For Coaches Necessity of private lessons

Parents... Coaches... Judges... Gymnasts...
DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members See FEWER Ads!
Join for FREE!
Not open for further replies.


Hi there. I was wondering how important private lessons should/or shouldn't be for a compulsary gymnast to do well in competition. Is is possible for a gymnast to learn the routines, and the skills, if she is 1 of 10 and there is only one coach? The coaches can't possible pick up everything can they? Do gymnasts usually have some private lessons? Also, what is a good gymnast to coach ratio--is 1:10 standard or is that too many gymnasts.
thanks so much.


Jul 5, 2007
It's definitely possible, but a lot of gyms do offer private lessons to learn the compulsory routines. I don't know of any that make it mandantory or even strongly encourage it for everyone, but there are some girls who take a little bit longer with it. Especially for the younger ones, it can be a lot to remember. 1:10 is on the higher side (I'd say 1:8 being average) but I don't think you need 2 coaches for 10 either. It would depend on the ages, the gym, etc. Unless it wasn't working out, I wouldn't necessarily worry about it.

As for picking everything up, typically once the routines are learned most coaches will have the gymnasts perform them one at a time and they will evaluate each individual routine.
Speaking only as a parent who's DD has a weekly private lesson:

My DD's normal L3 training class is 16 strong, and has 3 coaches. 1 HC and 2 (and somedays 3) assistant coaches that help, but the assistant coaches aren't but arn't as detail oriented as the HC. Like you say, the HC can't possibly refine all the details with so many students, although she does try as a whole. The coaches also concentrate more on the gymmies that are showing effort. If a Gymmie was told something twice, and doesn't care to improve, they move on the the gymmie that does.

Where we found benefit to privates is not so much to learning the routines, but refining them. HC point out more detailed mistakes sooner then later. If my DD is anything like me, re-learning something she 'thought' was correct is harder then learning to it properly from the beginning. This of course helps with competitions, but that's not the motivation. The motivation is to provide help she needs to master the L3 skills so she can progress to L4. I wouldnt put too much pressure on competition at this point, other then trying to beat her own scores from a previous competition.

Privates also give my DD a chance to try more advanced skills. Skills that aren't introduced in normal classes. Such as, learning the Kip, or squat on, or BHS to BT. If the HC think's she's up to it, she has no problem introducing other skills if time allows. It's these additional talents that keep DD smiling during private lessons. Otherwise privates would become dull and repetitive. Not much fun in that.

Also, if your gym offers 'Open Gym' we have found these beneficial as well. Not only are the 4x cheaper, they allow her to have exposure to other coaches. Coaches that may point out details that other's have missed or excused.
Last edited:


Coach/Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Jun 11, 2008
I coach in a very competitive area. Privates are offered but, never mandatory. I feel it benefits most kids but If it doesnt then I tell the parent after the first one . I would rather work out details, problems or weak areas in a private than in a class and take time away from everyone else if just one kid is struggling. I have to say I know all the gyms in our area offer privates. I refuse to do them before school but ,always have privates after school ,on weekends and even during lunchtime. I do as many free privates as I charge for them. My goal is to have a whole team succeed not just one star and if they cant afford the extra help when needed I still provide it.


Jun 24, 2008
In theory, privates should never be absolutely necessary to succeed in gymnastics because gymnasts should get enough individual attention during normal practices. The routines won't be perfect (in 5 years of coaching and judging, I've never seen a routine that had perfect text), but certainly it should be enough to at least be competitive. That being said, I've done privates for kids who just had trouble remembering the routines (usually the 6-7-year-olds), and I've also done privates at my gym and clinics at other gyms just before state to do some fine-tuning of little details. However, in 14 years of gymnastics, I've only had 5 privates: one before my first L4 meet, one before a meet in L6 because I couldn't do the beam dismount, one before L8 state because I kept landing my tsuks on my face, and 2 for getting new floor routines (optionals), so I'd hardly say that privates should be required or even necessary.

I think 1:10 is pretty normal for team... maybe a little high for the lower level compulsories. I would say that 1:8 is ideal, but it really does depend on the coach and sometimes on the event. I can handle 1:10 easily on beam and vault, but it gets a bit overwhelming for me to do 1:10 on bars and floor. However, the more experienced HCs at my gym can run 1:10 very effectively. Optionals sounds fine at 1:10 because we're expected to be able to coach ourselves and help each other if necessary.


Sounds like normal team numbers.

As for privates, I think it varies by child. If a kid is in class on a regular basis, they will probably be pretty well prepared. Most gyms set a specific number of hours per level, according to the level of skill being taught.
Bigger skills, higher number of practice hours.

I myself don't usually request any private lessons of team kids, unless a child misses a number of practices and is falling behind. If the parent asks, I am more than happy to conduct a private. If I ask them to come in, no charge. If the parent ask, my normal private lesson rates will be charged.


Last year, I never really did any private lessons for my boys during the preseason or season. I was asked but my life was just too hectic when they asked to figure it out in my fluctuating schedule.

I did ask one of my boys to come into open gym and if I had nothing to do, I would help them when I could. One of these days was only coming 1 day a week, maybe 2 days ( for level 4 ) because of other time commitments. If this boy didn't have the talent, I would not have allowed it as an option to work so few hours and be on team. He was coming from the rec program and I wanted him on team badly. He ended up getting a few 9's during the season and a 50 at state so considering how little he trained it was pretty good. I was also hoping he and mom would realize how much more they needed to commit to training hours if he wanted to be more successful and get on the podium.

I also did this because I felt it was my responsibility to get him up to speed as I asked him on team and it was my program. If I wasn't the head coach, I definitely would not have bothered. His schedule was pretty busy but at least he could come to open gym and get some routines in and I'd check them when I was done with my classes.

I've been known for years for putting in free time for gymnasts of mine. Especially if they had to wait for older siblings or had spare time. I've never really relied on private lessons being a significant part of my income or trying to make it so. I have preferred to spend my time with gymnasts who really wanted to commit to the training, with me, before I even committed to coaching them privately ( typically cheer tumblers, but on occasion promising rec/developmental kids or team kids ).

At one gym, which was a city gym, there wasn't really an option for privates because of how the gym was set up. Even in doing so, there wasn't any money to be made because the privates were through the city rather than paying them a percentage. If a gymnast was falling behind, we'd just ask them in when we had time off before or after gym. Obviously the optionals would pay for their routine choreography but I'm talking about compulsory girls, especially during summer dealing with vacations and all that.

Privates work awesome for routine refinement and getting skills, if everything prior is being done ( good coaching, enough hours, enough shaping and conditioning [ strength/flex ]).

OTOH, I was very concerned and peeved when a few of my team kids started doing privates with one of the gym owners ( who had coached them before me ) because there was some errors that popped up during competition and the kids dared to argue with me. I had to talk to the owner, my boss, about why I was doing certain things, like not going for bonus or this way. Therein lies the problem of doing privates without one of your primary coaches.
Not open for further replies.