Civil discussion about professionalism, coaches' education, etc

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I think if there were "levels" of coaching certification it could make costs more feasible. For example, a "level 1" certification for pre-school/solely recreational coaches could make the program affordable for gyms who employ many high school/college aged minimum wage employees. The more committed the individual becomes to the gym or to coaching in general, the more costs involved. It would still present some problems with gyms unwilling to pay for their coaches certification and coaches unable to afford training, but I feel like it would be less of a problem if the progressions were more gradual.
As far as coaching wages are concerned, they could be better but I just don't see a way for that to happen. I get payed minimum wage when I actually get payed (I've been payed for 1 day of work in the last 3 weeks...), and it's a struggle. I'm saying this as a college student who also has a good amount of financial support from my parents. If that weren't the case, there is absolutely no way I would be able to get by. When I finish my undergrad degree I would love to continue coaching, however it would have to be in conjunction with another job that would take care of my living expenses. I think it's awesome that there are places willing to offer free clinics for coaches, I just wish I could find some of those around here! I'd love to learn from all the presenters at Regional/National Congress, but the several hundred dollars it costs is totally out of the question.
I am kicking myself as I type this! I said I wouldn't comment again on something so insane. Trip, you have passion, but you really need to channel that passion in the right direction.
Rather than stir up discussion, go and talk to a group of someones who can possibly do something. Do you realize the reason coaches may not get payed enough is due to the fact that it is not a high demand type sport/job.
I am very passionate about the sport. I am not just a parent of an athlete. My investment in the sport is quite personal and long standing. I was a former gymnast who did say, "I want to own my own gym when I grow up." That hasn't happened yet. It hasn't happened yet because of the very same reason others on here have declared of themselves. Coaching doesn't pay enough. Coaches who started their own gym either had money to begin with or drafted a very keen business plan/proposal to take to the bank to get the funds. These same owners who struggled so hard to open their doors will have to pay higher incomes to those higher educated coaches you speak of. Where will the money come from but the already strapped parents. We are currently in a recession if you haven't noticed. Do you really think tax payers will stand to pay more for gymnastics coaches? We don't even get enough for the schools in general which are in the tax budget.
The fact of the matter, Trip, is that our government is not invested in gymnastics. I don't believe it ever will be. Without the backing of our government it will be difficult to get the funding for a centralized gymnastics plan. Forget a Union. That also takes money and passion from all its members. Unions are a great thing, but it does take a lot to start one. I belong to a large union, and even with it we the members still have our share of problems. Read the paper and see what I mean, teachers even unionized teachers are facing pay cuts and some have been let go.
Go back to school, Trip because it is what you want for yourself. An educated coach, teacher, nurse, waitress will always be appreciated for having that education.
If not, focus your strong feelings towards people that can really help you get your plan rolling. Imagine how many YOUNG, TEENAGE coaches are on here reading your words. They will be the ones to go to their bossess and spit these same words out to them. Don't be the cause of loosing their jobs. Just a thought. Maybe a rich actress, business owner will fund your idea. How did our country get so crazy about football? The rich own these teams. Find a backer.

I commented only because I have such a strong alliance to education. As a teacher, I strongly believe education will always pave your way to success, but when I see it, education and the thought there of, being used as a tool to merely insight the masses I have to speak up.

Just a (second) thought: Find out how Canada, Europe, etc. started their centralized training system. I can bet their government was involved. That's who you also need to talk to. Good Luck!!:)
I want to clarify something that I feel may have been misunderstood in my last posts. I don't read 'mandatory coaching education on a level system to rank coaches professionally' to mean another $60-85 cert. I read that as legit education that will cost something substantial in terms of both time and money. Enough to exclude people that the industry currently depends on. College students already dealing with tuition fees, team members that help out with subbing classes, bday parties etc, and any adult that undergoes a significant change such as divorce.

We do it for the love of the sport, but that gets used as a weapon sometimes. A way to justify things that don't happen in the corporate world or other specialized industries. Speaking as a coach that's now 30 and started in my teens, I've seen some AWFUL treatment of minors that took advantage of their immaturity, or of the fact they view their boss as their HC still. In some cases played off their emotions to get more than their listed availability or veiled threats that would never even be attempted with an adult. Luckily I had parents that were quick to slap the owner of the first gym I worked at with laws regarding minors of that state. I learned by that, but I also saw coworkers getting played by stuff that never would have been tried on me long after my parents stopped fighting my battles for me.

I am not opposed to substantial education. Howeverf it's as I imagine it, it will exclude a lot of people. We'd have to accept that if implemented. It's not a light consideration either, plenty of amazing coaches would get cut out I'm sure. It would change the current dynamic and put a lot of power back into coaches hands who were willing and able to get through it. If minimum wage and minors were largely cut out, the most immediate effect would be on friday night outs, bday parties, and recreational summer camps I'd imagine.
On related note to professionalism and wages, coaches aren't powerless. Many industries regularly figure out the value of people, their positions, and weigh production vs salary costs. This is not something gyms generally do as obviously as say a publicly traded company but you can do these things for yourself.

I can see why gyms don't do it as their product is something that's different for every individual. When it comes to determining my worth, I don't let the gym figure it out on their own that's for sure. I have no plans to coach all day every day, which is whats required for higher levels. That doesn't mean I don't expect to be treated fairly in the wage department. As it pertains to rec: I keep track of the kids who do their trial classes with me and who signs up. How long they stay in the program, who stays with me, and who doesn't. It gives me a number that says I can grow the rec program, and retain people. What that means in dollar value to the gym over the period of time I have worked there. Also a value that can't be quantified as the people who will change their schedules to stay in my class(es). Add that to other facets of coaching I do, plus past experience, and I make sure I'm taken care of. It's not big bucks, but it's a number I can live with very happily.

I've never been heavily resisted when presenting that to an owner for a raise, or including what I've done for other gyms when negotiating a starting wage. Knowing and proving what you bring in vs how much you make goes a long way in not being seen as part of a chunk of money the gym reserves for payroll.
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The fact that it requires an online test to become a coach in the US is something that really suprised and shocked me when I first heard.
As gymnut says, in the UK you are required to have a qualified level 3 coach in charge of each discipline(WAG, MAG, Acro etc) in your gym. Each level of qualification has a defined limit of skills which may be taught. If you coach above the level of your qualification then your insurance in invalidated. Full stop. Different competitions also have level requirements to be on the competition floor related to the expected level of skills of the gymnasts.

If USAG did consider a compulsory program it would have to be introduced very gradually. I would introduce 4 levels: Preschool, Recreational, Compulsory and optional. For example, the coaches that only coach optinal team have no use for the preschool or rec information.That way you could only have be qualified at the level you coach, so there wouldn''t be a big backlog. I don't see why you couldn't allow 15 year olds and up to become qualified at some, or all of the levels. I would imagine a course being very similar to current clinics, just with pre-decided content common accross the whole country.

An advantage would be that all the safety basics could be covered, especially in preschool area. I would hope we would see a reduction in posts about preschool headstands, bridges etc. It is impossible to dictate what happens in a gym day in and day out, but if coaches have at least been exposed to the relevant safety information we can only hope they do not ignore it.

I think it is very unlikely, simply because the current system does not seem to be causing massive problems, and so there is no reason to put time, money and effort into a new system.
Thank you everyone for coming to terms with this. The industry needs professionalism. Coaches need more money. Which brings me to my next proposal and point of incite.


Lets put gymnastics on the front page. Lets make gymnastics big news. Lets make gymnastics the next best thing to apple pie. Lets induce a consuming spirit of passion in the public arena for gymnastics.

Every gym should have an agent from the entertainment industry working closely with the management. Every team gymnast from the beginning should sign up under that gym under contract and be subject to the gym to represent that gym in public venues. The goal, get a gymnast to be famous. And if you do, the gym cashes in. Side benefit...Numbers

Famous people breed higher interest in the sport. More interest equals greater demand. We need famous people like super model Debbie Dickinson from my gym in the 70's to give credit for success to gymnastics. If any kid from any gym grows up with notoriety then it should be contractual that mention of their roots be made loud and clear forever. Also, the gym and the governing organization should get a cut and benefit from a member that cashes in on their success as a gymnast. In other words gymnastics programs should own their gymnasts. Gymnasts should become legal property of the gym by way of contract. With that, gymnasts should have obligations to meet should any vested interests reap returns in the future. Give everyone hope to work hard for the future.

If a team gymnast wants to tranfer to another gym...then that gym will need to make the first gym an offer to buy that gymnast. Otherwise the gymnast will need to pay the fee. The gym that loses a team member by selling her, also gives up future rights to interests. Team gymnasts have vested interests that belong to the coaches and the gym they come from.
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I think you have started another thread Trip.

That said, I disagree with this post. Many gymnasts give credit to their home gym and bring in both publicity and income. From what I understand, Shawn Johnson has given both money and vocal support to Chows. Nastia has brought even more to WOGA for obvious reasons.

However, gyms do not "own" their gymnasts reputation. Parents pay for gyms to teach their children skills. When in public, with uniform on (while traveling or at exhibitions) they represent the gym and should act accordingly.

The athletes are not, nor should they be obligated to give the gym credit for their success or blame them for their failures. The athlete performs the skills and incorporates what they learn from all sources into the future.

Ideally gyms would work with a public relations firm to get positive press, but again, that costs.
If a team gymnast wants to tranfer to another gym...then that gym will need to make the first gym an offer to buy that gymnast. Otherwise the gymnast will need to pay the fee. The gym that loses a team member by selling her, also gives up future rights to interests. Team gymnasts have vested interests that belong to the coaches and the gym they come from.

This I strongly object to.

Gymnasts are not in any way the property of their gyms or coaches.
I'm making the same objection to treating gymnasts as athletic property. Their achievements and accolades are hard earned, and in the end coaches and gyms don't perform with them. From the moment they salute it's on them. They already paid for the training, they should be allowed their triumphs with no strings attached.

Also, I think to force that diminishes the relationships built to the point of insult. A gymnast that loves to 'come home' to the gym after their career or international travel says a lot more than a obligatory endorsement ever could.
Team members should be under contract. The gym should act as the agent for the gymnast with the gym having an agent themselves that looks for opportunities and guides the gym to cultivate and capitalize on publicity. In effect, the gym should own their gymnasts and reputation should be a vested interest that the coaches build upon.

That's nice that Shawn gave her gym a tip. Like a bingo player in a bingo hall that won and tips the staff. One shot deal and goodbye. Shallow. I feel cheap for those coaches. But it was a nice gesture.

Under contract the gymnasts would be not only obligated to give the gym credit for success in life but the gym should have rights to that gymnast's access to publicity.

Lets create demand. Lets make gymnastics a necessity in life. Lets put gymnastics on parade.

This is about numbers and how to increase them so that wages meet what they command.
Under contract the gymnasts would be not only obligated to give the gym credit for success in life but the gym should have rights to that gymnast's access to publicity.

Again, this seems to rest on the idea that athletes are in some way the gym's property.

They are not. They pay us, we train them, end of story. We may develop a certain bond with our students (while of course maintaining the necessary professional distance), and because of this they may decide to share with us some of whatever fame and fortune comes their way, but they don't owe us anything beyond their monthly tuition.

If I coached a gymnast to the olympic level, I'd certainly appreciate any credit or money that came my way as a result, but I do not believe the gymnast is or should be obligated to give me either. They paid for a service, they got that service, end of story, all debts are cleared.
This is the most ridiculous thread I have ever read on the CB. This is the thread title "Civil discussion about professionalism, coaches' education, etc" , get it back on track or yet another Trippy thread will be dead.

Some great input by the coaches is being dragged off base by your desire to rule the world Trip. Stick to the topic.
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I said stay on topic, this is not about ownership of clients, I deleted the offending post, as I will do again. Trip you really have to stop this hijacking thing.
I am speechless.

These are little girls (and boys) flipping and tumbling and smiling with their friends. The idea of contracts for team members and permission to transfer is reminiscent of 1930s Germany to me.

I think gym ownership should stay local (no national union) and that gymnastics should be market driven. Parents know what types of coaches will work with their child best. It is our reponsibility to our children to ensure that coaches have the safety certs that we feel comfortable with.

I know that when we switched gyms, we did it because it was what worked best for our family situation. It wasn't out of anger or even because of a personality conflict. It was just an individual choice. The idea that I might not be allowed to make the best choice for MY child is ridiculous. To think that some think I should have obtained "permission" to make this decision is equally ridiculous.

I didn't just open the yellow pages and put down my finger on the gymnastics section. I talked to the HC and to who would be my child's instructors before deciding to enroll. That is my JOB as a parent.

When our gym changed ownership, we were given the option of refunding our annual dues (prorated of course) if we didn't like new HC. Luckily, she's a gem (or should that be gym? :D ).

If Bella comes under a coach who I question her ability and responsibility, then I know that I can talk to the owner and if I'm not happy with the outcome, I can SWITCH gyms. Not as a threat, but as a right as my job to look after my child's best interest.

She isn't a commodity. She is a little girl. And I love her and want her to be safe and happy while doing something she loves. That's it. That's all.
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I spoke the truth, bog. Whether you hide my post or not the thought processes are already in place and at work without me saying anything. A gym should have what is known as an across the board agent representing it. If a gymnast under contract is approached then the gymnast will need to refer the accosting agents to the gym's agent that represents the gymnast first. Its that simple.

The agent relationship that a gym has with their team gymnasts is a part of the whole professional aspect of running a gym. Whether a gym takes advantage of that relationship or not is moot. What is important is that the relationship exists whether you acknowledge it or not. It is a subject that is pertinent to this thread and I planned to bring this up from the beginning.

Please put the information regarding this back. Thanks.

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