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When to spot---or not?

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gym law mom

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Ok coaches(any parents want to weigh in on this too), I have some concerns about the lack of spotting being done at my daughter's gym. Maybe I'm overreacting, then maybe I'm not. I understand opinions may differ widely. Right now she is training L8 skills. Coach wants all the skills in place by the end of July. This means yurchenko on vault table to whale mat(would prefer to resi), giants, giant flyaways, pirouette on bars, full on floor with some front tumbling pass and multiple leaps/jumps on beam with BHS series and RO-back tuck(in the pit). All the new girls are coming from a season as a L6 with some uptraining. Right now, the only skill that my daughter has the major fear of is the series on beam. She has been doing them for about 1 month by herself on whale beam. Learned the RO-back tuck by watching a few other girls--coach never took her aside and showed her specifics.

Ok, we know she can do the series on a regulation beam---as long as there is a whale mat under it. The coach is pushing and pushing for the girls to go to a regular beam and do these. She asked for a spot at last practice(she was willing to go to regular beam) and was told "no, you already know how to do it." When she asked the coach to just stand close she got the same response. The only skills she has been spotted on are giants on trench bar(she's now doing them on doubleset) and her giant flyaway(currently on pit bar). They do not spot yurchenkos, any of the tumbling or any beam. She is so frustrated because she wants this skill, but the fear is taking over. Also I'm concerned about the skills these girls are attempting without a coach standing there.

I know just because a coach is there doesn't mean you can't/won't get hurt, but it can add just that little bit of confidence to get them past the hesitation which does cause injuries. Plus I would think the coach can clearly see if the girl has correct technique. This is not a new gym(been around about 20+ yrs) and trains up throug elite, BUT are they taking a too laid back approach to hands on coaching?
 
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gracefulone

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It is all in the coach's philosophy. Some gyms are very strict about giving very few or no spots, others are more lenient. In the case of your daughter, is it possible to take her to another gym nearby for an open gym or something where she would be able to have a spot?
 
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hammy

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Gymlawmom---you have every right to be concerned about this issue. I'll try to answer your question from two viewpoints--coach and gymnast.

Gymnast Point of View:
Having a coach avialable to spot was extremely important to me. Gymnastics is a scary sport, and I felt that having a coach spot new skills was important. Having a coach spot a skill is often one of the progressions in learning that skill, and it is a confidence booster. Learning a series on beam is extremely scary, and I was always comforted by having a spot while learning it.

Coach Point of View:
It is hard to see every angle of a skill that the gymnast completes. Spotting a gymnast will help the coach get a feel of how the gymnast is completing the skill, as well as the confidence level of the gymnast. I feel that spotting and ensuring the gymnast's safety (to the best of your ability) is a responsibility of a coach, and for that very reason it is important that the coach be available to assist in learning skills. It is the coach's responsibility to teach the gymnast a skill, piece by piece; it's not their job to just sit back and let the gymnast do whatever they want.

Hopefully that was helpful; I could go on forever discussing the issue. One downside to spotting is the fact that some gymnasts become dependent on the coach, but that can be worked out. I suggest having your daughter talk to the coach one on one, not during practice time, and have her explain to the coach that she feels she needs spot on certain skills, and that having a spot will boost her confidence. There's a difference between "knowing the skill" and having the confidence to perform the skill.

Keep me posted
 

JBS

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Opinions on spotting does vary widely....here is my view.

Bars - I spot everything I can. Most elements on bars cannot be trained anywhere but bars. By actually taking the gymnast through the skills, they learn what the skill feels like.

Beam - I spot almost nothing. Beam is a mental event and spotting leads to fear later on. My girls are only allowed on the beams if they can perform a skill perfectly on a line on the floor. I will spot them on the first few, after that, they are on their own. They may choose any height beam they would like and they may stack as many mats under it as they want, but I will not spot them. As time goes on, I challenge them to go higher or pull mats out. They make the decisions, not me. They have the power, not me. By letting the gymnasts move themselves, fear is not a problem.

They are not allowed to put mats over the top of the beam unless I specifically tell them to. An example would be the beginning stages of a back handspring.

I will spot in order to put them in the proper position on certain skills. This is similar to bars, except it is normally very slow on beam. For example, slowing them down on a cartwheel to show them that their head should be looking between their arms to watch the first foot land.

Floor - I am not opposed to spotting at all.

Vault - I spot the back side of the vault. If they cannot vault without running into the front side of the table, they should not be vaulting.


Hope that helps a little.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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My prediction is that no two coaches will ever give you the same response to the question of when to spot and when not to.

With the beam series in particular, I personally would not refuse to stand there (though I might turn down the request for a spot, depending on the kid), though I fully understand why the coach is doing this.

The entire point of beam, as far as I can see, is to screw with your head. Beam isn't about what you can physically do with your body, it's about what you have the guts to try. Giving a kid the security blanket of having a coach stand there can sometimes help them get over this fear, but it can also sometimes make them dependent on that security blanket, which causes them to take much longer to get the skill comfortably by themselves.

It depends on the kid, it depends on the skill, it depends on the coach. There are no clearcut answers on when a girl should be spotted or not. I know of some gyms that never ever spot girls on beam -- and they've produced some fantastic gymnasts. There are ways of teaching almost every skill -- not just on beam, but on every event -- without ever spotting the gymnasts, and some coaches prefer these methods.

Personally, I'm a very hands-on coach. I like to spot everything. But I don't very often work with any of our optional girls.

Another thing to keep in mind is that often when girls are working on skills at that level, there's very little a spotter can do. Especially as they get older and thus heavier, they need to get used to learning the skills without being spotted.

EDIT: looks like a few other people posted replies while I was typing mine.
In response to graceful one's comment, I would not advise taking her to another gym to get a spot on the skill. If your coach does not want to spot her, it is because he thinks she will be better off not being spotted. Taking your daughter to another gym to get a spot on it will likely undermine the coaches goals as well as undermining your daughter's confidence in that coach, which can cause huge and irreparable damage down the road. A kid will benefit more from an average coach whom they trust than from a brilliant coach they don't trust.
 
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JBS

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The entire point of beam, as far as I can see, is to screw with your head.
So true...I tell my girls that in ancient times, a pool of sharks was below the beams. That is why, to this day, we still have blue mats under the beams.
 
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hammy

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Just some stuff to add to what I've previously said and to comment on other comments...

I agree that beam was created to mess with gymnasts' minds.

If a gymnast is perfectly able to complete the skill safely I say go for it without the spot. One thing to remember is that the coach wouldn't tell you do something by yourself if they didn't think you were safe enough or prepared enough to do it safely.

I agree with GT : "My prediction is that no two coaches will ever give you the same response to the question of when to spot and when not to."

Vault: My coach always spotted the 2nd half of the vault like JBS was describing.

Bars: My coach spotted things, depending on the gymnast and their abilities.

Floor: My coach only spotted double backs and things of that nature. We were never spotted on twisting, and if we were spotted on twisting it would be my coach standing there for the ending of the skill. Personally I feel that if a gymnast cannot perform the skill safely on the trampoline or off the floor into a foam pit or onto a mat, then they are not ready to do that skill on the actual floor.

As far as going to another gym...I must admit that I've done it before. I went to the other gym looking for a different viewpoint on the skill. However, I tried not to go behind my coach's back about it. I nearly perfected the skill at the other gym because I heard what I was doing incorrectly in a different way than how my coach was explaining it.

However, going simply for the meaning of having a spot might be a slightly different situation. Try having your daughter start with a few series on a low beam then move up to a medium beam with no mats under it. Slowly progress, doing some at both places until the confidence is there. In my opinon, a high beam with a whale mat under it is no different than a low beam so it doesn't make any difference. However, transitioning from a low beam to a medium beam with no mats would be different.

Hopefully I was some help.
 

JBS

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Floor: My coach only spotted double backs and things of that nature. We were never spotted on twisting, and if we were spotted on twisting it would be my coach standing there for the ending of the skill. Personally I feel that if a gymnast cannot perform the skill safely on the trampoline or off the floor into a foam pit or onto a mat, then they are not ready to do that skill on the actual floor.
I agree...I don't spot twisting.
 

gym law mom

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Thanks for all the feedback(really)---anymore from coaches/gymnasts etc. is appreciated. Of all the skills I mentioned the series is the only one she is not doing by herself. I can understand from a coaching point of view you don't want the girls dependent on the coach always being there to spot. A few weeks ago several of them starting balking on the yurchenkos(mine included). They have only done timers since late March and then suddenly the big push to take it to the vault table. Oh--there is no spotting for Yurchenkos and sorry I think that is plain dumb/dangerous. What was happening was most were hitting on the front of the vault and then going off in crazy positions. 1 girl who I would describe as tough as nails actually got so fearful, she stopped vaulting completely---coach couldn't even get her to do 1/2 ons. My daughter did do a private with the coach(one of the few she's ever done) and they worked through it. He let her go back to using an 8" mat over a lower vault. This team has only 6 girls(1 is repeating the level--her idea) and fear can be quite contagious---can make for a viscious cycle.

Grace--only gym where she could do open gym would not be a good idea. Word that she was there would be back in our gym in less than 24 hours. It would not be pleasant for her to come back to that situation.

All she wants is for the coach to spot her for 1 maybe 2 practices. She knows she can do the skill. As she says, "my feet say go and my mind says no."

BTW--She is doing double backs and standing them up in the pit. Coach noticed and threw an 8" mat in the pit---she's now standing them up on that. Has never been spotted doing those either.
 

JBS

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Sometimes coaches let their egos get in the way with the whole spotting issue. I know I push it too far sometimes. Just talk to the coach(es), let them know your feelings. A coach will normally spot a child if a parent asks.

Be sure to tell the coach that you are only looking for a few spots and then you will also expect your daughter to do the skill on her own.
 

LemonLime

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I'm no coach, but my dd is going into L10 and is never spotted on beam, floor or vault. She is sometimes spotted on shapes on bars. Everyone is taught this way. I don't know which is preferable, but the girls do well and there isn't a lot of fear in the gym. They do do endless repetitions on basics, on floor, on floor beam, on rod, on tumble trak, yadda yadda yadda, before they move up to the "real" skill, but there is no spotting really of any sort.
 

TDiver

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Lemonlime,
I was just wondering if even though the coaches do not spot your daughter, do they stand there at all on skills? I was just curious because at level 10 you are doing some pretty big skills, and especially on release moves on bars I have rarely not seen a coach stand there.

Gymlawmom,
I could understand if the coach did not want them to get dependent on a spot for a skill, but standing there for the first few tries, or at least the first try should be done. I was also scared to do the series on the beam when I was younger and wanted a spot also.

My coaches have always been pretty good about the spotting thing. We get spotted when first learning skills, and all of the levle 10s (there were eleven of us) got spotted or a coach stood there on release moves on bars. For beam all they usually did was stand beside the beam for the mental factor. And floor double backs were spotted and for twisting my coach just stood there. For vault it would be to stand at the back of it for yurchenkos and learning new things. But after a little while we would just do vault with no spotting at all.

-Tori
 
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hammy

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A trick for yurchankos:
Lots and lots and lots onto a stack of mats or a whale mat/resi mat. Then, so them on the horse a little lower and slowly raise the horse....sorry table (i'm old school for most of vault). I personally don't like the idea of putting the mat on top of the table for vault because it allows for the extra mental cushion so to say when learning the skill.

Personally I loved during yurchankos, and they're not too difficult to learn. I found them to be more fun the Tsuks. A yurchanko is really all about the roundoff and the preflight, and I don't think that it should really be a vault that is feared. That's just my personal opinion on the skill, and I've had a few teammates that didn't care for them--it all depends on the gymnast.
 

gym law mom

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Thanks to all for your thoughts and advice. To generally answer a few posters, yes I think coach ego is playing a role in this. Also the normal training schedule for a L8 has been rushed this year due to going to an out of state meet in Feb., coach illness and some meet all our kids are supposed to do in 2 weeks. No, these girls will not compete anything L8---coach did talk about doing some L7 stuff, but they haven't heard anything about that for a couple of weeks. Their season doesn't start til Jan.

Where is the coach normally while the girls are doing their "assignments?" I've seen him sitting on a mat clear across the gym or perched on the vault. He rarely stands close to them(bars might be the exception). When my daughter had her private for vault, he sat on a balance beam about 10' away from where she was vaulting and gave hand signal corrections. This coach also coaches L5 and L6 and is much more hands on with them as is the other compulsory coach---its a huge change to start doing skills and see your coach wander away and sit down and chat with other gymnasts/coaches.

Hammy, my daughter would have no problem with the yurchenko if she was still doing it on a lower vault table---she doesn't even need the mat. Their problem is hitting on the front of the vault and then hitting their feet on the back and being totally out of control.

As for asking for a spot, I've discussed that and she feels that would be scarier than the actual skill. Said if she balks then the coach will just yell and scream even more. We did ask the coach about his approach to getting these skills and he said he "hates being mean and nasty, but thats the only way to get them past their fear." Right now, she wants to just hang it all up---this gym and the sport.
 

audra

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Have you tried to talk to the coach at all, or is there any other coach in the gym you could talk to about this, it would be such a shame if she was to give something she loves because of fear.

As everyone else has said coaching philosophies are all different and sometimes coaches push too hard not realizing they are actually breaking the gymnast down and not instill the confidence that is needed to complete the skills. so many times we want them to do it on their own and be proud of their own accomplishments. Although from what you said that is not what this coach is doing, they just want done because they said to do it.

Good Luck and keep us posted on your daughters progress- I hope she sticks with it and gets through the fear.
 

LemonLime

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Lemonlime,
I was just wondering if even though the coaches do not spot your daughter, do they stand there at all on skills? I was just curious because at level 10 you are doing some pretty big skills, and especially on release moves on bars I have rarely not seen a coach stand there.


-Tori
No, they do not stand there at all, although for shapes on bars they are there. For instance, they did stand there on the shootover at the beginning to spot to hand. For single-rail releases, the gymnasts do drills for a long time, then go to the pit bar - no spot.

No one stands there at all on fx or beam or vault. They don't do a skill on the real apparatus, however, unless they have done it for many months on matted drill stations.
 
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hammy

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Personally, I beg to differ with the coach's method of "getting the gymnasts over fear." However, that's where coach's preference and what not comes into play. Personally, when dealing with fear (depending on the gymnast) i like to take baby steps and encourage each improvement.
 

JBS

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Lemonlime,
I was just wondering if even though the coaches do not spot your daughter, do they stand there at all on skills? I was just curious because at level 10 you are doing some pretty big skills, and especially on release moves on bars I have rarely not seen a coach stand there.
Our 10's rarely have a coach standing in on their release moves. For the first couple maybe. If they are throwing their skills on the real bars, they have already done months of drills (many spotted) leading up to it. For release moves, they are taught to fall correctly. If they miss the bar, they are still perfectly safe.
 

gym law mom

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Hammy, I'd like to bring you here to coach for a week or so. All the yelling accomplishes is having 2 girls in tears at just about every practice---mine won't cry in the gym, so she just pulls away/puts up a wall. He has 5 new girls on this team and only 1 is doing the series by herself and she came to the gym a year ago able to do it then had a 8mo backslide until she finally came around to doing it again.

She came home last night totally defeated. Said she had been "kicked off vault." Asked why and she said the coach said her vaults were "scary to watch." She was not told what she was doing wrong(she thinks buckling her knees on the board) and then was told to go do extra strength. Asked her where the coach was while they were vaulting and she said sitting over on a pile of mats. Then she and another girl had to do 15 rope climbs because they wouldn't do their series on regular beam. The other girl was crying the whole time she was climbing the rope. Great---now punishment for not doing a skill correctly.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Hammy, I'd like to bring you here to coach for a week or so. All the yelling accomplishes is having 2 girls in tears at just about every practice---mine won't cry in the gym, so she just pulls away/puts up a wall. He has 5 new girls on this team and only 1 is doing the series by herself and she came to the gym a year ago able to do it then had a 8mo backslide until she finally came around to doing it again.

She came home last night totally defeated. Said she had been "kicked off vault." Asked why and she said the coach said her vaults were "scary to watch." She was not told what she was doing wrong(she thinks buckling her knees on the board) and then was told to go do extra strength. Asked her where the coach was while they were vaulting and she said sitting over on a pile of mats. Then she and another girl had to do 15 rope climbs because they wouldn't do their series on regular beam. The other girl was crying the whole time she was climbing the rope. Great---now punishment for not doing a skill correctly.
The refusal to spot I understood, but this sounds way overboard, and this is the sort of thing that would start me looking for a new gym if it were my kid.
 
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