Welcome to our Gymnastics Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

Parents shut out - switch gyms?

A's Mom

New Member
Proud Parent
Nov 30, 2018
34
38
Country
USA
My daughter is a JO level 3 at a top gym in our area. She loves her gym and coaches, so we follow that lead. There's a disturbing pattern of lip service to parents, though, and I don't know how big of a red flag that should be. Over the summer, several parents were concerned about a particularly aggressive coach. We requested a meeting with the gym owner to talk about that (and about the basics of joining their competitive team) and we've been repeatedly put off.

The reason we requested it to begin with is because this gym has no regular parent meetings AT ALL. We get updates about practice times and meet info, but there is no culture of actually speaking with parents, in a general annual meeting or to review our kids' progress. I'm new to the team, but this seems extreme to me. Do you have regular parent meetings (even once or twice a year)? Do you get progress updates? What's the norm?
 

Freddy's Fred

Member
Proud Relative
Nov 19, 2017
129
42
Country
United States Minor Outlying Islands
My daughter is a JO level 3 at a top gym in our area. She loves her gym and coaches, so we follow that lead. There's a disturbing pattern of lip service to parents, though, and I don't know how big of a red flag that should be. Over the summer, several parents were concerned about a particularly aggressive coach. We requested a meeting with the gym owner to talk about that (and about the basics of joining their competitive team) and we've been repeatedly put off.

The reason we requested it to begin with is because this gym has no regular parent meetings AT ALL. We get updates about practice times and meet info, but there is no culture of actually speaking with parents, in a general annual meeting or to review our kids' progress. I'm new to the team, but this seems extreme to me. Do you have regular parent meetings (even once or twice a year)? Do you get progress updates? What's the norm?
In all three gyms where we have been on competitive team, we have never had regularly scheduled meetings. That being said, I have head coaches phone number and there's no issue with me calling her.
 

John

Active Member
Proud Parent
May 5, 2017
1,551
51
Country
USA
No regular meetings here either. The owner is approachable and will answer questions. He will seek you out after each meet to discuss your child's performance when your child's session is over. I suggest being seen at practice and finding your way into the gym on drop off and pick up. I like to watch a few hours a week.
 

Gymx2

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
530
Country
USA
Trust your gut. When coaches and club owners actively avoid interacting with parents I see that as a red flag. My son's gym and my daughter's gym both have annual team meetings, and both have given out either the email of all of the coaches, or the phone number for the head coach. They are also approachable and communicate regularly with the parents.
 

hockeymiss

New Member
Proud Parent
Oct 17, 2018
3
45
Country
USA
We have an individual meeting with the head coach each year. They are very approachable and are willing to meet at other times if needed.
 

Mrsboots87

New Member
Proud Parent
May 31, 2018
8
31
Country
USA
Our gym does not hold competitive team meetings. However they are very open. We have all the coaches and the gym owners emails and they are always responsive. If a coach has a concern or complement they will catch us after practice or send an email. They give updates as requested and send home a progress report every quarter so we can see how our girls are progressing in their skills as well as social and teamwork attitudes.

It would bother me if the coaches and gym owner were not responsive at all.
 
  • Like
Reactions: txgymfan

triplethreat+1

Member
Proud Parent
Sep 10, 2016
313
Ontario
Country
Canada
We also don't have team meetings, but we do have individual coach-parent meetings at the end of each season. We also have the cell numbers of all the coaches and they are very approachable as well, and will often pop out to let a parent know if there was an issue or a new skill that day.
 
  • Like
Reactions: txgymfan

rjb123

Active Member
Proud Parent
Aug 17, 2013
808
Our HC does a team meeting every year after season is over (or near the end of the season). We also have the opportunity to sign up for an individual conference if desired. I have the coaches cell numbers and can contact them if there is an issue, and I know that they do the same on their end. That said, at this point in the journey I don't feel like I need or desire a lot of hand holding/ talks about her progress. DD is in charge of her sport- my role is to drive her, feed her, take care of health related stuff, and be her cheerleader. There are very few things I would need to discuss with her coaches- especially since I can't even pronounce half of the things she is doing!!
 

Amanda

Member
Proud Parent
Nov 19, 2016
200
43
Country
USA
Our gym has held two team meetings in the two and half years we have been there. We've had a private meeting with her coach once or twice a year to discuss progress and future plans. Our coaches are GREAT at responding to texts and are willing to speak briefly before or after practice as the need arises- we have also spoken on the phone. We've been a bit "high needs" the last 8 months because of health/recovery issues. I've been very thankful for good communication. I think a lot of it has been because we've had a great coach!
 
  • Like
Reactions: txgymfan

raenndrops

Well-Known Member
Coach
Proud Relative
Former Gymnast
Oct 24, 2009
6,336
The 'Wood, Ohio
Country
USA
We have a new parent meeting in August / September so the new parents know what they are getting into before signing anything.
We have a parent meeting before the first meet of the season to let parents know of meet expectations and answer any questions they may have.
We have a parent meeting before the first home meet of the season to discuss hosting a meet and the differences between being the host and being a guest.
The advanced rec parents have a parent meeting in March / April to talk about the process to move to team and give a general breakdown of costs and time commitment.

In addition, the coaches are very approachable before or after practice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aero

amlfbaba

New Member
Proud Parent
Fan
Jun 24, 2018
22
47
Orange County, CA
Country
USA
I find it interesting that you told us that you're at "a top gym" in the area in the very first sentence.

I might be taking a turn down a steeper than necessary path here, but this topic makes me think back to the "gymnastics is f***ed" blog that hit the internet a few weeks ago, and so many others threads/posts on gym culture. I've been wanting to write these ideas for a while now, so here goes...

Over the months of reading and thinking about abusive gyms and that culture in our sport, I've made 3 buckets:
1. The Perpetrators -- the abusive coaches. With so many great people and coaches in the sport, these are the vile super minority (I hope).
2. The Victims - the athletes
3. The Enablers - Gym staff who know about the behavior but do nothing AND parents who know about the behavior but keep their kids at the gym because of its medal count.

We know from all walks of life and dozens and dozens and dozens of examples that the gym staff enablers will always be around. But the parents... at the very basic level of business, we are paying customers who contribute to a business's cash flow. I firmly believe that abusive gym culture can end with parents walking their checkbooks out the door, as long as they take the parent waiting in line with them.

If you and those several other parents feel there's something wrong, DO SOMETHING!
 

Gymx2

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
530
Country
USA
I find it interesting that you told us that you're at "a top gym" in the area in the very first sentence.

I might be taking a turn down a steeper than necessary path here, but this topic makes me think back to the "gymnastics is f***ed" blog that hit the internet a few weeks ago, and so many others threads/posts on gym culture. I've been wanting to write these ideas for a while now, so here goes...

Over the months of reading and thinking about abusive gyms and that culture in our sport, I've made 3 buckets:
1. The Perpetrators -- the abusive coaches. With so many great people and coaches in the sport, these are the vile super minority (I hope).
2. The Victims - the athletes
3. The Enablers - Gym staff who know about the behavior but do nothing AND parents who know about the behavior but keep their kids at the gym because of its medal count.

We know from all walks of life and dozens and dozens and dozens of examples that the gym staff enablers will always be around. But the parents... at the very basic level of business, we are paying customers who contribute to a business's cash flow. I firmly believe that abusive gym culture can end with parents walking their checkbooks out the door, as long as they take the parent waiting in line with them.

If you and those several other parents feel there's something wrong, DO SOMETHING!
Yes to all of this. Take your kid and your money and walk away when you know the environment is unhealthy. Doesn't matter how "good" the gym is when they aren't good for (or to) your child.
 

Flippin'A

Member
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
Dec 4, 2017
222
31
Country
USA
In my mind the bigger red flag is that your DD is just starting on team and you're already having concerns about an aggressive coach. Regular, formal meetings with coaches are nice, but not completely necessary as long as you have a way of getting in touch if you need to and the coaches are willing to talk. It doesn't sound like that's the case here, and you've already encountered an issue with the coaching staff that required a conversation.

Also remember that this situation will play out anytime there's an issue. Will they talk to you about your DD's fears as they pop up? Will they be willing to work with you if she has an injury? What if somewhere down the line she becomes overwhelmed by difficult classes in school and needs to take a practice off to catch up? What if there are issues of bullying from teammates or coaches? Not all of these situations arise for all kids, but every gymnast goes through something at some point that requires a meeting with a coach. As the athlete gets older the problems tend to become more serious and in my mind it's better to find a healthier gym now than to let the problem fester.
 

LJL07

Active Member
Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,373
Country
USA
I find it interesting that you told us that you're at "a top gym" in the area in the very first sentence.

I might be taking a turn down a steeper than necessary path here, but this topic makes me think back to the "gymnastics is f***ed" blog that hit the internet a few weeks ago, and so many others threads/posts on gym culture. I've been wanting to write these ideas for a while now, so here goes...

Over the months of reading and thinking about abusive gyms and that culture in our sport, I've made 3 buckets:
1. The Perpetrators -- the abusive coaches. With so many great people and coaches in the sport, these are the vile super minority (I hope).
2. The Victims - the athletes
3. The Enablers - Gym staff who know about the behavior but do nothing AND parents who know about the behavior but keep their kids at the gym because of its medal count.

We know from all walks of life and dozens and dozens and dozens of examples that the gym staff enablers will always be around. But the parents... at the very basic level of business, we are paying customers who contribute to a business's cash flow. I firmly believe that abusive gym culture can end with parents walking their checkbooks out the door, as long as they take the parent waiting in line with them.

If you and those several other parents feel there's something wrong, DO SOMETHING!
Absolutely!!! I can't LIKE this enough. It is now abundantly clear that USAG is not going to do one thing to protect children from abusive coaches, so the responsibility must fall on the parents. I have mentioned too many times to count that both of my girls spent far too long at a "top gym" in our area. They won. They got 38s. They were treated HORRIBLY. As were all of the 30+ very talented children who quit in a span of 2-3 years. (This was a small gym, so the attrition rate goes way beyond normal drop out in optional levels.) This gym has produced ZERO level 10s, but the owner/coach had a remarkable gift for getting the most average kids ever to score 38s in levels 3 and 4, and we had a team of homeschooling prize winning level 7s and 8s. This was sheerly due to repetition, insanely high hours, and the use of fear and belittling. What happened over and over is that the kids would drop out after level 7 because it gets HARD and screaming and belittling kids into doing level 7 and 8 skills simply does not work. What is MADDENING to me is that there are a small handful of parents STILL at this gym with 8 year old kids who watched all of this unfolding with their own eyes but they refuse to leave because their 8 year old won't get a 38 at any other gym and they have to consider little Suzy's "future." Really? Because little Suzy might get a 38 on level 4, but she won't make it past level 7 because she will be so burned out and miserable that she won't be able to take it anymore. These parents are responsible for allowing this gym to go on and on. I finally had to tell one parent who continued to voice her concerns to me after we left that I just could not talk to her anymore about that gym because she is choosing to stay over there. I am one of the parents @bogwoppit is referring to that left my kids at this place like a crazy person because "there was nowhere else to go." I was advised by quite a few people to commute or find a different sport. I am so sorry we stayed at that place as long as we did. We tried every gym in our area, and they were all pretty inadequate for various reasons (we just can't produce level 10s in this state) and then finally decided to try the commute that we just kept putting off. This is the only gym we have been at that has been normal and peaceful. There are level 10s, and the girls are a great group. I attribute a lot of this to how the coaches treat the girls and run their program. We do not have meetings with the coaches but they would never refuse to address a concern. They seem calm and rational. I feel comfortable with what I've seen from the coaching, and both of my girls are very happy and never complain about going to gym and it is a DRIVE. I have no idea what they will score at meets, but my parental sanity and their happiness is worth so much more than 38s.
 

GAgymmom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Judge
Oct 25, 2010
1,725
Country
USA
Wow, this thread got hijacked quickly.
I don't immediately equate "top gym" with abusive coaching or toxic atmosphere.

We do not have regular meetings. Team parent meetings quickly get off track and parents start asking all kinds of questions about their individual kid instead of allowing the meeting to progress. The few we've had over the years were supposed to be introductory or informative, but turned into Q&A sessions that were not about team or policy as a whole. So the introduction is by email, with everything spelled out and the handbook attached. BUT the door is always open for individual meetings or questions or progress updates.

Sometimes new parents get over-involved and the coaches/owners do not respond to every request or question (I'm not saying that's the case here) and the parent misinterprets that as not communicating. Or what appears to be aggressive coaching is just normal coaching that the new parent isn't used to. Class coaching and team coaching are different. (Again, not saying that's the case here, but we have very little to go on to pass judgment or even give advice).

I wouldn't be concerned about the lack of general team parent meetings, but I would be if they never meet with you personally after you request it or never answer any questions by email, text, or in person.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aero

LJL07

Active Member
Proud Parent
Jan 27, 2014
1,373
Country
USA
Wow, this thread got hijacked quickly.
I don't immediately equate "top gym" with abusive coaching or toxic atmosphere.

We do not have regular meetings. Team parent meetings quickly get off track and parents start asking all kinds of questions about their individual kid instead of allowing the meeting to progress. The few we've had over the years were supposed to be introductory or informative, but turned into Q&A sessions that were not about team or policy as a whole. So the introduction is by email, with everything spelled out and the handbook attached. BUT the door is always open for individual meetings or questions or progress updates.

Sometimes new parents get over-involved and the coaches/owners do not respond to every request or question (I'm not saying that's the case here) and the parent misinterprets that as not communicating. Or what appears to be aggressive coaching is just normal coaching that the new parent isn't used to. Class coaching and team coaching are different. (Again, not saying that's the case here, but we have very little to go on to pass judgment or even give advice).

I wouldn't be concerned about the lack of general team parent meetings, but I would be if they never meet with you personally after you request it or never answer any questions by email, text, or in person.
In a normal universe, you are correct. However, this “culture” is a HUGE problem and at compulsory levels too with young kids. Since there is apparently no recourse but through parents, I think a message about not tolerating secrecy and questioning how the kids are treated needs to be expressed and to newer parents just starting out in the sport. I certainly did not intend to get ourselves into the situation we found ourselves in when my older daughter started as a level 1. The crazy thing about this sport in particular is you find yourself in over your head before you know it. I truly think the parents choosing to remain at the gym I mentioned have an almost cult-like mentality. They feel stuck. It can happen to even well intentioned parents.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aero and John

A's Mom

New Member
Proud Parent
Nov 30, 2018
34
38
Country
USA
Wow, this thread got hijacked quickly.
I don't immediately equate "top gym" with abusive coaching or toxic atmosphere.

We do not have regular meetings. Team parent meetings quickly get off track and parents start asking all kinds of questions about their individual kid instead of allowing the meeting to progress. The few we've had over the years were supposed to be introductory or informative, but turned into Q&A sessions that were not about team or policy as a whole. So the introduction is by email, with everything spelled out and the handbook attached. BUT the door is always open for individual meetings or questions or progress updates.

Sometimes new parents get over-involved and the coaches/owners do not respond to every request or question (I'm not saying that's the case here) and the parent misinterprets that as not communicating. Or what appears to be aggressive coaching is just normal coaching that the new parent isn't used to. Class coaching and team coaching are different. (Again, not saying that's the case here, but we have very little to go on to pass judgment or even give advice).

I wouldn't be concerned about the lack of general team parent meetings, but I would be if they never meet with you personally after you request it or never answer any questions by email, text, or in person.
Ha! Thank you for this. We (as a group of parents) wanted to meet about the aggressive coach precisely because we didn't want our kids to end up in an abusive situation. We weren't seeing or hearing about aggressive behavior from other coaches, and she's not there anymore, so the fervor has died down. I think what makes me uneasy is that they're adamant about being available to meet or talk, but have been very slow to answer emails and sometimes put people off entirely. The worst example is the meeting we asked for, as a group, and never got. They're swamped, and not in front of a computer most of the time. But when you notice a pattern of silence, it's a red flag. That said, I think our raising a stink about wanting more communication helped a little. Emails are being answered. The owner is making more of a point to come talk to parents who are watching practice. And all your responses about how parent meetings and progress reports aren't necessarily the norm is reassuring. I'll just make a point of asking for a meeting with the HC after meet season.
 

gymgal

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
3,844
Country
USA
You may need to be more direct, catching the owner/coach via phone (rather than emails) during non practice hours or before/after practice to ask for a time to meet later in the week. This may be difficult for coaches but the owner should have available time since they would be at the gym during non practice times. Emails are so easy to ignore.

I would have been weary of the owner not addressing your concerns but since it seems to have resolved itself but the questionable coach no longer being there, and the owners seems to be more approachable, I would ride this out and try to stay on top of issues as they develop.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aero and LJL07

M2Abi

Member
Proud Parent
Jan 21, 2016
335
Country
USA
Both my son's and daughter's coaches are willing to talk to me whenever I have a concern. I don't need or expect hand holding but if there is an issue, I am going to address it with them. I would not go to a gym where I wasn't allowed to watch practice or the coaches were unavailable.
 

Muddlethru

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Mar 16, 2011
3,390
Country
USA
Perhaps if we put things in proper perspective, it may make this issue less bothersome and not thought of as a red flag.

In all the years that we've done a variety of sports (and we did many, fencing, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, track, tennis volleyball and even competitive dance), I rarely hear parents asking for a one on one meeting to discuss their child's progress. So it appears parents are just more invested into their kids who do gymnastics. Like everyone, I would have loved to get progress reports and understand why we would like to get progress reports, but maybe we should ask ourselves why we require this of our daughter's gymnastics coach and not the other sports coaches. Personally, I'd rather have the coach spend the hour per gymnast (because once parents get started on these "conferences" it can get long winded) on him training the girls. If your team has 60 team members, that is about 60 hours! Every time spent with a parent really takes away from either training time or the coaches time to unwind.
 

Similar threads