Why Not to Switch Gyms

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In my last blog I answered questions about when to switch gyms. What I think is more important is WHY NOT TO SWITCH GYMS. As I’ve said, I’ve been involved in gymnastics for over 30 years in virtually every capacity; coach, judge, gym owner and a team parent. I’ve seen people switch gyms, uproot their families, burn relationships, buy new team leos, lose meet fees, and seen kids & parents lose friendships. To be honest… many times for the absolute wrong reasons!

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when it is good for all parties to make a change. It’s times that quick judgement, emotion and pressure from other parents take precedent to logic that get people in trouble. I always like to say, you can make a decision with your heart, but at least make sure that your mind is not too far behind.

Before you make a difficult decision, or compound a bad situation, be sure that your views aren’t distorted or irrational. Here are a few reasons you may want to stay right where you are:

My daughter’s/son’s friend(s) switched gyms. It is always difficult to lose a teammate but it is certainly no reason to switch. While it might be somewhat tempting, especially if there are a few, you need to think about you. Jumping on the bandwagon is never a reason to do something. Truth is, It’s incredibly difficult to switch gyms, especially alone. It’s not unusual to have parents and kids who have already left contact you. They will do and say whatever they need to to get you to join them at their new “Gym Fabulous”. Whether it is to justify their departure or gain trust from the new coaches, they will go above and beyond, sometimes even bash your current gym to get you to switch. I’ve even seen families get tuition discounts for recruiting athletes. Many of these gyms offer the promise of higher levels, better training, or even offer to “beat” your current tuition. I find this appalling. If you’re going to switch to a new gym, do it for the right reasons, not because Mrs. Smith did it or is getting a ‘kick-back’.

My daughter’s/son’s coach switched gyms. While following your athlete’s coach might seem like a rational decision, make sure you are following them to a gym whose philosophy and goals are consistent with yours. Unfortunately, Teammates and coaches are transient but gyms typically endure. If the coach leaves your gym, what’s to say they don’t leave the next gym? Will you keep following? I always say to do your best to find a home and stay. You will benefit the most by doing this. We’ve even seen coaches leave to open their own gym and have kids follow. Many times, they don’t make it through the first 2 years and when they do, they typically are running the business. They end up losing focus on the team athletes.

Wow, look at all those kids on the podium. We’ve all seen a gym sweep the podium or take a ton of hardware home. Does their success guarantee your child’s? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it will get her to the next level or maybe it will make your child feel undervalued. Maybe it will lower their self esteem because they can’t compete. Who know’s. The fact is, you need to look at how your child is progressing, not someone else’s. If you feel there progression is slow, meet with the coach to find out why. I can’t tell you why some people progress slower than others but what I can say with absolute certainty is, another athlete taking first place at “Gym Fabulous” isn’t a prediction of what your child would do at that same gym. I can also say if a gym brings 18 Level 5’s to a meet and has 4 kids on the podium and your gym brings 5 and has just 2 on the podium, from a percentage standpoint your gym did better! If you leave for this reason, make sure you do some research first on how they plan on making your child better.

Progress is too slow! My child is not progressing as quickly as I think she/he should be. The other kids in the group are doing so much better! It must be the coach! Wait one minute…is that really true? Maybe, maybe not. It could be a variety of reasons. How is their work ethic, passion, commitment? Do they listen to, and apply corrections, are they doing all of their conditioning? It could be any number of reasons, and is likely some combination thereof. So don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Investigate, but don’t switch gyms thinking the problem will magically disappear.

They never work ______ (insert move or event here) with me. When my kid’s were competing (one boy and one girl) I’d ask, “what did you work today?” They’d always say the same thing… “nothing.” One time they even said, “nothing, but we did play a game” I was ticked, how could I be paying all this money and they aren’t even working, but yet have time for a game. I come to find out, they were actually working, but it’s easier for a kid to say nothing than explain. Side note: As far as the game, it was a game that included endurance and conditioning. Hmmm. Guess I shouldn’t have gotten mad. Moral of the story, don’t assume the coaches aren’t working with your child. Find out the scoop before jumping to conclusions or worse yet, before switching gyms.

This other gym said my child should be a Level _____ (Insert level here). The coaches at “Gym Fabulous” said my daughter should be a level 4. They said, “Why is she doing level 3 now? Come to our gym and we will put her up right now.” I’m always impressed when I hear that. Here’s a coach who has never worked (or maybe they tried 1 or 2 practices) with this athlete yet they are experts in your athlete and going to move her. Why trust the gym you are at now, the one who has been working with your child for months if not years. They know her work ethic, fear level, comfort level, and ability. Maybe it’s a safety thing or maybe it’s a long-term plan the coaches are following. You should most certainly talk to your current gym and see why they are competing the level they are. Maybe they are competing one level and working toward the next. You always want to be working ahead. If your child is getting 8’s or 9’s at one level, I’m sure they can do the next level but what would they score? Would you be happy with 6’s or 7’s or maybe even risk injury? I would hope not. What I find even funnier is when a parent forces a coach to put their child up a level than complain when they aren’t on the podium or not scoring well.

I’ve seen parents and athletes leave a new gym only to find out that the only thing they accomplished was changing locations (and spending money on new uniforms). It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. That’s why leaving for the wrong reasons can be counter productive. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard stories in which parents were mad they waited too long to make a switch. It’s a difficult decision either way. My advice is to do some good-old fashioned soul searching and research before moving. Talk to your coaches and gym owner to ensure you are making the best decision possible for you and your athlete. No place is perfect, and decisions like these can be very complicated, difficult, and are definitely hard to turn back. Remember the old saying, ‘The Grass is Always Greener on The Other Side”? Things aren’t always what they appear to be. Talk to your coaching staff about your goals and come up with a plan. Sometimes you don’t need the new grass, you just need to water yours.

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