Beat Stagnation and Start Improving

I work with a group of girls who are mostly Level 9 and Level 10. The ability range for the Level 10’s is very wide and normally it will take 2 to 3 years to reach their potential at Level 10.

The common age for becoming a first year Level 10 is around 15 or 16 years of age. Then, they have a few more years (2 to 3 years) to improve and try to reach to their potential before they graduate from high school. Hopefully at this point they will be looked at by college coaches and possibly be recruited.

Of course there always is an exception to the general pattern, but the majority of girls fall into the above-mentioned scenario.

A girl who reaches Level 10 earlier than 15 years old without aspiring to go up to the Elite level needs special care in terms of her goal setting and to keep her motivation high.

Generally, this will happen when a gymnast is physically talented, but has one or two deficient areas too great to aspire to the elite level. Sometimes, the gymnast is simply not mentally strong enough to be in a very high intensity competition environment.

The first year or two after a girl moves up to Level 10 she will be upgrading her routines and still much learning will be taking place in the training. However, after she has competed at the same level for a while, many problems will start to set in. And it is very hard to break through from there.

The problem areas they face are much harder to fix than before. For example, the problem could be a fear issue with regard to learning new skills or a weight control issue. These are much harder problems to deal with and fixing them is difficult. Usually, it will take a much greater commitment and lots of effort to correct these problems.

While they are struggling with these problems, they could possibly lose some motivation and develop bad training habits. Soon, she might find herself socializing more in the gym and not putting her effort in her training.

When this happens, it becomes a vicious cycle.

It is a very hard problem, not only for the gymnast, but also for the coaches. Sometimes I find myself giving exactly the same corrections over and over again to the same gymnast. But nothing has changed and at times the problem might get worse.

When I recognize this type of problem, I find myself talking to the gymnast more and trying to encourage them more. Most of the times, I can tell that she is genuinely trying hard, but still struggling or she is not interested in changing things and even not trying to do it correctly.

When I see that, I will walk up to her and express my concern to her very honestly.
Many times, they are frustrated themselves as well and/or they don’t even know what to do to solve the problems.

When the gymnast, as well as the coach, agree and both identify the problem, it is much easier to talk about how to solve the problem together. However, in all cases, the gymnast needs to help themselves. However, the coach offering genuine support will help with morale and her effort.

I found that the most important point is that they are interested in progressing and moving forward. This way, the training becomes more fun again and mentally uplifting instead of the gymnast dreading coming to the gym.

They need to feel the excitement in changing something and learning again. It does not need to be learning a big skill, but any small change could be a motivating factor.

I trust that the coach’s support is essential when you work on this type of problem but I ‘m certain you need to face these every year.

Hopefully we also can work happy and feel much more productive every day.

Have fun coaching!

Edited by Dan Connelly

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