Life as a Gymnastics Coach
If you are a parent of a gymnast, a retired gymnast wanting to coach, or someone new to the sport but are interested in coaching, it might be helpful to understand what a coach does. Coaching gymnastics is probably one of the most rewardable jobs to do. A coach is almost like a second parent to a gymnast and no matter who you are, you will always appreciate your coach or your job. As a retired gymnast turned coach, I want to share with you my experiences and here are 10 things only gymnastics coaches will understand:
1) Coaching Gymnastics Makes You Appreciate the Sport More:
Loving the sport of gymnastics is an easy thing to do. Yes, at times it gets really hard. Gymnastics is a sport that pushes you to your absolute limit. Growing up in the sport, I thought I knew everything and boy was I wrong. As a coach I have learned more about gymnastics than I ever knew. Coaching little gymnast is not easy no matter what level they are. Each gymnast is special and as a coach, you have to have different coaching strategies for every kid. Learning how to coach the skills you once did as a gymnast, and then being able to teach kids that are amazing. It is almost like coming around full circle. Coaching gymnastics has made me appreciate the sport and I fell in love with it again but in a different way.
2) Just Because You Were a Gymnast Doesn’t Mean Coaching Will be Easy:
Of course anyone can coach but just because you did gymnastics doesn’t mean you will be an amazing coach on your first day. Doing gymnastics and coaching it are two completely different things. To coach gymnastics you must have a love for working with children of any age. Whether you’re coaching a mom and tot class or a team level gymnast, coaching can be hard. You have to be able to work with gymnast. Each kid is different so you’ll need to be able to work with any kid to bring out their potential. If you are coming in as a freshly retired gymnast be wary of how you coach. You don’t want to seem like a know it all because no one knows how to coach and spot gymnastics right off the back. Coaching gymnastics, just like doing it, is an art in itself and it takes time to perfect it.
3) You Are Always Looking Forward To Season…
The start of a new season brings a lot of hope. After a long, hard working off season you’re ready to get back on to the competition floor, and I’m sure your girls are too. Competing is exciting. There is an adrenaline rush even though you are not actually doing the gymnastics. Everything is coming together for your gymnast and now it is time to watch them shine. Winning is also a nice plus but even if your team doesn’t place first, your gymnast will still have the time of their lives. Mistakes will be made but then your gymnast will know what needs to be fixed in order to compete even better at the next me.
4) …But You Are Always Looking Forward to Off-Season:
Even though competition season is amazing, towards the end, it can be a bit tiring. Day in, day out doing the same skills and routines can get somewhat boring. Kids love competing but they also love learning new skills. Coaching those new skills is an exciting time because you get to see your gymnast grow stronger and move up to the next level. Most gyms will compete about 8-11 meets in a season and that can get exhausting. It is a lot of traveling and a lot of pressure. Competing will always be fun but after season is over, the pressure is off, and the next challenge begins.
5) You Have Accidentally Become an Athletic Trainer While Coaching:
From being a gymnast to coaching them, you become well-known to injuries. If one of your girls gets hurt you probably will have a general idea of what is wrong. Also, since you’ve been a gymnast, you can decide how serious an injury is. Little kids don’t understand pain so the smallest injury seems like the end of the world to them. On the other end though, some kids hide their pain because they want to keep going. So knowing how to tell if your gymnast is hurt is a good skill. With injuries, you also learn how to take care of them. Everyone goes through injuries and physical therapy, so being able to use those therapy skills for your gymnast will help in practice and may even help prevent injuries.
6) You Are Always Thinking (Even Dreaming) of Ways to Help Your Gymnast Improve:
Being a coach means that you are the one guiding your gymnasts throughout their gymnastics careers. Naturally, as in any sport, you’re going to want your gymnasts to improve. Gymnastics is a sport about being perfect and when you go to a meet, you will realize the little details that need to be perfected. There are an abundance of tutorial videos on the internet that can basically teach you step by step how to get a certain skill. Coaches will spend hours coming up with new ideas to help improve their gymnasts’ skills. Sometimes, even though you’re at the gym most of your day, you even dream about coaching your gymnasts. No matter what, a good coach wants the best for their gymnasts.
7) Having Your Own Personal Meet Bag is Necessary:
Growing up in the sport of gymnastics you get a lot of leos, warm-ups, and competition bags. One would assume that once you’ve retired from gymnastics, you wouldn’t have to worry about those things anymore. Wrong! As a coach, it is necessary to take your own small competition bag to the meet. Why? Because no matter how many times you remind your gymnasts to bring or do something, someone will always forget. In my meet bag, I bring items like; hair ties, hair spray, bobby pins, tape, a notebook, snacks, and band aids. Sometimes girls need help with their hair, or tape is needed immediately, or someone forgot to bring a snack and they’re hungry during the meet. It is always good to be prepared for anything that could happen.
8) Watching Them Compete is More Nerve-wrecking Then When You Competed:
Competing on a 4-inch wide beam that is 4 feet in the air can be a very nervous experience. Watching your gymnast do it, even worse. As a coach, you are going to want the best for your gymnast. You want to seem them smile at the end of a routine because you know they did their best. Seeing your gymnast fall or cry can be heartbreaking. Personally, I can say that coaching my gymnast and watching them compete was more nerve-wrecking than any competition I ever competed at. Overall, seeing the joy on their faces after a good competition will make all of the nerves worth it.
9) Normal Clothes?
Being a coach means that your closet is going to be filled with a lot of athletic clothes. Coaching requires a lot of spotting. Coaches are going to need to wear tighter athletic clothing to make it easier to spot. If a coach is wearing a loose shirt, it could make it difficult to spot a gymnast. Also, don’t forget about the chalk. Even if you are coaching an event that is nowhere near the uneven bars, rings, or parallel bar, chalk will be on your clothes no matter what. Most jobs require a more business casual dress wear, but coaching requires clothing that will prepare you to spot any gymnast, at any time.
10) Realizing That You Are Basically a Second Parent:
Probably the most rewarding factor to being a coach is how close you become to all of your gymnasts. If you think about it, you will see your gymnast sometimes more than their own parents will see them. Being a competitive gymnast requires a lot of hours in the gym. You become almost like a second parent to the gymnasts. They will look up to you and love you with all of their hearts. Coaching gymnastics is more than just a sport, you are teaching kids valuable life lessons that they will carry throughout the rest of their lives. If you are considering coaching gymnastics, do it. It is definitely one of the most rewarding experiences to have and making an impact on a child’s life is something you will never forget.
Now, if you have anything else to add to the list. Please feel free to share it with us in the comment below!