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For Parents Changing Gym During COVID

Blue

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Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2020
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So my DD is around a level 2-3 at a pretty competitive gym (age 8). She is not moving up to competition next year. She's disappointed but okay with it. We are, too, in that I know nothing about gymnastics so if they say she's not ready, then I guess she's not ready. The issue is the coach. Her current coach is not a good fit and is terrible at communication. In telling us she wasn't moving up to competition, she gave us no feedback on what my DD needs to work on. Is the issue a lack of skills? Is it form? No idea. Even when asked what the issues were, she didn't say. We've been at the gym since my kid was 5 in both rec and more structured classes and this is the first coach we've had who has been like this. What's more, my kid doesn't seem to enjoy gymnastics under this coach as much. She occasionally - not often - asks to skip gymnastics, which had never happened under any other coach/class. I don't think her enjoyment of the sport itself has changed. We signed her up for a few privates with a coach she likes and she bubbles before and after with joy. So given that there is a chance DD will have the same coach next year, we may need to move gyms. My kid isn't a rock star, but she's very strong, very competitive and I think probably has the makings of a solid gymnast at the right gym, which this one suddenly no longer seems to be. But we've never changed gyms, ended up at the competitive one just because a friend recommended it as "safe" in terms of injuries, and now are facing all of this with COVID. Anyone have any advice on how to approach this?
 

cmg

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Jul 2, 2018
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If you are leaving due to communication issues with the coach, I think you will find that most gymnastic coaches are terrible at communication to a varying degree. If you look at past posts on this site I would say 50% of posts about leaving deal with poor communication between coach and parent about moving up etc. I am not sure why clear and consistent communication with gymnastic coaches and parents is such an issue. USGA should definitely have courses about how coaches can better communicate to parents!!! If I were you I would try to set up a specific time with the coach alone and ask your questions. If you are asking your questions after practice it might be difficult for the coach to really discuss with the chaos of changing practice times with kids going in and out of the gym. I always found it best to send an email to the coach and ask for a meeting to discuss my daughters progress or lack there of. If you do this you need to be prepared to hear things that you may not like for instance "your daughter is not ready" or "she is young and does not listen to instruction well enough to move up" or a variety of other things. If you completely disagree with the assessment then that would give you better info on whether to change or not. But I will tell you I have seen more kids leave, try a new gym and then quite because either that gym was worse, the coaching too harsh, or the parents pushed too hard and the kid didn't like it and quit.

Now if you are at a big gym and they don't have time for you or they refuse than I might consider a different gym, but I can guarantee there will be communication issues at another gym. The things I would look for concerning staying or going is 1) do you like the coaches at the higher levels? 2) does the gym produce gymnasts that are strong athletes and good teammates? 3) does the gym have consistent coaching in that coaches stay at this gym for a long time? 4) does your daughter love her teammates? It is hard to change gyms and sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. This is just my opinion and you have to do what you think is right, but I would give coaches a chance to do the right thing before changing gyms. Remember they have a lot of kids to think about not just your daughter. Good luck in your decision and hopefully things work out one way or another.
 
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Blue

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Proud Parent
Aug 16, 2020
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USA
Thanks for the response. That's all very helpful. And, yes, it's the unknowns at any new place that is scary for us. Like I said, before this year, we had been a happy little family at the gym. The frustrating thing is the feedback we didn't get was at a session with the coach that was designated to give feedback, it wasn't after practice. Honestly, if the coach had tried to signal complete disinterest in my kid's progress they could not have done a better job. Not only no interest in discussing kid's issues, but brushed off questions. Strongly signaled that she was completely un-invested in kid even continuing, which if nothing else seems weird at a gym that has cut coaching staff to save money. But there has always been a bit of a weird dynamic between kid and this coach, even when kid was clearly performing well.

To answer your questions 1) we do like the coaches at the higher levels, but have no confidence the current coach will ever move her up and they are an up or out gym at a certain point, 2) yes, 3) yes and no, they have coaches who have been there a long time, and a lot of turnover among other coaches (the current coach has not been there very long), 4) yes.

There is a good chance they will move her to another group with a different coach and this group would include a lot of her current teammates. We have decided that if they do that, we will stay and see how it goes. We have been happy there. She likes this other coach and loves her teammates. But if they don't do that (there's a weird scheduling issue that also is related to poor communication, but not coach or level related), she will not be with the teammates she likes and will have to do another year under this coach without her friends. If we get to that point, we will probably move because I think that would basically end DD's gymnastics career. I don't think she could do another year under those conditions, probably not move up at the end, and still love gymnastics like she does now. If she doesn't love it, there's no point to it.

Thanks for the feedback and help structuring how we should be thinking about this.
 

Gigi

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Proud Parent
Apr 20, 2016
194
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USA
I think the non communication is par for the course in youth gymnastics. I am sure I wrote one of these posts myself year ago! And I said exactly the same thing, that if they think there is potential please just let us know so we can move on to dance where the teachers love her! Still no communication. I think the only one thing you should watch out for is whether they are keeping her back because she is really not ready, and not because they don't have enough coaches to move everyone up, or if they simply want to win more medals by repeating good gymnasts.