10 Things Parents Want Coaches to Know | JAG GYM Blog

Source: 10 Things Parents Want Coaches to Know | JAG GYM Blog

1. I love my child so much it hurts. It makes me a little irrational. Please bare with me. Be gentle. My heart is walking around outside of me, and I entrust it to you. I am not asking for a free pass, just a little empathy.
2. And of course, I want you to love my child too. I realize you have many kids to love, but let’s admit it…mine is really awesome.
3. Despite what my actions might suggest, I want to be a good parent. I really do. So much so that I am prone to making mistakes because I over think things. I need your help in guiding me on how to be the best support for my child-athlete. If you think I am doing something that isn’t good for my child (like watching every practice or constantly bailing her out when she leaves her gym bag at home), communicate that with me. I am all for help from the village.
4. I need more information. I don’t understand things and that make me anxious. I need to understand how kids move up. I need to understand how to explain to my child what she needs to do to move on with her friends or to know that she won’t be so I can explain that to her. When I don’t have information from you, I rely on other parents, the internet or I make things up myself. We both know that this is hardly a good thing…
5. Because remember: I don’t speak gymnastics. To me a giant is a character in a fairy tale. Kip is a guy with top siders and a country club membership. And don’t get me started on Tsukahara or Yurchenko… Then, once I think I have the hang of what the levels all mean, things change, and I am confused again. Is level 6 easier than level 5 or is that just my imagination?
6. Just because I ask you a question, does not mean I am questioning your competence. I genuinely don’t understand things and need clarification. Please try not to be defensive. I am working hard to assume good faith and hope you will assume the same in me.
7. Big surprises freak me out. They freak everyone out. If my child isn’t going to move up or is missing a major skill she needs for competition, please tell me in time for me to prepare her or better yet help her achieve her goal. I know that delivering bad news is not fun for you, but if you tell me in advance I can maybe do something about it. And if bad news is unavoidable, be sensitive in how you deliver bad news but tell me the truth. In private, please.
8. Please understand we are juggling a variety of commitments and that means sometimes we might be late or even miss practice. I understand that gymnastics is your career and it makes it harder for you to do your job if my child isn’t in the gym. But occasionally a sibling’s first communion or grandma’s 90th birthday will fall on a day of practice or even a meet. And, once a year we travel to visit family and once another time we will actually scape enough cash together to go on a vacation. Sometimes the carpool falls through and I cannot get her little brother from soccer at 5pm and be on the other side of town to drop her at practice at the same exact time. We accept any logical consequences that arise because of her absence from the gym and will do our best to notify you in advance, but please do not take your anger or disappointment out on her.
9. You are the expert on the sport and my child as an athlete, but I am the expert on my child. Please know that I will always defer to you on what to teach my child, but I can provide insight to you on who she is. For instance, if one of my children says she’s not feeling well, I might take it with a grain of salt. If my other who has never missed a day of school in her life and never gets sick says that, I am certain its true. Let’s work together to share what we know so we can best understand her.
10. If you have a chance, can you encourage my kid to read, straighten our her room and be nice to her parents and siblings? You see, you have a magical influence over my child. She worships you and wants you to be proud of her. You are her role model. And I am grateful for that and am happy to bring you Starbucks whenever you need a caffeine boost.

Functional Path Training: Coach John Wooden – A Twitter Coach

Source: Functional Path Training: Coach John Wooden – A Twitter Coach

John Wooden died June 4, 2010 at age 99. Twitter was founded in 2006. He retired in 1975 thirty-one years before Twitter yet he was a twitter coach. Why? How? We know that Coach Wooden is acknowledged as one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. Fortunately during his last season coaching in 1974-75 two psychologists Roland Tharp & Ronald Gallimore studied his methods and reported on his coaching style. (Tharp, R. G. and Gallimore, R. (1976). Basketballs John Wooden: What a coach can teach a teacher. Psychology Today, 9 (8), 74-78. (Tharp & Gallimore, 1976)) In their observations of 2,326 discrete acts of teaching during thirty hours of practice they observed the following:

6.9% were compliments

6.6% were expressions of discipline

75% was PURE INFORMATION

They were short, punctuated, numerous and seldom longer that twenty seconds! There were no lectures or long drawn out harangues. There was minimal use of praise and reproofs. What does this have to with Twitter, not much directly until you think about what Twitter is intended to do – Get you message across in 140 Characters. That is what John Wooden did and he was doing it years before Twitter was invented. He was a Twitter coach before there was Twitter. There is a powerful lesson here for all of us to be Twitter coaches, know your message and convey that message in 20 seconds or less (140 Characters). If it is longer than that forget it, because the athlete is not going to get it. Be a Twitter coach and improve your effectiveness as a teacher.

If you want to learn more Wooden’s teaching methods I suggest you read Yo Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learnedby Swen Nater & Gallimore and a 2004 follow-up to Gallimore & Tharp’s original study in the Sport Psychologist journal (Gallimore & Tharp, 2004). For additional insights into his growth as a coach I suggest you read: Wooden: A Coaches Life by Seth Davis. His success did not happen by chance. It was an unbeatable combination of impeccable preparation and sound teaching.

Will it Ever be Good Enough? I Spent too Much Time being Embarrassed by My Bronze. | Get Psyched!

 

Source: Will it Ever be Good Enough? I Spent too Much Time being Embarrassed by My Bronze. | Get Psyched!

Back in 1992 my only goal was to make the Olympic Team. When that dream happened my next goal was to hit all my routines during the competition. I didn’t think about medals, or making finals, or even being put on the front of the next Wheaties box. I was intensely focused on my skills and what it took to make them.

My goal did come true and when my competition was over, my routines along with our team’s performance earned us a Bronze Medal. I was elated. First I made the team, then I hit all my routines, and to top it all off I was bringing home a medal. For a minute or even an hour I had accomplished everything I had set out in my career.

Then little by little and day by day my fantastic accomplishment seemed to not be good enough. When I got back home of course my immediate family and friends were ecstatic with my medal. Our local community was loving and supportive because they knew that Bronze was a huge accomplishment for our city. Yet, everyone outside our little town wasn’t so satisfied with third place.

Third place in the eyes of society is pretty much a loss. I would get comments from people saying, “Oh, you got third, better luck next time.” Or “Are you going to go back and try for gold?”.

No agent was interested in third place. Marketing agencies are really good coming up with slogans like “Be like Mike.” They wanted people to look at Michael Jordan and buy Gatorade so they too could be the next member of the Gold Medal Winning Dream Team. They weren’t really interested in promoting hey “Be like Wendy. You too can lose first and have to settle for third in the Olympics.”

Our society makes it clear that the only thing we care about is first place. When someone trains their entire life and becomes the second best athlete on the Earth, the TV commentators, newspaper reporters, and even those in our own sport tear them down and moan and groan about how they just lost it all. If someone is the second best runner on Earth, I am pretty sure they kicked butt and won second. Yet, second and third just aren’t marketable. Not many strive to advertise people who have lost.

After a couple of years of trying to hang on to the last shred of dignity, I finally realized that I had to put my third place medal away for a while. And so I locked it up in my safety deposit box and there it sat.

Winning a bronze came with no fame and fortune. It came with nothing. What I once thought would be the answer to all my dreams really was just a meaningless piece of tin on a ribbon. Somehow the zest of winning a bronze medal had not lasted very long.
It wasn’t until I was in my middle 30’s that I started to “Get it.” I had a few of my friends over my house and after about an hour one of my friends embarrassedly asked if she could see my medal. I laughed and said of course. I took it out, put it around my neck, danced around the house, and had an odd sense of happiness. Something had changed inside me. I felt a sense of pride. I hadn’t felt pride since the first time it was placed around my neck.
My friend asked if she could touch it and then she said, “Do you know how freakin’ cool this is? I have been alive for 40 years and I have never seen or touched a real Olympic Medal before. Do you understand what you did in your life? Do you know how cool this is?” And for the first time in a long time it finally started to sink in.

For many years I was embarrassed about my loss. I had spent my entire life training, hoping, praying for all the stars to align and for me to make it to the Olympics. And then when everything worked out…it wasn’t enough.

I felt guilty that I didn’t do more. I thought that maybe I should have trained harder and won an individual medal. Maybe I should have kept training and tried to make the 1996 team. Maybe I could have been rich and famous and my life could have been full of fame and fortune. My life would have been complete if I could have just won a Gold.

But sitting next to my friends that only knew me as a mother, wife, and coach now wanted to know me as an Olympian. They wanted to hear all about the competition. They wanted me to tell them all my stories. So for hours and hours everything came out. All the memories poured out of me and it felt so good to let them out. For the first time I was happy to tell them and after the night was over I kept my medal out of hiding.

Sometimes we get so caught up in an idea that we need to take a step back and look at the big picture. We can forget to see the truth. Winning doesn’t always mean that we are in first place. Winning for me meant that I overcame injuries, doubt, and a really shaky competition season to make it to the one competition in which I dreamed about my entire life. Winning to me was being the first in my family to be an Olympian. Winning to me was hitting ALL my routines. Winning to me was being a part of something with only 100 other women gymnasts. Winning to me was my Bronze Medal.

So today my medal hangs proudly on my wall. It isn’t a gold, but now I realize that it didn’t have to be. My medal represents all the other athletes out there that think that if only they had won…then their life would be complete. Sometimes we get so caught up with what we could have done or should have done that we forget to appreciate what we did do. We forget to look at our accomplishments whether big or small and feel pride for what we achieved. I had been so caught up with embarrassment of not winning a gold that I forgot to realize that my bronze was more than enough.

My life has been filled with a successful gymnastics career, an amazing family, and wonderful friends. I was already living the life that fame or fortune couldn’t and wouldn’t change. My past had created my future and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For those who don’t win first place at your next competition…that doesn’t mean that you lost. Your success comes from what you did achieve and the wonderful person you are becoming. You and your own personal achievement are and will always be good enough.

Wendy Bruce Martin was a member of the 1992 Olympic team and 5x national team member. She has been involved in gymnastics for 36 years and coaching for 22. She received a degree in psychology and is a certified mental toughness coach. She is married and mother of 2 and enjoying writing about her experiences.

You can visit Wendy at psyched4sports.com or email at gymnasticsmentalcoach.com

Don’t put a Fifth Grader in High School Classes. | Get Psyched!

Source: Don’t put a Fifth Grader in High School Classes. | Get Psyched!

Placing the athlete in the correct class seems obvious. Many kids are placed beginner classes if they are a beginner, intermediate when they improve, and advance when they become masters of the sport. But sometimes kids are placed in classes for other reasons.

Some kids can only do certain times or days and so they may be put in a class that is too easy or too hard for their level. Others may want to be with a certain age group even through they are at a different level. And then there was that one time when I put a kid on team because her carpool moved up to team and the only way for her to continue to do gymnastics was to move into the same class.

I had been coaching this child in classes and she was a hard worker and a wonderful kid. I didn’t want her to leave gymnastics so I decided to let her move to level 2 team. I knew it was a big decision, but I thought we both worked a little harder we could make it work.

But placing an athlete in a level higher than they should be in created way more tension and chaos then good.

My little gymnast didn’t know anything about team. She had a lot to learn. She didn’t know how to do a lot of the details. In classes we trained on basic skills, but didn’t focus on head position, body shape, or feet position. All the other kids had spent at least one year on pre-team, a year on level 1, and a year in level 2 before moving to team. They knew all the details and were very good at performing them with precision. But I wasn’t worried. I knew that I could teach her those details.

The problems set in when she felt inferior to all the other athletes. She felt embarrassed when I had to pull her to the side to teach her a lever or a hurdle with the proper arm circle.

She also became embarrassed when she constantly had to do easier skills than her teammates. When they worked on harder skills such as, back walkovers or round off back handsprings, she had to work on back bends and bridge kick overs. I had to set up different stations and always gave her a different workout plan. She become resentful towards me because I couldn’t let her do the same skills as her friends.

I soon became frustrated with having to constantly remind her the names of skills, to put her head in, or to point her toes. After three months I had hoped for her to catch up to the level of the other girls. But after three months it was obvious to me that I had put her in the wrong class.

She didn’t like conditioning and it was hard for her. She didn’t like the constant corrections. She wanted to learn gymnastics but she didn’t care if her legs were straight, toes were pointed, or they were done without deduction.

She eventually didn’t want to do gymnastics anymore and I could see that as well. I knew she needed to be put back in a recreational class, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, embarrass her even more, and worse of have have her quit. It was my idea to put her on team and now I had to break the news to her that I had made a mistake. I felt terrible.

In the beginning I didn’t want to see my little gymnast sad. I knew that if she wasn’t able to car pool with her friend who was on team, then she would have to stop doing gymnastics. She loved gymnastics and I loved teaching her. But instead of seeing the lher sad to have to leave the sport, I tried to make everyone happy and move her to a level she simply was not ready to train.

I knew I had to come to terms with the situation. It was bad and I was to blame.

It was no different than putting a fifth grader in high school classes and then expecting them to live up to the same standards.

The reason we have levels in sports is to ensure proper progress both mentally and physically. When placed in the correct level each student can build a solid foundation of basics and confidence.

When the athlete is placed in the correct level, they can try new skills without feeling embarrassed because everyone is trying the same things. They can build strength by starting with conditioning that they can master. Then after they master that conditioning, they can feel proud and exciting to try to do more. They learn the terminology of the skills and they understand the progression of the sport. They move up when they are “ready”, not because it was convenient.

The bottom line is that I should have done that right thing in the first place. I should have told the gymnast that I would miss her and to let her know that anytime she wanted to come back, I would be here for her. That way we could have avoided the pain, embarrassment, and frustration that she had to endure. Our relationship was strained but luckily not destroyed and I am happy that it wasn’t ruined.

In the future I will make sure to do the right thing and place the athlete in the right class even if it causes a little bit of sadness for the athlete. Nothing can replace the proper path of training. And even with the best intentions proper class placement is not only recommended, it is mandatory.

Lessons From 15 of Our Best-Performing Tweets

Our performance indicator changed, so did our idea of what makes a good Tweet. Here’s what we learned from 15 of our best-performing Tweets.

Source: Lessons From 15 of Our Best-Performing Tweets
Lessons From 15 of Our Best-Performing Tweets
BY OLSY SOROKINA | 3 WEEKS AGO | 1 COMMENT
HootSuite Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Google +
A few months ago, we started using a different metric to measure the performance of Tweets from the @Hootsuite handle: engagement rate. In Twitter Analytics, this represents the number of engagements divided by the total number of impressions. For example, if you had 5 people engage with your Tweet by either clicking the link or expanding the media contained within it, and 500 people in total noticing your Tweet on their feeds, your engagement rate will be 1 percent. Since the total reach of the @Hootsuite Twitter account is quite wide, our best-performing Tweets usually get over 2 percent engagement.

Once our key performance indicator changed, so did our idea of what makes a good Tweet. So this time, instead of drawing lessons from best Tweets as determined by a third-party app, we’ve decided to share what we learned from Tweets with the highest engagement rate. If some Tweets look familiar, we have indeed discussed a few of them in another post; but as we looked at the engagement rates more and more often, we started noticing trends for composing Tweets that we thought were worth revisiting.

Here’s what we learned from 15 of our best-performing Tweets

1. Be relatable and show character

We wrote about the launch of the video live-streaming app Meerkat after its glorious reception at SXSWi. Since the app was fairly new, the only photos in circulation—aside from the dreaded vertical-video screenshots—were Meerkat’s white-and-yellow logo. But it can be difficult for a Tweet to stand out among the rest when it uses the same image as all the other media outlets. Instead, we illustrated the Tweet promoting the blog post with a popular meme of Timon from The Lion King. (Get it? Because he’s a meerkat.)
We did it mostly for the sake of our own entertainment, so when we saw the engagement rates on the first few Tweets, our jaws dropped. Over the next few months, whenever we sent out Tweets that contained memes, they all performed fantastically. The example above has received over 5 percent engagement rate, and it has been consistently high for Tweets promoting Meerkat-related content.

Intrigued by our initial success, we decided to see if the meme trend would generalize to Tweets promoting other kinds of content. After all, memes are public domain content that’s easy to generate. We’ve used both Success Kid and First World Problems memes to tweet about available job openings at Hootsuite. Similar to Meerkat Tweets, the engagement rate on those Tweets skyrocketed.

We even used a One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor to illustrate a fairly technical blog post about landing pages, which accounted for many pageviews on the blog.
You might wonder why my advice in this section isn’t just to use more memes. When it comes to Internet culture and social media trend-jacking, brands have to tread carefully; a failed attempt to use an inside joke can result in some pretty awkward interactions. However, when you find something genuinely funny—like using a character from a Disney favourite to talk about a hot new app—chances are, someone in your audience will have a laugh, too. We were careful to use memes selectively, and only for Tweets and blog content with the right topics and tone. Make sure that whatever terms or pop culture references you use, you do so tastefully.

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment

One of our best-performing Tweets is a screenshot from a video that explains the reasoning behind the new UI design for the Hootsuite dashboard. And, well, it’s a bit… cheeky.
This particular Tweet scored 3.4 percent engagement rate, but social messaging related to this video has consistently performed well. Now, we wouldn’t gratuitously include explicit content in our Tweets, and we don’t recommend you do it, either—if you want your social media channels to sound professional. In this case, the curse words emphasized the message we were trying to convey: there was a clear need for change, and while it was communicated quite strongly, we thought it presented a good opportunity to talk about the importance of negative feedback. So don’t be afraid to break the rules every once in a while, as long as you understand why those rules exist in the first place.

3. Be upfront with what your content has to offer

Most of the social media content on our @Hootsuite account points to this blog. So it makes sense that we measure the success of some of those Tweets based on clickthrough rates. Sometimes, though, it pays off to showcase the biggest asset of the blog post directly in the Tweet, like so:
Social media posts containing this infographic never fail to receive an engagement rate higher than 2.5 percent. One reason why it works is that the infographic doesn’t show up in its entirety on the users’ feeds—that would be quite inconvenient—so intrigued users have to click on the image to expand it. This increases the engagement rate. It also provides value as a standalone piece of content: users can share the infographic on its own without reading the blog post, and it still provides some valuable information about hashtags. But you don’t have to give away all the juicy parts of your blog post in a Tweet. Instead, give a sneak peek of the blog’s main focus by illustrating it with a graph:
This flowchart illustrates the process of finding the content best suited for your audience. It summarizes the content of the post in an accessible way, and makes the focal point of the blog clear before the user begins reading the advice contained within it. Similarly, both Tweets below showed off the main media asset in the blog post—which earned both of them engagement rates over 2.5 percent.

These examples support the idea that you don’t need click-bait headlines to encourage people to read and share your content. Being upfront with your brand’s value add can be equally effective—if not more so. If you can include a brief summary of your advice, whether this is done in written or pictorial form, you will provide more reasons for your audience to share the content. Finally, your followers will probably appreciate your efforts to save them some time.

4. Keep up with the trends

Our best-performing Tweets, as well as our most-read blog posts, often have one thing in common: they talk about Instagram.

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!

Peace!

PS-

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.