What to do when coaches "phone it in?" LONG

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gym law mom

Proud Parent
I've kept my mouth shut all through the comp season, but now its time for some real concern and see if you all have some ideas. Our gym is growing(good thing) and they have more girls competing optional this year than is several years(another good thing....or should be). We have 4 coaches that work with the optional girls--2 with L7/L8s and 2 with L9 and up. Sounds good right? In reality its been a mess. 1 coach for the L7/8s works bars/vault with them, the other does fx/beam. The HC(part owner) and a wonderful part time coach work with the L9s.

Here are the problems. The L7/8 bar/vault coach is also expected to help the L6 girls on bars both during meet season and learning giants etc. This year she also picked up coaching the L8 girls---never coached this level before. She said the HC would be helping her out(only happened at meets). The other coach is only there for fx/beam on 3 out of 4 practices---she doesn't coach on Fri. The week before states she took a long weekend and missed 2 practices with the L8 team. Beam routines were simply the L7 routine with an "upgraded" acro series and maybe a change in the leap. Same with fx---just changed the tumbling to meet L8 requirements. If a choreo change is needed she contacts someone else to do it. She can be quite snippy and has her "favs" although none of the girls really like her. She also throws a fit if asked to coach at a meet where she has to stay overnight. Has been at the gym for about 10yrs and claims to have coached up to L10. Her "fix" of a skill problem is to just take it out even if it means dropping a SV---doesn't spend any time trying to correct a problem with technique.
Things got so stretched with the one coach that the girls would totally miss any vault practice or practice for maybe 15 minutes during practice. Not good at all when trying to learn a tsuk etc. Girls would go to meets not really knowing what vault they would do. HC is a good vault coach, but leaves early 2 nights/week and never offered to help the L8 kids.

So, state meet this past weekend. My kid was in a session by herself in her old gym(very bad memories). Has the 2 L7/8 coaches with her. They spent most of the session sitting and chatting with my kid sitting several feet away by herself. Parents from other gyms(we were cheering on each other's kids) kept asking where her coaches were/why they weren't warming her up? She has never looked so miserable in her life. Said the coaches were talking about the next sessions so she felt they had given up on her and then she gave up---said she wanted to go running out the door. Now, what to do. If she stays at L8 she will have the same coaches and said she will not do another year with the beam/fx coach. She wants the VERY good coach that does fx/beam with the L9s. Last night at practice, the bars coach told her to do pirouettes(she's done a shootover all season) and my kid asked why. Was told she wouldn't be able to do the shootover next yr. as a L8(this said in front of all of her team). So, my gymmie asked if that meant she would be repeating L8 and the coach said, "after that mess of a state meet, what do you think?" Real tact shown here.

We have no other gym near us with an established optional program. My gymmie is just miserable---she said she wants "real coaches." Thoughts??? Sorry this was so long!!!
Wow--that sounds like a real mess. It can be really frustrating when you have a talented kid that wants to work hard but doesn't have the coaching and support needed from the gym. Especially when your dd is saying that she wants "real coaches". She obviously wants to work hard and put in the effort. But what you have said, I do not like the way that her coach was being rude to her and saying her "mess of a state meet" when the coaches weren't even there to warm her up!!! Sounds like the coaches aren't taking any responsibility here.

I don't really know what to say since you said there are no other gyms for you to switch to near you. I'll have to think a little more on this one...
I felt mad just reading that coaches comment about States. Repeating L8 is fine but not with coaches who do not seem to care enough about their gymnasts success to support them at a meet. To have the coaches sitting around chatting at States leaving your DD to stew in her own thoughts is cruel. It is a time when the coaches should be hands on, pumping her up and reassuring her.

It seems your DD already has some L9 skills and her form is very nice, would she be better, emotionally and physically, being pushed ahead to L9 in order to recieve consistant and safe coaching.

What would repeating L8 look like, just imagining it will give you an idea of whether it is the best choice for her.

She has performed well all year round and has had good results from it, I am not sure how good it would be to stay with a coach who really doesn't appreciate her hard work and progress.

SOunds like the 7/8 level needs some new coaching.

Are you able to have a sit down chat with the head coach, talk about what your expectations for the season were coaching wise and explain how your DD is feeling after States and the subsequent comments. Maybe the HC needs to have his eyes opened somewhat to the state of coaching in his club.

Good luck, this is no fun at all. Your DD is very talented and it just seems cruel for her to have to feel this way in the gym.
Oh, I feel so bad for your daughter. As a coach I find it hard to imagine behaving like her coaches have done. My advice would be to find a new gym, but you've already mentioned that there isn't another one close by.
Other than that I'd suggest having a meeting with the head coach. Just voice your concerns and tell them how your daughter was treated and that it isn't acceptable.
I'd like to think that if a complaint was made to me about a fellow coach, I'd be able to follow it up with them. At the end of the day you are a paying customer and you are paying for your daughter to have a coach and to be treated with respect.
It sounds to me like the coaches don't really have a passion for the sport. If they did have, they'd be itching to make all of their gymnasts the best they could be! I know I hate it when I see a talented gymnast go to waste, because their coach can't be bothered!
Good luck with making a decision!

What a horribly frustrating situation. To think you were dealing with all this and I was complaining so much (and still am, LOL) about my L4s situation. :(

I feel so sad for your daughter and the situation she is in. How sad to feel like your coaches don't connect with you, don't care enough to sit with you and help you prepare for your meet or to work with you at the gym to get skills, overcome issues, etc. I can see why she wants a change in coaches for sure.

I have no good advice for you, just that I feel for you and your daughter in this situation. I agree about meeting with the owner/HC and talking to them about what is happening. No matter what, the comment made to your daughter was just plain rude and I can totally understand why she is feeling hesitant about continuing with them. :(

I agree with what Bog said about L9 as well, maybe that would be better for her?

Hugs to the both of you.
States was probably the straw that broke this mom's back. My dh was furious and he is a very mellow guy. Even my older daughter who feels going to watch little sis do gymnastics is about as much fun as taking finals was mad(that totally shocked me!)---she couldn't believe the coaches were just sitting on chairs while gymmie warmed up her fx and then stood by herself waiting to go.

As for making the HC aware. Hmmmm. Several parents have tried dropping hints to him that their dds(L8s) really liked working with him on vault on 1 or 2 days when he happened to hang around and went over to help. They said he looked surprised and they asked if he would be continuing to help on occasion---he said he hadn't really thought about that and never came over to help again. He also showed up for gymmie's last rotation at states and quite obviously saw her sitting a few seats away from her coaches, with her head down. She was to compete 1st in the 2nd "squad" and usually the first few girls in the rotation go early in tumbling warm ups, so they can get them done, warm up leaps etc. and then take a good breath before competing. Well, gymmie got in line and was the 4th girl---I could see her asking the others if she could move up. Finally, the HC got up and talked with the other coaches and they moved her to 1st in the line(the other 2 coaches kept talking). After gymmie finished her warm up, she backed off the mat to wait. She stood there by herself! The HC did finally come over and stand with her, put his arm around her for a few seconds and then went back to watch.

The vault/bar coach KNEW gymmie would have problems going back into this gym, but kept saying, "she's got to put the past behind her." She's 12 yo---putting very negative experiences out of your mind completely while doing a state meet is a very tall order and I don't think the coach knew how to handle the issue so hoped it would just go away. My dh almost ran after the coaches when they walked out after the session and didn't even look at us. Gymmie insisted on going back for the other sessions to cheer on her teammates and as I found out later, "make myself walk into that gym." Dh happened to be there to pick her up after the last session and v/b coach walked by him, shrugged her shoulders and said, "don't know what happened---see you at practice."

We do get a coach:gymnast: parent conference once regionals/sectionals are over. I don't know if we should wait that long. Gymmie has been back at practice---is learning a fhs-tuck vault(thinks its really fun) and doing yerchenko timers, worked on sticking aerials on low beam, worked with the GOOD coach for a few minutes to correct her hand position in the bhs-bhs on beam and did some toe shots and actually kipped out of them into a straddle cast. She hasn't given up, but at the same time she is hurting.

Sorry for the long ramble---there is another gym---the one we left. Not much help.
It seems like there are a lot of issues there and I think you have to separate them all out. First of all, I know girls who were successful at JO Nats and tested elite who did two years of L8. L8 is changing, but under the current system I would say it's almost downright unusual to do one season of 8 even after making regionals. We only do a percentage to regionals in 8 (no 34AA) and everyone I did L8 with the first year from my gym made regionals, almost none of us moved up because the coaches have pretty high standards. I know for a lot of girls that's hard to swallow, but it is a pretty big jump. USAG (and most gyms) tend to group 7/8, 9/10. The move from 8 to 9 is going to be harder for most girls than the move from 7 to 8. Heck, I know girls who did L10 and NCAA who did FOUR years of L8. It may sound silly but there's a lot of room for improvement within that level (probably even under the new system). For example, getting the tsuk or then developing a powerful yurchenko entry which can be used in L9 and 10.

However, I don't think bringing up one meet or one mistake to justify not moving up a level is appropriate or helpful for a child's development and understanding of the situation. As a professional they have a responsibility to show and not tell and help the gymnast understand the plan and why they feel it is beneficial.

And using the L7 routines and replacing them with L8 acro/tumbling is a pretty universal practice to me. Sometimes routines might change but usually not every year. Private choreographers are often better than many gymnastics coaches (trust me, you wouldn't want me messing with your kid's dance...) but it's expensive so usually routines are used for multiple years or handed down, etc. I actually ended up changing routines for L7, 8, 9 but that was only because my coaches hated my routine and kept hoping I might, catch onto something else or something. But I do consider taking skills out to be counter productive and demoralizing in the long run. I may "back off" a skill at times with a kid due to mental blocks, but if the skill has potential (and sometimes in optionals, you work something for awhile and it just never comes together...it doesn't need to be a habit though) then they should continue to develop it even if they don't compete it at every meet.

However, I consider it extremely unprofessional to act indifferent towards a kid either in practice or in a meet. If the HC hasn't been made aware of your perception of the coaches' behavior and what happened the entire meet, then he should be made aware immediately. He needs to address unacceptable behavior. If there is no action or follow up, then I would seriously consider things...when there is mismanagement, more mismanagement will follow. Honestly, telling him things like the L8s liked working with him on vault pretty much just amount to subtle hints in most gyms, where coaches tend to have fairly close working relatioonships and don't always see the forest for the trees. Hints aren't working, and you're not guaranteed action either way, but I think all concerned parents are basically going to have to be extremely upfront about the concerns with the behavior of his coaching staff regarding their interaction with the girls. You pay tuition and the kids deserve to not have to deal with an indifferent or resentful attitude (over having to stay overnight, etc).
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