Should safe coaching cost more??

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gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
Things at our gym have come to a head and I feel like I'm the only one concerned about safety. About 18 mos ago the HC split the girls into groups---1/2 coached by him and another coach and the other groups coached by 2 other coaches----all the time/no mixing things up. It has turned into a disaster to say the least. HC is the one that can spot the girls on flipping vaults, double backs etc. Thing is he is only spotting the girls he coaches. The vault/bar coach for my gymmie's group does not have the experience/training to even teach a yerchenko, much less spot it. The girls have no confidence in her and it shows in their practices. She admits she knows how the girls feel, but is not getting any help on coachin/spotting these big skills. And yes she admitted to my dh and I that she doesn't feel confident coaching these skills.

If I want my gymmie to get help with her yerchenko layout, then its a $50 private with the HC and then some privates for her db off bars and her db on floor. Of course, we pay for the privates, but on a daily basis she would be back with the untrained coach. Yes, a few girls have gotten hurt on vault with the coach who has little training.

So, I pulled my gymmie out. No other gym to go to, she's miserable---just wants to be back in the gym although admits the coaching is lacking. Do I just tell her no more gym(career over) because its not really safe? I imagaine its asking too much of USAG to care who coaches what?
Please don't say talk with the owner---she passes the buck to the HC who thinks things are just fine.
Sounds like you have a real problem. I think you ought to go back to the owner. He/she may say its up to the coach, but I don't agree and you shouldn't either. It is the owner's responsibility to provide enough coaches with the right spotting/training skills to coach all of the girls at the proper level. If the current coach isn't capable of doing this, then they need to find another coach, and I would not be shy about telling them.

Good Luck.
That seems ridiculous to me. The coach who is working with your dd right now should be going through an extensive training process to make sure she can spot the kids SAFELY and effectively. Otherwise, she should not be working there. I'm the first to say that new coaches need the time and instruction to be able to learn how to spot. I had to go through that process as a new coach, and I still have a lot to learn. I have appreciated the girls' patience with me and the other coaches' support. That said, I'm coaching a recreational team, not a high-level USAG competitive team that depends heavily on highly experienced coaches. You're paying a lot of money for gymnastics, you should be able to be ensured as much as possible of the safety of your child and the expertise of the coaches.

Why is HC only working with certain girls in the first place? When I was competitive, HC stayed on one event while Assistant Coach was on another event, they'd each take a group of girls and after 45 minutes the girls would switch events so they each got time with each coach. It's only fair that all the girls get coached from different angles and perspectives.

Phew. Now that I'm done with my rant... Could you go back to HC about this? And just say, I want my daughter to be a part of this team but the coach's inability to spot certain moves is holding dd back and making me concerned about her safety? Like gymdad2 said, I really wouldn't be too shy about it. It's entirely your business to see that all your money and time is being put to good use, and that your gymmie is safe. How do the other parents feel about all this? If this is an issue that's bothering other parents, maybe you could request a parent meeting with HC or owner to voice your concerns.

Hope something works out for you. Let us know.
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Your situation at the gym is unacceptable. Seems that there are only 2 choices - as others have said, go to the owner and make it clear that safety is your concern and that you'd like her to offer a solution to this and within a specific timeframe - this is only an option if your DD is provided coaching for the skills she's working by a qualified coach. It might even be that you negotiate either a reduced or no charge fee for privates on those skills that the new coach can't confidently spot right now. A good business owner understands dissatisfied customers and offers solutions. If she's not a good business owner (and we've been there ourselves with a similar situation) then you need to do what you know is best - leave.

The 2nd choice is find another gym, but you state that there is no gym to go to, so I'm not clear whether that means literally no other gym within reason (distance or financially) that you can move to?

I'm sure that your DD would eventually understand the need to pull out of a situation you, as her mom, don't feel comfortable with - after all, that's your responsibility as a parent. Might not make you popular for a while, but you'll sleep at night and she'll be safe.

It's a tough one...let us know what you do - maybe someone else has more helpful thoughts than I do! All the best!
Why can't this coach spot these skills? WHat is she doing coaching kids who can train yurchenkos if she cannot spot? Is she qualified to coach"? How does it work in the US? Don't you need coach education qualifying you to coach different levels?
To clarify this coach is not new to coaching. When my gymmie went there 3 yrs ago she was coaching L6/7. Then she told us she wanted to move up with the girls as they went to L8---plan was for HC to help her with the vaults. That plan lasted about 1 month, if that. Now, she's still got the same group, but the majority of the girls are working L9 and up skills.

At meets, the HC spots all the girls on vault which the girls feel is a little odd because he doesn't work with some of them at all during normal practices. As one girl put it, "he spots us at meets cause it would look bad for us to wipeout big time in front of lots of people."
we had a similar situation about coaching last year. it was the HC that would take the level 7's as a group by them selves for the whole practice and leave us to coaches with the other levels. which was ok i guess.. but the problem was that he didnt know anything about routine requirements and the technical things. he knew how to spot.. but the only things they would work on is the bigger skills because he thinks the bigger the skill, the higher the points. i tried to tell him that there is more to it than bigger skills in this level. he didnt say this to me, but i could tell that he didnt think i knew anything because he has been at the gym longer than i have. i just got done from being level 8 for 3 years!! anyway, He would only work with these girls and no one else. it got to be every practice for about 6 to 7 months. we had parents coming up to us other coaches and asking why he would only work with a selected few and not their daughter. we finally told him that some thing had to change. these parents werent going to take this much longer and he didnt like the idea of them leaving and going to another gym. So after us pestering him for a while, we know have different groups and their girls practice with all of us. as for the meets, our HC still spots them because he wants the credit for every thing.... theres nothing we can do about that...

so, i would tell him what you think and try and see if theres another gym that you could go to if things dont work out. Just dont back down on your decision. i would keep asking him about it until he does something about it^^
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My heart goes out to you and your dd; this is a difficult situation. She has put so much blood, sweat and tears into this sport and then to be essentially cast afloat on her own is not good.

Since you said that there is no other gym to go to, what do you have to lose by confronting the head coach? I would do it in a formal meeting with the owner in attendance (maybe even the unqualified coach too). I would play the safety angle hard and repeatedly. I would also play the USAG code of ethics angle as well. I would ask to see the unqualified coach's safety certification card. I would ask to see the unqualified coach's training records. I would make it very clear to the owner (not the head coach) that an unsafe and dangerous environment is being allowed to occur and that any consequences of the unsafe environment will come down on the owner. I would make it clear to the owner that the business is being endangered by this unsafe environment.

What have you got to lose? The best of luck to you as you work through this. Keep your chin up during this; you are simply looking out for your daughter's well-being.
I would ask to see the unqualified coach's safety certification card.

Well, obviously the coach is safety certified, since you have to be in order to be on the floor at meets. There is no spotting component to that, it's the same safety certification for coaches who plan to coach at L10 and those who plan to coach at L4.

While I can't see why they don't work out some system where the HC works with this group at least some of the time for spotting bigger skills, this coach probably could be effective without being able to do huge spotting (obviously it depends on the drill set ups, etc). On vault it would be necessary to be able to spot the entry for the yurchenko, though that's not very hard. The flip component, if you have a pit and have taught the girls from a tsuk entry early, there should be a lot of drills they can work on that you don't need to really overly spot that part. Obviously there would have to be a safety spot for the first attempts on the harder mats, but that's where I can't see why the HC couldn't work to carve out a 1/2 hour for that group for such a purpose. Seems really weird.

For me, I'm just not very big, about the size of an average high school gymnast. So some spotting isn't really realistic for me. I do currently have a group I spot on skills like this, but they're little, it's a young group. I can essentially carry spot them as I have the same size advantage a lot of male coaches have with the older girls. But we work as a pretty integrated team to coach all the kids, so wherever I can't spot, the HC would step in to assist with that skill. If I don't feel comfortable with a kid's ability or size to spot them on something, then we work on drills until he can work with that group.
To all thanks for the ideas and concerns. We are not the 1st parents to address safety issues in the gym with the owner and HC. They've heard it and seem to be under the misguided impression "they'll dodge the bullet." The girls on their own have gone over to the HC during practice and asked him to come spot them on either vault or dbs on bars(oh yes, he did have to show the untrained coach how to teach a straddle back). Usually those requests are met with, "I'm too busy, I'm tired, I'll help next practice." Then the girls get in trouble for being over waiting to talk with the HC instead of practicing.

The owner is more than aware of this coach's shortcomings since she had to call us when my gymmie got hurt last spring doing a yurchenko drill---hit her head on the vault table and flopped into the pit. Even though my gymmie seemed dazed(got this 1st hand from a couple of the rec coaches that were out on the floor) and was complaining her neck hurt, the coach got her an ice pack and just had her sit to the side while the rest of the group vaulted. At some point my gymmie started crying(that is not her) and couldn't stop and the coach had someone go get the owner. She called us and wanted to know if she should call 911(20 minutes AFTER the accident) or would we come and get child. We got her and took her to the ER---mild concussion and neck strain. I ripped the HC and the owner. Apparently the coach did get talked to, but no extra help was ever given all summer while these girls continued to practice with her.

As for other gyms, yeah there is one---as bad as this one when it comes to safety. Long history of serious injuries year after year. Thats also where gymmie started and the coaches like to yell, name call etc. Not a warm fuzzy enviornment.
What would it take to get your daughter into the good coaches group? I guess you could try that, or stay done or pay for the expensive privates to get the skills she needs a spot on until she feels 100% sure she can do them on her own in regular class. Nothing else to add really, the situation stinks.

In honesty if the gym were a good gym you should not have to pay more for safe coaching, but also depending on where you live high level coaches who know what they are doing are rare and expensive to gyms so they tend to hire whomever (high schoolers etc.) and "train" them.

For USAG you do have to have a safety cert. it is about a 4 hour course online, it is nothing more than common sence and you could train a dog to take the test and pass. And a coach can have this and their USAG coach license (which requires nothing more than paying for it) and walk into any gym in the US and coach anything from preschool to elite if the gym allows.

While there are classes and such no one is required to take them and a lot of gym owners will not pay for them, and with the low wages most coaches make anyways they are not going to go out and pay for them themselves so long story short it is a dangerous sport and until there is a system in place to properly train coaches and the wages are increased to retain good coaches this is going to become more of them norm sadly.
Good thoughts 10.0. The HC will not move any girl into another group. Believe me parents have tried just about everything---don't know about bribes, but he's raking in lots of money with privates for the girls not in his groups.

I know good experienced coaches aren't just wandering the streets. The gym came up with an idea to help with the spotting needs. They hired the older brother of one of the team girls and have taught him to spot giants etc. on pit and trench bars. He is also learning to spot some tumbling. Gymnastics backgound is zero(unless you count watching his sister's meets). He was spotting my gymmie while she was working on blind changes. Now, I doubt he'd drop her, but he didn't have a clue if she's doing it correctly or not.
It's sounds like you are in a bad situation. I don't have any advice. I just felt really lucky after reading your post that we have so many choices of gyms. I could probably take DD to a different gym every year and she wouldn't run out of choices. Hope something ends up working out.
wow!!! this is really messed (insert other word) up!! there is absolutely no other gym to go to?

and the thread title is an coaching-cost more. wish i could help somehow...:(
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