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Hello and thank you for taking the time for these questions.   I have been struggling with some issues from my local gym.   I have 2 daughters.  My oldest is a 9 years and in level 4 and my younger daughter is in level 3.  I am a dance coach and teacher of a competitive program.  There has been a lot of issues that have been brought to the surface of our current gym that I am not comfortable with, but I am trying not to be 'that parent' that I have had to deal with myself and still try to look out for what's best for my daughters.  

The director/head coach at our gym has been hired and let go of several area gyms, has never had a level 10 gymnast or collegiate gymnast.  He talks often about how much he knows and how much he is better than some of the area coaches.  He has recently been written up at the gym for yelling and using only negative feedback to the gymnasts.  I have caught him many times doing the opposite of what he tells parents when I am brought in to do a gymnasts floor routines.  He also skips out of coaching hours to do errands and leaves two other coaches in charge of 20+ gymnasts.  Neither of these coaches have much training.  He also refuses to go to more training because he says he already knows enough.  I know this because my husband is on the board at the gym.

My older daughter, 9, is in a group of 14 girls with only one coach.  My younger daughter is in a group of 16 girls with also only 1 coach.  Our director will not work with any of these groups.  My 9 year is a great kid, not a natural gymnast, but a hard worker and really good tumbler.  We took her to a camp this summer and she got a cartwheel and back walkover on beam in the first 30 minutes and had never tried it and they told me at the end she was a hard worker and very coachable.

We have been told by people outside of our gym, at camps and one judge that our 6 year old is a natural.  Recently, we took her to a private an hour away because our gym took away privates and she was worried about a few skills.  I was told by the private coach that she was a quick learner but had no basic fundamentals on bars and that is why she isn't getting her skills.

My oldest is quite shy and really likes her coach, but is frustrated because they haven't tried anything new or working on any skills they don't have.  I believe the two younger level coaches are trying, but just do not have training.  My younger daughter watches gymnastics and tells me how she wants to be that good and gets upset after practice when she doesn't learn anything.

I have watched practices.  My husband and I scheduled a meeting with the director this summer to share our concerns.  People were talking and we wanted to talk to him.  Things got better and within a week, my younger daughter had a roundoff into 2 backhand springs.

Things quickly went back and lately I have been to three practices and saw the kids sitting watching the older gymnasts practice and my younger daughter working for 20 minutes on a bar skill without any help.

Sorry for all the information, but I am very frustrated.  I want to follow the guidelines of not talking bad about the coaches or coaching my kids at home.  I want to support the local program.  It's not that I believe my daughter's are going elite or anything, but I want them to be coached to their possible potential and have a good experience.

Please lead me to the right decision.

Thank you.

Answer
Hi Ronita,

You are two separate entities. You are a parent first and a coach second. At some point both you and your daughters will likely move on to other activities, so get the most out of it you can right now.

As a parent, you have the right to demand appropriate coaching.

As a coach, you have the responsibility to provide proper coaching and make sure the gym is best representing itself to your children and other gymnasts.

You may be one of the few people who can initiate change.

Whatever the situation or problems go into the meeting with the powers that be with an armload of solutions.

Good luck!

Coach Rik

Gymnastics

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Rik Feeney

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding all levels of the sport of women's gymnastics, the business of gymnastics, and the marketing of gymnastics programs.

Experience

I am the author of "Gymnastics: A Guide for Parents and Athletes" currently being published by McGraw-Hill. I am also a ghostwriter and co-author of the Gymcert series of books "Levels 1-3 Gymnastics Coaches Certifications Manuals" for recreational gymnasts, and the "Levels 4 - 6 Skills and Drills" books as well as Safety Basics for Gymnastics Instructors. I have written several other books on the sport of gymnastics for Richardson Publishing, the latest of which is titled, "Back Handsprings: The Secret Techniques." Oh, and by the way, I was a competitive gymnast through high school and college (Temple University), gymnastics club owner for 10 years, and women's gymnastics coach for 30 years working with gymnasts at all competitive levels

Organizations
USA Gymnastics National Writer's union Florida Writer's Association

Publications
USA Gymnastics magazine Technique magazine International Gymnast magazine several newspaper articles

Education/Credentials
Temple University - Health Physical Education, Recreation & Dance Norwich University - Bachelors of Arts in Writing & Literature

Awards and Honors
Several state and national level gymnastics champions in different systems of competition.

Past/Present clients
Gymnasts, coaches, and club owners nation-wide.

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