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big gym or small gym?

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Jun 13, 2007
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Mac, You made good points about small and large gyms. And are completly correct about the coaches needing to have the correct training, and their personality needs to fit with the gymnast and the parent. That was kind of what I was trying to say only you were much more clear:eek::eek:. Good job getting those points out there.:applause:
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I work at a fairly small gym, and I'd much rather coach at a small gym than a large one.

Also, having seen how the owner and the coaches handle things, I'd probably rather be a parent at a small gym than a large one. The reason is that if you have a question, a complaint, a concern, anything, the owner is far more likely to listen and take you seriously at a small gym, simply because each person is a larger chunk of the clientelle. Almost any time a parent comes to my gym's owner with a complaint or a concern, she brings it up specifically at the next coaches' meeting so we can discuss how to address it. And sometimes, sure, we reach the conclusion that we should ignore the complaint, but the fact is that we always discuss it. I suspect this would not be the case at a large gym, where each kid represents a much smaller portion of the gym's business.

That said, Mac is indeed correct in saying that the philosophy of a gym is far more important than the size.

I would like to comment, however on what he was saying about how experienced the coaches are; often coaches who haven't been doing it as long are more enthusiastic, and thus more effective, than those who have been doing it for several decades.

The single worst coach I know of has been coaching for around 20 years. Having long since convinced herself that she knows everything, she has effectively made herself unable to learn anything new about the sport for many years, and that (among other things) has made her extremely inneffective as a coach.

Compare that with one of the coaches I work with now, who was never a gymnast and has only been coaching for four years. I consider him to be among the best coaches in the state.

To be sure, a brand new coach will not be as effective as one who has been coaching for a couple of years, but I have seen nothing that suggests to me that coaches with 15 or more years of experience are universally better than coaches with three or four years of experience.
 

Mac

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Mar 7, 2007
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Geoffrey, years of service is not always the same as experience. A coach who doesn't expand their knowledge--by working under even better coaches, by studying, by seminars, etc--may have a lot of years but limited experience. I've known coaches with dozen plus years coaching who couldn't spot double backs, couldn't teach a good technical giant, or an acro series on beam. Essentially they max out as an Level 4 or 5 skill coach. And I've known young, enthusiastic learners who soak in everything and become very capable in a short time.

Maybe we can use the word "proficiency" instead of "experience", k?
 

Blackie6

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Mar 1, 2007
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I don't think I can do an edit, but I did want to add to my post. When I stated the parents were cruel, I meant the parents of the 7 yr old. I didn't know there was more parts to the CNN story I thought it was just the one segment. I watched the rest this morning and at the end my 6 yr old gymnast walked up to the computer and said "mommy, why is that girl crying?" refering to update on Ashley breaking her other foot. I know it's hard to tell a very physically active child "no" but as a parent of a young child how could those parents continue to allow her to keep up that pace? BTW, I told my daughter sometimes you have to allow injuries to heal no matter how much you like doing gymnastics.

Some of the other gymnasts parents were not as bad IMHO. While I am not in their shoes with a "elite" daughter so it's hard for me to comment on something I know nothing about.... I am sure that they have gotten sucked into the dream over the years and can't help but feel like they are supporting their daughter until they reach the olympics. At Elite status I would think that the dream seems much more closer having made it that far & so that might make them a little more "pushy" with their girls. Let's face it, gymnastics is very expensive. At age 6 I am already spending200+ per month for level 4 and I am sure it will only get more expensive as they get older. These parents have been sacrificing for years and I am sure they are saying "hey, you made it this far....you are so close...keep going". I started my DD in gymnastics because she needed PT (has tight muscles on one side of her body) never thinking she would go onto a team so if she quits today I would never feel like I wasted money on her, LOL, it was all good. But if it ever got down to making her work-out on broken bones I would like to have my head examined. NEVER.

Thank you so much for posting that CNN show!
 
Feb 15, 2007
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"Experience counts for a lot. I don't want inexperienced coaches learning via my child. It's not fair to her. If they don't teach things properly, your child will pay a heavy price though limited accomplishment, and through a painful process of re-learning proper technique if she ever moves to another gym.

Gymnastics is a sport that builds off of strong fundamentals. If good technique is not learned at the early levels, the child will find it difficult or impossible to learn higher level skills properly. It's always sad to see a promising child whose accomplishments were limited by ineffective coaching."


This reiterates exactly what I was trying to say. :D
 

mtbmom

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Feb 28, 2008
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But if it ever got down to making her work-out on broken bones I would like to have my head examined. NEVER.

Thank you so much for posting that CNN show!
Please keep in mind, that CNN video is pretty old and highly dramatized. As for Ashley, I put the blame on the parents. They chose to have the child's ankles x-rayed AFTER TOPS. They also noticed increasing swelling on the way, told her to "suck it up!" and sent her in to compete. Gymnasts often train with injuries resting the injured part. I suspect that her fractures were stress fractures or growth plate fractures. Thus the kids ability to bear weight. A serious fracture, but not nec. painful enough for you to think that it is serious. However, if my kid had a sore ankle, that didn't improve quickly or had swelling. I'd get it X-ray'd before the competition, not after. But that's just me with much humbler dreams than the Olympics. :)

Parkettes is not the horrid place that you think it is.
 

gymmomntc2e6

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Aug 25, 2007
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We are at a small gym and have never been at another so, I have nothing to compare dd's experience to. I do know that the owner/coach LOVES all the kids (team and rec) and does everything she can to ensure that they are learning, learning correctly and having a good time too.

All of the girls feel special and she does a lot of things to make them feel that way. We recently added a few gymnasts from other gyms and they seem to be fitting in quickly and happy. I have not met the parents so I do not know if it was a larger gym, more competitive etc.

I am happy being at a small gym. I like the 'family' atmosphere of the parents. We have only about 20 girls total on team. We have competed against gyms with that many on a single level. Obviously this gives them a better chance for team trophy. I am not expecting an olympic athlete so I don't think I need a gym that would produce one. I would support dd if that is what she wanted. But honestly I think she just wants to swing off stuff and have fun.
 

jls1969

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Sep 27, 2007
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I don't know how to quote..but I will try and remember what was said. The person who talked about homeschooling and going to school...Nastia does go to school, but it is only for 2 1/2 hours per day. She trains for 4 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon, 4 hours on Friday morning and none Friday afternoon and then varied hours on Saturday.

I am also in agreement on pushing a very young child. We are just now getting ready to make the switch to training twice a day. My dd just turned 11 and I feel like she made the decision more than we did. I think when you are on that elite path...the decision needs to come from the child within what the parents deem okay. Our daughter wantes to be on an elite path, but she knows the Olympics is a far off dream...she is shooting for college. I think she has the talent, but am not sure about the mentality for elite gymnastics and I think it takes both of those among several other things to make it. I did think the Parkettes piece was a little concerning, but I still am not completely sure if the older girls wanted to be there or if their parents made them be there. If they really wanted to quit, they should have felt like they could of. I do not know anything about the specifics, maybe they were there by their own choice. If so, then they were choosing to return to the environment. Sometimes I am amazed that my dd wants to go back to gym after some practices...but it just fires her up to do it better the next time. Some kids are okay and others are not.

And as far as the small gym vs. big gym..we did make the switch from a small nurturing environment to a big elite situation. Our daughter was getting frustrated at the old gym b/c she just wanted to be better. Once we moved--she totally loved gym again. It was the right move for us, but not necessarily for everyone. I think it is important to look at the child and her personality and balance that with the coach, his/her personality and quality of the coaching. Talking to the parents is fine---but sometimes I find that some can be a bit hyper competitive and might not offer the whole truth. Instincts are usually pretty good...pop in to the other gym and see a practice, how the kids are, what the coaching is like and some of the parents who are there. Much can be revealed in this type of observation.

I thought this was a great thread...it really addresses some of the "non-fun" sides of gymnastics and these are often the questions we all have and don't really know where to go with them. I loved reading all of the posts and I hope mine was not offensive in any way. :)
 

Aussie_coach

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I think it is important to remember when you look around at all the 6 year olds in a gym, that 99 out of 100 will not even be involved in the sport in any way in 10 years. Only a few hundred girls will reach the high levels of elite gym or college gym, but thousands and thousands enjoy the sport at a lower level. They may no longer be in the gym but they will take the positive experiences they gained from gymnastics with them for the rest of their lives. For most the discipline, motivation and passion they learned in the gym will be one of the strongest influences on their future careers.

Quite often that can be found well in a small gym, maybe they dont have a great optional program and have never had a kid go elite but they can often offer the indivual attention that is needed. Many larger gyms (many but not all) try to fill their programs as much as they can and eventually end up with a top team., They may take on 50 6 year olds and they will be weeded out over the years to those who have the potential to do high level gym. But all gymnasts in a gym should be equally important from your super talented ones to the ones with no coordination at all, because all can benefit from gymnastics and have a better life because of it.

For kids who truly have the talent to make international level gymnastics their parents wont need to push them. It is more a case of not being able to stop them. For kids like this the larger, highly experienced and highly equipped gyms are of course ideal because they have the sort of personality and drive that causes them to stand out from the pack.
 
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