ethics – British Child Protection Policy

British-Child-protection.jpgGymnastics is a youth sport so coaches need protect the child participants.

Of the many excellent policy documents I’ve seen, the British Gymnastics version is the best. Many of the North American versions focus on liability and harassment — not “child protection”.

You can download a .pdf version from British Gymnastics.

That same page has several other policy documents including Child Protection Club Management Guidelines.

a visit with the Utah Utes

utes.jpgA 10-year-old gymnast at Gymnastics Revolution reports on her trip to watch University of Utah compete. Ute Kristen Riffanacht is a former team-mate at the same gym.

During the march in, there were flares and smoke. The floor around the sides had flashing lights, and it was so LOUD! There was a band playing, and an announcer. It was exciting … 10,000 people (mostly cheering on Utah) … There was even a mascot (Swoop) going around to the gymnasts and fooling around with the crowd. I’ve never seen anything like it!

Article posted on the Gymnastics Revolution website by Brian Bakalar.

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

gymnastics coach – Christopher Sommer

I took a boys team to the Peter Vidmar competition in Los Angeles in 2004. (photos)

Christopher Sommer’s gymnasts from Desert Devils, Mesa AZ were the most impressive I saw at the meet. I immediately introduced myself and congratulated his athletes.

As a coach, Sommers emphasizes conditioning. It showed in his athletes!

Check the website for a wealth of conditioning articles.

A good starting point is this article:

Building an Olympic Body through Bodyweight Conditioning, by Christopher Sommer


Joe Eigo

Eigo.jpgToronto gymnastics coach Gary Legault has discovered more than his fair share of talent.

One of the best was Joe Eigo. Eigo is now one of Jackie Chan’s stuntmen and worked as an Orc in Lord of the Rings.

Eigo combines gymnastics, martial arts — and often puts it on the street. This guy is fit.

There are plenty of Joe Eigo video clips on YouTube. Or you could check Eigo’s home page for the latest news.

Seems Eigo is super-fueled by a special Tahitian drink called Noni.