For Coaches Spin-off on weight thread in parent forum

Status
Not open for further replies.

momofthreegirls

Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2009
164
Coaches - I am in my 2nd year of coaching, and I currently coach preteam (girls training the new L3).

The girls range in age from 5-12. Last week one of the 10-year-old girls on the team asked me "Do you think I'm fat?"

Her question threw me for a loop, and I didn't know how to answer her question appropriately, so I told her "There are many different body types on this team, and everyone has their own individual strengths and challenges."

This girl is on the taller/heavier side, and really struggles in general with self-esteem. Bars and conditioning are hard for her, and she is often in tears during these events. I hear a lot of "I'll never be able to do it. I should quit." I always encourage her to keep trying and working hard, and I play up her strengths (she is very solid on beam, and a great vaulter). When she asked for advice on how to get the bars skills, I suggested she look into getting a doorway chin-up bar so she can work chin-ups and L-holds more often (we practice 2x a week). I would never mention body weight or weight loss.

I grew up with body image and self-esteem issues that still plague me as a grown woman. I do not want to cause any of my young gymnasts to feel badly.

Our gym owner/head coach has a policy of not mentioning weight gain to his gymnasts, for fear of causing eating disorders. He tells parents at the parent meeting about the importance of good nutrition/healthy body weight to help achieve success in the sport and avoid injury. He leaves the issue to parents, which I think is wise.

What do you say/do in this situation? I'm sure this won't be the first time I will hear a question like this. It's difficult being a tween nowadays.

Thanks!
 

dunno

Banned
Banned
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Club Owner
Apr 28, 2009
9,292
and it won't be the last. the answer is ALWAYS...NO! and no going in to detail such as you did. "move away from the car" as quickly as possible and get on with the work out.

wait till they start asking you about sex things and such...:)
 

momofthreegirls

Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2009
164
Thanks, Dunno!

I realized I have a typo up there. I meant to say "it won't be the LAST time I hear a question like this". Whoops!

What bothers me also, is when the girls compare themselves to each other, for example: "It's easy for her because she is so tiny."

Girls are tough. I have 3 DDs, so you'd think I'd have it down by now, but dealing with girls is still a work in progress for me...
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
4,338
Baltimore, MD
Country
USA
I once had a girl ask me if I thought she was pretty.

I said something like "I think all my girls are the prettiest, smartest, and most talented kids on the planet. But I'm a little biased." Then I changed the subject before she had a chance to say anything more.

*shrug* moments like those are always hard -- you pretty much have to answer on the spot without taking time to think about it (because even a hesitation before answering can send a negative message to a self-conscious kid), and often there aren't really any safe answers.

(Side note: if you do discover a safe answer to "do you think I'm fat," please post it somewhere; we guys have been looking for a good way to answer that one for centuries, and still haven't found it)
 
Last edited:

iwannacoach

Coach
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Mar 25, 2012
2,877
region II
I once had a girl ask me if I thought she was pretty.

I said something like "I think all my girls are the prettiest, smartest, and most talented kids on the planet. But I'm a little biased." Then I changed the subject before she had a chance to say anything more.

*shrug* moments like those are always hard -- you pretty much have to answer on the spot without taking time to think about it (because even a hesitation before answering can send a negative message to a self-conscious kid), and often there aren't really any safe answers.

(Side note: if you do discover a safe answer to "do you think I'm fat," please post it somewhere; we guys have been looking for a good way to answer that one for centuries, and still haven't found it)

A question???? Do you mean when your wife or girl friend asks the question.... what do you say. You don't, because if your tell her what she want's to hear.... she won't believe you. The safest thing to do is feign sudden gastric distress and excuse yourself (over your shoulder) as you run off to the w/c, and lock that door as soon as you get safely inside.
 

Pineapple_Lump

Coach
Coach
Proud Relative
Judge
Jan 31, 2008
1,132
(Side note: if you do discover a safe answer to "do you think I'm fat," please post it somewhere; we guys have been looking for a good way to answer that one for centuries, and still haven't found it)

I made some comment to my partner about needing to loose weight, I really appreciated his response but all my friends (typical females) decided to find it offensive. The response: I think you look great, but you are clearly not happy with how you look so we will make some changes to our diet and exercise.

Do other cultures have the same issues revolving around weight as many western women do?

There are times when I really want to comment to a parent about their child's diet but it is easier to shut up. One parent in particular in highly competitive but her child is clearly eating too much of the wrong stuff. I can't get 100% out if what you are putting into your child is not ideal. I wish I could comment to parents about diet just as I would regarding tardiness but we have this taboo thing going on with weight/body image.
 

Short Balding Guy

Coach
Coach
Sep 7, 2010
452
USA
Country
USA
I fall in the dunno camp - No. I swiftly remind them their bodies can do skills that "normal" folks can never ever do.

Like other respondents, I frequently tell the gymnasts that our gymnasts are pretty. I do enjoy our athletes and do think of them as special. As a reminder each day I put it to practice by using a cheer. Our team cheer, at the end of each practicse is gathering each practice group putting a hand in and shouting "Tough, Buff and Pretty" and then the gym name.

I echo the sentiment, just wait till they ask you more sensitive questions.

Best, Short Bald Guy -
 
B

BlairBob

Guest
I tell the girls they are almost as pretty as me but it's okay they're not. Usually it's followed by some kind of groan of disapproval.

Luckily I have never gotten the " Am I fat question? " I would be as vague as possible, move to distract them and probably say something that they need to focus on getting stronger, like me and flex or say in an accent " like bear or bull."
 
  • Like
Reactions: aussiebug

caraburn

Coach
Coach
Judge
Apr 26, 2009
23
Sioux City, IA
That is always a tough issue, especially when the child is actually overweight. I have had a child ask me that one time and had been teased about it at school. It definitely caught me off guard, I told her that those kids were probably just jealous of all the awesome muscles she has from being in gymnastics. I never bring up the word "fat" in practice but I do try to discuss having a healthy lifestyle and mention that to get the most out of practice it is important to have a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. I also make it a point to remind them to make sure that they all eat something before practice and are fed dinner after practice and I also give them a short break in the middle of practice to have a small healthy snack. Whether a child is in amazing shape or a little overweight it is important for them to eat healthy and it will have benefits for them in the long run and I truly believe will give them more confidence knowing they are putting the right things into their bodies.
 
B

BlairBob

Guest
She only works out twice a week which leads me to think she is a rec gymnast.

She can work out at least 1-2 times more a week and focus on getting A LOT STRONGER.

If you are not strong, you might want to get strong if you want to have any chance in this sport and not feel like you are wasting your time.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.