Useless REC coaches... Who has them?

DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members see FEWER ads

ChalkBucket may earn a commission through product links on the site.
Quick background..

Coach 15 years.. MAG /WAG. Former national team member... coached by Russians... THAT'S ME !




We seem to have an abundance of useless recreational coaches who do nothing constructive with the little ones...(5-8yr olds) They are happy to let them play in the pit and do bad cartwheels. They often have helpers who stand around and do nothing.:mad:

Most were never gymnasts themselves, so, the idea of correct body positioning is a complete mystery to them... I should be happy they are not teaching them bad habits but it still frustrates me.




Before you jump in with "well, the owner should step in" or "maybe you could teach the coaches proper techniques".... I've tried.

The owners are quite happy because the classes are full and the kids/parents are happy. (or don't know any better) They (the owners) believe the REC coaches are doing exactly what's expected of them and that it should be my job to "spot talent" and take the kids that show potential to the next level.

The problem is, when I get them... all they wanna do is play! I say "straddle your legs" they look at me like i just said " 跨越你的 " :confused:

Kids have been at our gym for 2 years and can't do a proper cartwheel or front roll or hit the board with 2 feet. The 11+ beginner class is the worst... They all wanna "do flips" but you've got coaches who have never heard or used the word "SET" or know what "hurdle" means :eek:




Am I wrong?
I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!



Does anyone else have this problem at their gym?
 
I don't know if you're right or wrong but I had a good laugh with your spirited post and smileys!

In our gym, it seems like new rec coaches are usually matched with more experienced coaches for a few weeks and then each time the new coach is expected to spot a new skill in their group. I think, as a parent, I would be very upset spending $50-100 a month on a rec class and not have my child any closer to learning proper technique. Having said that, there seems to be a lot of kids in those classes (particularly the older ones) who really are there to just enjoy their time in the gym and don't expect to learn much. Their parents put them in for social or health reasons, not to become a gymnast. So, in that light your owner has a point. Still, I think it's important that coaches have the knowledge work to teach their students the basics (as you say - the terminology, basic form, etc)
 
Our head coach just went through all the coaches and "let go" 2 or 3 of them that didn't have the proper background and ability to coach. They were replaced by high school kids that have years of experience doing gymnastics but have never coached. So far they have been doing great coaching, much better than the other coaches were doing before..mostly because they aren't lazy and aren't willing to let the kids be lazy :)
 
hard to relate to. our "best" coaches are team coaches and we coach everything.:)
 
Well, some kids are not going to do a cartwheel in a couple weeks or months. I would consider my technical understanding of gymnastics to be relatively advanced compared to even many competitive coaches, and I have taught thousands of kids in rec classes. I still have kids who take a year to learn a cartwheel, and I mean to learn how to do the motion of where hands go and which foot lands first, not even straight legs passing through handstand cartwheel.

In 45 minutes to an hour once a week, there's only so much you can do. Do you teach rec classes? I teach hundreds of rec kids per season in addition to team. It's totally different. I teach kids that have motor delays, low tone, or other complicating factors, and kids who are technically meeting developmental milestones but still have more difficulty understanding certain directions. For a child who is completely average, I would say they will learn a cartwheel when they are about 7 or 8. There are developmental processes that are going on, and while team coaches are used to children who are precocious in this aspect, in general you aren't going to make things happen before they happen. What you CAN do is prepare the children so when they are ready they can do it better/faster...but that doesn't mean they'll do it SOONER. Maybe you do coach rec and work magic, but I don't know.

Because if the kids and parents are happy, and keep signing up, and kids aren't getting hurt, sounds like they aren't as useless as you seem to think. Not everyone wants to do competitive gymnastics. Happy kids and parents who sign up and do bad (by gymnastics standards) cartwheels sounds about like a successful rec program to me. Let's be realistic here. Most people aren't cut out for advanced gymnastics. Like I watched someone walk on their hands when I was 5 and successfully imitated it (I had never gone to a gymnastics class before). I can recall this very clearly because an adult said to me that was very hard and I would not be able to do it, and I just KNEW that I could, that I could feel in my body how to do it, and I did it. If I didn't have a lot of experience with rec gymnastics, I would think that was not unusual. Many people who were quite successful in gymnastics have similar experiences. They didn't LEARN a cartwheel or have it explained to them. They watched someone do a cartwheel, and successfully imitated it, probably at a very young age. Kids who are team track generally come in the gym doing cartwheels, or if they start really early, they're doing it about age 5 in my experience.

Add that to the fact that most "gymnastics people" have a certain personality - usually very intense and will work on something for a lengthy period independently, and this is not really what all people are like outside the world of gymnastics. Lots of people successfully transition over to doing rec, but I've met just as many GREAT rec TEACHERS who weren't high level gymnastics - but they are dynamic, fun, and compassionate people. On the other hand, some "gymnastics people" are truly baffled by the reality of average physical abilities. Or they simply aren't suited to work with young children. That's fine. Not everyone has to be everything. I think if the children are moving throughout the class and happy (pit is GREAT for building muscle, coordination, balance, and it's fun) then that is basically what the rec teacher needs to do.
 
Well I am familiar with those owners that merely care that the classes are full and $$ is coming in. Then of course, the owners and/or head coaches will moan and groan with how poor the quality of instruction is in these lower levels at the pyramid base and do nothing about it. Our HC at one gym used to rant and rave about this during gym meetings but no one picked up the ball about hands-on training (and honestly, it probably had to do with the owners not caring nor paying for those hours).

OTOH, what many owners fail to do is implement a training program before coaches take their own classes (besides some shadowing) and an on-going training program. We used to have weekly training once a week besides in gym clinics and sending our coaches to regional congress. After 2 gyms like this, I went to another gym where I basically shadowed the owner for a few days and took my own classes (which was fine since I had been coaching about 3 years by that time).

My last gym was horrendous about it considering that most of our coaches were high school and college kids besides the team staff. We actually hired one girl who was a freshmen in college who was a former L9 and let her go or transitioned her to rec after a few months. She wasn't cutting it but OTOH they did not attempt to train her at all besides a 1hr meeting once going over the compulsory FX/BB routines (that she already knew). She probably coached a bit at her old gym but who knows exactly what and how much.
 
Thank you Gym dog

What we don't have is REC coaches like you. Knowledgeable / Experienced / Motivated

I was talking about physically capable kids being given the opportunity to learn properly.

I do coach rec (twice a week) as time permits because the majority of my time (40+ hrs /wk) is spent with the competitive athletes. I play constructive games and set up rebounding drills. We have stick contests and climb the rope. They never just sit around. I make class fun (give high fives and all) and by the end of one session (sept - Jan) all my kids can properly Cartwheel / Roll / pullover. etc... Even the overweight or clumsy show some improvement.

My overall gripe was with the general complacency and lack of enthusiasm from the recreational coaches who find it completely acceptable to spend 20 min of an hour class on tramp doing "star jumps" and "doggy drops" while the other kids just play catch in the pit waiting for their turn. Sure the pit can be beneficial but the coaches aren't organizing races... The kids just build forts.

Then gym is doing well... and I understand that REC is the "bread & butter" and without the hundreds of little pishers running around we would not have a solid competitive program.

I don't believe my standards are too high.

You said:
"Because if the kids and parents are happy, and keep signing up, and kids aren't getting hurt, sounds like they aren't as useless as you seem to think."

Yes, some parents are happy.. and no kids aren't getting hurt (yet)

They're still useless!
Just because they don't screw up doesn't mean they do the job well.
 
Okay, well I guess it depends on the goals of the classes. Like many gyms, the gym I work at has a system of levels for school age children with certain skill milestones for each level, so a class at that level would work on the skills for that level. Just jumping on tramp and pit for the whole class simply isn't an option. My suggestion is that you implement the skills curriculum and then write a ten week series of lesson plans (doesn't have to be fancy, just a guideline of how to cover the skills). Perhaps leave a couple hours designated as a general "PE" type class for those who aren't interested in the strictly skill based format as this doesn't suit some kids. Unfortunately I find many programs completely ignore that and only have USAG skill based level progressions. This might actually be why some parents are happy at your gym to have the option of the looser format for older kids. They may do another sport and just want a fun social activity. Personally I think it's fine to have both but a lot of gyms don't.

Again, for skill based level class, it just wouldn't be an option to do tramp and pit most of the time. Someone needs to take the initiative to structure the skill format properly and create lesson plans. I can't even imagine a situation where it's just a free for all like that in a gymnastics gym.

You must be a great rec coach (and I'm not being sarcastic) but I do think it's extremely unusual that every kid can do a cartwheel and pullover in 12 weeks of 45 minute to one hour classes. I don't feel bad that every kid I teach in rec will not have all these skills at the end of the session. Given the constraints I'm working under, it simply isn't possible and I don't think I'm unmotivated or uneducated by any means. If it's an intermediate class, sure, they all have acceptable cartwheels and pullovers at the end, but that's because those are the skills they are supposed to have coming in (which is another story...).

Honestly, if I had a kid playing another sport, I would be glad to pay a reasonable/standard price for a class with 20 minutes of pit and tramp time that my child was actively enjoying. And this is coming from a gymnastics professional. I just think there's a time and place for everything. So it doesn't surprise me that people who don't really care about gymnastics would be pleased with these classes. If my child did no other structured activity and I was therefore looking for something with structure and discipline, then it would be another story. But many children nowadays already participate in structured music or other sports so maybe free play in the pit and supervised tramp time is a welcome respite. Safer than the playground and probably more fun.
 
We start training all our kids in our T&T program with the assumption that competition is one day possible & is a reasonable goal (T&T being much more laid back than WAG).

That doesn't mean they all pick up skills quickly. I've got 2 kids who started on the same day-one is doing backwalkovers, real roundoffs, decent spotted backhandsprings, most of the level 5 compulsory routines on trampoline...and a kid we're still trying to get to do a forward roll & a handstand & swivel hips.

Not all kids are equal in ability or drive. Loving it is way more important than rate of progress-especially since some of the things we ask them to do sound completely unreasonable when you think about the strength, flexibility, & timing involved.
 
I think it all depends on the gym's philosophy. If they just put folks out there to baby sit while the kids play you get one result. If you train your coaches correctly, you get another. As far as having to be a gymnast to know how to coach properly, some of the best coaches I know were never gymnasts. Some of the worst coaches I've met were gymnasts. Quite a few know how to do a skill but not how to teach it. They may have also been taught by one of those coaches that didn't know what they were doing back when they were gymnasts.
 
At our gym the rec classes are all planned and mostly based on circuits. No kid is on the tramp or in the pit the whole time. Classes are mainly based on two systems, Kiwi Gym Fun and Incentive Badges. Kiwi Gym Fun is more for younger kids and very basic skills like bunny hops, jumping off boxes various ways and bouncing balls, although the skills get harder as you go up the levels. Our classes are for 5-6 year olds, and 7-8 year olds. Incentive badges are more like what you would consider 'real' gymnastics skills like forward rolls, handstands, cartwheels, etc., the skills getting harder at each level. These classes are for younger kids who have already got through Kiwi Gym Fun badges, and older kids up to 14. There are also optional novice competitions and learning the routines is part of classes (we alternate badges and novice comp routines with the school terms).

With the gym fun classes you're lucky if you can call out a correction or suggestion as the kid races to the next station. You can't really drill these kids too much or it takes the fun out of it for them. With the incentive classes generally the kids are more motivated to get it right but you still can't drill them like you could with competitive kids.

I put both my kids into gym fun when they were little and they started getting the badges. Younger DD got invited to comp. Older DD got all gym fun badges and went up to incentive where she got a couple of badges. She could cartwheel but it really was rough (and the same for most of the others in her class - I was one of the judges for badge testing). She was never going to get it pretty, that's just the way it is for some kids. She decided to stop gym after that badge as she'd really gone as far as she could with it.
 
Quick background..

The owners are quite happy because the classes are full and the kids/parents are happy. (or don't know any better) They (the owners) believe the REC coaches are doing exactly what's expected of them and that it should be my job to "spot talent" and take the kids that show potential to the next level.

The problem is, when I get them... all they wanna do is play! I say "straddle your legs" they look at me like i just said " 跨越你的 " :confused:

If this is the problem, then this is what you should try and solve for. That doesn't necessarily mean changing the style of coaching for all the recreation classes (which the owners and parents seem happy). Instead, it might mean some sort of stricter developmental program for identified gymnasts who are moving to team.

Pickle was "identified" (I guess that's the right term) as having potential for team when she was four. After that, she stopped going to the "jump in the pit for twenty minutes" classes, and started going to classes where pointed toes and straight knees were emphasized. In fact, at first, she probably learned fewer skill then her peers in rec, but she learned correct form.

It was made clear that this was the path to team, so if you wanted to eventually compete, it wasn't going to be as much about star jumps on tramp.
 
Pickle was "identified" (I guess that's the right term) as having potential for team when she was four. After that, she stopped going to the "jump in the pit for twenty minutes" classes, and started going to classes where pointed toes and straight knees were emphasized. In fact, at first, she probably learned fewer skill then her peers in rec, but she learned correct form.

This whole two-track system is extraordinarily frustrating to me as the parent of a young beginner who wants to be on the team someday but is stuck in one of those "jump in the pit for twenty minutes" classes, at least for now. The coach is very good with the kids and has motivated my daughter to do some great things, but there is not much structure or consistency in what is taught. If there are going to be different classes taught in different styles for kids with different goals, then kids and parents should have some say in the track they're in, at least at the early levels. At our gym, the "talented" ones are pulled out before they have even mastered cartwheels, but the process for making decisions about who is "talented" is a complete mystery.

I much prefer the approach taken at my daughter's ballet school, where every child is assumed to be training seriously from the very beginning. Sure, they have fun too, but they all learn correct technique and the requirements for advancement are clearly spelled out. She doesn't love ballet the way she loves gymnastics, and will probably ask to give up ballet when the time requirements go up and it starts to conflict with other activities, but at least she will have the chance to make that decision for herself.
 
Pickle was "identified" (I guess that's the right term) as having potential for team when she was four. After that, she stopped going to the "jump in the pit for twenty minutes" classes, and started going to classes where pointed toes and straight knees were emphasized. In fact, at first, she probably learned fewer skill then her peers in rec, but she learned correct form.

This is what happened at our gym, too. DD was 'identified' at 6 after doing quite well in a couple of novice comps, and invited to a pre-comp class. They have since changed this class to a 'novice comp' class, but it essentially the same thing. You don't have to go up to competitive from there but you do train hard in this class. You get invited up to comp from there when the coach feels you are ready. DD went from 1 hour of rec to 1.5 hours of pre-comp and found this a harder transition than when she went up to comp and trained 1.5 hours twice a week because of the intensity of the training. There are a few kids who get talent-spotted and go straight up into a comp class or development track.

Re the decision-making process: It is usually invitation only, but I think if a parent thought their kid had potential to go competitive they could approach the gym and their kid would be tested. Last year the gym held a challenge day which was essentially a way of testing for talent-spotting. The rec coaches handed out invitations to the challenge day to kids they thought had potential. Not everyone is interested, I handed out a few flyers to some kids in my group I thought had potential but none of them went to the challenge day.
 
I much prefer the approach taken at my daughter's ballet school, where every child is assumed to be training seriously from the very beginning. Sure, they have fun too, but they all learn correct technique and the requirements for advancement are clearly spelled out. She doesn't love ballet the way she loves gymnastics, and will probably ask to give up ballet when the time requirements go up and it starts to conflict with other activities, but at least she will have the chance to make that decision for herself.

I think this is a question of the philosophy of the gym, but from what I've seen at Pickle's gym, most kids (particularly the young ones), don't want to be seriously training. They really do come to jump on the tramp and maybe learn to do a cartwheel. Had every rec class been taught like the developmental class, the gym would have lost a lot of students. A LOT.

Pickle actually went to two different dance studios before giving up ballet. The first was a "let's all love dance and movement" studio. And the second (after we moved) was a "let's train dancers" studio. She quit the "let's train dancers" studio after less than a year. It was kind of disappointing because she really did love dancing, but she had no interest in training to be a ballerina.

There's certainly a market for gyms that only expect young gymnasts to train seriously. But most gyms I've seen recognize that they can attact more students by having options suited to different needs.
 
i admit i was a useless rec coach 10 years ago
i coached team boys artistic and got asked to do advanced rec girls.(teens)
i was too tough and had a girl ask to be taken out of my group because it was too much hard work and correction and she was there for fun. i wasn't any good in that environment .


Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk
 
Pickle actually went to two different dance studios before giving up ballet. The first was a "let's all love dance and movement" studio. And the second (after we moved) was a "let's train dancers" studio. She quit the "let's train dancers" studio after less than a year. It was kind of disappointing because she really did love dancing, but she had no interest in training to be a ballerina.

There's certainly a market for gyms that only expect young gymnasts to train seriously. But most gyms I've seen recognize that they can attact more students by having options suited to different needs.

This makes sense to me after the first couple years, but why not give everyone serious instruction at the beginner levels? If done right, a beginner class in pretty much any sport can be rigorous and fun at the same time. I would bet that most beginners would actually find it more satisfying to make some real progress, even if that means taking some positively worded corrections and doing some conditioning. If multiple tracks are really necessary for beginners, all the kids should be made aware of the requirements for the developmental track and given the opportunity to try out.

I do agree that after the first few years, kids and their parents should be allowed to elect whether to pursue the sport competitively or recreationally. I just don't think that a kid's entire future in the sport should be set in stone via some mysterious selection process that happens when she is five years old. There are probably a lot of motivated and moderately talented kids out there who have the ability to work hard, have fun competing, be relatively successful, and convince their parents to pay lots of gym fees, even if they are not the kind of "naturals" who can teach themselves a cartwheel before they ever show up in the gym.
 
Mommyof1,
I agree with you so much that I wish there was a super like button. I think the rec class should have enough challenge so that those kids who do want to go further than rec have the chance to gain some skills and some strength so that maybe they can be picked later particularly when a lot of the kids might be picked earlier. And, for those that don't want to go further, I think they do like to make some real progress. I'm not saying that the rec class needs to turn into major conditioning, etc. But kids get so excited when they get something, whatever their goal in the sport is. It's also kind of fun for us parents to see it too even if it's not our kid who gets it. When you sit there watching and you see some kid who gets a skill that she/he didn't have before and you see the excitement, it's priceless. I think most parents, too want to have more than a babysitting session and a mock class. The instructors I value the most are the ones that I can tell care the most about whether the kids get skills or not. This doesn't mean they don't have fun classes - they do and they give "high fives," or other rewards (stickers, filling out a chart, etc) for accomplishments.
 
But kids get so excited when they get something, whatever their goal in the sport is. It's also kind of fun for us parents to see it too even if it's not our kid who gets it. When you sit there watching and you see some kid who gets a skill that she/he didn't have before and you see the excitement, it's priceless.

Yes! Isn't this one of the big reasons why we all spend time and money taking our kids to gymnastics? There was a girl in my daughter's class who desperately wanted to climb the rope all the way to the ceiling. Every week, all the parents would cheer as she got a little closer to the top. When she finally made it, everyone in the stands was practically jumping up and down. It made my day, and it wasn't even my kid.
 

DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members see FEWER ads

Gymnaverse :: Recent Activity

College Gym News

Such a cool transition! 🤩

2024 Gymnastics For All GymFest

Back