“win the workout”

Wayne Goldsmith overstates as always. But he’s correct on this point:

… a workout which engages the heart and mind of every athlete so that all activities are performed with passion, precision and perfection is a great workout. …

Engagement can be defined as the ability of a coach to create a performance environment where every athlete wants to give more than can reasonably be expected.

Motivation is the desire: the fire that drives an athlete towards a goal or achievement.

So, the key to great coaching is not sports science and it’s not actually coaching per se: it’s providing athletes with the environment and opportunity to express their engagement and motivation through their training: through the way they complete their workouts. …

It’s not the workout that wins…you have to win the workout.

Contests, games and short term objectives can make training more motivating.

Kelsey Arnold

Gymnastics “private lessons”

In general I’m not a fan of privates.

Scheduled group training should be enough to meet the individual goals.

But I have to admit — privates work. When parents & kids are motivated to add an expensive additional lesson to the regular training week, they often succeed.

Chalk Bucket has a thread on the pros and cons of privates.

An alternative is to offer an additional workout for ALL gymnasts in a given group. Those who want extra can sign-up as desired.

Jim Holt’s letter to the USAG Board

Jim Holt posted An Open Letter to the Gymnastics Community of America on March 31, 2017.

And followed up with a more specific missive to the USAG Board on April 11th:

The Board must go public with an apology.

“USA Gymnastics is profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering the victims of child abuse in our sport have suffered, and deeply apologize for whatever organizational shortcomings have led us to these circumstances. USAG vows that this will be rectified and that never again can this happen on our watch.”

A new CEO must be identified, hired, and installed with all urgent deliberateness. …

USAG needs to identify what it stands for. …

USAG must make a REAL commitment to service, not just corporate blather! …


An Open Letter to the USAG Board of Directors

Click through for the details. A good read.

crisis management at the Gym Club

Tony Retrosi posted some tips:

In my experience, those who overcome the gym’s inevitable crises have three basic principles in place.

  • First, they have a strong and varied network of trusted advisors.
  • Second, they avoid panic and instead break the necessary responses down into component parts.
  • Third, they maintain flexibility, knowing that even the best plans are going to run off the rails.


what NEXT for USA Gymnastics?

Steve Penny resigned. Yet it seems nothing has changed at USAG.

A long time coach weighs in on USAG structure, governance and core function.

Jim Holt:

Dear colleagues and friends,

The turmoil in which USA Gymnastics is currently embroiled is not exclusively the ongoing controversies stemming from sexual abuse. It is a result of a lack of true leadership and systemic failure as a consequence of historic actions based on flawed premises. …

It would, however, be a great mistake to suggest that this is simply the failure of specific individuals. The real problems lay in USA Gymnastics’ structure, its concept of governance, and what the organization perceives as its core business function …

An Open Letter to the Gymnastics Community of America

Competitive international results are good. That’s not the problem for USA Gymnastics. Click through to read specifics on what could be improved system wide.

on “Fear of Failure”

Coaches should review this article with their athletes.

Sport Psychologist Rebecca Smith posted an excellent, detailed breakdown of ways to overcome fear of failure.

Examples of Controllables:

Examples of Let-go-ables:
Playing time/competition order
Travel days
Academic demands

3 Steps to Overcome Fear of Failure

via Tony Smith

a successful conditioning program

by site editor Rick McCharles

The newly arrived Head Coach in a gym with over 100 competitive girls, I needed to organize a very adaptable conditioning program.

We had large numbers. We had kids with vastly different training hours. We had too few coaches to directly supervise every child.

Here’s what we did:

First half hour of training for every girl was warm-up stretching, games and “floor complex”. These were line drills adjusted to the specific needs of each ability level. Emphasis was on “form” and body position.


The second half hour was conditioning: either Partner or Individual program. Each gymnast had both programs back-to-back in a plastic sheet along with a small golf pencil to make revisions. Kids tried to finish all exercises within 30min.

specific conditioning program
specific conditioning program

Actually, both the Partner sheet and the Individual sheet had 2 programs: Medium intensity and Hard intensity. If the gymnast had training the following day, they did the Medium intensity. If no training the next day, then the Hard intensity.

Once gymnasts had their sheets, the onus was on them to do the work. The coaches stayed “free” to observe and step-in when necessary. (Coaches were steadily busy.)

At first we feared the girls would “cheat” or “slack off”. Not so. Within a couple of weeks everyone was “into it”.  The psychology of the gym was excellent. It developed intrinsic motivation.

The girls were asked to do each exercise “to exhaustion”. Until their muscles were shaking. We did not assign specific numbers of repetitions though the girls were encouraged to remember their personal records and try to beat them.


We changed both programs once a month. The individual training plan changed on the 1st of the month, the Partner plan on the 15th.

We kept about 50% of the exercises and changed the rest to something more challenging. By the end of the year girls were doing better ring strength than many of the boys!

sample – individual-conditioning (PDF)