How to coach gymnastics AND have a successful relationship.

I published a version of this at my other website, Vacilando. 

I Do Not Give Relationship Advice, But….

While recently speaking at Region 2 Congress I was having a conversation with a newly married acquaintance. After the obligatory congratulations and wishing him luck I shared that my 25th anniversary was coming up. He asked- with all the traveling I do, What is the secret for a lasting relationship? He was worried that as a gymnastics coach his relationship may be doomed before it started. (I wonder what the divorce rate is for coaches? )

I was honored that he asked me and I really gave thought to my answer before I shared.

What came to me first is that no relationship is “perfect” there will always be some ups and downs. Consistent communication between you and your partner will help you navigate the bumps in the road. If something REALLY bothers you – you need to be able to tell them. AND you need to listen to the grievances of your partner as well with out getting offended.

When I was first married I had a habit of just kicking off my shoes when I came in from outside. It drove my wife crazy when she would trip on my shoes when she came in. She got so angry that she picked up my shoe and was about to throw it outside when she slowed down and thought, “Why don’t I tell him first?” . She told me and I said, “Oh, sorry about that. I’ll take care of that.” I never left my shoes in front of the door again. She told me- I fixed it. No big deal.

A good relationship is NOT a partnership. Most partnerships are viewed as a 50/50 agreement. In a marriage you have to always be willing to give more than you receive. It is more a 60/60 or 70/70 deal with each giving more so that the relationship grows. This is important to remember as time goes on. A flower planted in the richest soil will need some added nutrients after a few years. Otherwise the flower loses its brilliance.

When you return home from a trip whether it was for a conference or competition remember that your spouse has been home, taking care of things, their life went on. BEFORE you unload about what a great (or horrible) competition you had, what you learned at a conference or how well your lectures went. STOP, slow down, take a minute and listen to what has been going on in their life. What has been going on is important to them and you need to listen.

Gymnastics coaches are passionate about what they do. Most LOVE their job and the ability to interact with children and really make a difference in the lives of so many. As much as you are passionate about your profession, your spouse is equally passionate about something they do. It may be their job, it make be cooking, writing, or gardening. FEED their passion. Do not expect your spouse to fully understand gymnastics, but don’t be condescending. Explain things, share your passion but also share in their passion.

Never underestimate the value of kissing someone good morning and good night. Yes, I know — it’s so traditional. This simple loving gestures speaks volumes. I want to kiss you when I open my eyes. I want to hold you for a minute before we sleep. No matter what happens between you during the day, there will always be this.

Understand that relationships come with expectations and commitments. There are things that you will HAVE to do that you might not want to. Whether it’s a dinner party or a concert. Get over it. Put on a smile and go. (and while you are there- no whining). Relationships come with obligations. Your spouse probably doesn’t want to sit through a Level 3 meet. But does.

Give presents. Do the unexpected. Surprise each other. Is it the loving sexy text during the day? Or maybe buying his favorite cookies at the store? Surprises do not have to be big to be fabulous. It’s amazing how offering up a bit of a loving surprise can keep the heat burning.

Don’t pick on each other in public. Don’t make each other the butt of a joke in front of people. When we use the phrase “at each other’s expense” that is real. Every time you turn someone into your punch line, you are paying out of their self-esteem. Don’t do it. Along that same line, don’t correct your spouse in public. There is just no point to it. It is petty. If they are telling a story, “It was just before our son was born and…” and you remember that it was clearly AFTER he was born. So what? Was that important to the story? Let it go.

Help each other. Whether it is taking on some work, or simply cheerleading. How can you help each other when one of you gets overwhelmed? Don’t just ask, “What can I do?” do something.

Have each other’s backs. I do not tolerate people talking badly about their partner — ever. I don’t care how small it is. This is a zero tolerance zone. If your partner can’t count on you to defend them — who can they trust? and NEVER fight in public.

Lastly- It is very easy to list the faults of your partner or spouse.

She drives me crazy when she does________.

I really hate it when he ____________.

I wish they would just ____________.

We even find it easy to criticize ourselves.

I really need to be a better job at ________________.

But when was the last time you listed the things you love about your partner?

I love how she can make me smile even when I have a bad day.

I love the way he interacts with the kids.

I love how hard she works at her job.

I love the pride he has in his appearance.

Now go, make your list, and go tell them every once and a while!



How did I know it was the right one? Even after 25 years? When I pull into the drive and see her car there, I just smile.

Finding Her Future. | Get Psyched!

Great Article from Wendy Bruce Martin at GET PSYCHED! Wendy will be coaching at Gym Momentum Training Camp This Summer!

Source: Finding Her Future. | Get Psyched!

My daughter was a competitive cheerleader from the age of 5. She took to the sport very quickly and her talent was undeniable. She started to excel in tumbling and it was obvious to me that she needed to hone in on this talent and see where it would take her.

When she turned 9, she had learned a double full on her own. It was amazingly technically correct and I had not taught her it, she learned it solely by playing around in the gym. And because I could see her talent, I quickly called around to gymnastics gyms and enrolled her in the amazing sport of Tumbling and Trampoline.

From the moment she walked into the gym we all could see her future. She was talented and boy was she good, so good that in her first two months she made the developmental team at the gym, the USAG Jumpstart team, and started her career in level 7.

She was a fast learner and it was clear that Tumbling and Trampoline was going to be “her” sport. She made flipping look easy. She was beautiful in the air and made the hard skills look effortless. She was way more talented than I was as a gymnast and I made the Olympics. I couldn’t help but to see into her future and revel in her own fame and fortune.

First I could see her making it to World Championships, hopefully by then Tumbling would have been an Olympic sport and she would be one of the first team members. Then I saw her getting a job with Cirque du Soleil when she was older, where I would go visit her with all my friends and family and we would watch her as the featured act. They could have t-shirts and merchandise made of her. I was so proud of a future that she hadn’t even had yet and didn’t even know that I was planning for her.

At the end of the year she was a State Champion and I was ecstatic that my dream for her was coming true.

Until, one day on the car ride to practice she told me that she didn’t want to go. When I asked her why she calmly said, “I don’t want to do it anymore.”

These words hit me like a slap in the face.

I tried to hide my shock and calmly said back, “Don’t you like to tumble?”

She replied, “Oh my goodness, I love it.”

She loved it? That didn’t make sense. She loved to tumble, she was amazingly talented, she had amazing coaches, and her future…didn’t she don’t have the same dream for her future that I had?

So I asked, “Why?”

She had no problem coming up very strong reasons, she said, “I don’t like it. I don’t like the pressure, being judged, being corrected on everything, the conditioning, climbing the rope, going to competitions, and (what she considered the final straw) wearing a leotard.”

Knowing that I should not try to convince her to stay and that I really could never try to convince her to stay, I pulled the car over, gave her a kiss, lovingly and unconditionally accepted her decision, and turned the car around to go home. That night when we got home, I called her coach. He was as shocked as I was, but completely understood her decision.

The next day I had an uncontrollable urge to cry (although I never did). I felt sad and depressed. When it was the time when I usually took her to practice, I felt empty. I thought about not seeing my gym mom friends that I had made. I thought about the class practicing and improving without my daughter, and not getting free tickets to Cirque. I thought about the talent that she wasn’t going to use and how my dream for her that wasn’t going to come true. I wasn’t ready for her to stop.

I seemed to be taking the loss of her sport worse than my daughter. She had known for weeks that she didn’t want to do it anymore. She had already come up with a plan on what new sport she wanted to try. She wasn’t worried about ending her journey in a sport she want to do, in fact the only reason she tried this sport was because she knew she was a great tumbler and thought this was the next step. But after a few months she knew that this sport wasn’t for her. She stayed in the sport because she decided to finish out the year. But after the year was over, she was sure she wanted to stop.

She was relieved with her decision. I was the one who was having a hard time. On the outside I was her accepting, nonjudgmental mom whom was proud of my daughter for having the confidence to tell me her desires. And I was honestly proud of her. She knew how talented she was. She knew that she was on track for greatness. She knew that everyone was shocked by her talent and yet she still had the guts to tell everyone that SHE didn’t want to do it anymore.

My emotions were all over the place. In one moment I was mad, mad that she wasn’t going to use her talent. In another moment I was in shock, because I thought she loved this sport and I didn’t see it coming. In the next moment I was in denial, I was convinced that in a week or two she would go back to the sport. In the next moment I was sad, at the loss of the (my) dream.

I had to come to terms with this loss and with any loss comes grief. There are many stages of grief, one of the being guilt. Oh and boy did I have guilt. What mom would let a 9 year old make a life changing decision about her future? This was hitting me hard. Maybe I should have stepped in and made her stay. Maybe I knew better than she and maybe she was too young to understand what this sport could bring to her future. What if my mom would have let me stop doing gymnastics at 9? I would have never made the Olympics. But then it occurred to me that I didn’t want to stop doing gymnastics when I was 9. In fact, I wanted to be in the gym every minute of every day. I loved it and if I didn’t like it, my mom would have let me stop.

My reality was that my daughter was the one who had to commit to practice every week, work through fears, push through painful conditioning, and (the worse part) wear a leotard. If she was the one who was going to have to put in the work, then she was the one who should decide it she wanted to or not.

She was happy with her decision and walked around the house like a weight had been lifted off her chest. Later that evening she asked to go bounce on our trampoline and at that moment I realized that she (nor I) had lost anything. We both gained many lessons; we realized that Tumbling and Trampoline, as amazing and incomparable of a sport that it may be, wasn’t HER passion. She still loved to tumble and flip, and she needed to find HER passion.

There were parts of Tumbling and Trampoline that she did love. She loved to flip, learn new skills, and she loved to perform in front of large crowds. But she wanted more.

She wanted a sport that had teammates, dancing, flipping, tumbling, excitement, music, and stunts. She wanted to cheer. It was very clear to me that she has found her passion. Her passion, her future, all of her dreams and goals was in cheer. She spends hours and hours outside of practice listening to cheer music, choreographing routines, practicing skills on her tramp, stretching and conditioning in her bed room, and watching videos. Her love for cheer in undeniable. And I do truly love that she loves her sport.

At times I look back on her Tumbling and Trampoline journey and I smile. It was a great experience for us all, but mostly for me. I grieved for the loss of a sport instead of realizing that it was an amazing chapter to her story; The story of my daughter’s childhood. And as with every experience, she is a stronger and has a better understanding of what she wants out of life. As a mom, I can’t really be upset at all. She knows what she has planned for her future, she knows her hopes and dreams, and I know as long as she is happy, so am I.

How the fitness industry turns people off exercise

Although not necessarily gymnastics related. It is a good piece of information on how we treat our clients.

New research finds that one-in-three Australians are avoiding exercise because they’re embarrassed to be seen or scared of being hurt in the gym. So is it time for a new approach to fitness?

Source: How the fitness industry turns people off exercise

“You’ll never have sex again if you look like that!” screamed the personal trainer. His abuse was targeted at a woman who had made the mistake of entrusting him to help her exercise.

This story came from a client of clinical psychologist Louise Adams. “She was in pieces after that comment. It took her weeks to recover,” Adams says.

This anecdote is just one of many examples that confirmed what Adams, who runs a weight management clinic, has long suspected. People don’t avoid exercise because they don’t like exercising. They avoid it because they don’t like their bodies – and they fear the way other people will judge their bodies.

And now there’s research to back this up. A survey of 1400 people conducted by Nine Rewards for Curves has found that one-in-three Australians are avoiding exercise altogether because they’re embarrassed to be seen exercising. Forty-six per cent of respondents said they have had feelings of anxiety at the thought of attending a gym.

Adams blames what she calls the “pornification of exercise” for contributing to people’s avoidance of physical activity.

“Part of why people are anxious about exercising is because we are supposed to be sexy and physically perfect when we do it. We see images of women in tiny shorts and crop tops and this makes people feel inadequate,” Adams says. “Research shows that the more we are exposed to images of physical perfection, the more depressed and angry we get. This doesn’t motivate; it makes us feel worse and we want to hide.”

At the other end of the spectrum, we’re bombarded with unflattering pictures of fat people and ‘public health’ messages about how they’re going to die untimely deaths. And as numerous failed anti-obesity advertising campaigns highlight, fear and shame don’t help people make healthy decisions in the long term.

Former trainer for The Biggest Loser and director and trainer at Melbourne’s Urban Workout, Andrew Meade says that the exercise industry is often a terrible ambassador for health and wellness.

“It perpetuates the stereotype of ego-maniac meatheads who are unbalanced and totally obsessed with their bodies,” says Meade. “There needs to be more places for people to work-out in a comfortable environment where they won’t feel judged all the time.”

One-third of survey respondents also said that they feared getting hurt at the gym, which is not surprising given the mythology that exercise has to be painful to be beneficial.

Far from being motivational, ‘fitspiration’ and ‘thinspiration’ quotes like “Go hard or go home” and images of people who have been sedentary for 20 years crying and vomiting from the exhaustion of pulling trucks on shows like The Biggest Loser are turning people off exercise.

“People should be pushed to a level that is adequate for them, rather than smashing a person so hard that they leave by crawling down the stairs. They’re not going to enjoy it or want to come back if they can’t walk the next day,” Meade says. “But there is a belief in the industry that we need to punish people during a workout. It’s totally unnecessary and it’s something that the industry needs to address.”

People’s fear of being hurt during exercise is not unfounded.

Physiotherapist and author of Fit Not Healthy, Vanessa Alford questions the education of some personal trainers, saying that many lack the knowledge to keep their clients safe.

“It scares me how little knowledge some personal trainers have in the areas of anatomy, physiology, musculoskeletal conditions and rehabilitation,” says Alford, who has taught the Diploma of Fitness. “Extensive knowledge in these areas is essential to ensure exercises prescribed to clients are appropriate, safe and effective.”

Based on the research, it would appear that the fitness industry is the worst bunch of people to promote exercise to the general population. The toxic exercise culture that it perpetuates – abusive personal trainers, intimidating gym environments, ‘no pain no gain’ attitudes, and the obsession with aesthetics – is a major reason why people don’t want to exercise.

“People need to motivate themselves from kindness rather than fear and shame,” says psychologist Louise Adams. “The literature shows that lasting health behaviours come from self-care, from being your own best friend. That’s what is missing in the exercise industry.”

Still, Adams is optimistic that things are changing. She is running workshops to help people reframe exercise from a punishment to an ongoing process of self-care. She says there has been a lot of interest in the workshops from the fitness industry, which suggests that some people are beginning to realise that the current approach of being mean to people to get results is not only bad for clients, it’s also bad for business.

Sportsmanship: It Truly Is What It’s All About | Ken Reed

Source: Sportsmanship: It Truly Is What It’s All About | Ken Reed

As a teenager, I remember my parents and coaches, on several occasions, telling me how important sportsmanship was. I recall hearing them paraphrase the old Grantland Rice quote, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

I would nod, give a cursory “Yeah, it’s important” and quickly get back to the business of being a self-absorbed teenager. It’s not that I disagreed with them about the importance of sportsmanship, it’s just that I couldn’t really grasp how it could be the most important thing. There were games to win, championships to seek, points to score and All-Star teams to try and make.

Today, I get it. I’m convinced that how you play the game is the most important thing in sports — above and beyond all team and individual accomplishments and awards.

I believe that no matter how long your sports career lasts, whether it ends after Little League, or after winning the Super Bowl, what you will most be remembered for is what kind of competitor you were, what kind of teammate you were, and whether or not you respected the game. In short, whether you were a good sport or a bad sport.

Consider the cases of two baseball Hall of Famers, Ty Cobb and Harmon Killebrew. Both were great players but both probably are better known for how they played the game and carried themselves on and off the field.

Cobb played with anger on the field, regularly sliding into opponents with his spikes up. He was a well-known racist who was disliked by opponents and teammates alike.

“I think if I had my life to live over again, I’d do things a little different,” said Cobb, near the end of his life. “I was aggressive, perhaps too aggressive. Maybe I went too far. I always had to be right in any argument I was in, I always had to be first in everything. I do indeed think I would have done some things different. And if I had I believe I would have had more friends.”

Killebrew, on the other hand, was respected and liked by virtually everyone who came into contact with him, including opponents.

“We all loved Harmon so much,” said fellow Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven, a teammate of Killebrew’s with the Minnesota Twins. “Harmon was a great man, on and off the field. He was a bigger Hall of Famer off the field. Everyone that Harmon ever came into contact with has a story about what a class man he was.”

Another Hall of Famer, George Brett, had this to say about Killebrew: “He was just a fierce competitor and a perfect gentleman at the same time. You don’t see that a lot. Sometimes you get fierce competitors who are bad people. You see guys that are not fierce competitors but not nice guys. You don’t see the two of them together very much.”

Steve Nash wants to be remembered in a similar way as Killebrew is.

“I simply want people to remember me as a competitor and a great teammate,” said Nash, a two-time NBA MVP who’s likely headed to the Hall of Fame. “That’s it. Those are the two most important things.”

Legendary Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” I couldn’t disagree with that sentiment more.

Let’s take a step back and consider what sports competition really is.

Are one’s opponents the enemy? Do they have evil intent? Do they need to be vanquished? Is a sports contest a zero sum game in which only one team, or one individual, can gain anything positive?

Or, are your competitors people who are a lot like you? Do they love sports? Do they desire to become the best they can be? Do they play hard, strive to win, and do it by the rules?

I think in the vast majority of cases, the answer to the first set of questions is “No,” and the answer to the second set of questions is “Yes.”

Sport at its best is a cooperative activity in which competitors on both sides play with honor in a mutual quest for excellence. As such, our opponents are also our colleagues. We compete with our opponents, not against them.

Unfortunately, I think we’re seeing a slow but steady decline in sportsmanship today, from the youth level to the pro level. And that leads to more cases of ugly and unethical competition.

David Light Shields and Brenda Light Bredemeier wrote a thought-provoking book called True Competition: A Guide to Pursuing Excellence in Sport and Society. In this book, they make an important distinction between “true competition” and “decompetition.”

True competition is in essence a partnership in which opponents play ethically against each other to optimize performance, develop life skills, and have fun. Decompetition is based on a metaphor of war, in which antagonistic conflict reigns and the goal is simply to come out on top — at whatever cost.

I love true competition and hate decompetition.

Today, my competitive sports activities begin and end with the tennis league I play in. Interestingly, I see the same types of opponents in this league that I saw as a nine-year old Little League baseball player.

Some weeks you run into the tennis guy who swears, pouts and pounds his racquet into the ground on missed shots. If he loses, he may or may not shake your hand before marching off.

Other weeks you run into the classy competitor who plays his heart out, complements your good shots, takes his bad shots in stride and wins or loses with grace and dignity. After the match, he’ll have a snack and drink with you and talk about a variety of things — some sports-related some not. There’s a sense of mutual appreciation, and an unspoken acknowledgement that you came together to not only test each other’s abilities, but just as importantly, for exercise, camaraderie and fun.

Regrettably, I’ve been a decompetitor during my sports career more times than I’d like to admit. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve increasingly made being a true competitor my number one priority. I now value sportsmanship tremendously.

I love reading or hearing about instances of great sportsmanship. There have been plenty of examples through the years, many of them taking place in the Olympic Games. However, my favorite involves two college softball teams, Western Oregon and Central Washington.

Sara Tucholsky, a light-hitting senior for Western Oregon, hit a three-run homer in a game against Central Washington. She had never hit a home run before so she understandably was still looking at her accomplishment as she got to first base. As a result, she missed the bag. When she turned to go back to touch first base she twisted and her knee gave out. Tucholsky crumpled to the ground in pain. She was crying as she crawled back to first base.

The umpires ruled that Tucholsky’s teammates couldn’t help her around the bases, and that if she couldn’t make it around the bases, she’d only be credited with a single, not the first and only home run of her career.

Then Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman entered the discussion and said, “Excuse me, would it be okay if we carried her around and she touched each bag?”

The umpires conferred and then said that idea would be permissible. And so Holtman and Central Washington shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky up and carried her to second base, gently lowering her so she could touch the bag with her foot. They did the same thing at third base and home plate.

By the time the three of them reached home, the fans were standing and applauding, many of them with tears in their eyes.

Western Oregon ended up winning the game 4-2 on the strength of Tucholsky’s three-run blast. But win or lose the score seems so trivial in that game.

Something more important took place.

What made Holtman do it?

Holtman said her coach, Gary Frederick taught her that “winning is not everything.”

Western Oregon coach Pam Knox said Holtman’s act “came from character.”

“They’re playing for a coach (Frederick) that instills it,” said Knox.

To me, sports don’t get any better than what happened that day. Everyone on both teams and in the stands won that afternoon.

Sportsmanship is a concept that helps remind us that there are things more important than winning and our own desires. It’s about respect, honor and relationships.

Sportsmanship is soul-based. It’s bigger than the game. It’s the spiritual aspect of sports. And it’s the polar opposite of the ego-based win-at-all-costs mentality that’s becoming too prevalent in sports today.

After all these years, perhaps nobody has put it as aptly and succinctly as Rice did in his famous poem:

“For when the One Great Scorer comes
To mark against your name,
He writes — not that you won or lost —
But how you played the Game.”

Those four simple but powerful lines should be posted on signs at the entrance of every sports venue across the globe.


The Marathon Gymnast | Get Psyched!

Source: The Marathon Gymnast | Get Psyched!

Sometimes we get so caught up in the unforeseeable future that we forget to enjoy our children today. Author Jodi Brichta-Coyne writes an amazing article on the long journey of sports and how we can sometimes get so caught up in the unknown and we are so busy trying to plan out our children’s future, that sometimes miss out on the amazing success they are having today.

The Marathon Gymnast
As a mother of a level 7 competitive gymnast, I sometimes find myself trying to figure out when she will make it to level 10- the highest level before Elite. You see when she first started out she was on level 4 (where a lot of girls start), and improved very quickly. I saw other girls her age skipping levels and thought, “hey, maybe she should skip too, she has the skills”. Then I found myself comparing my daughter with other girls her age to see where they are at. It started to get out of hand when you find yourself talking to other moms and the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “what level is she at? how old is she? is she moving up this year?” I was getting sucked into the race where the race was more about who can get to level 10 the quickest, and not so much about process to get there and the mindset of building endurance, keeping the balance, and finishing strong.

The part that scares me is my daughter lives in that race to get to level 10 because the girls are so focused on levels (and not the process) that they lose the real meaning of what the race is all about. So I stepped back and looked at it from a different perspective. My job as a parent is not to push her to get in front before the others but support her in the present moment. It’s one thing to have goals and strive to achieve them, but another to lose focus on the task at hand to get you there. If I don’t teach her to breathe, stay focused, about grit, and other empowering tools she will need then.. will she burn out and give up long before the race is over?

I recently read a staggering statistic from the National Alliance of Sports that showed 70% of kids will quit sports before they turn 13. I thought “WOW!” The survey concluded that the number one reason why they quit is because it is no longer fun. What they enjoyed about their sport, i.e. gymnastics at levels 3/4 is totally different at levels 9/10 which requires much more time, effort and focus. In the beginning it was all about having fun as everything was new, and it was so exciting to get to the next skill. Most parents didn’t need to push because they didn’t have too. They were excelling on their own and were beaming. Then somewhere along the way the pressure got more intense as the skills got harder and took longer to achieve. Isn’t that the same at the beginning of a marathon? your adrenaline is pumping as the race begins and you are full of energy. The energy of the other runners pump you with excitement as you begin the journey together.

Then about half way through you notice that there are greater distances between you and the person in front of you and behind you. It isn’t crowded anymore and you begin to notice people on the sidelines falling behind. Your mind races with thoughts of.. “what if I can’t make it, what if everyone passes me and I can’t keep up..what if I quit right now!”
As thoughts swirl through your head of the reasons why you should stop your body keeps going. Then another thought floats through your head and you tell it to STOP! you start to focus back on your breath and think about the reasons why you are here and you will not quit. You think, I can and I will finish and you push yourself to go further leaving the negative thoughts behind you and focus in the moment (the only thing you really have control over).

Sure there are many legit reasons to quit, your body starts to hurt, you can’t breathe, you get injured. It happens and it happens to the best. The one thing that young gymnasts don’t realize is that the race is long and it is so much more than skills they are acquiring as they move up in levels or in the case of the marathon runner gaining momentum and pushing to go farther. They gain mental toughness, confidence, grit, courage, trust, faith, focus, determination, patience, perseverance and respect. They learn how to work together as a team to support one another, they learn compassion and kindness toward their fellow athletes (especially when one gets hurt), their coaches, and so many other wonderful lessons.

The race is long, there is no need to rush because in life some lessons just take longer to learn than others and that’s ok. They say that a lesson keeps on repeating itself until it is learned, then you can move on. This is a race that an athlete has with themselves not only in their sport but throughout all life stages and a parent pushing them before they are ready never works. They must fall down, they must fail, be disappointed and they must also learn how to get back up and get back in the race. Sure we can encourage and empower however, they themselves must walk their path. In the end, we are here to guide them and send them off into the world. So instead of wondering when she will make it to level 10 (and she may not ever make it and I am OK with that), I am going to sit back and watch her and enjoy the moment. It is her sport, her journey, and wherever it takes her the lessons learned along the way are much more valuable then striving to get somewhere before it’s time.

by: Jodi Brichta-Coyne

Follow Jodi

How to use Affirmations and Positive Self-Talk. | Get Psyched!

I know, I know I talk about affirmations and positive self-talk all the time. I am a true believer in positive affirmations, inspirational quotes, and empowering words that build athletes up. My thoughts are that if we fill our lives with comments that remind us how wonderful, strong, beautiful, and talented we are, then we will tend to eventually believe them.

So what’s the problem?

Well some specialists in the Sports Psychology and Mental Toughness world sometimes mention that affirmations do not work. In an article published in Psychology Today, author Ray Williams states that people with low self esteem actually feel worse after using positive affirmations.


Source: How to use Affirmations and Positive Self-Talk. | Get Psyched!

Taking Ownership

Last weekend I hosted our Xcel State Championships at a local high school. It was a great competition. What I love about this level is the pure joy of gymnastics. The first day saw about 350 competitors. There was laughter. There was cheering (not just for teammates but also for other competitors). What I didn’t see- any crying out of frustration or disappointment. (I will save these thoughts for another blog).

I sat at the table facing the crowd playing floor music and making announcements. Nearly every team of parents could be identified in their group by their T-shirts, banners and cheering (I feel Another blog on crowd/parent behavior). At the end of each session as the parents filed out and headed to awards some teams of parents just got up and left leaving pop corn boxes, news papers, various bottles and coffee cups. The area staked out by other teams were so clean it was as if they were never there. I watched a few parents on their way down the bleachers picking up stuff left by other groups.

At the end of the weekend when we finished loading everything back on the DGS truck I had parents in the bleachers cleaning everything left behind then sweeping the bleachers. I had parents dry mopping the vinyl cover over floor before another group helped the custodians fold it up. The custodians were very thankful for our help with things that was “their job”. I remarked, “My goal was to run a successful competition for the kids and to be good guests. You are obviously proud of your facility and you were gracious enough to let us use it so I am proud of the facility as well.”

Polish the floor and you polish your soul
-Zen saying

I try to impress upon my staff and all the gymnasts at Atlantic Gymnastics (Rec and Team) to treat the gym as your second home. Take pride in your surroundings. Pick up the garbage instead of stepping over it. I rarely am offended and usually very thankful when a parent takes the time to point out where we have failed to meet their expectations. Some people get upset with these “complaints” but I look at them as a chance for us to improve our product. Whether a parent has concerns over heat/ ac (my second floor observation room is very warm in the winter and penguins would be comfortable up there when the AC is on), trash in the parking lot or when one of our teachers doesn’t deliver at the level we expect. In general for every parent that takes the time to say something there are 10 who feel the same and do not say anything.

There are NO small jobs. Each job is important and in order for this ship to sail smoothly everyone must work together and be willing to pick up the slack when necessary.

I was doing some research to expand on this article when I came across the blog GYMNAST CROSSING. They cover the same topic (even using the same zen saying). Please visit their blog. Instead of trying to rewrite what they have done such a good job on, I will repost their article.

From Gymnast Crossing:

Polish the floor and you polish your soul
-Zen saying

While out for my morning run to the park this cloudy morning, I was doing sit-ups at a station and watched a woman randomly picking up trash as she was walking.  As she passed by me, I told her she was awesome and thanked her for the act and the inspiration.  I was done running, and walked to the next station for push-ups, picking up some litter along the way.  Not much of a trouble, either, considering there are trash cans conveniently placed throughout the park.

During summer and winter camp in previous years, other coaches and myself would on occasion, give a speech to the girls after noticing how not everyone was pulling her own weight in cleaning up after lunch.  Some girls would be pretending to clean; or making a concerted effort to not put in much effort.  Other gymnasts would occupy cleanup time with mostly socializing.

And then there were the few teammates who were actually engaged in quality work on cleaning.

Is this fair to the teammates who are shouldering most of the workload?  Does the job get done more efficiently when more people help or when less people help?

Is it ever fair when a person has to clean up after herself, and the mess left behind by others?  Who benefits?  The person working hard, disciplining herself to do the right thing?  The person being lazy and inconsiderate of others, not pulling her own weight?

When I phrase it in those terms, the answer is quite obvious.

The girls have been talked to as well, regarding the state of the gym, in general.  At the end of the day, used athletic tape is discarded in a twisted mangle; paper wrappings to chalk blocks litter the floor by bars; defrosted peas in plastic ziplocs mine the gym like IEDs, ready to be stepped on and exploded….

The gym is like a second home.  How do you treat your home?

If you see trash lying around, do you pick it up?  Or wait in hopes that the responsible party will return to do it, himself?  Or trust that someone else will do it?  Just not you?

When it’s time to move mats, either to set up drill stations or clear some space; or to move mats to make it easier for the evening clean-up crew to do their job of cleaning up after us, I notice who is helping and who is not helping.  Your coaches might not always say something.  But they notice.

Have some character and integrity:  Do the right thing.  Clean up after yourself and others.  Don’t wait around for a coach to tell you; don’t expect to be recognized or praised, either.  Do it because it’s the right thing to do- and do it especially when you think no one is looking.


USA Gymnastics | AAP study differentiates between structured trampoline programs and backyard trampolines

The American Academy of Pediatrics today released a policy statement, “Trampoline safety in childhood and adolescence.” Although the piece focused mostly on the dangers of backyard trampolines, the paper separated backyard/recreational trampolines and activities from trampolines used in structured training programs. The statement’s conclusion stated, “Pediatricians should only endorse use of trampolines as part of a structured training program with appropriate coaching, supervision and safety measures in place.”

“In a supervised environment like a gymnastics club, trampoline activity has incredible benefits for kids, whether training for a sport or getting fit,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “USA Gymnastics club programs are designed to follow the highest in both safety and equipment standards in the development and training of an athlete. The differences between a backyard trampoline and trampoline training at a gymnastics club are vast, and we applaud the AAP for recognizing those differences as noted in today’s policy statement.”

Source: USA Gymnastics | AAP study differentiates between structured trampoline programs and backyard trampolines