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Keeping it fun....training L8-10 with 12-14yo.

Discussion in 'Women's Artistic Gymnastics (WAG)' started by munchkin3, Jun 4, 2018.

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  1. This is my experience as well
  2. Thanks for responding coachp, and everyone who 'got' what i was asking. I suspected that there is much more to the gym environment and how it can impact the girls especially during those tougher teen years. As they say, it takes a village.
    Its very good to hear that this concern of mine is real, and the concerted effort by the adults will have a positive effect on the athletes. If parents and coaches alike can support their athletes in a positive way, rememebring that they are kids, and they need to have fun and be able to EMOTE, and make mistakes, and be picked up and be part of a team, I think gymnastics would be a far better place that it is now (maybe).
    As far as brainwashing and making your teenager DO anything? HAH!
    Ive seen far too many kids quit the sport due to lack of support, lack of understading, lack of communication, and downright STUPID adults who think 100% has to come from within the athlete.....
    How many times have olympians wanted to quit, or attempted it?
    How many times to kids need a loving understanding hand to show them they CAN get through it?
    Gymnastics is really hard, and when you add the lunacy of the teenage years, few make it.
    So my curiosity was to know how good coaches manage this delicate balance and get as many kids through as possible.
    Do you ever use outside motivational speakers?
    GymMom4, Aero, jenjean70 and 5 others like this.
  3. oh yeah, and how about the 'personal training' industry? whats that all about?
    jenjean70 likes this.
  4. I haven't used outside speakers for motivation but the gym owner (who only coaches boys and stays out of the girls team) is incredible at speaking to athletes who are doubting themselves . So I do grab him from time to time.
    Aero, duyetanh and Jard.the.gymnast like this.
  5. Gymnast here. One of my personal favorite things about summer practice is conditioning games (usually relay races or competitions). I am 17 years old and still take them very seriously. We take a trip once a month to the pool across the street from the gym or occasionally all go to the beach. No matter how bad a practice I'm having, little things like this make such a difference for me.
    Aero, SMH, Lisbeth and 5 others like this.
  6. If a coach has no intent on engaging or motivating their gymnasts then what is the point, what a very boring centre it would create. What about those bad days a gymnast comes into gym not wanting to put in 100 percent because their just having an off day. A coach that is there to motivate the gymnast through the good days and bad is what helps the children stay in the sport.
  7. I agree -- the coach's attitude and approach to their day makes such a huge difference. It can make it fun and enjoyable or unbearable. This has nothing to do with the internal motivation of the gymnast. They can be dedicated and committed 100% and still not enjoy training due to the environment. My dd's gym does a pretty good job mixing things up in the summer. Games for conditioning, skill challenges, giving out stickers for certain things, etc. Yes, the kids in her groups are all teens, but who doesn't like a sticker?? It helps. Every little thing helps make them keep wanting to come back and excited for the next day.

    We've read enough horror stories on here about the horrible mental/emotional environments some kids have had to train in and then when they move gyms they "find their passion again". Of course, because they were not the problem. It's like having a job with a terrible boss and then suddenly having one that is supportive, helpful and kind. It's like night and day.
    GymMom4, Aero, jenjean70 and 5 others like this.
  8. Okay back to the topic . Today i let the level 10 girls leave early because they wanted to all go get a pedicure together for the banquet tomorrow. These small gestures go a long way towards letting them feel appreciated and human after long years of hard training. They are not robots.
    Aero, NutterButter, ginnymac and 14 others like this.
  9. Ok so I’m not a coach and neither is my gymnast dd a teenager yet, however I have done youthwork for over 15 years so have spent a lot of time chatting and helping them through the very difficult puberty years, with some of them making the decision to leave the sport that they have done since little.
    I get where bookworm is coming from and kinda of agree that if their heart isn’t in it anymore no matter how fun you make it won’t change it for them, that’s not to say you shouldn’t make it fun as those who still have a love for gymnastics it will help them through the harder days.
    One thing I have seen is teens who see their identity in the sport that they are in and struggle with leaving as they see themselves as Suzie the gymnast rather than as Suzie who does gymnastics. I have seen some teens supported better than others when making the difficult decision to leave.
    Whilst I think it’s good to encourage when they are struggling I also think it’s very important to support them when they no longer want to be there and support them so they don’t feel like they are letting their parents or coaches down by wanting to leave.
    Aero, triplethreat+1, ldw4mlo and 3 others like this.
  10. I so appreciate everyone’s point of views. I also understand the point of view of being done with the sport. My first gymmie who is 18 did not make it through and quit at 14. He regrets it still and says now, if he only had a more positive gym environment and a coach who was better at handling the psychological part of being a teen AND injured, he might have stayed in......again, this is all guessing.......he coaches now.
    Second gymmie- We came out of a very toxic gym environment that went from over 100 kids, down to 5 so to say the least, there was a huge problem where we were. I thank god that we were able to get out when we did because many girls quit just from the stress of it.
    Now that we have a calm team with mostly teens, the redundancy was getting palpable and you could see the girls were getting bored. Some of your answers have helped quite a bit.
    Games at the end. Small conditioning competitions. Sitting down and joking with the coaches and talking. Its a beginning. But what I was happy to learn here, is that the COACHES actively understand that teens are more complicated and approach them slightly differently. One day they might want to quit, and the next they want to do NCAA. It’s no longer black and white. Fears and doubts become a major driving force.
    Anyway. Thanks!
    GymMom4, Aero, jenjean70 and 8 others like this.
  11. Interesting post/question and I don't have anything major to add, but enjoyed everyone's perspective. I think it is in fact a VERY valid question, however. OF COURSE a kid needs to love the sport and have some self-motivation, however...a coach is there for a reason, right? I mean otherwise, just turn the gym lights on, tell the girls to have at it, stay for a few hours and then call it a day. No coaching required. Nobody there to find out what makes an individual athlete "tick". Nobody there to help the athlete work through a mental block when they "think" they want to quit. I mean, coaches are there to motivate. They are there to help a kid believe in themselves when maybe they are going through a rough patch. And let me tell you, this age can be SO ROUGH.

    Sure, there are some kids there who REALLY don't want to be. Maybe they are staying because they are scared to try something else because gymnastics is all they've known. Maybe they're staying because they are living out their parent's dream that is not their own. Maybe they just come because they love one event. Who knows...and honestly, it isn't any of my business (the old, "everyone is fighting a battle" we don't know about phrase comes to mind...)

    But nonetheless, coaches do have a just a leeeeetle bit of responsibility to try and motivate don't they? To help kids keep their fears in perspective (and wow do some fears come into play in this age...holy body changes batman:eek::eek::eek:). I mean, not too many great sports movies involve a coach rolling into practice, telling everyone to get to work doing what it is they love and are 100% personally motivated to do while the coach sips on his water bottle and watches practice. End of story. Nope...because these are human beings we are dealing with. Human beings who on some days, darnit, just don't want to be there. Or don't think they've got it in them. So to the original post: GREAT question. Valid question. Trust me...I'm curious as well.
  12. And oh yes...one more thing. My daughter had a coach a little while back who REALLY let the girls have it about how gymnastics actually is NOT fun. And if they were there for that reason, they better reevaluate.
    He taught really awesome skills. Was very good at "coaching" gymnastics.
    He was a jerk and is now on the USAG banned list.
    So....there's that.
    Aero, Flipfloppy, duyetanh and 4 others like this.
  13. My son had one of these many years ago.....fantastic technical coach....truly amazing at the Gymnastics part. But he was a total d*** and everyone quit after 1-2 years.
    He had a way of being condescending, and very diminutive......
    I’ll never forget the one quote-
    All teenagers are liars and can’t be trusted......yeah!!!!
  14. Seriously, my favorite quote in a long time.
  15. Our coaches also try to make it fun for the teens, and actually allow them to do HS things - for example, they can leave practice early to go to Friday night football games (our HS FB teams are really good in our area, so it's a big deal). That is a huge thing for our girls and really only lasts Sept/Oct before gymnastics competition season is under way. It is what I love about the gym - we have good coaches, send girls to nationals and college, yet they are allowed to have a life. Although we did recently get a coach who formerly coached at an elite gym, and when the first fall Friday came last year, he had to ask around as to where all the girls went? (LOL) A little bit of a culture shock for him :)
    Aero, gymmomx2, txgymfan and 5 others like this.
  16. Totally agree. Peak drama is 5th -6th grade. 15 year olds at are there to work. If they weren't, they;d be long gone.
    ldw4mlo likes this.
  17. I coach teens, all are between ages 11-18. I have learned through the hard way that you have to give your gymnasts be teens. They are allowed or even encouraged to miss practice for important events like birthdays, proms, school events or summer festivals. The older they get, the more free time they need. Nothing is more upsetting than having a teenager at practice when she clearly would rather be in a school event that everyone else are going. They are already missing a lot of "normal life" to go to meets and camps. Missing an occasional Saturday practice is not the end of the world in the big picture. And that's what we often forget - the big picture. When I find myself worrying about a gymnast who is not at practice, I always try to remind myself to be happy about the ones who are there and who want to be there and focus on them. I also remind myself that we are doing something right (not just me but their former coaches too) because none of these teen gymnasts have quit during this year or last year, or even the year before that unless there has been a serious injury that ended their career. And those who had to quit didn't want to.

    I think we are doing some things very differently compared to many clubs here. The other clubs don't really seem to have gymnasts older than 16. They put all their time and energy to little hot shots and rising juniors. They train super high hours and missing practice is a big issue for many coaches. We have hardly 35 senior (older than 16) gymnasts in this whole country and I think it's sad. Most kids quit before they hit high school.

    I try to keep the practices fun, but of course it gets repetitive sometimes. I like to mix the training (warm ups, conditioning, stretching) up every 6 weeks to keep it more interesting. I listen to gymnasts and keep the things that they like. If they like more circuit type conditioning then circuit it is. I let the gymnasts have a lot of input on their own routines, skills they work on etc. I talk to them all the time and encourage them to talk about their lives, school, friends, family. If I see that someone is upset or very tired, I give them an option to go home early very easily. I believe that making them feel like humans, not just gymnasts, makes them want to come back day after day. I also always remind them that this is just gymnastics, so nothing that happens here or at a meet is end of the world. This is just a sport and what ever happens, they are getting good exercise, having awesome time with their best friends and learning life skills. That's all that matters.
    esor, Aero, coachp and 10 others like this.
  18. You are an awesome coach, we need more coaches like you. Coaches who get what kids need and dont pretend like they have never been one
    esor and coachp like this.
  19. Thank you for the kind words. I'm far from perfect, but I try to learn from the mistakes that I have made in the past. It's so easy to get stars in your eyes when you have a group of talented, young gymnasts. This happens to many young coaches, and it kind of happened to me too. You just want your gymnasts practice as much as the others do and try copy coaching practices that are not good for the kids in the long run and in the bigger picture, where the kids should be kids first and gymnasts second.
    esor, M2Abi and Jard.the.gymnast like this.
  20. Our coaches try to keep it fun with various zany conditioning games such as human hungry hungry hippos on mats. My girls are the youngest optionals on the team and had as much fun as the older teenagers in team.
    coachp and Jard.the.gymnast like this.
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