Gymnastics: Current Issues in Gymnast Training

Lack of Experienced Qualified Coaches

The consensus on the top problems in youth sports and gymnastics would at least include the following list. In gymnastics, the lack of qualified coaches is perhaps the biggest problem. The sport is growing at a rapid rate and there were not enough coaches (of any experience level) before.

No Place for Coaches to Learn

There are many reasons for this and a number of deficiencies in the coaching pool. The largest problems is that there is no place for anyone who is interested to go to learn how to coach correctly. There is no college, University, trade school or even central source of information where you can go

to learn how to coach and the higher the level you aspire to coach, the less information and resources there are.

Bad Coaching Habits and Practicesare Passed On

Coaches in this country learned how to coach either from how they were coached themselves or by mimicking another coach in the gym. A once annual coaches’ congress realistically does little to improve the situation. Add in the lack of useful informational resources and coaches are basically on their own.

This is the problem we have chosen to attack ourselves with our web site and products.

Developmentally Inappropriate Training

Linked to this situation and problem is the developmentally inappropriate coaching style of many coaches in our sport. Lack of knowledge about training loads and hours in the gym and the amount of pressure to place on very young gymnasts is far too common in our sport.

Parents and Coaches Want Medals, Gymnasts Want to Learn and Have Fun

The next major problem in the sport is the overemphasis on winning, in actuality more by coaches and parents, than by gymnasts themselves. Parents evaluate the sport by the competitive success (read that -count the medals) their child. Coaches match that and then top it with an emphasis on how much control they have over their team and macho competition about which coach can teach the hardest skill in the shortest amount of time instead of building a correct basis for long-term development.

No Fun Allowed – Get Out

Coaches are often all too willing to sacrifice the natural fun of the sport in their ego drive toward reaching their own personal goals. Some even take the position that gymnasts on team should not be having any fun at all because training in gymnastics requires nothing but serious training. Our advice in this situation – find a new coach – or if that is an impossibility, learn to ignore that attitude in them.

The Most Talented Are Burned Out First

We are talking about burn-out. And unfortunately, it often happens first to the most talented of our gymnasts. Coaches get a young talent in their gym and proceed to push them too far, too fast in terms of too many hours in the gym, too much unnecessary pressure too soon and robbing of the fun of the sport. The gymnasts are driven out of the sport before they are old enough to compete interantionally.

Coaches Burn Before They Learn

By the time coaches realize their mistake, they are many years and many burned out gymnasts into their career. The problem seems to have resurfaced with a vengeance lately. One generation of coaches learned their lesson a decade ago, but without anywhere to learn from the mistakes of others, the new generation of coaches is busily burning out gymnasts of their own.

Learning High Level Skills is Not the Problem

Some have misunderstood our position in this regard. We do not advocate restricting the learning speed of gymnasts and decreasing the quality and level of skills they are capable of learning. We simply believe young and very young gymnasts should have limited practice hours and competitive pressure. We still want them in the gym when they are 16 and finally old enough to compete internationally.

Too Much Pressure or Too Little Support

The next problem is almost a conundrum (an enigma, a puzzle). On the one hand, many parents put far too much parental pressure on athletes, especially in light of the fact that some coaches are putting too much pressure on the very same gymnasts themselves. On the other hand, some gymnasts suffer from a lack of attention and support from their parents.

Education is the Solution

The solution for all of the above problems is education – education for parents and coaches.