For Coaches Some unusual coaching concerns

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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I'm worried that two of my girls might be getting spoiled.

They're both first-year competitors, and have now been to five meets. Both have taken first all-around at all five of these meets.

And this, surprisingly, really concerns me.

I see gymnastics as a way of preparing kids by teaching them skills that will benefit them when they grow up and go out into the real world; the ability to challenge their own fears and limitations, the ability to perservere against seemingly insurmountable odds, and, most relevant to this discussion, the ability to be graceful both in victory and in defeat. These girls have not yet learned how to lose, and that's something that I feel is important to them both as athletes and as human beings.

Am I being unreasonable in worrying about this? Should I be concerned here?
I think you are right to bear this fact in mind but don't rain on their parade. The day will come soon enough when they meet someone better at a competition. I would spend alot of time praising the effort and improvements they make rather than their wins and always have an 'improvement' in mind every meet ready to say - hey you didn't win this time but your BHS was the best all season (or whatever).

You must be a great coach! Enjoy it!
I worried about that last year as well. I have quite a few girls that always placed and were always at the top of the awards stand as first year level 4's. When the time came for their first level 5 meet, we did sit the whole group down and tell them what to expect from their first meet. Remember this group was used to scoring no lower than 36's. We also had a parents meeting telling them the same thing. Well as it turns out we were right, the group as a whole only scored between 31 and 34 AA. However, since we had talked with the ahead of time their were no tears, and everyone was happy.

I will say this, the one thing that we concentrated on this year was hitting goals each meet, and we didn't allow them to make goals for scores. Its actually worked out really well.
Well, I can post on this from the perspective of an ex-spoiled brat gymnast that got checked HARD by her head coach. I'm not proud of this moment, but I'll share.

At a meet me and a team mate were watching a girl on bars from a rec program that had just gone competitive. We were obnoxious, giggly, pointing, and quite stupid frankly. Our coach walked over as the girl dismounted and had this to say: "I hope you guys know that girl saw you guys, and everybody here did. She was actually very good for how little time she had. I hope what she saw makes her go back, work hard, and kick your a$$es next competition." Then we got marched over to her to apologize.

It stuck, and I'm friends with that particular coach to this day. Not saying your girls are spoiled to this extent; but if swagger turns to rudeness, I can honestly say a hard reality check did work.

**edit** I forgot to mention that he said she probably would beat us since our attitudes were making us complacent at our workouts. Being called complacent was a big wake up call too. No amount of ego makes up for attacking routines at a workout.
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I think you are right to acknowledge the limitation of easy competition and early easy success. As you can see from the responses everyone has already stated that its detrimental. It most certainly is. Like others here i have kids who when younger at a junior level creamed everyone in the region taking first places for years in a row (hell our juniors still do), but when the gymnastics hit a level where the demands for hard work rose proportionally to the difficulty, suddenly these kids were left surprised, and as Linsul said.. they got a reality check'. I as a coach take responsibility for that because i was also new to the game (still am), and i was thinking yeah!!! we kicking ***, however the downfall to that is that kids naturally are raised to expect!, not to have to fight. Champions are ALWAYS! hungry for more, and being at the top is hard to stay hungry and as it would happen, we are suffering the side effects of this now.
However! i am committed to changing this, and i will.

Just like many would say, i pref to coach a not so talented hard working kid than a talented spoiled kid. Because sooner or later latent will not be enough. Talent is actually a very interesting topic i think anyways.

Constant self-evaluation as a coach and gymnast is critical for constant success.
If you weren't worried about the girls getting comfortable at the top you wouldn't be a good coach.

Depending on the age of the girls, I would sit them down and congratulate them on how well they are doing and then remind them that it is not always going to be this easy. Let them know they are doing well and you are proud but they have not had a real competition yet so we need to set our own personal goals. And this does not mean scores, take skills from each meet that could be improved.

You will find a way to keep them motivated and don't worry they will face those trials and they will be prepared because of your coaching.
my superstar L4 last year went 1st AA in his age group ( somehow got to do a 2nd year as a 6yo ) for the first three meets. good strength, awesome flexibility-passive and active, decent basics though a lil wiggly (6-7yo).

however the last meet and state meet were humbling. he did well but just wasn't #1 and it was a huge letdown. there always is better out there.

it'll catch up to them in time. in the meantime don't hesistate to not let them get a big head about themselves by continuing to point out things they need to fix. of course, give positive feedback but I never let any of my gymnasts get a big head. never, ever.
I think it is good to be concerned with this. Chances are at some point they will not be on the top of the podium, and if that is where they have always been there can be a lot of disappointment for them (and possibly the parent). I think it can come to a point where they just go into every meet expecting to win. When it does not happen it could be devastating if they are not mentally prepared.

I am thankful that my DD has had good meets ( 1st AA ) and not so good meets (only an AA medal where everyone got one). She knows she will not always be on the top and can handle it when she is not.

Not sure of the solution - just maybe a good long heart to heart.
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