MAKENNA’S 5 TIPS FOR GYM-RAT PARENTING

Jessie shared some FANTASTIC tips for gym parents earlier this week! I’d like to “ditto” all of her great advice and add a few of my own to the list to round out a nice top 10 from Gym Gab. Before I begin, let me give a pat on the back to all gymnastics parents; your job is not easy!Most of you agreed to this job because of an unconditional love for your child, and his/her undying love for the sport. I wish you all the best and hope these words of wisdom provide insight into the magnitude of your important role.

1. Empower Your Gymnast

If a gymnast is frustrated, dealing with fear, or lacking motivation, all too often we want to fix the problem for them. Might I suggest providing inspiration instead of a solution.

LISTEN to your gymnast’s thoughts and feelings, and not instruct or interrogate. Try open-ended questions such as “What was your favorite thing about gymnastics today?” or “You look a little down, what are you feeling?”

VALIDATE feelings without blame or codling. If a gymnast has fear, frustration, injury or disappointment – recognize her struggles, but do not pamper or compound the “problem”.

REDIRECT perspective if a child is having negative feelings/views or REINFORCE when the child is communicating positive experiences.

EMPOWER your gymnast by allowing her to create her own solution. Ask questions rather than give answers – this encourages her to do the thinking and teaches her to believe in her abilities.

2. Be a Cheerleader

“A Lot of people have gone farther than they thought they could because some else thought they could.” – Zig Zagler. It is important for gymnasts to know that they have parents  supporting them on the good days as well as the bad.

The Do’s:
DO comment on the POSITIVE. (See Jessie’s 5 TIPS)
DO cheer on your gymnast and her teammates (this is not golf . . .  yell till you’re horse)!
DO share your unconditional love.

The Don’ts:
DO NOT analyze scores, routines and other gymnasts.
DO NOT impose your ambitions, goals, dreams or intensity upon your son or daughter . . . allow for their own dreams/desires.

3. Make your Home (& Car) a Coach-Free Zone

When a child leaves the gym, they need to be able to turn back into a daughter/son. Inappropriate “parent-coaching” includes:

INTERROGATION – “Why aren’t you making your kip, yet?”
CORRECTIONS – “Try twisting earlier!”
HOME-WORK – “You have to do 100 push-up’s before bed.”
SPOTTING – Spotting your gymnast without proper training and equipment is dangerous, yikes!

Fear, burn-out, confusion, and injury can be a result of any and all the above.
(See Jessie’s 5 TIPS)

4. Communicate with the Coach when Necessary

Finding a proper communications strategy with your child’s coach is important. Too much communication can be burdensome on coaches, but relying on others for information can also be problematic. Some things to think about . . .

(1) If your question/concern is not child-specific you may be able to find information without contacting the coach directly. Try communicating with the gym’s office. Check the gym’s website and paper work. Review your emails.

(2) Each coach has a different preferred means for communication: emails, texting, voice mails, scheduled meetings, etc. Ask your child’s coach when and how is best to communicate with them.

(3) If you have child/program-specific concerns address them with the coach or program director before taking it to the stands.

(4) Communicate for your child only when the child is unable to communicate for themselves.

(5) If your child is unhappy or not wanting to come to gym, bring it to your coach’s attention so that a positive change can be made.

5. Enjoy the Ride

Figuratively speaking . . . enjoy the ride. If you’re in it for the long haul, become a fan of the sport! Try watching televised gymnastics events with your lil’ one; they are very inspiring. It’s always more fun to watch when you know the athletes competing. For bio’s and fun facts about National Team members, NCAA teams and up and coming athletes visit Gymnastike.

Literally speaking . . . enjoy the ride. As your child commits more hours and days to the gym, you may feel as if you are loosing out. The commute to and from the gym is a golden opportunity for bonding. To ensure quality time keep the phones, iPods, dvd player, tablets, etc. out of use. Be bold and turn off the radio (or turn it up and sing with your child at the top of your lungs)!

For more tips check out: JESSIE’S 5 TIPS BETTER FOR GYM-RAT PARENTING

3 Responses to “MAKENNA’S 5 TIPS FOR GYM-RAT PARENTING”

  1. Jon Smith

    Hi. Thank you for writing this blog. I really enjoy reading it. I’m looking for a suggestion here. My daughter, just turned 6, is the kid that just seems to not be able to get enough gymnastics. She just got moved to the level 3 team and for the summer will be spending 11 hrs a week training. My dilemma is, while I’m with you on not wanting to do any sort of coaching at home, it’s very difficult when all she wants me to do is go down to the basement and practice, practice, and practice more. Should I just be a spotter? Should I just watch? Thanks for the guidance.

    Reply
    • Gym Gab

      It sounds like your daughter loves gymnastics and wants you to be a part of the excitement. I have a similar situation with my daughter . . . she insists I sit on the couch while she “practices” rather than watch from the kitchen sink or while doing other chores. What my daughter is seeking is my undivided attention, encouragement and support. What better way to strengthen our the parent-gymnast relationship than to watch and fulfill these needs, although I do have to find time to do the dishes now and then. :)

      Sometimes gymnasts ask their parents to spot or coach because they want them to be more engaged. Sometimes the child asks just because they are excited about a particular skill. Although it may be hard to resist, especially if your child is asking, leave the spotting and detailed corrections and assignments for the coaches. If your gymnast wants you to play a more active part in their at-home practice here are some ideas: time how long they can hold a handstand, have a sit-up contest, let them teach you their warm-up, record them performing their floor routine, etc.

      Hope this helps and answers your question – a great question by the way!

      Reply
      • Jon Smith

        Thank you so much for your guidance. Summer is over and the real season has started. She can’t wait to get her team leotard and warm up suit :). Right now all she knows is practice, practice, and more practice. We can’t wait to see how she does when the meets start. We’re taking your advice and trying to enjoy the ride.

        Reply

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