she met them. Sometimes it's things like doing her kip ten times in a row, or sticking a landing on a skill she's still working on, or perfecting her form on something that she's received feedback on. Her coaches have mentioned to me that they've noticed her focus during practice and I think this has helped!
 
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