My daughter is Level 3 and I don’t feel they do enough competitions. I’ve asked if their team could have more competitions in the season, and the response was no. Besides finding a new gym, is there a way to enter meets without the gymnastics team or coach?
There are pros to a longer competition season as well as cons. But when it comes to competing without your coach, there are only cons.
Let’s GAB about the purpose of meet season and your options . . .
Goals of Competition Season
Most parents have similar hopes and goals for their athletes. Jim Thompson of the Positive Coaching Alliance conducts hundreds of sports parent workshops and found the most common reasons parents encourage children to participate in sports include: physical fitness, having fun, making friends, increased self-confidence, and learning life lessons.
The beauty of competition season is that if offers our athletes all of the above benefits!
A gymnast gains self-confidence as she performs individually, conquers a fear or accomplishes a goal.
Athletes learn that mistakes are part of life, disappointments can be overcome, and that effort and persistence are more important that perfection.
Competing with a team is fun, enhances friendships, encourages feelings of unity and support for others.
And of course competitions offer a stage for athletes to show-off hard work, measure improvement, and gain experience in handling nerves. I could on, but I’ll save it for another post.
The point is, with the right perspective competitions can assist in the growth of happy, healthy, high-achieving athletes. Who doesn’t want more of that? While the wrong focus can lead to less than desirable results.
Determine your hopes for your child’s competition experience. Is your desire for more competitions tied to the big picture? Are competitions the only way to reap the benefits? I don’t know your specific situation so the answer is up to you. The important thing is to clarify your why.
Cons of competing without a coach
Let’s address the need for a coach during competitions season.
First, coaches provide safety. Gymnastics requires proper equipment settings, safety spots, and knowledgable advice to ensure the safety of the athlete.
Second, coaches provide confidence and direction. A high-five, smile, or “you can do it” bring comfort to the athlete. Technical guidance from coaches also ensure a focused performance.
Third, removing the coach sends a message of distrust. This can be detrimental to your child’s confidence and consequently her progress. If your child believes her coach is an unimportant part of the sports experience, the athlete’s respect for her coach and feelings of security will also be lost.
Committing to a program
The best advice I can offer is to find a program that shares in your “Big Picture” goals and let the program worry about the competition details. If you like the philosophies and teaching style at your current gym, stand by their decision.
That doesn’t mean remove yourself completely, parents play an important role! If you feel like the quantity of meets is lacking, find ways to contribute to the quality.
For tips on how to contribute to quality competition experiences I recommend the following two books:
Of course if your concerns are with your child’s safety or emotional well-being, address these with your coach.
Lastly, it’s important to nurture a lifelong love for athletics. Over 70% of all athletes quit their sport by the age of 13. Although improvement and progress are always desirable, level 3 is just the beginning of what you hope is a marathon and not a sprint.
All my best,