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For Parents Help! Is it time to change gyms? (yes another one of those threads)

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ZJsMom

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So I'm usually the one who is against gym hopping and says the mat is always bluer at the other gym, stick with what you know. Now, my dd is talking about wanting to switch gyms and I'm really uncertain what to do. I'm clear that if the coaching is abusive, you should leave, and if it's just a matter of things being less than ideal stay. But what I can't figure out is where in between those two the trigger for leaving lies.

So here's our situation. About a year ago we moved here from out of state and have been at the current gym since. Dd (and ds) were very happy and really seemed to blossom. At the beginning of the summer, there were major coaching changes, i.e., pretty much a complete turn over of girls' team coaches. Most of our optionals left. Several of dd's level 6 team mates also went to other gyms or quit. Out of thirteen girls who should have been competing level 6 this fall, 7 are left. At that time, dd did feel the pressure of others leaving, but agreed to give it a chance and stay. I told her if things aren't working out, we could revisit the question.

The current problem is that dd's relationship with her coach has really soured. I've seen her go from being quite confident and really feeling like her gymnastics experience was building her up, to feeling really beat down. I really don't place the blame entirely with the coach, she's in a really difficult situation trying to take over a program that has been knocked down. I know that dd is showing some attitude. The problem is that there's a negative feedback loop going and I'm just not sure how/if we can break the cycle. Coach is clearly frustrated with dd (among other things) and dd responds by checking out and being unresponsive, which makes coach more frustrated and angry.

While her relationship with coach is taking a nose dive, dd's interest and passion for gymnastics seem as strong as ever. She practices her handstands and backwalkovers at home, she is always dancing around doing parts of her floor and beam routines. She even complained the other day that the new coaches don't do as much conditioning as the old coaches and she wishes they would do more because she doesn't think she's as strong as she used to be. I'm pointing this out because, judging by her attitude at practice, one might draw the inference that she's lost interest in gymnastics, but that really doesn't seem to be the case at all. It's really a curious situation. Like I said, I don't entirely blame the coach, but I'm at a loss because I've never seen this before. Dd is usually a teacher's pet type who is well liked by teachers, and coaches.

So now she's agitating to go to another local gym and I'm really torn. Interestingly, the gym she's asking to go to is not the one her good friends are at, so it doesn't seem like there's any peer pressure involved here. I want to see that happy confident kid back. At the same time though, I think she needs to learn that you have to work on relationships. You might not click with everybody, but that's part of life, learning to work with people who you don't necessarily have a great affinity for. The other complicating factor is that her brother is on team too and is happy with his coaches and team mates and has no desire to go anywhere else.

Thank you to anyone who's read this far. I'm really hoping that putting this all down and getting others' perspectives on it will help me get my head clear. I really want to talk with someone about it, but I'm hesitant because of the speed at which gossip travels, not only within our gym, but between the local gyms. I don't want to be labeled the crazy gym parent, gym hopper, whatever. And most importantly, I don't want dd to have a harder time with the coaches.
 

mariposa

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I wish I could be of some help, but I don't think I will. I do agree with your point that we have to learn to get along with people we might not necessarily click with, etc, but if your DDs confidence in herself/her gymnastics is going downhill, then I think change might be an option. I don't think you have an easy decision and since I am a new gym mom with no experience in this, I will hope that the more experienced ones might have some ideas for you.

I definitely agree that it doesn't sound like she is tired of gymnastics, just tired of the situation she is in right now. Good luck to you on finding your decision.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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Would it be possible to sit down with the coach and see if something can be figured out. You can do it in a non-threatening, non- accusatory way. You can say you have seen your dd not having the same enthusiasm in practice that she normally does and see what her coach has to say. Being her mom you can probably give the coach a few tips on what works and what doesn't with your dd - it is hard for new coaches to come in and figure out what makes each kid tick. What works wonderfully for one child could be the worst route to take with another. I would probably try to communicate with the current gym first - especially since your son is already on team there. If the coach seems uninterested in discussing it with you or is very negative, then I would check out another gym. Good luck.
 

gymjourneymom

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Just wondering what stirs the "neg. feedback loop" here? What is DD "showing attitude" in regard too? Six is a tough level. The coach may just be stepping up her demands to make the team & your DD, the best that they can be. Does your DD have all her skills? Is she balking or having any fear issues with any skills? I'd investigate alittle more to get a real feel for what the issues are. Best of luck to you & your DD:)
 

gym law mom

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I agree with Flippy about a meeting with the coach before completey abandoning ship. Sounds like she is really under the gun to rebuild a team program plus get girls ready for meets. Also sounds like your dd is somewhat mourning the loss of her previous coach and to her might be quite devastating. Age can also factor in---as we know once they get to be about 11 or so, they can be up one minute/down the next and not sure exactly where they are for complete days!!!! Going through that right now.

Have you asked her why she wants to try this one gym? It is a little confusing she would pick a gym that her friends do not go to. Is she searching for another coach like the one that left? With meet season either in full swing or soon to be, it may be tough for her to switch to another gym----not to mention the added expense you would have.

Obviously, your dd's happiness is the bottom line, but I would try doing a little digging with both parties first.
 

ZJsMom

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We do plan to sit down with the coach and see what we can do to turn the relationship around.

I don't watch practice a lot, so I don't know all of the aspects of the problem, but from what I can see, there may be some that are fear related, but not all. Dd did mention that she wants a coach to stand there when she does flyaways and that coach is getting frustrated by this. The other day she said the coach told her she wasn't trying and she felt bad. Of course, this leads to her efforts looking worse as her confidence erodes. I think some of it has to do with miscommunication between them. In some instances it seems she has failed to make corrections, but she hasn't clearly understood what the coach is asking her to do. I'd say the general pattern is coach tries to make a correction, dd takes it as a put down and doesn't improve her performance, coach gets more critical, dd performs more poorly. Eventually, coach checks out. Dd's most recent complaint is that she's being ignored.
 

ZJsMom

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Have you asked her why she wants to try this one gym? It is a little confusing she would pick a gym that her friends do not go to. Is she searching for another coach like the one that left? With meet season either in full swing or soon to be, it may be tough for her to switch to another gym----not to mention the added expense you would have.

That's an interesting question. Part of it may be that when the shake up first occurred, I told her we weren't going to the gym her friends are at because it's too far. I don't know that that would be enough to stop her from asking though. It does make me wonder. The coach she was closest to out of the ones that left was male and the gym she's interested has a male head coach, so maybe there is something to what you're saying..

I am assuming they wouldn't take her at this point in the season, so I am thinking about looking into it after States (if at all).
 

gotgym

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I , too would recommend a sitdown with the coach. If things can be worked out that would be great for all involved. I am not an advocate of gym hopping either but, if staying is affecting your daughters self -esteem and gymnastics performance then looking into switching might be your best option before she wants nothing to do with the sport at all.
Theres a local gym that has a change of coaches every season for the past 4 years. Its not the coaches so much as it is the management and atmosphere there. We along with the rest of the gyms in the area all continue to get kids from there that thrive on consistency.
Good luck level 6 is hard enough without having to deal with anything else on top of it.
 

Gymdad2

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Yes, this is a hard one, and there is no easy answer. In the end you will have to make the best decision you can for your dd's welfare, but I agree that a talk with the coach would be the right place to start. If possible, it should be done in an atmosphere away from the gym and without your dd. You need to be open and honest when them and hope you get the same in return. (if you don't then maybe your decision was just made for you).

While I am not in favor of gym changes (dd has been at the same gym for 12 years), there is no law that says you cannot do so if that is what you decide is best. However, you are going to have a problem changing right before or during meet season.

Good luck

Gymdad
 

gymjourneymom

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Yes, a chat with the coach is what's really needed to start with. I know I'm looking at this through my own shaded glasses, but it sounds somewhat like a rough patch my DD went through. She was having fear issues(in level 6) & needed spots on fly ways & beam BWO's. Now DD had these skills...beautifully...this spots were just a mental crutch for her. The coach was getting frustrated & of course DD thought the coach "hated" her. The coach tried different "techniques" to get DD over this...one was to ignore her & force her to do the skills alone. I'm not saying it was "right" or that it worked...but coach was desparate & was trying anything she could. Maybe the coach sees your DD's talent & is trying to force her to do the skills alone???? Just a thought. Won't know until you talk with the coach.
 

gym law mom

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Sounds a little like our L6 year although the coach got more and more negative as the year went on and then just plain mean. I do remember my gymmie mentioning she felt "invisible" to this coach several times during the seaon. The one thing he would spot was flyaways. There was mention once from him that he didn't think she was working hard enough and it turned out she was tired. Up early to go to before school program, then school then gym. My dh rearranged his work schedule to let her get about 30 min more sleep and that made the difference.

When we changed gyms, gymmie's new coach spotted her on everything for awhile just to get her confidence back. Then she gradually weaned away from spotting her more than everyone else. She told her, that her philosophy is once she has seen a girl do a skill without a spot and it is being done correctly, then she will stop spotting unless she notices a problem or the gymnast asks her to come over. Your dd's coach may have a similar way of dealing with skills, but hasn't taken time to explain it to the girls.

Since you are competing, would you have a chance to watch this other team during a meet? That sometimes speaks volumes on how the coach interacts with the girls, how prepared they are etc. A way to check out this gym without actually going there to do a tryout.
 

ZJsMom

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We do see the other team at meets. they were at the last one and will be at the next one we attend.

I don't think the primary problem arises from her wanting spotting. Other than wanting someone to stand in for the flyaway, she's going for all the skills consistently now. Dd definitely feels that she's being treated differently and ignored. To the extent this is happening, I don't know that it's out of malice on the coaches part. I think it is just frustration. Hopefully, we can get it straightened out.
 

momof5

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Oct 26, 2007
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I would encourage you to try to watch some practices so that you can see the entire situation play out. DD is giving you her take on the siutation. I f you are able to see all the coach interactions it maight give you a better perspective on what starts the "chain of reaction". If the situation is truely neagaitve and can't be resovled don't be afraid to be labeled a gym hopper. Negative coaching starts to influence kids way of thinking and the negative feeling about themselves moves from the gym into all aspects of their lives.
 

ZJsMom

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The more I reflect on this, the more I realize that dd has played a significant role in creating the situation. She is often not taking corrections. It seems like with the old coach the positive cycle went sort of like he compliments dd--tells her she has a lot of talent, is smart, has a bright future in the sport--then when he says straighten you legs, keep your arms by your ears, she responds and gets more compliments. The negative cycle seems to be dd doesn't feel new coach believes in her, maybe doesn't trust new coach, new coach says straighten your legs, dd doesn't do it, new coach says "you're not paying attention," "you're not trying," etc and gets frustrated, dd feels bad, maybe angry, and her performance continues to go down hill. The problem is that I don't think dd has consciously chosen to be defiant, so getting her to turn around her behavior is going to be hard. I think the new coach is kind of like a step parent and to a certain extent dd is testing her and rebelling against her. I do also think it may be the case that the new coach just isn't as fond of dd as the old one and just doesn't think as highly of her.
 
D

Deleted member 1703

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When I read through all the postings in this thread tonight, I was so reminded of this poem by Dorothy Law Nolte:


If a child lives with criticism. . . . . . . .he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility. . . . . . . . he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear. . . . . . . .he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with jealousy. . . . . . . .he learns to feel guilt.
If a child lives with tolerance. . . . . . . .he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement . . . . . . . .he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with praise. . . . . . . .he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance. . . . . . . .he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval. . . . . . . .he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition . . . . . . . .he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with honesty. . . . . . . .he learns what truth is.
If a child lives with fairness. . . . . . . .he learns justice.
If a child lives with security. . . . . . . .he learns to trust in himself and others .
If a child lives with friendliness. . . . . . . .he learns the world is a nice place in which to live.

Whereas, we all have to learn to deal with a few negative comments here and there, when that method of correction becomes pervasive that is where a problem can arise. It is Ok to say "You are not..." once or twice, but mostly the type of correction should be "Come on, try that again...OR ...see how it feels if you...... ".

Was just wondering if perhaps the coach is under some pressure and has missed that she is correcting in a negative way?

Best of luck with discussing it with her coach (if you do manage to) and I look forward to hearing how it went.
 

gotgym

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THanks so much GYMmum for reminding us of that poem. It was my mothers favorite and had it hung on her fridge yellowed with age till she passed on. Its a poem that applies to so many different situations
 

ellabella

Member
May 26, 2008
176
Also remember that what a child sees as negative is not always negative. I'm not a gymnastics coach, but I work with kids in a similar way. I speak very matter of factly to kids without a lot of flowerly compliments to go along with it. It's mostly a time factor. There are a lot of kids and I work in overdrive trying to give everyone the most attention and correction as possible in a short amount of time. Some take that as negativity and as I get to know that kid I often figure out that they need a little more babying. What I hate is when a parent just leaves without speaking to me at all. Some kids I take notice pretty quickly that they need that little extra compliment along with a correction. Some I don't notice and when a parent mentions something it helps me. Definitely don't leave without speaking to the coach.
 
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margymmom

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I agree about sitting in on some practices to see what is going on. And about having a conversation.

My daughter had a similar situation. It became a contest of wills- coach insisting she perform when scared or explain "why" she was afraid, daughter digging in heels and refusing. They would end up mad at each other periodically (then work great between blow ups). The coach and I talked a lot about ways to handle these situations, and things were fine til coach said some inappropriate things that really upset my daughter (she's 9). I spoke with the owner after talking to the coach, owner intervened, and I can tell the coach is still upset with me and my daughter.

All this to say, I believe in learning to work with different kinds of people, but sometimes those with whom we entrust our children have philosophies that differ from ours and/or can be detrimental to our children. If your daughter is being ignored, it may not be possible to repair the relationship. BUT, if your daughter is able to talk with the coach about the way her behavior has impacted the coaches reactions, the coach may be able to work with her in the future.

So, investigate...maybe there is a change that can be made within the gym..but don't feel badly if you need to make a change.

I hope things work out well for you and your daughter.
 
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NOG

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Gym Switching

I definately agree that you should sit in a few practices to see the whole situation play out. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with checking out how things are run at the gym that your daughter would like to switch to. We switched gyms this past May, and before doing so, I had several conversations with the head coach and the gym owner of the proposed gym.
I also contacted a few parents of optional team members at the proposed gym just to get a Pro/Con on the program. They were very honest and helpful about how things are done at the new gym. I would recommend that as well.
After talking to the owner of that gym several times (I wanted to have all of my facts down and get a feel for the management before jumping in) I brought my daughter over to do some "trial" practices with them to see how she would fit in at that gym. I'm happy to say that she loved it and the girls on the team from the start and seemed to mesh so well, it felt like she had always been there. It was a great fit for her both coaching and teammate wise and was a wise decision to move her. The new coaches make sure to always give a postive with a negative (wow your kip looks great, but straigten your legs in your mill circle... type of corrections... while still being very demanding in getting the most out of each gymnast).
MOST GYMS will allow you to come and give their program a Try before commiting to them and leaving your current program.
My CAUTION is that when you check out another gym, do NOT give anyone your daughter's name or the gym she's currently at. Unfortunatly for us, the coach at her old gym got wind of us trying out a new gym and worked themselves into a lather before we could go in to tell them that we would be switching gyms. We had been hoping for a "graceful" exit. I knew it would not be a happy exit, but it needn't have been as unpleasant as it got! It was not the fault of the new gym that word got , we mistakenly told a "trusted" teammate's parent that we were going to be looking. I don't know that I would tell anybody at the current gym that you're looking elsewhere until you have made a decision that you would like to move gyms. That way, no harm no foul, if you decide to stay at the current gym.
GOOD LUCK! It's a Hard decision and I totally understand! I hope to never switch gyms again.
 
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NOG

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I should say that we told a couple of the parents that we would be looking at the new gym, and one of them must have called the HC. I don't know with 100% certainty who called the HC and put her in a lather. Regardless, the HC found out, and the exit didn't go as planned. We still keep in communication with some of the girls at the old gym and keep up with how they're doing, and we are extremely happy with the choice that we made. So, all works out in the end. Good Luck to you in your decision.
 
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