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Gymnastics/When to quit


Hello Rik, I am so confused at what to do with my daughter. She was always a very good gymnast, with occasional first place all arounds at her competitions.  When she moved up to level 9, she had an unfortunate injury to her knee and it ended her season.  The following year she sustained an ankle injury that sidelined her for that year.  In the meantime, her coaches started treating her differently.  Before they had always encouraged her and motivated her.  They paid more attention to her because she was scoring well for them.  She had made it to regionals and was a sure thing on several events.  After a few repeated injuries, she felt like they were giving up on her and so did I.  We were coming up on year 3 as a level 9 and excited that she would finally be able to compete healthy. When it came time to compete, she reinjured the same part of the body that was hurt before.  I had spoken to the coaches and they acted like it was no big deal and she would come back, even though an mri and xray proved different.  She told me when she would go to practice that they would make comments about how her injury was not that serious and that it was all in her head.  She hated going to practice, which was never the case before.  When I tried talking with the head coach, she always defended her coaches.  One of her coaches announced to the other kids that my daughter should just quit and she was done with the sport.  My daughter has always attended practice even when ill, and now she just doesn't have the motivation whatsoever to continue.  She had asked to quit 1 1/2 years ago with the repeated injuries and I urged her to stick with it and she would reap the benefits. Now she is asking to quit again and that she gave it a fair shot.  I am at my wits end as I don't know how to move forward with this. She is a junior now and only has one season left.  She had been planning to do this in college for so long but with the string of injuries and the constant let downs from her coaches, I don't know if she is even able to.  She is talking about doing another sport entirely. I was even thinking to take her to another gym but don't think she wants to entertain that.

My questions are:

When is it the right time to let go of the sport?

Is it even possible to get a partial scholarship doing just one event? It seems that beam gives her the least injury (knock on wood).


Hi Samuel,

After a lengthy, but necessary, back-story you wrote, "When is it the right time to let go of the sport?"

1. When the rules no longer allow you to participate.
2. When injury makes it unsafe to continue.
3. When you no longer feel the "joy" of participation in the sport.

I am laboring under the predicament of hearing just one side of the story, when there are at least three: the parent's version, the athlete's version, and the coach's version. As such, I can only throw out thoughts, ideas, and suggestions - definitely no solutions.

My thought is that an injury that reoccurs, is an injury that may have never healed properly in the first place, and/or the rehabilitation process never brought the injured part back to the strength and flexibility level necessary to keep it healthy.

There may also be the possibility that the training technique used "improperly adapted" to her needs could have caused the injury to reoccur.

Perhaps, as a negative result of the feedback you claim the coaches supplied, she not only verbally but subconsciously wanted to quit. Getting injured is one of the easiest outs and I have seen this happen to a gymnast a time or two. Keep in mind that what you focus on (quitting) grows in your mind. When someone hates going to workout her focus is on hating going to workout and figuring out a way to make workouts stop.

At this point, for her own safety, I would allow her to withdraw from gymnastics.

Thank the coaches and everyone involved in getting her to Level 9 - an awesome accomplishment - and walk away on a good note. You never know, she may want to come back someday and coach young gymnasts herself. The other reason I say this is I really have a hard time believing that coaches capable of training her to regionals at Level 9 would have anything but her best interests in mind. They may not have conveyed the message in the best way possible, but I would like to believe their intent was to get her back in to successful competition.

You may want to keep her actively involved in other sports as she finishes high school. Chances are good she will not get a scholarship for gymnastics, but she might be a "walk-on" to a college gymnastics team where she can compete as a specialist on one or two events. That way she can be part of a team and contribute to the team's success and perhaps win some event trophies and, once again, enjoy the sport of gymnastics.

Good luck to you and your daughter.


Coach Rik


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Rik Feeney


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


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

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

USA Gymnastics magazine Technique magazine International Gymnast magazine several newspaper articles

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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