Does your gym have "contests"?

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gymmom-n-coach

New Member
Aug 27, 2009
46
PA
A few months ago, we (me and co-L3 coach) started a "gymnast of the month" contest. Each month, one of our gymnasts is selected based on a variety of criteria - not just skills - but listening, being respectful, working hard, etc. That girl gets her picture on the wall, along with a small stuffed animal.

One of the parents just told me that her daughter has been very upset b/c she's not been selected yet, and has been talking about quitting. I think there are other factors involved with her wanting to quit (she's only 6 and here 10-hrs/wk), but still...wanted to get some opinions on this type of motivational technique.

We also just started one for the month of October - Pumpkin Patch - girls get points at practice (same criteria as above). The top two each day get a foam pumpkin to put on their posterboard. End of month - top girl gets a pumpkin full of candy. If the whole team totals 150 points or more - pizza party for all.

We really just want to make it fun, and encourage them to try harder (they have a tendency to goof off a LOT) - but do you think these contests do more harm than good?
 
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coachmolly

Active Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 18, 2009
2,989
VA
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I think contests are fine as long as they are fair. If the criteria is spelled out for the parents and not totally arbitrary and if it's based on progress, hard work, good attitude, and things beyond just learning new skills I think it's totally fine. It encourages kids to keep their behavior in check and know they have the potential to be rewarded for trying to improve.
As a gymnast my gym would have various contests to keep us working hard and striving for personal improvement. I remember a particular flexibility contest where after months of working on our flexibility as a group the person who showed the most progress would be rewarded with a new leo. We weren't competing against each other, just trying to make ourselves better and would be rewarded for our own hard work. We also had conditioning contests for rewards.
I think it's a fun way to encourage good behavior and positively reinforce those who are demonstrating it.
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
We have Queen Of The Beam. Last one standing takes home a crown for a week. Jumps, turns, leaps, handstands etc.

Also, when we get a new shipment of Leo's either coaches, or sometimes team will vote on who has earned a free Leo - sometimes it's Most Improved, Hardest Worker etc.

But no other ones that I have seen.
 

Tim_Dad

Member
Nov 3, 2008
414
Region IV (Missouri)
Sometimes, in fact it's pretty rare. But any contest I've seen had no ONE person as a winner. They are "team" contests. Such as, if everyone climbs the rope without legs in under 1 minute - the team gets free ice-cream at the end. Everyone lands a good BHS or does something they've been working on correctly. Things along that line. I think when the coaches sense the need for a little fun and motivation, the do things like this at the spur of the moment.
 

mariposa

Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
3,529
Country
USA
DDs gym does stuff like Tim_Dad describes. If they ALL make their stalder, they get an otter pop, if they all worked hard on beam, etc. For the pre-team track, they have a HUGE stuffed animal that is used for motivation. Climb to the top of the rope, you can take him home for a week.

I know that one of the coaches does smiley day and has piece of paper that she carries with her from event to event. The girls get tasks and when she passes the task, they get to go write a smiley by their name. Usually there is no reward tied to the smileys, they just like seeing a whole bunch on their paper. One time, they got a skittle or peanut for each smiley. Stickers might work as well and be fun. She got to bring home her paper one time and was very proud of it.

Compulsories have trophy awards most weeks. There are specific trophies, like the Kip trophy, Layout trophy that are skill based. They are really cute. Kip one says "I made my kip". They do the trophies at team meeting on Fridays. I think they give one for each event/per level and then one overall hardest working compulsory. Coaches all decide. Sometimes the girls nominate one another, just depends. They get to take the trophy home and they bring it back the next week. All the girls seem to love this and it seems that everyone gets trophies eventually.

We don't do rewards as an incentive at home, but I don't mind it in the gym done they way they do it. I can see how it could be frustrating for parents who are pushy, could cause stress at home by them putting pressure on the gymmie as to why she didn't get a trophy. I have heard some not so nice things said by parents about trophies, etc and it makes me sad, but those kind of parents will turn anything negative.

I think rewards in general can be bad, if it is all the time and if the child only wants to do something to get something. Once in awhile is okay. I strongly dislike awards for scores. Skill only rewards can be frustrating for kids that things don't come naturally and not really reward a gymnast that gets everything quick. Behavior only awards can be hard because of the potential for playing favorites. I think there needs to be a balance.
 

gymcoach26

Member
Sep 23, 2009
231
I don't really like the gymnast of the month thing because it can lead to a lot of frustration or feeling badly which defeats the point. A better idea is doing contests that the whole team takes place in.. such as they each do X amount of conditioning and they get to do a game (one with a purpose obviously). I find it helpful because nobody wants to be the one to let the whole team down, so I find my girls really push themselves. Contests can't be used all the time because the kids begin to expect something in return all the time. It's a great way to spice things up though :)
 

Pineapple_Lump

Coach
Coach
Proud Relative
Judge
Jan 31, 2008
1,098
I think gymnast of the month could work if you had a huge team/very small. I do like star charts/books to map progress. They have plenty of simpler activities (drills) so that everyone has some stickers. I think it is best to reward great achievement by offering a reward afterwards, not dangling the carrot.
I always try to make a point of telling a parent how hard their child has worked that week, if I see lots of effort. I also tell the group how awesome they are, if they have been working really well as a whole (even with a few slack moments). This tends to produce even better effort the following week from everyone.
 

gymmom-n-coach

New Member
Aug 27, 2009
46
PA
Thanks for the feedback!

We also do a skills chart. That does seem to really motivate them a lot. Of course, we had one parent who snuck into the gym to look at the skills chart, then confronted us coaches about why her daughter didn't have as many stickers (skills) as the others....maybe b/c she was only 4 y/o in a class of 6+ y/o, and had only taken 5-mo of gym instead of the 1.5+ years the others did? but I digress....

We have nine girls on the team. Most are motivated just by getting the skills and moving to bigger ones. But, there are two or three that we are constantly having to push... By push, I mean just push to get anything out of them. They are always wanting to go to the bathroom, get a drink, anything other than work. Then, when it's their turn w/ coach, they just go halfway. So frustrating!

That's kinda where we are coming from with these contests. We're trying to reward the self-motivated ones, and make it a little more fun for the ones who just don't seem to want to be there. Problem is - the ones that don't put forth the effort are not winning, and thus they get even more frustrated...
 
C

cher062

Guest
A few months ago, we (me and co-L3 coach) started a "gymnast of the month" contest. Each month, one of our gymnasts is selected based on a variety of criteria - not just skills - but listening, being respectful, working hard, etc. That girl gets her picture on the wall, along with a small stuffed animal.

One of the parents just told me that her daughter has been very upset b/c she's not been selected yet, and has been talking about quitting. I think there are other factors involved with her wanting to quit (she's only 6 and here 10-hrs/wk), but still...wanted to get some opinions on this type of motivational technique.

We also just started one for the month of October - Pumpkin Patch - girls get points at practice (same criteria as above). The top two each day get a foam pumpkin to put on their posterboard. End of month - top girl gets a pumpkin full of candy. If the whole team totals 150 points or more - pizza party for all.

We really just want to make it fun, and encourage them to try harder (they have a tendency to goof off a LOT) - but do you think these contests do more harm than good?
Our gym has gymnast of the month for the rec classes. It has nothing to do with abililty it has to do with have they improved. the coach chooses one gymnast from all their rec classes (so only one person is chosen not one from each class) Then at the end of they year recital one of the gymnast of the month is choosen as gymnast of the year and again all the coaches get together and choose that person.

For the team they get stickers for skills etc at the Pre team - L6 levels. The person or persons with the most stickers at the end of the month gets a stuffed animal for the girls and some type of boy toy for the boys. the coaches though are told that everyone needs to get a stuffed animal before the summer begins at some point so they don't feel like they are the only one that never gets the prize. The coaches keep track of who has it and who still needs it. Someone who has received it before can receive it again so long as everyone gets it at least once. These boys and girls will do anything for a sticker.

Now at the optional levels they are doing a sticker chart if they get skills and help others to get their skills. if each girl gets the specific skill they are working on (every girl has a specific skill to do) then the whole optional team gets a special treat from Pizza for the team, Ice cream for the team etc. At the end of the year if the team does well (not sure what the criteria is) then they have a day at the local amusment park with pizza and a sleep over at the gym. Lots of pillow fight competitions, hand stand contests etc with prizes.

I thouth it would create a Oh gosh so and so still doesn't have that skill and is keeping us from what ever but it hasn't. It really has encouraged the girls to work together and give advice to each other to help get a skill. Really has made more team spirit and a group that encourage each other and feel like everyone one has a steak in everyone else.
 
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Mack_the_Ripper

Guest
We have a couple handstand contests at the end of the practice. If we have beam last, we do it on the beam and also do cartwheel-handstands. The girl who wins the contest goes out to get dressed and go home. Then the next winner. Sometimes we go out to three or four, and then everyone is released.
 

MissBear

Coach
Coach
Gymnast
May 4, 2009
176
We have gymnast of the week from our 5 year old pre-teams right up to the 17 and 18 year olds. Many of the groups have star charts on the wall and the youngest age group have certifcates they stick special stickers on for working extra hard. When they complete the certificate they get a prize.

Again, coaches keep a record of who has had gymnast of the week and try to get everyone to have it at some point. You also cannot get it if you have missed a session in that week.

The older girls have comditioning an flexibility tests each month and awards are given for best in group and most improved from the month before. These are great as they encourage competition aginst yourself.
 
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gymmom07

Guest
The only reward that we have for every child in the gym (im sure the people on the team get other rewards in addition) is the bell. There is a large bell in the middle of the gym floor and anytime a child gets a new skill that the teacher knows the child has been working on for a while, the teacher rings the bell and everyone who is in the gym at that time must stop what they are doing and the child performs the new skill. The gym claps for the child and then continues on with what they are doing.
 
We have gymnast of the month and one girl and one boy from teams gets selected and one rec girl and one rec boy gets selected each month based on improvement and effort.
Whenever anyone in our gym gets a new skill whether its a rec or team they get to ring a special bell that we have on the wall and everyone in the gym stops and watches while they do the skill! I love this one because its a nice reward to show what you've acheived and think its a nice touch! I also love it as a team girl when we get to see what the rec kids have acheived cos some of them work just as hard and maybe dont get as much notice or praise so its nice for them!
We occaisionally have conditioning/handstand contests without rewards.
And another thing I remember is...I used to have a coach who to be honest wasnt great. Every practice she would stretch us until we cried. The first time we got through it without crying she gave us a free leo! They soon got rid of her though...decided she was no good for gymnast's spirits! Have to say I agreed!!
 
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