Episode 158| GymCastic

Great podcast. And NOT just because I am interviewed!

Source: Episode 158 | GymCastic

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This Week’s Interview
Ariana Berlin is happy, goofy, surprising, unique, beautiful and partially made of steel. She made her mark on college gymnastics by bringing her professional hip hop dance background onto the competition floor. Her floor routines were something totally new and sometimes controversial but always entertaining. But the road to NCAA finals almost went through the grave. “Ari” went from a being a promising level 10 gymnast, about to test for elite, to a girl in a coma, told when she woke up that she would never do gymnastics again. Though a car accident almost killed her and her mother, losing gymnastics was heartbreaking. She found solace in dance with the world famous hip hop troupe Culture Shock. A dance performance in front of UCLA head coach, Valorie Kondos-Field led her back to gymnastics. After years away from the sport, with a rod holding her femur together, Ari walked onto the UCLA gymnastics team, earned a scholarship and became one of their most consistent gymnasts of all time. While at UCLA she hit 175 of her 182 career routines (96%) without a fall, never missed a competition in 57 consecutive meets. In the final competition of her career, the former walk-on, placed fourth all-around at the 2009 NCAA Championships. We talk about the movie based on her life called, Full Out, staring Flashdance star, Jennifer Beals. We discuss:

GymMyth Busters Full Out edition; we separate fact from fiction and talk about the liberties taken with her story in order to deliver a dramatic message of inspiration.
Being star struck and all of the cameos: Alicia Sacramone, Jordyn Weiber, Victoria Moors, Samantha Peszek and Elfie Schlegel are all in the movie!
Ariana’s advice for walk-on (non-scholarship) athletes, how to get onto your dream team and what to do even if finances won’t make it easy.
How she became so consistent and her mental game.
Dealing with the haters who claimed her ground breaking hip-hop floor choreography was cultural appropriation or racially inappropriate.

In the News

In the news this week, Evan Heiter and Jessica chat about:

Simone Biles going pro: Is it too soon or the perfect time to turn pro? If this will affect her preparation for Rio and which brands we want her to endorse!
The first ever all adult gymnastics camp took place in July at Atlantic Gymnastics in New Hampshire. We talked to the camp director Gina Paulhus, gym owner Tony Retrosi and two campers to find out what made this weekend such a sucess.
The clinics by the pool that made this camp unique: dealing with fear and mental blocks, physical therapy sessions, and a class on nutrition for the adult gymnast with tips on balancing snacks and meals between work and family on the way to the gym.
Why Tony Retrosi, gym owner and coach, supports adult gymnastics and the adult camp.
Campers Ryan and Stefane explain how the camp accommodated:
different gymnastics and fitness levels
people who didn’t do every event
made the schedule reasonable for all levels
helped everyone feel welcome by hosting everything from dinners to beach trips
The fun awards Gina created to make each camper feel special.
Tony’s advice on the best student to coach ratio for adult gymnastics classes.
How to identify the right coach for an adult gymnastics class.
Afraid to try adult gymnastics? Stefane and Ryan explain how adult gymnastics has helped them find their community and why they recommend it to others.
Related Links

Find out how to watch P&G Championships (the US National Gymnastics Championships) and hear Samantha Peszek and Evan Heiter do reprise last year’s commentary fabulousness on the official website pgchamps.com
Find out more about Adult Gymnastics Camp Director, competitive adult gymnast and personal trainer, Gina Paulhus here.
Tony Retrosi’s website is gymmomentum.com
Here is Gina’s article with details on the schedule, costs, demographics, staffing and photos of adult gymnastics camp!

Adult Training Camp Review

3 good lessons on leadership

I graduated from college in 1989 and got married in 1990. To me this does not seem like a long time ago But to many of you revolution-of-cellphone@wdd2xeading this it is a different world. I can tell you: the world has changed an awful lot in just 25 years. My word processor was a joke. Computers were HUGE. Online classes were a fantasy. Computer hackers and the internet were things that worked in movies like WAR-GAMES but not real life. And CELL PHONES? ha! A phone that fits in your pocket that almost anywhere in the world people can call you? Send you a TEXT MESSAGE? why would anyone want to write you a message when they could just call? Let’s not even get into smart phones and their capabilities.

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The world we live in today is one I could not have imagined when I graduated. I am sitting at a table at my fairly remote lake house. Cell phone service is delightfully weak (it is good to disconnect) but I have fast wifi. I am typing on my Macbook Pro that (I have heard) is “smarter” than the computers that helped us land on the moon. 25 years from now where will things be? What now seems like science fiction will be boring and slow. To my younger readers- This will be up to you! You will have helped shape your generation’s world.

It doesn’t matter what country you live in. Because countries do not lead. People lead.
Everyday you must start your path toward leadership. What kind of leader will you be? How much impact on others will you have? What will be your mark on the world?

I have heard that at companies like Facebook, they have posters on the walls to remind them to THINK BIG — to challenge themselves to do more each and every day. There are important leadership lessons reflected in these posters . I try to emulate that in my gyms. To encourage each manager to not just lead but to encourage others to lead. To help the coaches realize that they are not just creating the masterpiece, they must first prepare the canvas. To be excited about what they do and get the gymnasts excited about what they do.

Here are some lessons I learned from Sheryl Sandberg the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook

Fortune favors the bold.

Facebook exists because Mark Zuckerberg believed that the world would be a better place if people could use technology to connect as individuals. He believed it so much that he dropped out of Harvard College to pursue that mission and he fought to hold onto it over the years. What Mark did was not lucky. It was bold.

It’s unusual to find your passion as early as Mark. It took me far longer to figure out what I wanted to do. I love coaching and I pretty much have been coaching my entire life. When I was sitting in a graduation robe, I could not have considered that I would actually be making a good living on coaching and owning a gym. Every coach I knew was just getting by. Their passion for the sport kept them alive. Every gym owner was struggling day in and day out. They loved the sport and they loved the kids but did not have enough business sense. Thinking that I could survive and raise a family as a coach then club owner was a dream (much like cell phones).
I taught school for a few years and coached every afternoon. Taking kids to JO Nationals. When the gymnasts were at a point where they were ready to make the jump into International Elite Level, I needed to stop teaching. It was the only way to make it work. I had learned the ropes about the gymnastics business, I had some great people help me know what to do next with these talented gymnast. It was then that I knew it was time to go out on my own and open up my own gym. In retrospect, this seems like a shrewd move. But in 1994, it was questionable at best. It was a struggle and a fight but I KNEW I COULD DO IT. 21 years later- I still love working in the gym and coaching. It was not my original plan, but I got there — eventually.

I hope if you find yourself on one path but longing for something else, you find a way to get there. And if that isn’t right, try again. Try until you find something that stirs your passion, a job that matters to you and matters to others. It’s a luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a clear path to happiness.

Feedback is a gift.
As a manager or club owner- sometimes it is hard to tell if you are doing a good job. I have always looked at feedback- EVEN NEGATIVE FEEDBACK as an opportunity to learn and grow. If people care enough about you and your organization, they will tell you when you fall short of their expectations. If they tell you- and you make corrections- THEY WILL TELL EVERYONE.

If you are a manager, getting feedback from your boss is one thing, but it’s every bit as important to get feedback from those who work for you. This is not an easy thing to do as employees are often eager to please those above them and don’t want to criticize or question their higher-ups.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from Wall Street. In 1990, Bob Rubin became the CEO of Goldman Sachs. At the end of his first week, he looked at Goldman’s books and noticed large investments in gold. He asked someone why. The answer? “That was you, sir.” “Me?” he replied. Apparently, the day before he had been walking around on the trading floor and he commented to someone that “gold looks interesting.” This got repeated as “Rubin likes gold” and someone spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make the new boss happy.

On a smaller scale, I have faced a similar challenge. I was watching a group of gymnasts vault in a “day before the meet workout”. I noticed that they were all leaning forward on the board. I had to put a band-aid on this so I told the coach to move the board back a little bit. The kids the next day vaulted well. Monday back in the gym- I noticed that vault was a disaster. Kids were eating it. I went to see why- Well the vault coach had moved everyones board back. Not realizing that I was just putting a band-aid on a problem that needed to be fixed on Monday.
At my next staff meeting I said “One, I wanted you to move the board back for that one group that one day. And two, next time you hear a bad idea — like not staying on the kids about proper technique– speak up. Even if you think it is what I have asked for, tell me I am wrong!”

A good leader recognizes that most employees won’t feel comfortable challenging authority, so it falls upon authority to solicit feedback. I learned from my vaulting mistake. I now ask my coaches “What could I do better?” And “What can the gym do to help you meet your goals” I always thank the person who has the guts to answer me honestly, often by praising them publicly. I firmly believe that you lead best when you walk side-by-side with your colleagues. When you don’t just talk but you also listen.

Nothing is someone’s else’s problem.
When I started coaching, I observed people in leadership roles and thought, “They’re so lucky. They have so much control.” So imagine my surprise when I had my first head coaches job and realized that the higher up you go, the more dependent you become on other people. At the time, I thought I was doing it wrong.
But I was right. I am dependent on my team. From the part time person in the office and college student who can only work on Saturdays to my full time Team Coaches and my Gym Managers. not the other way around. If they fall short, it is my mistake. As a leader, what I can accomplish is not just what I can do myself but what everyone on my team does.

Companies in every country operate in ways that are right for their cultures. But I believe that there are some principles of leadership that are universal — and one of those is that it is better to inspire than to direct. Yes, people will do what their bosses tell them to do (at least they better) in most organizations. But great leaders do not just want to secure compliance. They want to elicit genuine enthusiasm, complete trust, and real dedication. They don’t just win the minds of their teams, they win their hearts. If they believe in your gym’s mission and they believe in you, they will not only do their daily tasks well, but they will do them with true passion.

Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei has said “leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

 

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1. That you are bold and have good fortune. Fortune favors the bold.
2. That you give and get the feedback you need. Feedback is a gift.
3. That you empower everyone. Nothing is somebody else’s problem.

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Social Media Lecture Notes

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social Media
Tony Retrosi
Gym Momentum
tony@gymmomentum.com
Twitter
@gym_momentum
@tretrosi
@atlanticgym

Facebook
Tony Retrosi (tretrosi)
Gym Momentum (GYM-Momentum)
Atlantic Gymnastics (atlanticgym)

THE

LAST

THING YOU NEED

IS…
Social Media
Stop giving me that pop-up ad for facebook.com! There’s a reason you don’t talk to people for 25 years. Because you don’t particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn!

So what do YOU need?

Brand Story

The first thing
you need is a
SOLID BRAND

but what is a brand?
So you don’t really have a brand.
you have customers that have a perception of you.
are you happy with what they think of you?
do you even know what they think of you?
maybe its time you started…

LISTENing

This should be your
social media strategy

Social doesn’t fix real problems, it exposes them

Who is managing your
 social media presence?
Your assistant?
Nephew?
Mistress?
is it this guy…

WTF?

OBLIGATORY
BULLET POINTS.

Social Media = Human Interaction

Groups are built of like minded individuals

That follow trends

Make buying decisions

Trust opinions

and ultimately…

Become communities

DO YOU KNOW YOUR
COMMUNITY?
Pros of Using Social Media
FREE!!!!!
Quick Communication
Interactive.
CONS of SOCIAL MEDIA
Life span of Social Media is SHORT
TRENDY
What you say once could live FOREVER
Easy to loose control of your message
Worlds Largest Cocktail Party
“A great analogy for social media is the world’s largest cocktail party, only without the drinking and at incredible scale,”
At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I’m Dave. My stuff is 20 percent off.’ What you do is ask questions, tell stories, listen and relate to people.
Key Technical Matters
Stay positive.
“Thanks” is not a rich enough social media message on Twitter or elsewhere.
“Thx” isn’t either. But it’s easier to type.
Your “special social media language” is the language of your audience. For instance, if you’re marketing to English speakers, your special social media language would be English.
Awesome is not a language.

Never attempt to use slang on social media that you would not use in real life.
Reread your tweet. Do not respond in an official capacity via social media while drinking.
Do not respond in a nonofficial capacity via social media while drinking.
Still, your company’s social media personality should be your company’s corporate personality after exactly one beer.

If your gym’s annual revenue is more than $2 million, you may not abbreviate “great” as “gr8.”
If your gym’s annual revenue is less than $2 million, you may not abbreviate “great” as “gr8.”
Like this: light, amusing, useful.
Not like this: languid, ponderous, moralizing.
No grammatical errors.
Funny only if you’re funny.

No lawsuit threats via social media.
If it involves “tips” of any kind, people will click.
Especially “simple tips.”
Also, “giveaway.”
WAYS TO INCREASE TRAFFIC
Post about GENERAL THINGS that your clientele would be interested in.
Things going on in your community
Parenting information
School Information

PHOTOS
VIDEOS
Funny
ASK questions
ANSWER questions
comment back to everyone
Trends
Diversify. You’ve probably seen headlines about Facebook’s algorithm changes. If you currently operate a brand or business page, one study found that only six percent of followers currently see your posts. Experts suggest that that number will continue to plummet, eventually reaching one percent.
Google+ is for real. If there’s one social network businesses should pay specific attention to, it’s Google+, which is already playing a more important role in Google’s organic ranking algorithm. I expect this trend will continue.
Visual content will win. An estimated 63 percent of social media comprises imagery. As such, visual platforms are playing an increasing role in social media for businesses. One study found that 29 percent of Pinterest users bought an item after posting or re-pinning it on the network.

How to Write a Tweet to Increase Twitter Engagement for Your Gymnastics Club

hashtag-birdMany gymnastics clubs use twitter to try to increase traffic to their website, get information out and market their club.

Gym Momentum posts all articles on twitter but also to send out quick information and link to other articles that and posts that I think Gym Momentum followers may be interested in. As a middle age guy- I am never 100% confident that I am using Twitter most effectively to generate interest and traffic.

Hootsuite is the platform that I use to schedule tweets. It is easy and pretty intuitive. As a bonus- they post some great articles on marketing. Kristina Cisnero  is Hootsuite’s Inbound Marketing Specialist. Each day she focuses on bringing small businesses valuable content on social media marketing. She posted a great piece recently on ways to increase twitter engagement.

See Original article here.

You Can’t Spell ‘Twitter’ without ‘Wit’: How to Write a Tweet To Engage Your Audience

A study done by researchers at Cornell University, backed by the National Science Foundation and Google, found that style may trump substance when it comes to Twitter popularity. This research found that including an engaging call to action at the beginning of the Tweet—for example, “please retweet, retweet, plz, pls”—can increase people’s engagement rate on Twitter. Now, what does this mean for US?

Recently, Hootsuite (HS) conducted its own Twitter experiment to see what its followers found engaging. They found that knowing more about their audience, using images, and taking some risks really helped boost its Twitter engagement rate (TER). This helped them increase their TER by 180% in two months.

How well do YOU know your audience?

Researchers at Cornell gathered their findings and created a tool that uses an algorithm to automatically learn what kind of wording works better for Tweets. This tool, however, may not work for everyone because it still doesn’t factor in humor or personality—which they (HS) found was a key factor in how we increased our own TER.

Cornell University’s tool is a great start on learning what kind of content to use in your Tweets. But since Hootsuite’s experiment yielded some findings that weren’t accounted for by university researchers, they decided to add to this research. They’ve put together a template to help you know how to write a tweet that people will want to engage with.

Here’s a template demonstrating how to write a Tweet:

Tweet-Anatomy-KC-rev-1

Breaking down this how to write a Tweet template:

You’re probably thinking, “Great, a template, but what does this template mean?” Don’t worry, I’ve put together 4 key takeaways that will explain the graphic and teach you to write engaging Tweets.

Write engaging content that speaks to your audience

The first part of your Tweet should be around 90-100 characters. This text should be engaging, show off your brand personality, and include a call to action. Yes, Twitter’s character limit is 140; however, if you’re going to ask people to retweet your Tweet, make sure you leave enough room for them to add ‘RT’ to the body of the Tweet.

Include a URL (or a shortened URL)

For majority of businesses, Twitter is used to drive their followers to their website, or to a landing page. If this is your goal, make sure to include a URL in your Tweet. Better yet, include a shortened URL, using a URL shortener like ow.ly, so you can track click-through rate and save your character count. Make it easy for people to get to your gym’s web page or the event you are hosting.

Wrap up your Tweet with a hashtag

Increase the reach of your Tweet by using a relevant hashtag. Hashtags will increase your Tweet’s visibility on the network, and help you join the bigger discussion going on around the topic. For most reading this you are going to be tweeting about GYMNASTICS. #gymnastics, #preschool, #tonyisfunny

Include an image, a GIF or a video

Still images, GIFs, and now videos can dramatically increase the engagement rate for your Tweets. Make sure the images that accompany your Tweet are relevant and high-quality. There is really no more VISIBLE sport than gymnastics. Include photos and videos in your tweets.

Crafting Tweets doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Just remember to always have your audience in mind whenever you’re writing a Tweet, and you’ll see your Twitter engagement rate rise. The best way to know how to write a Tweet to suit your audience is through practice, tracking, and constant improvement based on your engagement metrics. Happy tweeting!

How do you compose your Tweets? Hit me on twitter @gym_momentum and let me know!

Your Gymnastics Customers Want Video!

Get A YouTube channel!

While the quality of YouTube comments can be questionable, YouTube drives the most engaged traffic, according to a new study from Boston-based content-sharing Shareaholic. Meaning, YouTube users can be some of the most desirable customers a brand can have. We are the most visual sport out there. Why is someone going to READ about gymnastics when they can watch it!

Video watchers are especially engaged and are more receptive to links within video descriptions, the study says. YouTube produced the lowest average bounce rate (about 43 percent), the highest pages per visit (2.99) and the longest visit duration (just under four minutes) the study reports. Viewers are used to spending a lot of time watching video, so what’s one more click to them?

While Google+ and LinkedIn don’t rake in the social referrals, the ones they do get are solid. Google+ users on average spend more than three minutes clicking things shared by their connections and bounce about 50 percent of the time. LinkedIn users normally spend more than two minutes on each link.

The time you spent crafting the perfect tweet and Facebook post amount to similar bounce rates (56 percent), pages per visit (just over two), and time on site (two minutes).

And Pinterest, while pleasing to the eye, only heeds a little more than a minute on a site post-click.

Your Customers Are Likely More Engaged on YouTube Than on Facebook or Twitter

5 Social Media Trends your Gymnastics Club needs to be aware of

The social media landscape is evolving rapidly, and therefore, your social media marketing strategy cannot remain static. Instead, it’s important to reevaluate business goals, social media campaigns, platform results and revise your strategy at least once a year. Since the gymnastics business is largely around the school year, it may be a good idea to re-think your strategy with dates that follow the school schedule.

Being aware of trends in the social sphere can help you design better strategies, apply the most effective tactics and choose where to invest your staff as well as financial resources. Here are the top five social media trends every entrepreneur needs to think about for 2014 and beyond:

1. Diversify. You’ve probably seen headlines about Facebook’s algorithm changes. If you currently operate a brand or business page, one study found that only six percent of followers currently see your posts. Experts suggest that that number will continue to plummet, eventually reaching one percent.

This bid by Facebook is aimed at increasing advertising dollars. But it highlights a potential weakness in many business’ social strategies: overdependence on any single platform puts you at the mercy of that platform’s whims. Whether it crashes or simply changes its rules, too much is at stake.

2. Google+ is for real. If there’s one social network businesses should pay specific attention to, it’s Google+, which is already playing a more important role in Google’s organic ranking algorithm. I expect this trend will continue.

To the surprise of many across the SEO industry (search engine optimization), Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed in a recent video that Facebook and Twitter have no impact on SEO rankings as a result of crawling and accessibility issues. So it stands to reason that if Google wants to use social signals for organic search rankings, it could easily mine Google+ data, where its crawler access is unhindered.

Google+ is also the best way to get access to Google Authorship, which will play a huge role in SEO by the end of the year. Google Authorship helps the search engine identify your content, attribute it to the correct author and build a portfolio for each author that may include what many are calling “Author Rank” — algorithmic scoring based on author expertise and publishing history.

In most cases, an image of the author appears next to their content in search results, which also increases visibility and click-through rates.

3. Integration of social media, SEO, and content creation. The online marketing industry is moving away from the idea that social media, SEO and content marketing happen in isolation. Social media marketing decisively impacts how content is seen and shared.

Content creation and marketing have direct implications for your SEO performance — especially in light of Google’s latest algorithm updates. It’s important that you think of the three pillars of online marketing — SEO, content and social media — as a system that works synergistically to increase visibility, build your brand and ultimately garner customers and sales.

4. Visual content will win. An estimated 63 percent of social media comprises imagery. As such, visual platforms are playing an increasing role in social media for businesses. One study found that 29 percent of Pinterest users bought an item after posting or re-pinning it on the network.

Video content is also hotter than ever, with the addition of networks like Vine and Instagram featuring microvideos. Infographics are another effective promotion tool for businesses with both a bounty of data and absorbing stories to tell.

Not every platform will be right, but spending the time to find the visual angle to your business’ story and experimenting with different content formats can help revitalize your social media marketing strategy.

5. Social media as a brand builder. Social media channels should be managed according to a brand-oriented approach. Building your brand on any platform impacts your SEO and improves sales over the long term.

Are the visuals of your social media accounts consistent with the rest of your visual branding? Is your account name or any other copy branded? Are you regularly filtering your status updates to ensure they’re on-message and consistent with the overall brand that you’re building? Focusing on building your brand through your social interactions should be a key focus this year.

If evolutions in social media have taught us anything so far this year, it’s that entrepreneurs with flexible and engaged approaches will have the highest ROI. Take the time to understand general trends and focus on core goals, but also take action to experiment with specific tactics that will grow and change as your business evolves.

Thoughts about Twitter.

You check it.

hashtag-bird50 times a day—usually between events or during break—and use it to follow everyone from your best friends to your favorite gymnasts (and I hope you follow me @tretrosi and @gym_momentum).  But how much do you really know about Twitter, and the people behind it?

At the SXSW conference in Austin earlier this month, Kevin Weil, Twitter’s Vice President of Product, Revenue, revealed  the surprising reasons his company has been so successful—and what you can learn from Twitter’s big ideas.

1. The company follows a secret code …
… but Weil will reveal it anyway. “We think there are really four things that make Twitter unique: that it’s public, live, conversational, and widely distributed,” he says. “Everything we’re doing now and in the future is in service of those things.” Recent examples include showing photos and videos in timelines—rather than users having to click to see the images—and introducing Vine last year. “Vine is a great example of those four things applied to video—people sharing their lives and their creativity in 6-second loops—and it’s almost become its own sort of art form. We love what we’re seeing there.”

2. The brains behind the brand break a sweat together. 
Twitter seems to roll out new features at lightning-speed—which makes sense, since its HQ is made up of highly active athletes. Weil, for example, usually runs 8 to 12 miles in the morning—often with his coworkers. “My morning run is an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, or if I’m alone, it’s an opportunity to collect my thoughts and plan for the day,” he says. “Running gives me balance, and leaves me with energy and enthusiasm for the coming day in the office. Twitter is a wonderful place to work, and extremely high-energy. Being a long-distance runner helps me keep up with my coworkers!”  

3. They strive to stay head of the tech curve. 
Weil has a big prediction for where technology is headed: “I think we will see various forms of Internet-connected devices and sensors become so prevalent that they fade into the background of everyday life,” he says. “Cell phones already have, and the world is massively different than just 7 years ago because we each carry in our pockets an always-on connection to the rest of the world. Wearables are another example of this, and they’re clearly in their infancy. I can’t wait to have more real-time information about myself, my health, and my fitness from wearables. I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

4. They can’t function without collaboration. 
Weil’s favorite business motto: “Strong opinions, weakly held.” In other words, Twitter rose to be one of the most popular services around because the company valued collaboration. “We work every day to create new experiences for hundreds of millions of users, and it’s important to be bold, to be willing to suggest and defend big ideas,” Weil says. “But it’s equally important to have the humility to ask questions, to welcome others challenging your ideas, to look honestly at data whether it supports or refutes your idea, and ultimately to learn from our users.”

I personally started viewing Twitter and other Social Media at first like at novelty. But now it is an integral part of my marketing plan. Marketing, like gymnastics, is a dynamic environment. You are moving forward or backward. There is no such thing as staying the same.

I recently was asked to MC the University of Calgary International Cup. The FIRST thing I did was start using a hashtag (#UCIC) to encourage the audience and the athletes to get involved before, during and after the competition. I look forward to growing this at future competition.

How do you use Twitter?

What has been your most successful post on social media?

Share your thoughts, keep the momentum going!

Talk Less

I have always believed in a few cliches

Actions speak louder than words

Lead by action

 

When I was teaching in an elementary school I told the kids to BE A VERB.

A very clever student said asked if “delinquent” was a verb.

I said NO, it was an adjective.  But,  I pointed out, that “detention” could be used as a verb.

The moral is that we need to be active in our coaching. Our gymnasts do not want us to just talk and talk. Drs Joe and Sue Massimo point out that one of the things our athletes want out of us is MINIMAL VERBIAGE.  I do not know if it is an AMERICAN thing or just a coaching thing but we seem to believe that why should we say something in 5 words when we can use 50?

So for New Years- Try Being a TWITTER COACH.

Twitter Coaching:

As you know the goal of Twitter is get your message across in 140 characters or less. Over the years some of the best coaches I have seen are what I now call  Twitter Coaches. Great coaches are great teachers. They get their message across in a very succinct on point manner. Seldom do great coaches speak in paragraphs, they speak in sentences that are very direct and intended to elicit a specific behavior.

– Tell your gymnasts what correction they need to make without a lengthy speech.

– Give them a correction NOT an observation.

example: A professional says “you need to squeeze your left knee”.

v.

A parent says “Your leg was bent”

– Keep your corrections to a minimum- A GOOD gymnast will only be able to make 1 correction in a routine.

-A GREAT gymnast may possibly be able to make 2.

If you give more, they probably won’t make ANY or each one a little.

As a rule, take your gymnasts AGE and realize you have you have that in SECONDS to make your correction. A 12 year old has about 12 seconds of attention to make a correction. A 5 year old has about 5 seconds. (ALL BOYS are 5!)

Be a twitter coach and improve your coaching effectiveness. By the way follow me on Twitter @gym_momentum and @tretrosi.

 

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It seems as though every year, there’s another college gymnastics team facing elimination. Just last year, Wilson College eliminated their team and Gustavus Adolphus was threatened. In 2011, Rhode Island College’s women’s and Cal Berkley’s men’s teams faced extinction, but were later saved by community outrage. In 2009, MIT’s men’s and women’s teams were eliminated. In 2008, URI announced their gymnastics team’s elimination. Now, Temple University has announced their decision to cut men’s gymnastics. And these schools are just a few of the many programs that no longer exist or risked no longer existing. Gymnastics is almost always one of the first sports on the chopping block when colleges and universities feel that budget cuts and other restrictions need to be made, but why? Gymnastics is growing in popularity but the opportunities for gymnasts to compete collegiately are shrinking year after year. Despite the dominance of USA gymnastics in the world with dozens of Olympic and World Championship medals from the past few years and the exponential growth of athletes participating in the sport, those who hold the power to make decisions in higher education seem convinced that gymnastics is a dying sport.

While it may be obvious to those involved with gymnastics that the sport isn’t dying, it may not be so obvious to those who don’t understand it. And let’s face it: gymnastics is not an easy sport to understand. Its concepts, skills, and scoring are difficult to grasp and comprehend, especially if one has never been involved in the sport in any capacity. Most people do not know the difference between a double back and a double full and couldn’t even pronounce Yurchenko or Tsukahara, let alone understand and differentiate between the two. They don’t get it, and I can’t really blame them. What I can find fault in is the inability to even try to understand it. Most college gymnastics programs are low on the totem pole of athletic priorities. They are poorly marketed, poorly funded, and set on the back burner in favor of the more “popular” sports. As a result, they don’t bring enough revenue and become candidates for elimination. But if you don’t water your plants and give them enough sunlight, how can you ever expect them to grow and blossom?

Saving collegiate programs is a cause I’m passionate about because I’ve lived it. In 2011, I was a junior at Rhode Island College and a captain of the gymnastics team when the school announced its plans to eliminate gymnastics at RIC, effective the 2011-2012 academic year (which would have been my senior year). Let me first preface my story with saying that I was never a naturally gifted gymnast. In all my years, I’ve encountered dozens of gymnasts whose natural ability for the sport astounds me, but I was never “that” kid. The sport didn’t come easy to me, and, like many gymnasts, my body was working against me via stress fractures in my back and other injuries. But what I didn’t have in natural talent, I made up for in passion and drive for the sport. I desperately wanted to compete in college, and I found a home in Division III gymnastics. Unlike Division I or II, Division III does not give athletic scholarships. I would have never made a Division I or II team, but after looking at several Division III programs, I decided on Rhode Island College due to its relatively close proximity to my home state of New Hampshire, its situation in the city of Providence, and its reasonable cost and wide array of majors. I’ll admit, my first two years at RIC were tumultuous. There was almost a revolving door of coaches and gymnasts, but by my junior year, I felt as though our program was gaining ground and stability. Our team had a lot of heart, passion, and love for the sport and for each other. We had several promising recruits lined up for the next season and things were looking up. And then, tragedy.

March 30th, 2011 was a day that I will never forget. My team was called into a meeting with the Athletic Director and we were told, “The good news is that we will be adding two more women’s sports to RIC. The bad news is that we are cutting gymnastics” as if the addition of two more sports that I had no interest in would somehow soften the blow. “Devastation” does not even begin to cover it. I had worked my entire life and had overcome so much all to have it ripped away just before my senior year. My teammates were looking to me as their captain for answers and I had none. We were all blindsided, hurt, and betrayed by the decision. I can remember walking into the athletic training room and sobbing in front of our dumbfounded and stunned trainers and fellow athletes, who shared in our shock and outrage. After the initial shock wore off, I started thinking, “well, that’s that. I guess we’ll just have to start a club team next year, right?” Wrong. Student Community Government had already finalized their budgets for the following academic year, so funding a club team would have been next to impossible. That’s when my roommate and fellow captain, Angela, had an idea. She said, “why don’t we try to save it? What do we have left to lose?” and she was right.

So the next morning, I created the petition. Within 11 hours of its creation, it had over 1,000 signatures. That’s when we knew that we had a chance and that we were onto something big. Then I wrote to every single Division III coach in the country, and the coaches of all the Division I and II teams we regularly competed against and asked them to help us, and the response was overwhelming. Many of those coaches went out of their way to send letters and emails in support of our cause. In addition to the online petition, we sent written forms of it around campus. We went around the dining halls, in the quad, in the dorms, everywhere. It was passed around classrooms, lecture halls, and sorority meetings. Many of our fellow students were outraged that the school would eliminate a sports team. But I knew that I needed more than signatures to reverse the college’s decision.

So I started researching. I read up on NCAA rules and regulations and educated myself about Title IX. I discovered that my school was guilty of some ethical violations and discrimination that were unacceptable under Title IX. Due to the excellent reputation and subsequent popularity of the Nursing and Education programs, at the time I was a student, RIC was approximately 66% female. Title IX states that athletic enrollments should be a reflection of the student population. It wasn’t. My calculations revealed that though RIC’s student population was 2/3 female, their athletic enrollment was over 50% male. Despite the fact that gymnastics was being cut and two more women’s sports (swimming and golf) would be added, the school would only be gaining one sport. Even if the new sports produced the amount of athletes they said it would produce (spoiler alert: they didn’t), that was not enough to tip the scales. Ethically, we as a team had always felt that we had been treated unfairly. The athletic department refused to send gymnasts to Division III Nationals when they qualified, they refused to replace our matting and equipment to comply with NCAA regulations, and we had to travel in vans to our away meets that were often over six hours away while other sports teams got coach buses to travel a fraction of that. We were underfunded, under appreciated, and underrepresented. It wasn’t due to lack of coaching or talent that the program wasn’t succeeding. It was because the athletic department didn’t care enough to equip it with the tools to help it succeed, and then they turned around and cut it for not being “successful”.

After documenting all of this, I decided to research gymnastics teams that had been cut but were later saved because I felt that precedence could be an important card to play. I found that Brown University, West Chester University, and Southeast Missouri had all had their programs cut and reinstated. But the two cases that really struck me were those of Brown, our Providence neighbors, and West Chester, a team we regularly competed against. Both of these teams took their cases to court and won. Reading their legal cases was like looking into a mirror and into my own situation at RIC. The similarities were shocking.

Title IX and the cases of Brown, West Chester, and SEMO were my heavy hitters. But I also had statistics showing that gymnastics was on the rise, statistics comparing it to swimming and golf, letters, testimonials from the petition, and written essays by my teammates on why gymnastics is important to them and why they ultimately chose RIC. Angela and I compiled all of this into a binder and set up meetings with the vice president of the college, who oversaw athletics. There were three meetings in total. During the first two, we presented our case. I knew that arguing for my program to remain indefinitely would be tough, so I suggested a compromise: a two-year trial period where we could prove that gymnastics was a worthy asset to Rhode Island College. All I wanted was a chance. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, angry calls and emails were inundating the administration, the petition was growing, and our cause could be seen in the local papers and on dozens of popular gymnastics websites and blogs.

It was the third meeting where we would hear the final verdict. I can still remember the butterflies, the heartbeat resounding in my chest, the sweaty palms and shaking hands, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. But despite the odds, despite the dozens of programs who had been cut before us, and despite all those who had doubted, discredited, and dismissed us, our request was granted. Rhode Island College Gymnastics would live to see another two years. The next season was the best of my career and the best season for RIC in years. I was named ECAC gymnast of the week once, scored several personal bests, and qualified to Division III Nationals on floor (yes, they actually sent me). Our coach was named ECAC Coach of the Year. The two-year trial period that I fought for is up, and 5 National Qualifiers, 4 Academic All-Americans, 1 Coach of the Year, and 1 Rookie of the Year later, Rhode Island College Gymnastics remains alive today.

To this day, I still can’t believe that we did it. But there are still days where I fear for the indefinite survival of the program. More so, I fear for the survival of college gymnastics as a whole. I want to one day live in a world where the sport I have devoted my entire life to is not constantly fighting for survival in the NCAA. I want to one day live in a world where gymnastics is as dutifully marketed and appreciated as basketball or football. I want to one day live in a world where administrators will actually make an effort to understand and appreciate gymnastics. I want to one day live in a world where we can go just one season without seeing another team’s petition to be saved from elimination. I want to one day live in a world where gymnastics athletes can be treated with fairness, equality, respect and with the same reverence that is given to athletes of more “popular” sports.

Cutting a sport, regardless of whether it’s gymnastics or football, or whether it’s a men’s sport or a women’s sport, is never, I repeat, never the answer. It is a cop-out. Denying athletes the right to participate in a sport they have worked tirelessly to succeed in and to represent their school with dignity and pride in is the biggest and most reprehensible disservice a college administration can do. Knowing how incredible and how valuable my experience as a college gymnast was, I want future gymnasts to have the opportunity to share in that same experience. I want there to be options available for gymnasts who want to continue competing after high school. If the elimination of programs to be a popular trend, that will not happen.

I am living, breathing proof that with a little grit and determination, saving a program is possible. But I was not alone in the battle. I could not have succeeded in doing what I did without the help of social media and the thousands of members of the gymnastics community who took a little time out of their day to support us, be it by signing a petition, making a phone call, writing a letter or email, or sharing our cause with their contacts. We cannot continue to sit idly as gymnastics programs disappear one by one. The situation for men’s gymnastics programs is especially dire, and right now, it is Temple who needs our help. Sign their petition, send a letter to their administration, and get on the phone and start calling. As for the other programs around the country, do your part in supporting your local college gymnastics team. Send a donation, attend a meet, and follow them on social media. The more the community remains involved, the more of a chance we have in keeping NCAA gymnastics alive.

Sign The Petition to Save Temple University Gymnastics

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

1454254_10201071282767382_469029678_nSarah was a gymnast for 16 years, throughout which she competed at the state, regional, and national level. She went on to compete Division III collegiate gymnastics for Rhode Island College, where she was a two-year team captain, ECAC gymnast of the week, national qualifier on floor exercise, and Academic All-American, as well as being one of four senior athletes chosen as a Senior Athlete of Distinction at RIC’s 2012 Commencement. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English. Sarah continues her passion for gymnastics as a coach at Spectrum Gymnastics Academy in Londonderry, NH where she also runs the gym’s blog. She also is a level 9 rated judge and hopes to earn her level 10 rating next season.

Follow her on twitter:  @GymCoachSarah