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Questions to ask coach when looking for a new gym

CuriousCate

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Proud Parent
Jul 12, 2016
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USA
We are in the process of looking around for a new place for my DD to train. Her current gym is very successful and she has been quite successful there. However, with their increasing success, I've noticed a culture shift that I do not like. She is young (almost 9) and rather sensitive. As she moved into optionals with the increased pressure, I've noticed that she no longer seems happy there. Actually, the past two weeks, she seems very UNhappy there. We have finally convinced her that a gym change may be in order for her. I am due to speak with the owner/head coach of another team in our area tonight. I feel like I have one chance to get this right, you know? What questions should I put on my list for tonight?

THANKS!
 
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John

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Proud Parent
May 5, 2017
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I think you will learn more watching practice then speaking to potential coaches. You know your daughter better than anyone and probably have a handle on why she is no longer happy at her current gym. See if the environment at potential new gyms is a better fit. This sport is hard and as the levels increase so does the intensity. DD's current coach is very intense and seems to like team score over individual scores. He gives corrections always even as the athlete receives praise or high five or a hug.

Take away for me was to speak to Dani and let her know that corrections are to improve you not a measure of your performance. Good luck to you on your search.
 

Lazymom

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Proud Parent
Oct 14, 2017
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USA
For me, having a open dialogue about my child’s wellbeing and progress is critical. So here are some questions I would ask:

1. What can I expect in terms of communication with the coaches about my child: can we text? Can we have monthly / quarterly in-person meetings?

2. What’s your strategy about dealing with set backs, whether injury, mental issues, vacation time, growth spurts.

3. What are your thoughts about the best way to motivate a gymnast? What do you think the challenges are in motivating a gymnast?

4. What is your plan for my child for the next few years, assuming everything does to plan? How will we communicate if things change?

5. What are your expectations regarding hours and finances for the next year or so? What is my family’s commitment? When do you review and change practice and financials, and how is that communicated?

6. How do you think an ideal parent should participate in a gymnast’s work? Do you mind us attending practice? How should a parent respond to a bad day? How do you want me to communicate thoughts or concerns?

I would listen for things that indicate a child centered approach, and openness to parent communication (though it is reasonable and sensible to place limits on that - like don’t text us, but you can set up meetings). I wouldn’t have my kid at a gym where they said they didn’t want parents to watch practice (though it’s ok to say that it isn’t always helpful to have parents attend every practice). I would listen carefully to the answer to questions about coaching through set backs. Every kid has them, and you need to know they will support and encourage your child if there is an injury or another kind of set back. I would listen carefully to their thoughts about dealing with mental blocks and motivation. Do they seem like they have thought about the best strategies to use? Or do they seem like they will be intolerant of these normal experiences.

Are they straightforward, professional and organized about financial and time commitments?
 

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