Yuri (gambit2309) wrote in gym_coaches,

Gymnast?? Coach?

I posted this in another gymnastics community, but this one might be better for it. Thank you for reading.

OK... so this is kind of a long story. Well it's really not, but I like details. I would appreciate lots of responses and opinions. Ok, well let's start at the beginning. I started gymnastics when I was 15 years old. Originally just for my high school team. All the local high school teams work out at a city gymnastics club. Additionally, some of the club coaches are also high school coaches, so it's all very interconnected. But anyway, when I first started, the men's head optional coach kind of took me in and trained me. So I never had to train under the high school coach. This was very fortuitous because I got wayyy more practice and a far more experienced coach. I'm not sure exactly why he took me onto his team.

So I trained about 4-5 hours a day 5 days a week, originally just to be able to compete for high school but by the end of the first season I was also competing on team as a Men’s Class 1 (now it's called Level 10 if anyone knows anything about men's gymnastics). Anyway, I wasn't really a Class 1 but that's the class I competed. I got good really fast apparently. Giants, blind changes, pirouettes, free hips, a vault over release on high bar. Tsuk fulls on vaults, double backs on rings and all that stuff. Nothing to fancy, but good I guess for a year or two of gymnastics.

People would be like, omg you've gotten so good so fast, can you imagine where you'd be if you started just like 5 years earlier or like when your were 6. My coach would say the same thing after I learned a new skill "too bad you didn't start a few years back." Made me feel really depressed, but also even more determined to get better and better. While other gymnasts jacked around during practice, I worked my ass of every day. My coach would say I didn't know when to give up. After my first season on team I won gymnast of the year, which is like this really huge thing at my gym.

Ok, so. About a year after starting I was asked to start coaching boys classes at my gym. So I started doing that too and still working out and competing. My senior year I applied to the air force academy and was hoping to do gymnastics there, maybe just as a vault specialist or rings or something, I wasn't expecting much. I just wanted to be able to continue doing gymnastics. Well, suffice it to say I didn't get into the academy for whatever reason. I had the grades and fitness testing and everything, and they said they ran out of room. So I said screw it and went to a University really close to my house to save money before medical school. The first year of college I continued working out and competing full time for my team because I hadn't reached the age maximum for Class 1 yet. I also got really into coaching and began coaching the compulsory girls team at my gym. After the first year of college I couldn't really do gymnastics anymore because I was coaching so much and taking more than a full load at my university. Additionally, if I wanted to compete more I would have had to go Elite, and that would pretty much have meant cutting back on school and quitting coaching to train. And cutting back on school or quitting coaching wasn't an option for me. So I told myself that I would be satisfied with coaching and working out when I could for fun.

Then...and I won't go into the details, but I and a lot of other coaches had some salary disputes at my gym and I got mad and decided to go coach for another gym that offered me a lot more money and better hours. Since I didn't really have an argument with the coaches at my gym, just with the salary people from the city, I was invited to work out whenever I wanted too, as was traditional for former team members. The catch with the new gym was that they are a lot less competitive and the head coach has totally different ideas about coaching and success and stuff.

Anyway, I've been at this new gym for about 5 months and it's just been really frustrating having barely any hours to coach these girls, watching them loose skills or not get them at all because they are hardly ever in the gym, and getting really bad gymnasts to train who have no determination at all. Throughout this whole process I've been stepping it up at school and have had barely any time for my own gymnastics and it's been really depressing.

Sometimes I'll watch a gymnastics routine on TV or something and just break into tears because I think of what could have been if I had started earlier. And so that brings me to today. Today was my first meet with my new team that I coach. They did so horribly compared to my standards. I mean I guess I couldn't have expected more considering what I get out of them in practice, but it was just so depressing and frustrating for me. I got really mad and just hated the whole day. I started thinking, I just wanna quit this gym and find a more competitive gym, some place where the girls will actually work and not just socialize, and where the head coach will have a philosophy more similar to mine and push the girls like I know they need to be pushed. When I say these girls did bad...I mean bad. Scores form the 4's to the 7's with just barely any 8's.

I got home all depressed and started thinking. Why am I reacting this way? What is making me so mad and upset? I mean I knew this program was wayyyyy less competitive than my old gym. I knew it was way different, and I knew the head coach’s philosophy was way different than mine. So why am I reacting this way. And then I had a thought. Am I really upset about these girls not doing well, or am I projecting my own regrets about not having started gymnastics earlier. I mean it shocks me to think that I'm trying to live through these girls, because that's not what gymnastics should be about. On the one hand I loveeeeee coaching, but I can't get over this sadness/depression/regret of not having succeeded in my own gymnastics career. It's not even so much that I wanted to win nationals or to go to the Olympics or something. Nothing like that, I just HATE not knowing what could have been. If I had started when I was 5 and quit when I was 10 that would have been good enough for me, but at least I would have known. Now I will never know... and it eats at me every single day.

How do I get over these feelings and continue coaching without regret. And how do I keep from projecting my own failed dreams onto my girls.
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Dude... it's so difficult, and I understand alot of your feelings, as my situation was similar (I started at 18 years old tho)

The only things I can offer up is on the work ethic part, and making them want to work, I've learned over the years that no amount of getting pissy or killing them will make them want to work... I've only found one way. Once a few start getting good, or if you have a few at all that have a good work ethic, focus on them. Not blantanly, but enough so they start to put it togeter, and once they do, slowly, the rest will start to follow. It's a peer pressure thing, or that success is contagious, or something like that, but all of a sudden, they don't want to be left behind, and start working harder... it does take a while, but this is the only 'shotgun' type approach I've found.

As far as the feelings of what could have been, yes the suck. I face those in more than one aspect of my life. I can only say the same thing anyone could say. It's over, that was then, this is now. While a sense of wonder will always linger about what could have been, you just can't keep looking back. From what you read, I'm guessing you are younger than I am (26) and even if you'll never be an olympian, you are young, healty, and if you've endured half as much as I imagine you have from your story, I'm sure you are a very strong individual with almost limitless possibility. Use all the strengths you've gained (which are many) and let go of the deadweight of the past.

Good luck!
I only coach rec kids, so I dont really have experience with team stuff, except level 4's, so I dont know how much help I can be, but Ill give it a shot.

Its compleatly understandable to be dissapointed with how your girls did. Even when I was competing I would get dissapointed with the girls on my team who did badly, and get frustrated with them when they were basically slacking off.

How old are the girls you coach? And compared to what level? Because every once in a while yes, you will get those 9 year old level 8's who did amazing, and just have total natural talent at the sport, but most of the time, when you get girls who are 7-11 years old, no matter what level they are, sometimes things just dont click. They may be working hard at the gym, but dont have the talent, and just dont compleatly understand how to make thier gymnastics better. A lot of it is the maturing factor.

Ill give the example of my sister. Right now she is doing her 2nd year as a level 8, and is 11 years old. And I mean shes good, not great. Like on beam, all last year our coach would have to stand there for series and dismounts. Untill she went to the first meet of the season this year, against some really good girls. And then she was back working out after the meet, having gotten 5th AA or something, and from what she was telling me, stuff just started clicking. She started going for stuff on beam w/out the coach standing there, stopped waiting for like 10 seconds before going into series, dismount, ect. She got her standing back tuck, and after doing 3 round off full dismounts of beam, asked her coach if she could do a 1 1/2, and she used to NEVER do stuff like that. So the point of that was that it just takes sometimes takes some maturing for your girls to finally realize how to keep form, and what it really takes to win.

And it doesnt hurt to start some healty competition amoung the girls. LIke for bars, say "ill judge your routines, and if 5 out of 6 of you get over a 7, then we can move on" or something along the lines of see how many beam routines you make in a row. or this many routines in 20 min. something like that. and always always always make form an issue.

Hopefully that helps.
there's not much you can do if your head coach doesn't have the same training philosophies as you do. people outside of the sport don't understand and it happens in gyms everywhere. not knowing details or your girls, the only thing I can suggest is to get to know your girls one by one, to see what makes them tick. they could even be there because they're made to rather than want to? the highest paid coaching position that I held were like this. I didn't enjoy it because they weren't there for themselves, rather because they had to be there.
i can also relate to having started gym late, I didn't start til I was 10, and even then I was invited to train elite, which (later to my fury) my parents turned down, despite being offered sponsorship from family friends.
nothing I could do about it, but count the blessings for my childhood, and now i'v found myself another sport to be passionate about, I wouldn't live without it, and a big plus is i still train gymnastics to compliment it!!!
(it's capoeira!)
I hope you're able to find your passion... and like alphakami said, Good luck!!!
OK...well, can't help you with your competition problems (I only coach rec kids), but I can help with your feelings of regret.

I began gymnastics when I was 10. I was already closing in on 5' tall, I weighed something like 90 lbs., you know, not suited for the sport AT ALL. I was also scared to death of just about everything (I essentially quit over a skill I was afraid of).

To make a long story short, I stopped taking classes 1 1/2 years ago, though I do occasioanlly strut my stuff for the kids I teach (they think a back walkover is the coolest thing in the world). I still wonder about what might have been. Could I have progressed to the next level if I'd been a little less afraid, or worked a little bit harder, or if the stars had been aligned correctly...you get the idea.

You need to accept that you cannot change the past. What's done is done. No amount of wondering will make the outcome different. Revisiting it constantly will only make you depressed. Like alphakami said, use what you gained from your time in gymnastics and let go of the past.

I hope this helps and good luck.