The Real Rewards of Coaching Gymnastics

Real Rewards of Coaching
As a young coach I knew there was more out there but I was not 100% sure what it was. It was the human element, the emotional intelligence piece, appreciating people and what they offer beyond their athletic skills. I must admit I took that for granted. I was into training, the X’s and O’s of coaching. I read and re-read books by Bill Sands and Gerry George. I read every article in Technique and every article printed by USECA. I was focused on designing better workouts and refining technique. There were championships, big wins and some disappointing losses. As I progressed in my coaching career and climbed the ladder so to speak I saw there was more to it. I gained a balance, a perspective. I realized that that yes the X’s and O’s were still important but it was the people I was coaching, the relationships, the satisfaction of seeing these gymnasts grow into responsible adults and move on with their lives outside of gymnastics.

At National Congress in Pittsburgh this year I ran into a gymnast who I had worked with nearly 30 years ago. Lizzy was part of an amazing group of young athletes I coached in New York in the late 80’s. They were amazing NOT because of their athletic accomplishments, but more because of their focus and dedication, the togetherness and team unity, the willingness to help each other be better. Lizzy epitomized what this group was about. She was not especially athletically gifted but she worked hard to get better and maximize her skills. What made Lizzy stand apart from everyone else was her love of the sport. Visiting with Lizzy brought back many fond memories of those days. It made me regret that I did not take more time to smell the roses and appreciate those kids for what they were. During our visit we barely talked about gymnastics. We talked about the progress of her career and what she had been doing in the last few decades. She is still involved in a type of gymnastics (circus arts) and is one of those people who jumps up on the flying trapeze in a heart beat. Visiting with her reminded of the real rewards of coaching – the people and relationships that endure after the championship trophies tarnish and the medals are stored in a drawer somewhere.

Make sure you take the time to appreciate what is going on around you.


What we are seeing today in big time professional and collegiate sports is no surprise to me. It is the result of a broken sports system and a society that has comprised basic standards of behavior. As coaches and sports administrators we are responsible for what we are seeing. Sport does not exist isolated or separate from society.

I know gymnastics is “different” than some of the other sports but the lessons learned are still important. I firmly believe that WHAT we teach is WAY more than just gymnastics. Gymnastics is a metaphor for life. As coaches we often proudly point out that our sport is a microcosm of life, if that is the case should we be surprised by the aberrant behavior we are seeing in top athletes?

Some sports have created several generations of athletes with a distorted sense of their importance, not to mention never having to account to any semblance of reality in regard to their behavior. They begin the process young by entitling the stars, allowing them to miss practice and violate teams rules as long as they deliver performance in the game. It gets worse in the recruiting process where immature youngsters are wined and dined and pumped full of inflated opinions about their self-worth. This all coupled with the decline of the family makes what we are seeing very explainable.

This does not make it right or acceptable. As coaches and athletic administrators we need to put development of the person above winning. We must stop accepting this deviant behavior as normal. We need to hold the athletes to a higher standard. A standard of behavior that is expected of a good citizen in the normal world not the distorted world of big time sport.

As gymnastics coaches we are artists. Before we can create the masterpiece we must prepare the canvas. We are in a fairly unique situation where we can work with the same group of athletes for a decade or more. The lessons they learn while they are young are lessons that will stick with them for life.

If you want your gymnasts to be HARD WORKERS- They must see you working hard.

If you want your gymnasts to MANAGE THEIR TIME- You must be on time and organized.

If you want your gymnasts to be GOOD TEAM-MATES- They need to see you work with your coworkers.

If you want your gymnasts to be RESPECTFUL- You need to show respect to them.

If you want your gymnasts to be SMART- The gymnasts need to see you spend some time on your own education.

If you want your gymnasts to understand the importance of a PROGRESSION- You need to be organized and teach them each step.

The list goes on.

Straight Arm Drills for Uneven Bars

Consistently one of the biggest deductions on Uneven Bars is BENT ARMS. I hear coaches encourage, threaten, bribe, beg and cry to get their gymnasts arms straight. (OK- maybe not cry).

Gymnasts need to learn straight arms through series of drills and exercises on the floor and on floor bars. If they cannot keep their arms straight on that, they certainly cannot keep their arms straight as they move around the bar.

Here are some drills that we do daily to work straight arms.

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in·ten·tion \in-ˈten(t)-shən\
: the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose
: a determination to act in a certain way : resolve

In the gym, it is vital for both coaches and gymnasts to have INTENTION in their training. You must train with a purpose. Training is the path which leads to success. If your have no purpose to your training, it is easy to get lost.

Since May I have done many, many clinics at many gyms through out North America and into Iceland and  Europe. When I walk in the first thing I ask is, “What is the goal? What are we going to do?”

I can always tell a program that has a purpose. They are confident in the process and progression. The gymnasts know what they are doing and where they are going.

- Does your team have intention? Or are you wandering around?

Gymnasts MUST have intention as well. When they get up on a Beam, or get ready to Vault or Bars or Tumble- What do they INTEND to do?

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I will be teaching a W200 course at Bay State Gymnastics Academy in Dartmouth, MA on Sunday, October 19, 2014 12:00 PM


This is a live, six-hour, hands-on training course designed for school age, pre-team and Level 1-4 coaches. This is a NEW course developed for pre team, level 1-4 coaches and even school age recreational coaches. Course topics include warm ups, conditioning, lesson planning, hands on spotting and lecture for all Olympic events. This is a great hands on experience of drills and skill progression with instructors demonstrating practical examples of coaching level 1-4 gymnastics.
The W200 Development Coaches Course: HOTD has been developed to:

Enhance the status of beginning level competitive gymnastics programs throughout the United States.
Establish certificate program requirements which will help identify competent pre-team and competitive (Level 1-4) gymnastics coaches.
Provide appropriate skills, drills and techniques for entry level competitive coaches.
Help standardize pre-team and entry level competitive gymnastics teaching throughout the United States.
Provide resources, instructional materials, and assistance at levels 1-4 coaching
Provides Hands on Spotting on all four Olympic Events.
U200 Development Coaches Course: Sports Science (online) is a companion to W200: Development Coaches Course: Hands on Training (HOTD). It is highly recommended that you complete U200 prior to W200. However, it is not a requirement to take U200 first. U200 covers the sports science aspects of coaching this level athlete including nutrition, biomechanics, injury prevention and psychology.
Attendance to the W200 course is eligible for 6 hours of CPE credit.


24 Ventura Dr N Dartmouth MA 02747

Resilite Gymnastics Equipment Review


This summer I have picked up a few new toys from Resilte. The The “Resi-Hall”  and  the new Vault Training Mat System.


Vault Training System is A LOT OF MATS. It comes with a 2 foot thick 5×10 and 3, 5 x 10x 8in. With one of the mats having a contoured front to simulate the vault table.

• The system can be configured at four different heights to allow the student to move up as their skill level evolves
• Firm synthetic suede vaulting area for extra rebound
• Energy-absorbing foam specifically designed within the landing area
• “Hook and Loop” connectors on each side of the mat ensures a stable vaulting surface
• Contoured Top Mat can be flipped for entry level competition

As soon as we unpacked it I redid my entire VAULTING plan AND had to shoot all new video for my vault lectures. The mat is just so versatile with your developmental gymnasts.

The mats all have a very solid feel to them and the velcro is large enough to really grip. We have used these mats with all levels of classes and team. If you are in the market for a new “Level 3” Vault mat. THIS IS THE ONE. Not only will it fill your need (at a very good price of $2700) but also it will help with the transition to the vault table.

It has already proven itself invaluable in teaching Yurchenkos.

The only thing that I wish could be improved on is that these mats are HEAVY. But- that is the trade off for solid foam.

The “Resi- Hall” is a great little system to help with teach everything from a straight hurdle and cartwheel to a better snap in a back handspring. Sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones!

We have all opened up panel mats part way, used little wedge mats and had kids go up against walls to get them to go straight.

Res-Hall3_lrgThese mats are a bargain at $300. As soon as I saw them I purchased a set for each of my gyms.
• This unit easily separates into two various stations
• Can easily be adapted to both the individual student as well as the entire class’s ability level
• Great for beginner to advanced students

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Check out this GYM!!!

Keflavik ad in english


Would you like to spend a year in Iceand and coach at our great gymnastics club?


We are seeking coaches for our Team Gym teams and also for our younger groups in artistic gymnastics, boys and girls. A season contract available (1.9.2014-1.6.2015) with the option of a longer stay.

We need a fulltime coach who is a caring individual and passionate about gymnastics. We have both womens and mens artistic gymnastics and a growing Team Gym department. This autumn a group of strong former WAG gymnasts is joining our Team Gym Team and we need someone to help us develope our strong team. We also offer varied other assignments depending on your interests and experience.


Our gym opens at 13:45 for training and is open till 22:00 in the evening, the facilities are very good, different pit options, open/raisable, LEG and Eurogym Fiber tracks and varied training equipment. 1 main hall and 3 different smaller training areas in adjacent halls.

We are located in the town of Keflavik, just 15 minutes drive from Keflavik international airport and about 30 minutes drive from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik.

We offer a fair salary and a private appartment close to the gym. We have english speaking staff available to help you get into things.

We are seeking an individual who is willing to be a positive influence on our gymnasts and help them develope strength, caracter and great gymnastics.

If you are positive and a good team player and interested in joining our team please send us your resumé at We will answer all questions and inquiries very swiftly and in the strictest confidence, don ́t hesitate to drop us a line.

Our website is

P.s. -Full pass to EC in Team Gym in Iceland october 2014 is included in the years salary