management of gymnastics clubs

In Canada most gyms are operated by an elected Board of Directors.

In some clubs, Boards delegate operations to a “Business Manager” or “General Manager” or even a “Head Coach”. Ideally there is no confusion over who is responsible to make any given decision.

BG-dilbert.gifUnfortunately, there are often serious problems with this management structure. I can name dozens of coaches who quit clubs not because of what was happening with athletes, but due to unhappiness with Board decisions.

I believe the Canadian model is doomed to failure, long-term:

» Board members are too transient, resigning when their child drops out of gym

» Board members first loyalty is to their child, as it should be

» Board members are often not the most qualified people to make decisions, but they have the authority to make decisions

Personally, I have worked with some wonderful Boards and have never had a major conflict in over 25-years. I tried hard to make it work with each Board of Directors.

But many clubs do have serious problems sooner or later.

What can we do?

I feel we need to move to an ownership model, the norm in the USA. The full-time coaches should be part owners in the gym as a business. Decisions are made by the owners. Parents are customers that can choose to buy in to the service, or not.

A handful of clubs in Canada are structured this way, with full or part ownership by coaches. Champions in Edmonton, Gymtastics in Calgary, Gymnastics Adventure in Regina to name a few.

I believe clubs owned by coaches will be more stable, long-term. Coaches who have a financial stake in the club will be more committed.

Parents need not feel conflicted between what is best for their child, and what is best for the club. They should do what is best for the gymnast.

If I am right the change in management model is inevitable. It will not be easy. It will take time.

I recall the day one club (in financial trouble) offered to sell me the assets and liabilities for one dollar. Perhaps I should have accepted.

related posts:

“PARENTnoid” coaches

Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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