Surviving the first meet.
Welcome back parents, it’s me, “dat dude,” Gymnastics Dad. Here we are the start of another gymnastics season. A new season brings with it a roller coaster of emotions. The highs and lows of a competition season can be difficult to manage, so I figured now would be a good time to give you some of the coping mechanisms that I use for dealing with competitions early in the season. Around this time is where parents start showing up to practice more, start asking questions about the status of the floor routine, and wondering/hoping/praying/begging that their gymnasts will be ready for the first meet. The lead up to a competitive season is the time when a parent’s blood pressure starts to creep up with every slip of the beam, fall off the bars, or stumble on a pass. Coaches start holding “mandatory” mini-camps and parents start complaining about the additional expense given that the season is so close and wondering why the stuff covered in camp can’t be or wasn’t included in practice, tell me I am lying. To cope with all this stress, parents deploy several tactics, many of them requiring a frosty alcoholic beverage. Although I am a fan of the occasional “drank” now and then, this is not one of those moments. So here we go!
Know what your athletes can’t do.
The first coping skill to not blowing a gasket at the first meet is knowledge. Knowing what your athlete is struggling with will help to level-set your expectations. The worst thing you can do is go to a competition expecting to see a 2019 version of Mary Lou Retton or a mini version of Simone Biles and instead end up getting, let’s just say, not them. If your gymnast is anything like my child, then your conversation on the way home from practice goes a little something like this:
Me: How was practice?
Daughter: Good, can I use your phone?
Daughter: MaKayla is online with Roblox on her way home
Me: here(phone handed over), what did you work on today?
Daughter: Everything except <insert event here>
Me: Did you try anything new today, or did you practice your routines
Me: no what?
Daughter: we kinda worked on routines but we mostly did skills
Me: Did the coaches say anything to you today
Daughter: They always say something(sarcasm)
Me: I know that…but did they give you any specific feedback?
Daughter: no, not really, they said just stuff…but <insert name here> kept hogging the beam
Me: Okay, don’t care about “such-and-such” hogging the beam especially given the fact there are 20 other ones you could use. What exactly did the coaches say?
Daughter: Can’t remember, just stuff
Me: You know what little girl…
Daughter: Dadddddddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyy (getting frustrated at all the questions)
Me: ………..what do you want for dinner
This conversation pretty much sums up everything I can get out of my child in regards to practice. If you are in a similar situation, then attending practices is the best thing you can do to help your sanity. I am amazed when I see parents who never sat in on their athlete’s training but come to a competition and get pissed if it doesn’t meet their expectations. My daughter’s tuition is $300.00 per month, which is equivalent to a car note. Bruh, at that cost, gymnastics is no longer a recreational sport. Gymnastics is an investment at that point, and I want to know if my investment is paying off.
All Meets Are Not Created Equal
The second thing parents need to be aware of to survive their first meet is to understand that all competitions are not created equal. Regardless of the sports most early-season competitions are used to knock the rust off and to test new skills and techniques. After the first competition, you typically see a more defined focus by the coaches and the athletes. The reason for this is that it is challenging to simulate live competition in practice or even a mock meet. There is something about seeing someone in a different uniform than you that brings out that competitive spirit. It is not to say the first meet isn’t important but understand that part of the value of the first meet is to know where an athlete is, where they need work. Use the first meet as an opportunity to compete against someone other than their teammates and to grow.
Taking an “L” isn’t the end of the world
The two techniques I mentioned above are the main techniques I use to survive a meet. Unfortunately, there is a massive opportunity for your gymnast to catch a beatdown at the first meet. There are just too many factors that could affect the outcome of a competition. Also, let’s not forget about the infamous Susan, last name “wheredidyoucomefrom.” She is always that gymnast that comes out of nowhere like she is some type of superhero and lays the smackdown with a ridiculously good score, and parents are left wondering where in the “frazzle snickets” did she come from. You look her up on mymeetscores to see two rows of competition results from Xcel Bronze and her all-around for those two results are 30.3 and a 31.2. The truth is, taking a beatdown that the first meet is not the end of the world. It is a wakeup call for both coaches, parents, and athletes.
Last but not least, if you decide none of these coping mechanisms are going to help you and you still are going to be stressed, then at least look good being stressed. Please visit our swag shop at www.gdswagshop.com where we specialize in gymnastics spirit wear. We have something for everyone, and we remembered the hubby too. We will be giving away 12 shirts through the remainder of November and up until Christmas day, so please signup for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/gymnastic_dad and Facebook so you will be in the loop for our contests.
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Until next time, peace and soul….