Defining success, how do you define success in youth gymnastics? Being able to determine what success means to you is critical in the development of your athlete. How you define success should drive the coach or team you choose for your child. It may also determine the sport you participate in and the level at which he or she competes. For coaches, their definition of success will often drive the competitions they choose to attend, the team size, the team make-up, the practice intensity as well as a whole host of other things.
Success is often defined relative to the period of the season.
Most coaches do not define success in youth gymnastics within the confines of winning because that would make success black and white. Success is often defined relative to the period of the season. For example, early season a coach may determine success as being able to land a particular skill in gymnastics regardless of the overall routine score. As the season progresses, a coach may define success more along the lines of winning or advancing through qualifiers. Some coaches including myself also define success differently based on the age of the athlete. For younger athletes, success is determined by what sort of foundation we are building for the future, but for older athletes trying to earn scholarships, success is defined as hitting a predefined goal and advancing through qualifiers.
How parents define success in youth gymnastics is an entirely a different story. Just as coaches tend to determine success objectively based on many factors parents tend to view progress subjectively. Parents tend to see success based on the win/lose columns while other parents view success based on their child’s level of participation. For others, success is determined by how their athlete stacks up when compared to others on the team. Although, there are way too many definitions of success to define in this blog the one thing that is unquestionable is that relative to each parent’s definition of success, their expectations of the team will be different.
The same definition of success helps to build cohesiveness within the team and ensures everyone is aware of the mission
The most important aspect of creating a robust conducive relationship between the parents, coach, and athletes is for parents to choose a coach or program that matches their definition of success. At the same time, as a coach, I always try to ensure that the parents I have in my program view success the same way I do. That is not to say there is anything wrong with the other definitions but having the same definition of success helps to build cohesiveness within the team and ensures everyone is aware of the mission and heading in the same direction. I am a competitive coach, and I like to win, but I view winning as a by-product of proper training and development. Therefore, my definition of success requires that athletes be consistently at practice and be coachable. I have run into many parents who view sports as merely a recreational activity for their child and don’t put much stock into training or development. Their expectation is for every other Saturday to take their child to a competition and have them hop, flip and jump around for a few hours, get a few photos for Facebook and call it a day. I don’t do well with those types of parents, and most competitive coaches don’t either. I also don’t mesh with parents whose only goal is winning, especially if it is to the detriment of development.
coaches are usually and should be judged by one thing, winning or at the very least progress
Parents need to understand that coaches are generally and should be judged by one thing, winning or at the very least progression. Parents may want to disagree, but I have never seen a coach who consistently loses keep athletes no matter how encouraging or motivating the coach is. Winning cures a lot of ailments just ask the New England Patriots. Poor coaches tend to try to mask lousy coaching by attempting to build a personal “friend” relationship with athletes and parents hoping that will override poor performance. The “friend” angle may work for a short time, but eventually, lack of progress becomes the determining factor in any decision parents make. Poor coaches will also define success within the confines of the team, so athletes only focus on beating other teammates.
Again, there is no such thing as an incorrect definition of success, but parents have to make sure their definition of success coincides with how coaches and the athlete define success in youth gymnastics. An athlete can only be successful if the parents, coaches, and athlete are all on the same page and understand the expectations. From my experiences, most issues arise when one of the three pieces are not in correct alignment.
Just as iron sharpens iron. Iron can also be eaten away by rust.
Lastly, parents should do their best to align themselves with like-minded parents. As the old saying goes, “you are the company you keep” so if you want to be successful surround yourself with those on the same mission as you. Also, if the parent you associate yourself with is known for drama, then most coaches will view you through the same lens. The same goes for your athlete. Be sure your athlete hangs with other athletes that have similar goals. Notice I didn’t say similar skill set because that is not hugely important in individual sports like gymnasts and track. As a coach, I had seen many times when an athlete’s potential was derailed merely due to the company they kept. Keep in mind that just as iron sharpens iron. Iron can also be eaten away by rust.