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For Parents Why are you still in gymnastics?

Madden3

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Proud Parent
Aug 24, 2013
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Many here (including me) use this forum as a gym parent support group. This means it is a place to vent as well as celebrate, but generally people having a hard time or having concerns are the ones seeking advice and support. So on balance, it might look like a bunch of people who have serious issues with the sport. But this would indicate a fairly shallow reading of this forum imo.

When my son started HS, he quit gymnastics and started running cross country with the HS team. That was our first experience with bad coaching. Not "abusive," but the kind of behavior that sets up an abusive situation. Manipulative, played favorites, set kids on a pedestal just to knock them down, put training before academics, and badly over trained the kids. Coach also had a bit of a cult of personality thing going, which I learned quickly when I tried to talk to a couple other team parents about my concerns. I never understood this as it was not like this team was particularly distinguished.

Unlike the options somewhat frequently available with gymnastics, there were no options for staying in Cross country with a different coach, other than switching schools, and my son loved his school and was (and still is) doing very well there. After pulling up with an injury from over-training late in his first season, my son quit and later moved to track. He is less suited for track than cross country physically, but now has a great, supportive coach and was able to enjoy being involved with a competitive sport again.

But for several months there, it was a frustrating, unhappy situation. How I wished for an online, anonymous forum of cross country parents where I felt safe and welcomed to ask questions, to gain an understanding of what was normal, what wasn't, and just to vent to those who understood the sport. I searched and while there were cross country forums, I found none that provided that specific space for parents of athletes to (more or less) freely speak.

Our limited experience at one school with one poor coaching situation does not tell me anything about HS cross country as a sport, and I would never judge the whole sport by this one experience. But it was a real experience that impacted my child's life, and it would have helped to be able to talk to others about it who may have understood.
 

cmg

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Proud Parent
Jul 2, 2018
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Unfortunately there are bad coaches in every sport. I am a runner and competed in both high school and college (walk on). Running seems so simple but it takes a great coach to create a running program that gradually builds strength and endurance in new runners. I don't know where you live, but there are track teams out there similar to club gymnastics that might have better coaches. Especially over the summer your son might be able to learn from better coaches and then be able to manage his high school coach. I think AAU or other youth programs might have some information, or talk to the track coach that he liked. He should also try pole vault as a former gymnast.
 

Madden3

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Aug 24, 2013
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Wow, Madden, I am SO sorry to hear this about your son's experience. Very, very frustrating! But I'm glad he's been able to find something that works.
Unfortunately there are bad coaches in every sport. I am a runner and competed in both high school and college (walk on). Running seems so simple but it takes a great coach to create a running program that gradually builds strength and endurance in new runners. I don't know where you live, but there are track teams out there similar to club gymnastics that might have better coaches. Especially over the summer your son might be able to learn from better coaches and then be able to manage his high school coach. I think AAU or other youth programs might have some information, or talk to the track coach that he liked. He should also try pole vault as a former gymnast.

Thank you. Things are ok now- (well, of course not really, as now the school is closed and group practices not allowed and all tracks and jump pits around here are closed, as are "regular" gyms, so there is no opportunity to do his sports at all, aside what training he can do on his own- but you know what I mean.) I wanted to express how helpful Chalkbucket has been for me, and how gratitude for that support came into stark focus for me when my kid started another sport and was having coaching problems.
 
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Go Figure

New Member
Proud Parent
Nov 8, 2018
13
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USA
Gymnastics is hard to explain to non-gymnastics families. When non-gymnastics people find out that my daughter trains 20 hours per week (25 hours per week in the summer), I sometimes hear "really, you make her go THAT much!". Do you really think I could force my pre-teen daughter to do anything for 20 hours per week? Especially a conditioning-heavy sport like gymnastics. She does it because she is devoted to it.

While we are on the topic.....most gymnastics families also don't do gymnastics because they are expecting a college scholarship or think their child will go to the Olympics (only 4-5 girls every 4 years make it this far, we are not all delusional to think that our daughters will definitely be one of those girls). If those things happen, it's just gravy. For most of us, we spend thousands of dollars every year on gymnastics because we are lucky to be in a position to afford it and because our daughters (and sons I'm sure) are dedicated to the sport.

Having said all of this, we are not blind to the underbelly of the sport, particularly the mental abuse of some coaches. I am very careful with my daughter's health and safety (both physical and mental). The two and a half months of Stay at Home orders was excruciating for my daughter because she was unable to go to the gym. Every time the orders were extended, it was a blow to her psyche. Due to a series of very sad and unfortunate circumstances, we had to leave our old gym after the lock-down lifted. We were at three different gyms from June through mid-July until we found the best combination of new gym/new coaches. The best combination for our family means caring coaches that are careful to avoid injury due to over-training but focused on the best progressions specific to our child's physical and mental abilities.....acknowledging and addressing fears and making adjustments based on what works best for the individual.

Gymnastics is my daughter's world and much of that has to do with the relationships she has with her teammates and coaches. There are so many life lessons that she has learned from gymnastics. The minute she tells me that she doesn't want it all anymore is the minute that she is done.