Many, MANY years ago I attended my first “real” gymnastics educational opportunity. I attended the REGION 6 Mini-Congress. In short it was a life changing experience. The clinicians were world class. I have never learned so much!
One of the clinicians was Dr. Joe Massimo, a sports psychologist and gymnastics coach. At the time I was majoring in psychology and his lectures were right up my alley.
In one of his lectures he spoke about COACHING COMMANDMENTS. I remember furiously writing these down trying to keep up. (This was long before Power Point or even video recorders that were not the size of a small car). I nervously approached him after his lecture to see if I could peek at his notes to make sure I didn’t miss anything. He said, “I am headed to the bar. Buy me a glass of wine and you can have them.”
That was almost 30 years ago and not a week goes by that I do not refer to those notes. Whether with a colleague, in a lecture or just with myself as I plan my workout.
Doc and his ex-wife Dr. Sue Massimo have recently released their collected papers, Gymnastics Psychology. I have finally gotten a chance to go through it and there, on page 39, in BOLD, is “Coaching Commandments”. Not only did it leave me reminiscent of my younger days as a coach, it also reaffirmed how strong those words were in my career and how relevant they are to coaches today.
- Firmly establish your authority.
- Maturely relate to your gymnasts, but not as a peer.
- Minimize verbiage.
- Have a sense of humor.
- Never utilize sarcasm or negativity.
- Be enthusiastic and encourage the same in the gym.
- Be fair in your treatment of each gymnast.
- Pay complete attention when working one on one.
- Don’t tell a gymnast that their work is “good” when it isn’t.
- Say “No” without guilt and “Yes” with out resentment.
- Pay attention to safety factors and be a consistent spotter.
- Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” and “I don’t know”.
- Allot time for gymnasts to socialize.
- Provide a forum for listening to your gymnasts.
- Continually educate yourself.
- Delegate responsibility to your gymnasts.
- Be personally and emotionally predictable.
- Be a positive role model at all times.
- Be careful not to sexualize the interaction with your gymnasts.
- Motivate and manage team cohesiveness.
- Direct your gymnasts’ spirits’; do not break them!
- Have an overall positive attitude toward gymnastics and life.
Each one of these commandments is a book in itself. Anyone who coaches needs to develop a set of guidelines based upon your experience. Guidelines that you feel are important in you relating to your gymnasts and other coaches and bring about the best results.
Doc- you have changed a generation of coaches. I thank you and hope carry on. Many people have seen my lecture, “Coaches as Educators” and I am turning it into a book. I really should re-name it to, “Everything I learned from Doc.”
Now- GO BUY THIS BOOK.