On Sportsmanship for Gymnasts, Coaches and Parents

On the long drive home after a very successful weekend at an Invitational my coaches and I had an opportunity to reflect on the behavior of some coaches, parents and gymnasts. We were in agreement that sportsmanship is really something NOT addressed enough in our sport. It came down to that there are some coach/club owners who allow such behavior out of parents from their gym that it becomes an embarrassment to the sport itself. Many of these same coaches are so focused on the score that they do not see an exemplary performance. These coaches are often the “Bad Winners”.

To get good at winning, you have to get good at losing.

The bottom line is that you or your team is NOT going to win every competition you go to. All winning streaks come to an end. When I first started coaching, my goal was to have each gymnast, and therefore, each team competitive at each level. I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of 1st place team trophies but we were going to have a good product on the floor. As my team grew and my coaching staff improved we started winning more, but my goal was the same. To be competitive. I made sure that every gymnast, coach and parent knew this.

To the Gymnasts: If you have a good meet and someone has a better meet, congratulate them. Appreciate their hard work and determination. It is OK to want to beat the competition, but beat them on their BEST day. If you have a bad meet (and you will), get over it, get back to the gym and get to work. I have seen so many gymnasts not be able to recover from a bad event or a bad meet. Move on. Read my post on Failure, A Prerequisite for Success.

To the Coaches: Practice the 6 P’s. Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. If you plan and Prepare your gymnasts in practice then your job in the meet should be easier. You can not control the competition and you can not control the score. If you go to a meet and get your butt kicked, congratulate that team. As difficult as it is, try to catch some great performances from other teams.

To the Parents: Keep in mind, you never know whose parents or grandparents you may be sitting next to. Say NOTHING negative. Appreciate a good routine regardless of what color leotard that child has on. During awards, clap for every place whether 1st place or 101st place. In the team competition, be respectful. Cheer for every place. If your team wins- Be happy but try not to be over the top with your cheering.

The following is a letter I sent out to parents from my gym following the last competition.


There is no way I can possibly tell you how proud we are of your children. Not just for their performance in the meet but for their composure, and sportsmanship they displayed. In every meet, someone is going to have a good meet and others are going to struggle. Athletes at both ends of the spectrum handled their individual situations with poise and dignity. They cheered for their team mates, they cheered for other competitors. During awards they were respectful of the competition, they were showed real class. This is one thing as coaches we expect of your children at competitions and we are so happy that they acted accordingly.

At FAR TOO MANY competitions, we have seen and heard groups of parents that cheered and acted like they were at a football game. It is always awkward when a team of parents is cheering for “their team” to the point of being obnoxious. I am so happy that this has NEVER been a parent from Atlantic. We really dominated this competition at every level  and age group. During the competition I heard many of you applaud for a good performance regardless of what color leotard that gymnast had on. During awards I heard you cheer for every place from top to bottom.

As I left the meet and went over to thank the Meet Director, John, and his brother Gene (the guy giving out awards) they congratulated Atlantic as a team for having a good weekend and then commented on what a classy group of parents we had. We shared a few stories of parents from other gyms who are not as gracious guests and really are an embarrassment to the sport as a whole.

For being such great parents and teaching your kids such great values I THANK YOU. I AM PROUD.


A New Class Management Program

I recently  heard about a new Class Management Program. It seems pretty cool and solves many of the problems that club owners face. I requested some info and here is what I received.

Aces Management Systems
Aces Software

Aces Management Systems introduces Aces Software.  Aces Software is the industry’s newest Web Based School Management System.  Aces Software is positioning itself as a complete business package with its ability to handle: Online Registrations, Class Management, Online Billing, Internal Communication System, Task Management, Financial Reporting to INCLUDE EXPENSES, and more!  Aces Software is also leveraging todays latest technology tools to make it faster, more efficient, and easier to use than its competitors.  However, the greatest advantage to using Aces Software is its economical advantage!  Aces Software ONLY costs $99/Month, and for a LIMITED time the cost is only $79/Month…FOR LIFE for those who take advantage!  The monthly cost has NO STRINGS attached…there are NO LIMITS to the number of customers and there are NO LIMITS to the number of users!

For more information visit our website at www.aces-ms.com or email info@aces-ms.com.

Wit & Wisdom January 27

“When your signature dish is a hamburger in between a doughnut and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff  knowing all along that you’ve got Type 2 diabetes…it’s in bad taste” Anthony Bourdain, on fellow celebrity chef Paula Deen.

“Listen, Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea, but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Damn it, go back on board!” Gregorio De Falco, Italian coast guard official to Captain Francesco Schettino of the sinking Coast Concordia

“Women. They are a complete mystery.” Steven Hawking

“Remember this country was founded by a bunch of men wearing wigs.” Rupaul

“The only true serious questions are the ones that even a child can formulate.” Milan Kundera

“Any girl can be glamerous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.” Hedy Lamarr

“A well adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous.” Alexander Hamilton

“Expressing Anger is a form of public littering.” Scientist William Gibson.

“The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” Author William Gibson

“Moral indignation is just jealousy with a halo around it.” H.G. Wells

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all we love deeply becomes part of us.” Helen Keller

“I sucked pretty bad today, but our defense saved us.” Patriots QB Tom Brady after winning AFC Championship (and YES- I was there!)


DGS Northeast Invitational Review/ Report

We are all knee deep in the invitational season here in the USA.  Next season is A LONG TIME AWAY. I plan on writing competition reviews and reports as the season goes on. Please share your competition reviews as well- SHARE

DGS Northeast Invitational. 1/13-1/15


Competition Site- Trinity College, Hartford CT

Type of equipment- AAI

Number of competitors- 900

Number of gyms- 2

Sets of equipment- 1 per gym with 2 beams per side.

Did the sessions run on time? YES (most were ahead of time)

Biggest fix needed- The competition has outgrown its current home. There is plenty of room on the competition floor but awards could use a bigger space and parking was an issue.

Best thing about the meet- Gifts, Gifts, Gifts! Nice gifts for coaches (Wine or a HUGE box of chocolate covered pretzels. I took the wine which by the way was quite good) Great goody bags for kids, each gym won a piece of equipment that the gymnasts got t choose. My gymnasts took home a nice floor beam. 1 gymnast in each session won a $50 gift certificate to DGS 9.9, 1 gymnast from the weekend won a week at the National Gymnastics Training Camp summer camp. Every competitor left with a DVD containing all the photos from their team. The parents LOVED THIS.

We have all been to weekend long competitions where coaches hospitality for the coaches consisted of 1 pizza to feed 30 coaches and maybe a bowl of goldfish. NOT HERE. There was more than enough food available after each session. Coffee and soft drinks all day. Sandwiches  during lunch, a very good dinner spread (Chicken Marsala, pasta, salad etc on one night.) In general great hospitality Right down to the Big Screen TV in the coaches room to watch a little football in between sessions.

There was a solid level of competition through out the weekend. Not the hardest meet I have ever been to, but not the weakest either.

BOTTOM LINE- am I going back? YES. There are a number of big invitationals going on in our region that weekend, all within an 90 minutes of each other (and 2 just across town from each other). I drove past both of them to take my team here.

Do you have a competition you want to review? Keep the momentum going. SHARE


How To Keep Your Business Afloat In Any Economy

How To Keep Your Business Afloat In Any Economy

Author Frank Sahlein has been involved with the industry since 1967 – as an Athlete, Coach, Business Owner, Consultant and Business Broker (CBI designation). Frank pioneered the unique blend of Sports Instruction, Child Care and Education, and Entertainment in the early 1990’s to establish a new model for Children’s Learning Opportunity Centers. Two-time winner of the USA Gymnastics “Business Leader” annual award, Frank is a regular presenter on business systems internationally. He is the author of the book BusinessGrades®.


There is no “magic bullet” that is going to keep businesses solvent and thriving today. However, there ARE steps that any small business can take NOW to preserve what you have, and even GROW your profits.

It is ironic that many of the factors that will keep your business afloat in this economy are identical to those that help prepare your business for the highest sale price!

Making the adjustments and changes to stay afloat TODAY are just solid business practices EVERY DAY, not just when the economy is down, or when you want to sell.

Surveys conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business indicate that up to 15% of small businesses made layoffs in the 2009-2011 period. Even though there are signs that the recession is “over”, small business owners and managers can take no chances.

Do not delay – make and implement the tough decisions BEFORE it becomes necessary!


Examine each of your Product Line (each segment of each program) and Services for acceptable contributions to profitability. Just because you have “always offered such and such program” does NOT mean that you automatically offer it forever! If you choose to continue unprofitable activities, do so with your eyes wide open – be able to measure the exact dollar amounts that you choose to “subsidize” on a monthly or session basis.

Keep asking … why am I offering this segment of my business? Is it profitable? Is it getting more or less profitable? Are the profits worth any other factors that come along with it (emotional, loss leader, etc.)?

Once you areset with your Programs for the year, aggressively campaign to increase sales.

Consolidate your operations so that they are all full (at maximum acceptable ratios), or nearly full. This will decrease your Labor costs and increase your Profits like no other move you could make. Fun … maybe not. Necessary and productive … absolutely!

MARKETING considerations

Review your Marketing Plan

It may be time to review your Annual Marketing Plan, in detail. Here are a few questions to consider.

  • How much are you spending, as a percentage of your gross revenues?
  • What are you spending your marketing dollars on?
  • Do you have an overall plan?
  • What is the actual response to each medium?
  • How are you tracking the results?
  • Brand, Commodity, Product Analysis
  • Strategy, Campaigns and Tactics
  • Coordinating all aspects of Social Media

Customer Loyalty Surveys

Knowing your customers — understanding their interests, priorities, goals and desires — is the key to surviving the economic downturn, according to one writer. Steps toward conducting an effective customer survey include:

  • Decide on goals for the survey;
  • Design an effective survey, including COMMENTS fields;
  • Use a web-based service to host the survey;
  •  Administer the survey through email; and
  • Look for trends and surprises when interpreting results.

Miscellaneous considerations for building Customer Confidence!

  • Up-to-date and lively sales and marketing literature
  • Business signage current and in good repair
  • Staff uniforms
  • All areas of business premises neat and orderly
  • Well-stocked supply room
  • Major company awards prominently displayed
  • Employees busy and courteous when prospective buyers visit
  • Adequate parking
  • Adequate interior and exterior lighting
  • Landscaping

HUMAN RESOURCE considerations

Evaluate Employee’s Positions

What are the potentials for increased responsibilities for current Staff? Many clubs compensate on a full-time basis for a part-time job!

The change to a system that has more VARIABLE INCOME is the answer to controlling payroll costs and motivating people to perform well, in their own self-interest.

Is there potential for elimination or consolidation of particular positions? Is there a continuing need for (possibly overpaid) family members?

Continuity of Management and Key Employees

If you use Employment Contracts, bring them up to date. If there are no Employment Contracts in your business, then be sure that you are conducting a minimum of annual comprehensive performance reviews. Actually, the best reviews are ones that are continual.

Involve Key Staff or Program Leaders in strategic planning for their Department, and possibly for entire company.

Be sure that the “4 Bridges to Compensation Success” are in place – Training, Control, Tools, Financial Info (and relational Profit-Sharing).

Professional Development

According to the Harvard Business Review, the unconventional wisdom is that any economic downturns or downtime is the BEST time to enhance skills. This will keep your people sharp, and make your organization THE ONE that will be most ready when busier times return.


Evaluate Office and Computer Equipment

How efficient, productive and cost-effective is your software and hardware? Will you see increases in staff productivity and customer service by upgrading? An operation that has up-to-date hardware and software is a more nimble corporation now AND when times improve. Specific improvement lists are available from 3rd Level Consulting.

Operations Manuals for all phases of Business

A top-notch business in our industry has two types of operating manuals – Activity Programs manuals and Business Operations manuals. Operations Manuals are the documented “meeting ground” for Owners and Program Directors, and help set continuously-improving standards for the company. Get professional industry consulting assistance if you do not have the time to document this … if it is not written down, it will not get done!

FINANCIAL considerations

Examine Operating Percentages and Cash Flow

Your first goal is to bring your Operating Ratios into line with Industry best practices. Your total Payroll & Payroll Taxes, including benefits and Owner Compensation, should not be above 50%. In our nationwide consulting work, we have documented that payroll varies widely between small, medium and large operations, and between industries (gymnastics, swimming, dance, cheerleading, martial arts, others). However, in almost all cases, payroll is the number one expense, so reexamine this on an ongoing basis.

Speaking of Payroll, do not fall behind on IRS or State Tax payments of any type. These are among the hardest categories to recover from, and when you factor in penalties, interest and STRESS, it is not worth it. Negotiate in other areas if necessary, but not in this one.

Your percentages for marketing, utilities, mortgage or rent, insurance and professional development will also vary by gross revenue size and/or industry, but be sure that you have enough profit margin to survive normal and “economic crisis” conditions.

Save for a rainy day economy! If you have no reserve fund, you may run into serious trouble. Start one instantly, no matter how! Every dollar you save TODAY might be the margin of survival TOMORROW.

Business Inventories

Keep a complete list and values (Original Cost, Fair Market Value, and Depreciated Value) for all Equipment. Keep a complete list and values for all current inventories (Pro Shop, Concessions, and Supplies). Sell off very old, unused or stored equipment that give poor image or is not needed any longer.


You can ask for savings based on an annual bid (as opposed to a per event basis) for the purchase of T-shirts, color printing, party supplies or equipment. A 5% discount on all supplies could add up to thousands of dollars on an annual basis.

Financial Reports

Get your Financial Reports structured to get proper Cash Flow statements by Department as well as Company- wide. This will give you the business intelligence you must have to make the right decisions. Have your Financial Statements reviewed by a CPA and an Industry Expert every year.

Collect all Aged Accounts Receivable. No ifs, ands or buts. Just do it!

Make a list of everything you could do right now to CUT COSTS and PRODUCE MORE INCOME.

Understand that to truly make money, you must have the “triple overlap” in play – profitable Income Statement, sufficient Cash Flow, and positive Return on Investment (ROI) … all at the same time!


Investigate the potential restructuring of Leases, Mortgages and other Business Contracts BEFORE you need to.

Check and examine carefully all of your lease, mortgage and other business contracts this week. You may have options to renegotiate that you were not even aware of. We had one client who was able to release themselves from a MAJOR personal guarantee on a sizeable lease because the first five year period had elapsed!

Bankers and Landlords WANT you to stay in place and continue to pay them. Generally, if they need to cut you some short term slack, they WILL do it.

Operating cost savings and/or revenue increases can be achieved through increased Programming (utilizing intelligent flex-spacing) and additional Space Rental revenues.

Another savings technique is to keep your equipment up to date and in good repair. It lasts longer!

RISK MANAGEMENT considerations


Settle all outstanding Lawsuits, tax liens, etc. Settle any employee disputes, loans or other corporate baggage. Resolve all Partnership and/or Shareholder disputes.

Check Insurance Coverages

Be sure that ALL of your insurance coverages are up to date and that you have adequate coverage. These include Liability, Accident/Medical, Premises, Business Interruption, Equipment, Vehicle coverage’s, and Health & Benefits for Employees. This is no time to be stuck with inadequate coverage if something happens.

Travel, Lodging, Meals and Entertainment expenses

Eliminate all Travel, Lodging, Meals & Entertainment expenses that do not boost or help maintain your company’s usual level of sales. If you offer traveling training clinics for Staff, have clear reasons for them to attend and PLAN for a Return On Investment (ROI) by having them report and track the effect of any improvements to their program. Keep this ROI mentality in all instances.


If you think that times are tough for YOU as a business owner, imagine how your staff feels! They feel like they have even less control than you do. Leaders show their true colors in tough times, so this is the perfect opportunity to set a GREAT example!

Continue to develop your staff by sharing Motivational, Success, Goal Setting and Change formulas. The morale of your entire company will be higher than that of your competition, and you will generate an invisible edge!

Ready to really implement a business improvement action plan for this year?

Explore the www.3rdLevelConsulting.com web site and get a free 15 minute consultation.

The 3 hardest words for a coach to say

Coaching any sport is a difficult job. Sometimes you feel like you are trying to herd cats. You are constantly being pulled in different directions. Every day we come across difficult situations and have to think on our feet. What do we do when we are honestly at a loss?

Sometimes the hardest 3 words for a coach to say is, “I don’t know.”  The gymnasts we work with look to us for corrections and advice on every turn. Some times, we just don’t know. So what do we do?

All too often we make something up on the spot or give them a correction we have given them in the past.


  • Are we afraid that if we don’t say something we won’t seem omnipotent?
  • Isn’t it better to say nothing at all than to just make something up?

There are a number of coaches who are just in love with their own voice. They feel they have to fill every second of practice with the sound of their own voice.

Some of the best coaches I have seen tend to be very efficient with their words.

 Next time you are in a situation where you are stumped- try these:

“Hmm. Let me see you do that again”

“wow, that caught me by surprise. Can you do that again??”

“I truthfully don’t know, but I am going to find out.”

Or my 2 favorites

“I will need to check the Gym Momentum Website”


With Confidence- mumble something incoherent and just see what happens.


Congress withdraws SOPA,

Congress withdraws SOPA, PIPA anti-piracy measures

The controversial legislation will be withheld for ‘wider agreement’


U.S. lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation in its tracks on Friday, delivering a stunning win for Internet companies that staged an unprecedented online protest this week to kill the previously fast-moving bills.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would postpone a critical vote that had been scheduled for Jan. 24 “in light of recent events.”

Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation until there is wider agreement on the issue.

Read the rest on the MSNBC WEBSITE