Being a gymnastics parent is a lot of fun. Nothing makes you happier than seeing your healthy smiling child perform skills that take many hours of effort and perseverance to learn.
Offering Our Encouragement
Perfecting a gymnastics skill involves a lot of repetition of drills given by the coach. Only so much time can be spent in the gym drilling which is why lots of gymnasts bring practice into their own home.
As parents we often take on the role of home coach. We see our young gymnasts dance and celebrate mastering a skill but we also see the frustration and disappointment when they hit a difficult hurdle. We really want to help and see them succeed and usually the best way we can do this is by offering lots of encouragement and being there to cuddle and comfort when the going gets tough.
Taking it too far
Taking a step up from this we often offer advice by observing and trying to figure out what looks right. We listen to our child’s interpretation of what they have been told to practice and we try and visualise and analyse this.
Sometimes we are lucky and crack the gymnastics code and manage to point them in the right direction. We watch repeatedly and suddenly it clicks, we think we know what they need to do differently, but how do we help them make an adjustment in the right direction.
In our willingness to help we start to make suggestions
“Move your legs up a bit”
“Arch your back that way”
We overcompensate or create a different problem because we don’t really understand the complexities of each gymnastics movement.
Learning to really help
If we really want to help our children benefit from home practice we must speak to their coaches first. Ask the coach if you can record a video of a correctly performed drill or skill and learn what you need to be looking for when you become the home coach.
It takes years to really understand what to look for and how to help a gymnast improve when they aren’t quite getting it right, but having some insights into what they are expected to do and how will improve your home coaching a lot.
Don’t take things home practice too seriously
One of the pitfalls gymnastics parents fall into is taking home practice too seriously. They are really keen to see their children compete at gymnastics meets and move up to the higher levels but end up giving the young gymnast more pressure. Being part of a gymnastics team and attending meets brings with it expectations that both the gymnast and other team members have.
At home it is a good idea to try to remove any pressure and nurture your special gymnasts love of gymnastics. Make practice fun again, try to be creative and create some gymnastics games that include conditioning and the use of gymnastics skills and drills in a low pressure fun environment. If you are fit and healthy consider taking part in these games yourself so the whole family can laugh and fall in love with gymnastics while getting in some low pressure practice.
Written by Pauline Rothwell
Pauline Rothwell is a gymnastics mum who often visits allgymnastics.com and while not busy being a home gymnastics coach she has also written some articles for justfiyingfun gymnastics and her favourite hobby is watching Olympic Gymnastics.