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cogymmom2dd

Proud Parent
Feb 9, 2020
193
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Seasoned gym mom here. 3 gymnasts, oldest is starting her 8th season of competing.

Hindsight is always 20/20. For those seasoned parents, what are some unpopular opinions that you have about gymnastics in general? I’ll go first.

1. Private lessons are a scam. I feel like some gyms use privates as a scare tactic for parents, that their kids won’t make it to the next level without private lessons. Privates should only be used in certain situations (i.e. learning a new routine with a choreographer). If you are getting pressured to have privates, that means that there is an issue that is deeper than your kid. Maybe the teams are too big and not enough coaches to properly work with kids on each event (see this a lot on levels 3-4, as teams are generally bigger). If your kid can’t learn their routines or skills at practice, it is a coach/system issue and not your kid.

2. I wish that wearing shorts at meets was more normalized.

3. USAG organization as a whole is corrupt and I wish there were more gyms that were open to having meets and memberships to other governing bodies. Our gym joined AAU during the whole Nassar debacle and their meets were super fun and well organized. My state is still heavily USAG and it pains me to give them money for our membership each year.
 
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Coach Kate

Coach
Fan
Oct 13, 2021
199
31
As a coach, I only suggest privates outside of choreography IF an athlete is at practice, working hard, and still struggling with a particular skill. I had a jumping to high bar private with an xcel gold last season because we were at the point where I wasn't setting up drills for it anymore because everyone else on the team already had it, and just this one kid was having a hard time. We did one 30 minute private and it got her to a point where she could be at practice with her team. Those are the types of privates I do.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,500
Baltimore, MD
I think private lessons have their place, but I think a lot of coaches rely on them way too much for both training and personal income. In an ideal world, coaches would coach well enough that private lessons should rarely be necessary; in turn, gyms should pay their coaches well enough that they don't feel the need to rely on private lessons for extra income.

Fully agreed about #2 and #3
 

GymOwl

Coach
Gymnast
Fan
Feb 6, 2021
25
18
Not a coach nor gymnast anymore, but I do have a few!

1. Leotards are heavily overpriced. Not really a unpopular opinion, but I was so tired of seeing solid color practice leos with sequins for $45+

2. Anymore than 14-16 hours/week is too much. At my old gym, we had 12hours/week for levels 3-5, and optionals with 16. But I have seen some gyms who have their level 4 kids do 20+ hours a week. Just way too much in my opinion.

3. Proper nutrition is sooo commonly forgotten. I can not stress this enough...PLEASE make sure you eat enough before AND after practice. I'm guilty of this myself. I used to go to practice on an empty stomach, and would cause me to feel weak and have excruciating headaches All. The. Time. My mom started to notice and would have me eat a small snack and pack a lunch to eat during break and it helped tremendously.

4. Instagram/Social Media. Again, not really a unpopular opinion, but the chokehold "gymstagram" has over gymnasts and parents is insane. Seeing 8 year old level 10s, homeschooled and training 30 hours a week is not only unrealistic, but is a classic recipe for burnout. And of course it's cool to see a kid at the age of 8 chuck a double back, but what isn't cool is seeing that same kid being burnt out and out with overuse injuries by 10.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,500
Baltimore, MD
Here are mine:

1) T&T and artistic gymnastics should be merged into one sport. Trampoline should replace vault, and power tumbling should replace floor. The resulting sport should adopt T&T standards for flip and twist technique (with only a few modifications); for example, tucked or piked skills should kick out at vertical. It should also adopt the T&T norms where athletes can be different levels on different events, and where it is completely normal at all levels to specialize.

2) Gymnastics would be better off as a performance art than as a sport. Like dance or circus arts, gymnastics would be better if it were done primarily without scores, to entertain audiences. This way, there would be far more room for creativity and innovation and showmanship, and there would be less pressure to do skills that may not be safe.

3) If we can't go with #2, then artistry should be removed as a judging criterion. Scores should be objective, and artistry is way too subjective. It's nebulously defined, subject to individual judges' preferences, and leaves way too much wiggle room for subconscious biases to creep in.

4) Hollow body position in casts on bars makes no sense at all. Athletes looking to learn a straight body cast to handstand should let their heads stick out and drive their heels up to handstand, because that makes far more mechanical sense. The hollow should come at the top, not on the way up.

5) With the current state of the industry, 95% of coaches -- and 99.9% of great coaches -- would be better off quitting and going into some other field. The physical labor you put into coaching can make you far more money as a plumber/electrician/elevator technician/etc. The ability to analyze challenges and break them down into manageable steps will make you far more money as an engineer or software developer. The communication skills will make you far more money in sales and PR.

6) At anything below the optional level (and maybe even there), young athletes are better off doing a lot of different sports instead of having all of their focus on one sport.

7) Gymnastics beyond the compulsory levels is not worth it for 99.9% of athletes.
 
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Dahlia

Proud Parent
Sep 27, 2013
337
As a coach, I only suggest privates outside of choreography IF an athlete is at practice, working hard, and still struggling with a particular skill. I had a jumping to high bar private with an xcel gold last season because we were at the point where I wasn't setting up drills for it anymore because everyone else on the team already had it, and just this one kid was having a hard time. We did one 30 minute private and it got her to a point where she could be at practice with her team. Those are the types of privates I do.
Here are mine:

1) T&T and artistic gymnastics should be merged into one sport. Trampoline should replace vault, and power tumbling should replace floor. The resulting sport should adopt T&T standards for flip and twist technique (with only a few modifications); for example, tucked or piked skills should kick out at vertical. It should also adopt the T&T norms where athletes can be different levels on different events, and where it is completely normal at all levels to specialize.

Our gym tends to do private lessons like Coach Kate does. I've only had a coach request we do a private once and that was when my dd was working through fear issues on back tumbling. One private and that was that, she could do it! She just needed a little extra 1:1 coaching and encouragement. We have requested a private lesson before, but it was when my dd was struggling on floor and she wanted some extra help and asked me to ask her coaches. I think she did 2 and it really helped her improve. If kids consistently are being required to have/pay for extra lessons to master basics, then there is an issue with how the gym is using them.

I totally would be up for retooling the events similar to what GT brought up. Though I'd keep vault because my dd loves it. But she would love nothing more than for women's floor to be like men's floor. The dance to the music thing is the part of gymnastics she dislikes most. However, I can see the appeal of the dancing/choreography to music part when it comes to audience. I think either men should do that too or we do away with it. Otherwise it's just a sexist holdout.

Women should get to wear gymnastics outfits like the men. Leos are also a sexist holdout. And don't get me started on the high cut NCAA leos. If athletes want to wear them, that's fine. But the women usually seem to be adjusting all the time between events and they just don't look like they really are all that comfortable or practical.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,500
Baltimore, MD
Our gym tends to do private lessons like Coach Kate does. I've only had a coach request we do a private once and that was when my dd was working through fear issues on back tumbling. One private and that was that, she could do it! She just needed a little extra 1:1 coaching and encouragement. We have requested a private lesson before, but it was when my dd was struggling on floor and she wanted some extra help and asked me to ask her coaches. I think she did 2 and it really helped her improve. If kids consistently are being required to have/pay for extra lessons to master basics, then there is an issue with how the gym is using them.

If there's a specific major obstacle you're trying to pass, a challenge you're trying to defeat, a threshold that you're just on the cusp of, than a private lesson can make all the difference in the world. But sometimes you just have to grind out a thousand more tap swings, or a thousand more casts, or a thousand more cartwheels, or a thousand more handstands, and when you're in a grinding phase (which, is basically 90% of the time), the benefit of a private lesson is negligible.
 

RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
861
I agree on a lot of these points. I was fairly alarmed to get an email from a newish coach and my son's gym recommending privates and suggesting they might be necessary (this email went to all of the boys' parents in the gym) to move up to the next level. We've gotten a couple of follow-up emails about his availability for privates and my feeling is they should be coaching them during practice time, not universally pushing privates. My daughter has done some here and there, but I don't like them as a routine thing. I feel like a lot of parents want to out pay others to have their kids get ahead- but as long as they aren't asking me to pay it's really none of my business. Completely agree with shorts in competition. DD would die if vault were replaced, can't get behind that one. :p
 
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Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
3,940
I wish we didn’t have to do private lessons. We certainly are not pushing them as a means of making more profit and coach income.

A group session will bring in more profit and I pay my coaches the same to do group lessons as private’s.

But many parents want them, as a way to help their child accelerate. We only do them if we can fit it in. Usually it’s things like the lessons are a birthday present fir the kids, or to help with a specific skill. I have a rec beginner kids who has done 7 x 1 hour private lessons in the last two weeks (as it’s spring school holidays). It’s not a case of pushy parents, the child is pretty good, but just started gymnastics and hopes to catch up to friends in the next level up.

$700 is a lot to spend on private’s in 2 weeks but they have two other kids in the gym who the parents would not pay for private’s for. They are prepared to spend the money because this kid is driven and prepared to put in the work. We charge $100 an hour for private’s. It’s a little higher than average, and part of the idea is that they will only be used by those who REALLY want them.
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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In my gym I ensure trampoline is a big part of Vault. They spend about 60% of their vault time on trampoline and 40% on vault.

Vault is high impact, if you overdo Vault, especially with girls in the 11-15 year old range you end up with shin splints, ankle pain, knee pain etc.

You don’t need to go over the table constantly. If you work leg strength, speed, injury prevention, board entry, rebound, aerial awareness, handstands, block of hands and landing. They don’t need a million vaults to be good at it.
 

mom2newgymnast

Proud Parent
Jul 8, 2014
1,277
48
I have so many unpopular opinions, I’m not sure where to start. First, I agree about privates. I think they have a purpose for sure, but I’m not a fan of using them for the sole purpose of getting ahead. They weren’t really that popular at my daughters gym when she was in the lower levels, but I was super disappointed in her gym when I found out that many of the compulsory gymnasts have weekly privates just to get an advantage. I know life isn’t fair, but it just seems like rich parents paying for their kids to get ahead. And at $100/hr, that’s $400 a month which is more than the cost of tuition. :oops:Fortunately my daughter never wanted privates and it hasn’t really held her back so whatever I guess. :D

My second unpopular opinion is that parents should not have Instagram pages for their young gymnasts where the goal is amassing large number of followers or likes. Or being ambassadors. Private accounts to share with family is one thing. But 6,7,8 year old with 20k+ followers where they are using their kid’s body to sell merchandise or to feed the moms ego is just kind of gross to me. (Flame away on that!)

And my third unpopular opinion is that gymnastics is not that special or unique a sport in terms of benefits. Yes being on a team and practicing long hours teaches valuable skills and life lessons. But if you ask a soccer mom or a swim mom or a band mom, they’ll all say the same thing. And yes physically those with a gymnastics background might do well in other sports, but I still think any serious athlete who practices 4-5 times a week in any sport that then changes sports will have similar advantages. I just think we, as gymnast parents, tend to exaggerate the unique benefits in order to justify the time and expense.

I still think it’s a great sport don’t get me wrong. I love watching gymnastics and I’m very proud of my daughter and impressed with her abilities. But to me it’s just a sport that my daughter likes and is good at and so I’ll support her as long as she wants to do it.
 

RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
861
And my third unpopular opinion is that gymnastics is not that special or unique a sport in terms of benefits. Yes being on a team and practicing long hours teaches valuable skills and life lessons. But if you ask a soccer mom or a swim mom or a band mom, they’ll all say the same thing. And yes physically those with a gymnastics background might do well in other sports, but I still think any serious athlete who practices 4-5 times a week in any sport that then changes sports will have similar advantages. I just think we, as gymnast parents, tend to exaggerate the unique benefits in order to justify the time and expense.
I don't think gymnastics offers any different or unique benefits in terms of life lessons that kids can't get through another sport or activity, but to me, the key is the kid has to love that sport or activity to gain those lessons. If you play soccer but don't really care all that much about how you do or aren't interested in putting in the effort to really improve, you most likely won't gain the same level of grit and determination you might when something is really important to you. I think for most of us we found our kid just really loved gymnastics and were willing to work really hard at it.
 
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JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
316
Beauty sports are archaic and gymnastics needs to get away from that. There’s no reason to force little girls to wear expensive, uncomfortable, and bedazzled bathing suits for athletic activities. You don’t see baseball players playing in speedos. Why is gymnastics any different?
 

catou

Coach
Mar 7, 2010
384
Québec
Here are mine:

1) T&T and artistic gymnastics should be merged into one sport. Trampoline should replace vault, and power tumbling should replace floor. The resulting sport should adopt T&T standards for flip and twist technique (with only a few modifications); for example, tucked or piked skills should kick out at vertical. It should also adopt the T&T norms where athletes can be different levels on different events, and where it is completely normal at all levels to specialize.

That's interesting. In Quebec, our lowest competing levels do trampoline, tumbling, vault, bars, beam and floor. Girls could also compete only on trampoline and/or tumbling. They are judge with the T and T rules. I think it's a nice way to recrute athletes toward these disciplines. At these levels, the elements worked on tramp and in tumbling are useful for WAG anyway.
 

cogymmom2dd

Proud Parent
Feb 9, 2020
193
I think private lessons have their place, but I think a lot of coaches rely on them way too much for both training and personal income. In an ideal world, coaches would coach well enough that private lessons should rarely be necessary; in turn, gyms should pay their coaches well enough that they don't feel the need to rely on private lessons for extra income.

Fully agreed about #2 and #3
This may be an unpopular opinion, but the best coaches that my kids have ever had were ones that had full time jobs outside of the gym. They coached because they had a true love of the sport and loved coaching and not because it was their career, their identity. I also think this is why we don’t really heavily rely on privates at our gym, because the coaches simply just don’t have the extra time for them unless we are willing to do a weekend private.

On the other hand, I understand that there needs to be coaches available in gyms that have day programs and/or have elite athletes that they have to travel with. It would be really hard to juggle schedules. However, the coaches doing privates that I am thinking of are driving around in brand new Mercedes and BMW cars, so I can’t help but think one of 2 things: 1. They are being paid well by the gym or 2. They are pushing privates in order to support a lifestyle vs to really help out an athlete.
 
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Tmacs

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2019
221
I have so many unpopular opinions, I’m not sure where to start. First, I agree about privates. I think they have a purpose for sure, but I’m not a fan of using them for the sole purpose of getting ahead. They weren’t really that popular at my daughters gym when she was in the lower levels, but I was super disappointed in her gym when I found out that many of the compulsory gymnasts have weekly privates just to get an advantage. I know life isn’t fair, but it just seems like rich parents paying for their kids to get ahead. And at $100/hr, that’s $400 a month which is more than the cost of tuition. :oops:Fortunately my daughter never wanted privates and it hasn’t really held her back so whatever I guess. :D

My second unpopular opinion is that parents should not have Instagram pages for their young gymnasts where the goal is amassing large number of followers or likes. Or being ambassadors. Private accounts to share with family is one thing. But 6,7,8 year old with 20k+ followers where they are using their kid’s body to sell merchandise or to feed the moms ego is just kind of gross to me. (Flame away on that!)

And my third unpopular opinion is that gymnastics is not that special or unique a sport in terms of benefits. Yes being on a team and practicing long hours teaches valuable skills and life lessons. But if you ask a soccer mom or a swim mom or a band mom, they’ll all say the same thing. And yes physically those with a gymnastics background might do well in other sports, but I still think any serious athlete who practices 4-5 times a week in any sport that then changes sports will have similar advantages. I just think we, as gymnast parents, tend to exaggerate the unique benefits in order to justify the time and expense.

I still think it’s a great sport don’t get me wrong. I love watching gymnastics and I’m very proud of my daughter and impressed with her abilities. But to me it’s just a sport that my daughter likes and is good at and so I’ll support her as long as she wants to do it.
I agree with this! I think any athletic training will have similar benefits. I do think gymnastics provides more body awareness and core strength than other sports but not overwhelmingly more.
My L6 dd has had 5 privates over 4 years- usually just to get over a fear or give her more confidence. Some in her level have at least one a week. There is zero difference in ability or performance between them, in my opinion.
 

txgymfan

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Coach
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Sep 4, 2008
3,544
Houston
I think that Xcel or it’s equivalent ( AAU, acro dance, any other less competitive league) should be the path for most gyms and gymnasts with JO or a possible college/ elite path being in the minority ( less than 25 percent).

I think leotards should be more athletic, include shorts or pants and allow for an appropriate sports bra to be worn. No one should be required to wax their bikini area to participate in an athletic competition.

I think fly away meet’s should be rare until there are not enough competitive athletes in a geographical area and even then be limited to the highest levels of the spor ( levels 8 or 9 and up).
 

Canadian Gym Mom

Proud Parent
Jun 22, 2018
31
7) Gymnastics beyond the compulsory levels is not worth it for 99.9% of athletes.

I find this to be a really interesting point. I often wonder about my daughter's gymnastics journey and if it's still "worth it". She never really got the chance to do compulsory levels because of Covid and did two competitions last year as a L6. She's a good gymnast, like most at that level. However, she's exceptional in school and I often wonder if she should focus on something else, but she loves gym so much and I wouldn't want to take that away from her. I also don't want her to miss opportunities at other things in life because she got hurt or simply didn't have the time to try them when she was younger. I see many gymnasts getting hurt after getting into optional levels and that scares me. She is 11 btw.
 
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JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
7,311
Wisconsin
This is all just a random brainstorm...

There should be a true educational requirement for high level coaching. Levels Diamond / Sapphire / 8 / 9 / 10 / Hopes / Elite for sure need formal education for the coaches.

This formal education should be in multiple forms. There can be some videos / multiple choice for certain basic things like there currently is... but it need to go far beyond this. There needs to be some sort of apprenticeship program like the trades. The program could look something like this...

  • Acceptance into program = 1 year (1,000 hours minimum) or more of coaching experience at any club that will state that you have been coaching there. (Why 1,000 hours?... I coached around 35 hours per week of classes my first year of coaching. This is not equal to someone that coaches 1 night of 3 classes per week. Coaches need real experience coaching basic low level gymnastics before entering the program.). Enrollment in or prior completion of Associates*.
  • Level 8 / Diamond Certified = 1 year apprenticeship under an approved Head Coach using an approved curriculum. Apprentice must attend at least 3 Level 8 sessions during season. Regionals must also be attended at watched from the sidelines. Enrollment in or prior completion of Associates*.
  • Level 9 Certified = Level 8 / Diamond + 1 additional year apprenticeship under an approved Head Coach using an approved curriculum. Apprentice must attend at least 3 Level 9 sessions during the season. Apprentice must attend Level 9 Westerns or Easterns. Enrollment in or prior completion of Associates*.
  • Level 10 / Hopes / Sapphire Certified = Level 9 Certified + Associates Program (may be enrolled at same time) + 1 additional year under an approved Head Coach using an approved curriculum. Apprentice must attend at least 3 Level 10 sessions and 1 Hopes session during the season. Apprentice must attend Level 10 Nationals. Apprentice must also watch Hopes Championships via live stream. Completion of Associates Degree required to receive this Certificate*.
  • Elite Certified = Level 10 / Hopes / Sapphire Certified + Associates Program completed + Certificate in Elite Coaching (1 semester online course).
*Associates Degree In Coaching With An Emphasis On Gymnastics = This is an online program that coaches must be enrolled in or have already completed to become certified. Safe Sport... background check... high school diploma / GED required to enroll. This program will include but not be limited to... skills & drills for current level... basic child development... sport biomechanics... team management... business... customer service... high level sports coaching history (pros & cons of historical programs)... etc... etc.

Any club running any of the levels above should be required to have at least 1 certified coach on the gym / competition floor at all times that any of these athletes are working out / competing.

And now the unpopular part...

Fully certified coaches with the associates degree should be paid well... $30+ per hour with health and retirement benefits. They should be able to create a team that will afford this based on the education they have received.

Again... just a fun brainstorm.