why do Gymnastics?

If you’re not a gymnast, you may never understand.

Wendy Bruce Martin:

Many can not understand why a child wants to be in a gym 25 hours a week. Why they choose to swing bars with rips, tumble with sprained ankles, or get up off the floor after they have crashed on the beam and try their skill again and again without blinking an eye.

They do it because they love the challenge. When others would complain that something is too hard and shy away, they lean into the challenge. When others are fearful and want to stop, they find a way to knock down the fear and walk over it. They do it to feel pride, satisfaction, appreciation, accomplishment; they do it to feel alive. …

It’s the Challenge

Team Building for coaches

by Rick McCharles

“Team Building” normally refers to athletes.

But in this post I talk about building team spirit with the coaches in your gym or camp.

It evolved out of a Gymnastics Alberta retreat workshop with 40 gym coaches brain-storming these topics:

Coaching as FUN
Coaches as PEOPLE
Coaching as WORK


Coaching as FUN:

  • goal is for coaches to feel “part of the team” (camaraderie)
  • say “thank-you” to coaches
  • acknowledge when a coach does a good job
  • club should provide in-gym uniform — but let coaches decide what that uniform will be
  • ideas: tank top throw-over in summer, fleece in winter
  • give promo t-shirts for coaches
  • encourage coaches to attend Adult Rec / Fitness class after coaching
  • team-building events for coaches: Christmas party, barbecue, regular coach socials, coffee meetings, etc.
  • memory wall – funny things that happened in the gym are posted by coaches (things kids said, thank-you notes to coaches from kids and parents, etc.)
  • theme days for kids and coaches: crazy hair day, etc.
  • choreographed club warm-up that can be led by any coach

Coaches as PEOPLE:

  • recognize coaches as “individuals” with different strengths and weaknesses
  • assign as much responsibility as possible
  • coach must find their own “sub” coach when away
  • gift from club to coaches are much appreciated: spa treatment, massage gift certificate, etc.
  • performance reviews with follow-up
  • check on coaches “pet peeves” – e.g. rotations, groupings, time on equipment. Answer those concerns.
  • supervisor meets regularly with individual coaches


  • formal & informal communication are both important
  • supervisor needs to be available to talk to coaches
  • coach needs to be available to talk to parents. Follow the kids out of the gym at the end of the class to be available to chat.
  • paid regular coaching meetings
  • email memos to coaches and post those memos for coaches who did not check email
  • up-to-date memo board (with prize for the coach who reads the memo first as an incentive to read the memos!)
  • clear procedure (chain of command) for parent complaints
  • social for coaches with parent Board of Directors
  • keep in touch with former coaches and older gymnasts – invite alumni back on a regular basis
  • up-to-date “sub phone list”. Note on the list which days the coach might be available for subbing.

Coaching as WORK:

  • contracts (full-time) and letters of agreement (part-time) are essential
  • supervisors must back their coaches in public. Any problems dealt with privately and confidentially.
  • clubs need budget for “professional development” for all coaches in-gym and outside the gym
  • fair treatment for employees. No special treatment for “friends” of the boss.
  • recognition and reward for long-term coaches
  • reasonable remuneration
  • reward good work
  • reward very good attendance by coaches
  • no “rules”, only expectations for coaches
  • coaches willing to “sub” should be rewarded better; e.g. point system for sub hours, small gift for sub, etc.
  • reward coaches who do little extras: clean-up gym, volunteer at events, etc.
  • pay at least 50% of cost of professional development events
  • wage increments for performance
  • wage increments for coaches willing to do more hours / week
  • recruit coaches from within the club as much as possible
  • CIT (coach in training) program is important

Coaches should reflect on the psychological atmosphere at the gym.

How can it be made a happier, more magical place for gymnasts and coaches?

Money in the budget helps a lot. But there are many things we can do to build coaching team spirit which does not cost a penny.

Gym Momentum Team Building
Gym Momentum Team Building

parenting a young athlete

Rachel Doherty posted an excellent article. It includes some tough facts. And this interesting graphic.


1. Having an athlete is expensive

2. Sport is a selfish beast

5. There are far more hard days than podium moments

9. It has to be their dream, not yours

10 things I’ve learned about parenting a young athlete

Click through to read the rest.

Happy Gym Mom day

Celebrate the unpaid chauffeurs today! 🙂


“I’d absolutely not be where I am without my mom – from the hundreds of thousands of trips to and from the gym, to enabling me to get to the competitions; from wiping my tears and encouraging me, whether for an exam or for sports… she’s always been there for me and been my strength.”

Olympic Champion Rosie MacLennan and her Mom
Olympic Champion Rosie MacLennan and her Mom

Gym Mom of the year

Mary Lou Retton 🙂

If you want to see Mary Lou Retton in person on an average weekend in 2016, you can find her in the same place you might have found her in 1984: at a gymnastics meet. Still under 5 feet tall, same megawatt smile, slightly updated haircut.

But, of course, the 1984 Olympic all-around gymnastics champion is not doing flips on the balance beam anymore. And after retiring from competition, she didn’t take the same routes as other gymnastics superstars–she didn’t take up coaching like 1992 Olympian Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, try her hand at judging like 2008 Olympian Chellsie Memmel or have a career as a commentator like 2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin.

Retton is just cheering, enjoying life in the stands as the mother of four daughters, all of whom are involved in gymnastics. …

NBC Olympics

related – Watch How Olympic Gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles Celebrate Mother’s Day

Marisa Dick press conference

Marisa and her mother flew to Trinidad from Rio to face the press.

… “I am really proud that T&T will be represented in the Olympics whether it’s myself or Thema. Gymnastics is a growing sport in T&T and the Olympics is the biggest event in sport. For T&T to be represented in the Olympics is just really exciting,” she said.

press conference
press conference

On all the negative attention gymnastics has been getting in the media Dick added: “This is tough, it gets in your head. You have to focus on what is important …

She said Williams has supported her. “Yes she supported me in Rio and I supported her after Worlds. I was heartbroken that I would not be the one going to the Olympics but I was so supportive of her because it’s T&T that will be going to the Olympics it’s not myself or Thema it’s T&T. …


Thema flew to Trinidad, as well. She has many supporters who’d like to see her reinstated as the Olympian for T&T. That’s impossible, however. If Marisa is unable to compete for any reason that spot will go to another nation.


via @GymCastic