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Well, the title pretty much says it all! I am starting as a substitute coach at a local gym for the next week while another coach is on vacation. Anyway, I am familiar with the men's program and competed for 10+ years through open optionals, but I will be coaching girls levels 2 and 3 (separate classes), and am looking for advice on how to handle them, more than what I got during training, because I want to make sure I am a good coach to them. here's a link to some more info about me if anyone's interested:

Anyway, thanks!

Travis, region 1 congress is coming up in Santa Clara in August.

Look at the blog. Or Drillsandskills. Perhaps the small books by Kar or or GymSmarts. has some materials in their store ( but isn't really focuses on the developmental levels ).
I think the big thing to remember especially when coaching levels 1-3 (boys or girls), is that these are developmental levels and it is very important to keep it fun. There is no reason it can't be fun. It doesn't have to be fun all the time, but the goal I think at these levels is to keep them interested in gymnastics while learning the skills....Games, challenges, and opportunities to "show off" are great ways to allow the gymnasts to show off and keep it fun.
I also agree that keeping it fun is very important. Often times, the younger kids think "fun" is doing what the "older kids" are doing even though they may not be ready for it, so keep ensuring that what they are learning now will be very important for them in the future and that learning ANYTHING new can be fun. Give lots of positive feedback and try to switch things up alot, even if it is still working the same skill just in a different way because their attention may not be as long as you hope!
One other thing you will probably find is some parents may be less than understanding. I took over for another coach like you and always felt like the parents did not trust me/like me etc. at first. I soon realized it's a big deal for parents to trust you with their child, so make sure to introduce yourself to them before class, give them some background info about yourself so they feel comfortable and give them feedback about how the kids are doing. Good luck!!
The girls I work with in these levels love contests. We do a lot of contests, stressing sportsmanship and effort, but we also do call out a winner. We do enough contests that everyone wins sometimes. I know our girls love these b/c they ask to do them regularly. Some of the contests we do are:
-HS, winner is the one who held it the longest AND came down correctly w/ arms by ears.
-HS roll, winner is the one who held it the longest and successfully rolled down.
-HS bridge, same as above, longest who landed in a bridge
The winner(s) move to another spot and keep practicing while the other girls continue the contest.

We also do a lot of "points" contests. Pick a skill you want to work at that level, say bridge kickover. The girls get 1 point if they can kick it over, 2 points if the legs are basically straight, 3 points if the legs are straight, toes pointed, arms by ears when they finish, and 10 points if it makes you so happy you want to continuing teaching levels 2 and 3. We either count all the points together as a group and when we get to whatever # I picked we get to do 5 min. of trampoline, or any reward you choose. The other way we do it is 2 teams and the first team to x points gets a reward, or chooses the reward that the whole group gets.

It sounds simple but we have found contests to be very motivating at these levels as long as you stay in charge and nip any sportsmanship issues right away.

You may be surprised how much extra effort you will get from the girls with even very small rewards at stake. Be creative about your rewards, it doesn't have to be time consuming. When our girls were struggling with rope climb we let whoever made it to the top of the rope yell out "I'm the strongest girl in the room!" and then the next one to make it got to yell "NO! I'M the strongest girl in the room!"

One other thing we do with these levels is when they start to fade out we tell them that obviously they are very tired and need a nap and have them lay down and close their eyes until the alarm goes off. We use this sometimes if the coach needs to use the restroom, they can nap for another coach or on the carpet outside the bathroom door (whatever works right?) After a few seconds ... ding, ding, ding, time to get up! Silly I know but it works for that age group. (Thanks to whoever I stole that from along the way.)

Good Luck!

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