Coaches Parent Coach Skill Conflict

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Mighty Mouse

Ok, first of all, let me say... I feel kinda bad asking this question in a forum like this, considering the fact that I just joined. But... I've had this problem since the end of spring, and I'm not sure how to handle it.

As I said in my intro, I run the 'in-house' gymnastics program at our Y. That consists of Pre-School and Pre- K kids.
During our stretches we do (depending on the kid’s ability) either a wrestler's bridge or a regular bridge. Most of the kids can do a regular bridge.
There is one child who I noticed wasn’t attempting to do a bridge… at all.
I found out later that the boys father had told the pre-school teachers not to let him do one.

Now here comes my problem…
This boys father is a physical therapist, and insists that his son is going to get hurt and possibly have some sort of long term damage to his neck from doing a bridge. He brought a video camera and has some footage from our 'end of the year' show last spring, and I guess is analyzing it, because he requested a meeting with all the pre-school teachers, they gymnastics director (my boss), and myself.
I don’t know what to say to this parent. I’ve told him that kids go remarkably limp when they come out of a bridge… they just kinda fall out of it… and it doesn’t hurt them at all.
I guess it kinda went in one ear and out the other.
So far, that's the only skill I know of that the father doesn't approve of.

How do I attempt to communicate to this parent that what we’re doing in our program is not doing any permanent physical damage to his child? Is there a website with scientific facts… articles… anything!?

I’d really appreciate any help I could get.

I also work at a YMCA. I don't know what your Y guidelines are, but if the child is under the age of 6, regular bridges are not expected from them here. The boys' father may be partially correct, but when the skill is done and taught with good form, etc. there should be no harm done. That should be explained as well(that you are a competant teacher and the boy is learning how to correctly do the skill).
The rule at our gym was no bridges until at least 5 years old. Even then they have to be able to do a tummy table with straight arms and feet together. Bridges before that age are thought to be unsafe because of the muscle development of their neck and back. Saying they are going limp on the way down does not take away the problem. Children should know how to tuck their head before performing a bridge, this way they will know how to roll out.

We would start younger children learning the bridge position over barrels and balls. And of course there will always be exceptions to any rule, at a competitive gym you will 5 year olds doing backhandsprings so of course they learned their bridges earlier.

When first teaching bridges they should be a spotted skill, as for the long term damage to a child's body I'm not sure how much there would be but it is always better to air on the side of caution.
We do not do bridges under the age of 5. The studies (facts) are going to end up on the parent's side. I would cut my losses, thank him for the valuable info, and remove them from the pre-school curriculum.
My opinion is that the boys father is correct, bridges and splits should not be attempted at pre-school age, over here that is under 5 years old, im not sure exactly why, but i think it has something to do with the muscles and bones not having developed correctly

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